The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is seeking public comment on the draft Adirondack Foothills Unit Management Plan (UMP). The draft UMP includes six State forests — Hogsback, Popple Pond, Woodhull, Punkeyville, Black Creek, and Hinckley — as well as 24 separate parcels of detached Forest Preserve in Oneida and Herkimer counties and will guide management of these properties over the next 10 years. [Read more…] about Adirondack Foothills Unit Management Plan Comments Sought
History often makes a muddle of people’s lives. One such example is Charles H. Smith (ca. 1832 – 1911) of Petries Corners in the town of Watson, Lewis County, NY. Charles was well known as an Adirondack guide in the Beaver River/Stillwater area of the Western Adirondacks.
He lived to a ripe old age as an elder statesman of the guiding fraternity. But confusing reports of his age, a story about guiding for royalty, and a common first and last name have obscured his actual accomplishments. [Read more…] about History Corrected: Adirondack Guide Charles H Smith & King Edward VII
The Holland Land Company is known for its role in settling the western part of upstate New York by acquiring land grants and selling off lots to prospective settlers in the early nineteenth century. Yet its activities in the last decade of the eighteenth century were of a different nature, as the stories of Gerrit Boon and Jan Lincklaen show.
In the last decade of the eighteenth century, two young Dutchmen, Gerrit Boon and Jan Lincklaen, traveled through the densely forested lands of Upstate New York. They eventually identified locations fit for the founding of the new villages of Oldenbarneveld (now Barneveld in Oneida County) and DeRuyter (in Madison County). [Read more…] about When Two Dutchmen Tried To Create A Maple Sugar Industry
The adventure began with an exchange of letters in the spring of 1877 between a sportsman in Syracuse, NY, and Byron P. Graves of Boonville, a town on the western border of the Adirondacks. The purpose of this correspondence was to hire a guide and transportation for a two-week hunting and fishing trip into the Fulton Chain of Lakes for the man and his 11-year-old son Ned.
The sportsman was Ansel Judd Northrup, a 43-year-old attorney who would later write the book, Camps and Tramps in the Adirondacks (1882), where this story was first told. The final communication from Northrup, in the form of a telegraph, simply read, “Engage Brinckerhoff, will reach Boonville, morning train, July 5th.” [Read more…] about Through The Fulton Chain of Lakes in 1877
In the nineteenth century Lewis County settlements east of the Black River were just getting established; most of these included at least one saw mill. By 1820 these settlements were beginning to push their way up the rivers into the Adirondacks, and new mills were being built along their courses. A Copenhagen, NY farmer on Tug Hill, viewing the Adirondack panorama spread out to his east, wrote the following in a Journal & Republican article titled “North Woods Wonder:”
“All the wilderness is strewn with lakes as if some great mirror had been shattered by an Almighty hand, and scattered through the forests for Nature to make her toilet by … And how the rivers meander the woods as the veins of a human hand. There are Beaver, Moose, and Indian, Bog, Grass and Racket… And how rough and shaggy the wilderness is with mountains … Let them pass unnamed.”
One of these “shattered” gems was Twitchell Lake. [Read more…] about Logging The Adirondacks From The West (1800-1820)
The St. Lawrence & Adirondack Railroad, also known as the Mohawk & Malone – eventually owned by the New York Central and called the Adirondack Line or the Adirondack Railroad ran directly through the Adirondacks from Herkimer (near Utica) to Malone connecting the rail lines along the Mohawk River to the Main Trunk Line running into Montreal. The line is often attributed to William Seward Webb, but it was the men who actually built the line that are the subject of this essay.
On March 29, 1892 a Boston Globe article titled “Labor’s Slaves in the Adirondacks” reported that Utica “resembled Washington during war times, hundreds of penniless and destitute Negroes are camped out tonight in the temporary places of shelter given them, and the citizens of Utica are consulting as to the best means of returning them to their homes.”
The Globe told readers that all night, “runaway slaves” had been coming into town. One hundred and fifty of them, mostly black laborers from the Deep South, but some recently arrived European immigrants as well. [Read more…] about “Labor’s Slaves in the Adirondacks”: Building the Adirondack Railroad
In the motor toboggan era – the time before the advent of the modern snowmobiles we know today – motor sleds had been too slow for racing excitement. As a result they remained strictly utilitarian vehicles racing only occasionally for promotional purposes. Motor toboggan and later snowmobile maker Polaris traveled each year at the end of the 1950s to trapper festivals at The Pas, Manitoba where they helped organize ad hoc races.
“We tried to rig them a little bit so we had a zig-zag effect,” David Johnson said, remembering one of the first informal races, “one guy ahead, and then the other, and so on, at a terrific speed of about 20 miles per hour.” In February 1959, Johnson won the first organized men’s race on an oval at The Pas and in 1960, the first cross-country race was held there. [Read more…] about A History of Snowmobile Racing in New York State
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, three generations of the Crego family worked as wilderness guides in the Western Adirondacks. Along the way, they raised families, worked for prominent employers, adapted to new forms of transportation, and helped lay the groundwork for the conservation movement in New York State. [Read more…] about The Crego Family: Three Generations of Adirondack Guides
Among the North Country men who made their mark in the Old West was a native of Boonville, in the foothills of the southwestern Adirondacks. He became a success in business, politics, farming, and law, and played an important role in the development of a wild territory into our 44th state. But it was ties to some notorious characters that brought him a measure of fame.
Jesse Knight was born in Boonville on July 5, 1850, the son of Jesse and Henrietta Knight. His grandfather, Isaac, had settled in Oneida County in the early 1800s and raised a family, among them Jesse’s father. But young Jesse never knew his dad, who left that same year for California, and died of yellow fever on the Isthmus of Panama. (The isthmus was a newly created US Mail route to reach California and Oregon, and a popular path for pioneers headed West.) [Read more…] about Boonville’s Jesse Knight, Wyoming Pioneer Judge