In 2021, the state of New York will celebrate 125 years of being caretaker to the John Brown Farm in North Elba, just outside of Lake Placid in the Adirondack Park.
Brown came to the area to help recently freed slaves become farmers. At that time in New York State, black men (and only black men) needed to own $250 dollars worth of land to be eligible to vote. Brown immersed himself in this new community of black farmers and participated in a wide variety of organizing.
While he traveled across the country supporting antislavery causes, his wife and numerous children lived at the farm. The farm served as the family’s home base for the entire last decade of Brown’s life. It was here that he slowly finalized the plans for his landmark raid on Harper’s Ferry in 1859, an effort to free America’s slaves by instituting a revolt in the South.
The John Brown Farm State Historic Site attracts between 45,000-50,000 visitors per year, according to site manager Brendan Mills. The Farm is one of the oldest historical sites in the state parks system.
2020 was a record year for visitation to the Farm according to Mills, with an estimated 70,000 visitors, mostly from within New York. This influx can perhaps be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resurgence of John Brown’s story in popular media through the prime-time TV show The Good Lord Bird.
For more information, visit the John Brown Farm and take a guided tour, view John Brown Lives! “Dreaming of Timbuctoo” exhibit, or visit the John Brown Lives! website.
Photo of John Brown Farm courtesy John Brown Lives!.