In September of 1890, infrastructure improvements were under way at Whitehall, in Washington County, long a major railroad hub. “It is said that the new freight yard at Whitehall will be one of the best on the road. The main tracks will be straightened and will pass over the ground where the old shops are located,” The Morning Star of Glens Falls reported on September 24, 1890. “The new shops have been completed, and the men are removing from the old shop, which is being torn down. Next spring work will begin on the new station for Whitehall.” [Read more…] about Northern New York 19th Century Railroad News
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
The lumber products and hardware store, which has locations in Jay and Malone, NY and employs over 50 local people, has been in Jay Ward’s family for four generations. Ward, who will continue his leadership role as the company’s chief executive officer, completed a contract with his employee team that makes Ward Lumber the largest worker-owned cooperative in the region. [Read more…] about After 130 Years Adk Lumber Company Becomes Worker-Owned Co-Op
Cold and flu season once again has sufferers scrambling for any kind of relief from all sorts of medicines. A little over a century ago, right here on Northern New York store shelves, next to cough drops by national companies like Smith Brothers and Luden’s, was a local product made in Malone.
Sprucelets were created mainly from a raw material harvested in the Adirondacks: spruce gum. Like hops, blueberries, and maple syrup, the seasonal gathering and sale of spruce gum boosted the incomes of thousands of North Country folks seeking to make a dollar any way they could. Much of what they picked was sold to national gum companies, but some was used locally by entrepreneurs who established small factories and created many jobs.
Among these was the Symonds & Allison Company of Malone, founded there in 1897 by Charles Symonds and Aaron Allison when the latter purchased half-interest in Symonds Brothers, a convenience-store operation offering food, coffee, candy, and tobacco products. [Read more…] about Sprucelets: An Original Adirondack Medicine
According to the ad, Professor T.M. Tobin, a former teacher at the Vermont Business College in Burlington, was offering to teach “ladies and gentlemen the Spencerian system of penmanship.”
Students were expected to provide their own foolscap paper, “good” ink, and pens. Tobin’s ad stated that specimens of his penmanship could be seen at the post office and that he would award a gold pen to the student who showed the most improvement. His fee for twelve lessons in today’s money was about $35.00, payable in advance. [Read more…] about Should We Still Teach Cursive Handwriting?
A new biography is shedding light on an overshadowed North Country political figure, the Nineteenth Vice President of the United States. In William Almon Wheeler: Political Star of the North Country (2013, SUNY Press), author Herbert C. Hallas leaves no doubt that Wheeler was a more significant political figure than the existing literature may lead one to believe.
The book is the first and only complete biography of Wheeler, a man referred to as “the New York Lincoln,” who helped to found the Republican Party and build it into a formidable political force during the Gilded Age. Wheeler’s life is an American success story about how a poor boy from Malone achieved fame and fortune as a lawyer, banker, railroad president, state legislator, five-time congressman, and vice president of the United States. [Read more…] about William Almon Wheeler: North Country Political Star
Olympia Brown made U.S. history in the North Country 150 years ago, early this summer. She became the first woman to become a fully ordained minister with a degree from a regularly established theological school. Olympia was ordained in the Universalist Church of Malone by the St. Lawrence Association of Universalists on June 25, 1863 and graduated from the St. Lawrence University Theological School in Canton two weeks later, on July 9, 1863.
Throughout the remainder of her 91-year-old life, she was an outspoken Universalist preacher and a fearless campaigner for suffrage and equal rights for women. Olympia marched, lectured, testified, published, protested and picketed a myriad of times from coast to coast. [Read more…] about Olympia Brown: Crusader for Women’s Rights
A comprehensive new website on the oral and digital history of Malone and other towns of northern Franklin County, New York, has been launched. The new site brings to life the history of this area from 1870 to 1940.
The website includes the material from a previous website dedicated to the history of the Franklin County logging community of Reynoldston, 1870-1970, located in the Town of Brandon.
You can listen to over 140 hours of tapes of people talking about all aspects of life in the late 19th and early 20th century in Northern New York. It includes hundreds of historical pictures, maps documents and thousands of pages of interview transcripts of more than 40 individuals. The tapes were collected from 1969- 1970. Historical features and background articles on the history of the area are included on the site.
The interviews were with a wide range of people who helped to settle and build the area: farmers, loggers, businessmen, politicians, woolen mill workers, sawmill operators, teachers, housewives, blacksmiths, and prominent members of the Malone community. They deal with religious and personal beliefs, home remedies, schooling, bootlegging, farming, growing hops, and many other topics. The interviews are autobiographical and includes comprehensive details of home life and work.
Photo: Interior of the Blacksmith Shop, Reynoldston, Franklin County, NY.
On May 9, 1903, a seemingly minor error led to a terrible Adirondack railroad accident near Old Forge. About seven miles south on Route 28 was Nelson Lake siding (a side rail, or pullover) on the Mohawk & Malone Railroad (an Adirondack branch of the New York Central Railroad). A little farther down the line from Nelson Lake was the village of McKeever.
That fateful day started like any other. From Malone, New York, about 90 miles northeast of Nelson Lake, train No. 650 (six cars) was heading south on its route that eventually led to Utica. At around 8:00 that morning and some 340 miles south of Malone, train No. 651 of the Adirondack & Montreal Express departed New York City. At 1:05 pm, it passed Utica, beginning the scenic run north towards the mountains. [Read more…] about A Small Error Leads To A Terrible Adirondack Railroad Accident