2009 will mark the celebration of the 400th Anniversary of Samuel de Champlain’s arrival on the big lake, Henry Hudson’s on the big river, and the 200th Anniversary of Fulton’s steamship. Both New York and Vermont will be celebrating Champlain. [Read more…] about The Big 400: Champlain Descendants Still Local
There is an interesting piece in the Canadian Press about using Thruway tolls to support the Erie Canal. It’s correctly notes that it’s been a periodic debate over the canal’s nearly 200-year history:
Advocates say the Erie – and New York’s three smaller canals – are historical treasures that are essential to the state’s economy and worthy of public investment.
Opponents counter that the canal system is no longer a critical part of the state’s transportation network and the money would be better spent elsewhere, especially as the state faces crushing deficits in coming years…
New York City soon became one of the country’s busiest ports and the canal spurred development of major upstate cities including Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Albany, whose proximity attracted industry. Dozens of smaller industrial hubs also sprouted along its banks.
There were two major upgrades – one completed in 1862 and the other in 1918 – to accommodate heavier traffic and larger vessels. But the rise of the railways in the late 1800s and the advent of the interstate highway system in the 1950s plucked the vast majority of freight off the canal.
In 1949, 3.5 million tonnes of freight plied the waters of New York’s canals. Last year, it was just over 11,790 tonnes, according to Canal Corp. figures.
For more than 10 years, state officials have been trying to reinvent the canal, marketing it as a tourist attraction and keeping its locks – most of which still use equipment installed in the early 1900s – operating.
The aim is to lure pleasure boaters to spend their money in the communities along the canal, many of which have suffered a decades-long economic slump following the decline of the region’s once thriving manufacturing industry.
[Carmella] Mantello [director of the New York State Canal Corp] says the canal agency has spent $250 million to help those communities fix up waterfront amenities…
Mantello points out that there were roughly 200 festivals and other events planned on canal shores this year, compared with about 30 just three years ago.
She and other canal boosters point to a study that found canal tourism contributed about $380 million a year to the state’s economy in 2002 – a little more than one per cent of the total $34.4 billion the Travel Industry Association of America estimates travellers spent in New York that year. An update of that study is scheduled to be done this year.
The canals cost about $80 million a year to operate but take in only about $3 million from users. The rest comes from tolls collected from drivers on the New York State Thruway.
The Oneida Indian Nationhas announced that they will participate in an memorial ceremony to remember the 1777 Battle of Oriskany this evening:
231 years ago, the Oneida Indian Nation became the first ally of the American colonists in their fight for freedom, at the Battle of Oriskany. On Wednesday, August 6, at 7 pm, a solemn remembrance ceremony will be held at the battlefield to remember those who fought and those who died at what history has called the ”bloodiest battle of the American Revolution.” The Oneidas will be represented at this community-wide event by Brian Patterson, Bear Clan Representative for the Nation’s Council, and members of the Nation’s reenactment group, First Allies.
The Battle took place in what is now Oneida County on the south side of the Mohawk River. According to the great wiki:
During his march down the Mohawk Valley from Oswego to Albany, Lieutenant Colonel Barry St. Leger besieged Fort Stanwix, then under the command of Colonel Peter Gansevoort. St. Leger’s force of British regulars of the Royal Artillery, 8th and 34th Regiments, loyalist King’s Royal Yorkers and natives of the Six Nations and Seven Nations of Canada laid siege to the fort.
Upon hearing reports of St. Leger’s advance, Brigadier General Nicholas Herkimer assembled the Tryon County militia at Fort Dayton to proceed to Gansevoort’s aid. On August 4, 1777, Herkimer, with 800 militiamen—mostly poorly trained German-American farmers—and 40 Oneida Indians, began the forty-mile (65 km) trek west from Fort Dayton to Fort Stanwix.
When St. Leger learned through Molly Brant that Herkimer and his relief expedition were on their way, he sent Joseph Brant, a Mohawk chief, with more than 400 natives, and Sir John Johnson, with the light infantry company of his King’s Royal Yorkers to intercept them. Their clash at Oriskany Creek was one of the key episodes of the Campaign of 1777.
On August 6, 1777, [the] American relief force from the Mohawk Valley under General Nicholas Herkimer, numbering around 800 men of the Tryon County militia, was approaching to raise the siege. British commander Barry St. Leger authorized an intercept force consisting of a Hanau Jager detachment, Sir John Johnson’s King’s Royal Regiment of New York, Native allies from the Six Nations, and Indian Department Rangers totaling at least 450 men.
The Loyalist and Native force ambushed Herkimer’s force in a small valley about six miles east of Fort Stanwix. During the battle, Herkimer was mortally wounded. The battle cost the Patriots approximately 450 casualties, while the Loyalists and Natives lost approximately 150 dead and wounded. It was a clear victory for the loyalists over the rebels.
But the Loyalist victory was tarnished when a sortie from Fort Stanwix sacked the Crown camp, spoiling morale among the Native Americans.
The Oriskany Battlefield is located on Route 69, two miles west of the Village of Oriskany.
This past week marks the anniversaries of quite a series of transportation disasters in New York History. Three of them have reached the media: the 1893 sinking of the Rachel in Lake George; the 1945 crash of a B-25 Mitchell bomber into the Empire State Building; and the crash of American Airlines Flight 1 into New York City’s Jamaica Bay in 1962.
The Schenectady Gazette has the story of the Rachel, which sank on Lake George killing ten (coincidently, the week also marks the anniversary of another Lake George sinking, that of the John Jay on July 30, 1856). On the night of August 3, 1893 the steamer Rachel was chartered by twenty nine guests of the Fourteen Mile Island Hotel to take them to a dance at the Hundred Island House.
The usual captain fell ill and went home early leaving the boat in the hands of a less experienced pilot. Under little or no moon light as the pilot steered unknowingly out of the channel and struck an old dock south of the hotel tearing a large hole in the side of the boat below the water line. Some of the passengers were caught on the shade deck and died quickly as the boat listed and almost immediately sank in 18 feet of water. “The shrieking, struggling passengers battled for life in the darkness,” one newspaper reported. With only her smokestack left above water, a number of men from shore had rowed boats from the two nearby hotels to the scene to rescue the survivors. A young man named Benedict, an excellent swimmer, dove for his sister Bertha but couldn’t find her. Nineteen-year-old Frank C. Mitchell, of Burlington, drowned while trying to save his mother who also drowned. Eight other women also drowned.
The 1962 American Airlines Flight 1 into Jamaica Bay was featured on last night episode of “Mad Men.” The series follows the lives of early 1960s Madison Avenue ad executives. If you haven’t seen it, you should, it’s an interesting portrayal of 1950s / 1960s consumerism – a time when people still smoked on TV. The storyline involves the ad guys dropping the small New York based regional airline Mohawk Airlines in an attempt to lure American Airlines in the aftermath of the crash. Mohawk had it’s own aviation disaster in 1969 when its Flight 411, a twin prop-jet commuter plane (a Fairchild-Hiller 227, a.k.a. Fokker F-27) flying from La Guardia Airport to Glens Falls in Warren County crashes at Lake George killing all 14 onboard.
The New York Times “City Room” has blogged the Flight 1 story extensively:
The real-life crash, which took place only five years after Pan Am became the first carrier to fly the 707, claimed the largest number of lives of any commercial aviation accident in the United States at that time . (In the worst-ever plane crash on American soil, an American Airlines DC-10 crashed shortly after takeoff at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago on May 25, 1979, killing 273.)
The third New York disaster in the media this week comes from National Public Radio (NPR) which reported last week on the crash of a B-25 Mitchell bomber into the 79th floor of the Empire State Building (it swerved to just miss the Chrysler Building). The plane had been trying to make LaGuardia Airport in a very heavy fog. According to the blog History’s Mysteries:
Upon impact, the plane’s jet fuel exploded, filling the interior of the building with flames all the way down to the 75th floor and sending flames out of the hole the plane had ripped open in the building’s side. One engine from the plane went straight through the building and landed in a penthouse apartment across the street. Other plane parts ended up embedded in and on top of nearby buildings. The other engine snapped an elevator cable while at least one woman was riding in the elevator car. The emergency auto brake saved the woman from crashing to the bottom, but the engine fell down the shaft and landed on top of it. Quick-thinking rescuers pulled the woman from the elevator, saving her life.
What a week – I’ve blogged before about disasters in the Adirondacks here.
The Hudson Valley Press Online is reporting that a bill is making it’s way through Congress to establish an Women’s Rights History Trail linking New York State sites, expand the National Register of Historic Places’ online database, and “Require the Department of Interior to establish a partnership-based network to offer financial and technical assistance for the development of educational programs focused on national women’s rights history.”
New York Senator Hillary Clinton will testify at a hearing in on July 30, 2008 in support of the National Women’s Rights History Project Act (S.1816), now before the Senate Subcommittee on National Parks.
The full story is here.
There is an outstanding post over at the blog behind AotW [Behind Antietam on the Web]. The solider at left with the head wound is Private Patrick Hughes, Fourth Regiment, New York State Volunteers, whose story is detailed by Brian Downey.
Here’s a sample:
So Patrick and his mates [mostly from New York City] were still combat rookies [at the Battle of Antietam] when they crested the rise overlooking the sunken road at the far side of the Roulette Farm at about 9 in the morning of 17 September. The 4th New York were at the left front of the Division in line of battle, and were among the first to run into the concentrated fire of the North Carolina regiments of Anderson’s Brigade, hunkered down in the natural trench of that road. It was probably there that Patrick Hughes was shot.
Although dazed and in shock, bleeding heavily from the scalp, he dragged himself to the rear and received first aid from the regiment’s surgeon, Dr. George W Lovejoy, who reported his “patient was conscious and answered questions rationally.” He was then carried to a barn in Keedysville. He lay there until 20 September, when he was moved to a hospital in Hagerstown.
Brian Downey describes his blog as “a companion to Antietam on the Web, to catch some of the spin-off that comes from researching, writing, and coding for that site.”
Both sites are outstanding and can be found, along with a pile of other new Civil War blogs, on our blogroll at right.
Upstate History Alliance has announced their 2008 Institute at Sagamore. According to UHA’s website, this year’s institute “will address the challenges and creative solutions for Interpreting Historic Spaces:”
Interpretation– the process of bringing about meaning, it’s what museums do best, or is it? What are the best ways to utilize our collections to illustrate connections and evoke thought amongst our visitors?
Participants will explore ways to tell their stories and engage their visitors through creative methods and practical applications. Experts will share their innovative thinking on interpretive planning and incorporating those plans, utilizing reader’s theater, employing interpretive technology, interpreting contentious stories as well as hearing from msueums with exemplary interpretive programs.
The Museum Institute at Sagamore is open “to individuals who are currently employed or serve in a leadership position with a museum or museum service organization.” Space is limited to 25, and their is a competitive application process.
The 2008 Institute is September 23-26; applications are due postmarked by July 25, 2008.
More information is located here.
Schenectady County Historical Society is Hosting a Talk by Jean Nudd of the National Archives
Revolutionary War Records at the National Archives, a talk by Jean Nudd, Archivist, NARA, Northeast Region, Pittsfield, MA, will be held on Saturday, June 28, 2008, at 2:00 p.m. at the Schenectady County Historical Society, 32 Washington Avenue, Schenectady, NY.
The talk by Jean Nudd is free and open to the public. The library at the Historical Society will be open without charge to researchers from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Refreshments will be served at 1:30 p.m. The Schenectady County Historical Society is wheelchair accessible.
For more information contact Katherine Chansky at (518) 374-0263 or via email at librarian AT schist DOT org.
It’s a big year at Fort Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain. First it’s the 100th anniversary of their opening with a dedication attended by President William Howard Taft. The Pell family began it’s restoration that year, a project that is continuing with the completion of the Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center that will open on July 6.
This year also marks the 250th anniversary of the French and Indian War of the Battle of Carillon, which was designated as the I Love NY “signature event,” and the opening of the new exhibit “Face of War; Triumph and Tragedy at Ticonderoga, 1758-1759,” the first new exhibit in many years. It details the lives of soldiers taken directly from their diaries and letters.
On the weekend of June 28 and 29th, over 2,000 re-enactors from all over the world are expected to make camp assembling to commemorate and celebrate the battle when Major General Abercromby’s British Army, along with Native Americans and American Militia was defeated by a much smaller force defending the fort under the Marquis de Montcalm. The focal point of the re-enactment of the 1758 battle will be a replica of the log breastwork that was a focal point of repeated and deadly British frontal attacks.
On July 5, the British and the Black Watch will be remembered with a parade to the Scottish Cairn, accompanied by clans, bagpipes and Scots from Canada, England and the United States. On July 8, there will be a parade led by the Fort Ticonderoga Fife and Drum Corps to the Montcalm Cross in remembrance of the French victory.
Big news last week with the discovery of the “practically intact” HMS Ontario in nearly 500 feet waters of Lake Ontario. The Revolution War era 80-foot British sloop of war went down during gale in 1780 with a compliment of Canadian crew, British Soldiers, and possibly American POWs.
It’s considered one of the earliest discovered shipwrecks in America. New York is also home to the a 1758 Land Tortoise fully intact in Lake George’s south basin.
The Associated Press carried the story of the HMS Ontario – “the oldest shipwreck and the only fully intact British warship ever found in the Great Lakes.”
The finders of the wreck said they regard it as a war grave and have no plans to raise it or remove any of its artifacts. They said the ship is still considered the property of the British Admiralty.
The sloop was discovered resting partially on its side, with two masts extending more than 70 feet above the lake bottom…
The Ontario went down on Oct. 31, 1780, with a garrison of 60 British soldiers, a crew of about 40, mostly Canadians, and possibly about 30 American war prisoners.
The warship had been launched only five months earlier and was used to ferry troops and supplies along upstate New York’s frontier. Although it was the biggest British ship on the Great Lakes at the time, it never saw battle, Smith said.
After the ship disappeared, the British conducted a sweeping search but tried to keep the sinking secret from Gen. George Washington’s troops because of the blow to the British defenses.
Hatchway gratings, the binnacle, compasses and several hats and blankets drifted ashore the next day. A few days later the ship’s sails were found adrift in the lake. In 1781, six bodies from the Ontario were found near Wilson, N.Y. For the next two centuries, there were no other traces of the ship.