Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Boys' Own Annual

I like this image because of its title and design, but I am not sure what to say about it. It's 9:52 a.m. and I am late for work, picking out images and posting them to my blog, listening to The Beatles. It is oddly warm out for the middle of December. The weather is getting stranger and stranger: warm Decembers, a little snow, a little rain. Sun. Hurricane. The trees at our house in the Adirondacks have been decimated by the strong winds and strange weather, creating a regular need for someone with a chainsaw to cut them out of the woods, from across the driveway, and from across the stairway of the old camp, which was the victim of a diseased, but tall, tree that fell across the stairs, cracking the railings apart. We asked our caretaker last weekend why all the trees seemed to be dying and falling down. He said they are rotting from the inside, like all of us, getting old, getting weak, giving in.

A New Yorker, a Dutch banker and The Beatles

I had a rare great day yesterday. It began with a slow, painful trip to the office on the geriatric express - the M31 bus to midtown Manhattan. That bus ride feels like a nursing home field trip to Macy's. It takes for-ev-er. It must take me an hour to get one mile across the city. I have to do breathing exercises to make it without having a stroke. Anyway, it was one of those rainy, depressing days. I woke with no desire to go to work but forced myself to do it since I had taken the previous day off because I was feeling ill. And then, at 11 am, I was presented with an award by the chairman of the Bank where I work, here from Amsterdam, in front of all my colleagues. It was an odd and totally surprising moment - strange because the chairman, Rijkman Groenink, and I had never met and I had no idea he was in the U.S. And I certainly did not know that I was getting an award on that rainy and depressing day. But it was nice to be recognized by my colleagues and I began to feel better. Then I received my "Secret Santa" gift, which is really what this post is about. My gift was the new CD by The Beatles, "LOVE", which was produced by the original Beatles producer George Martin and his son Giles for a new show by Cirque du Soleil. It is all new work with all familiar music. All smoothly arranged to make you believe that it was newly recorded last month. I am listening to it for the first time this morning and am pretty sure this will be a great day, too. All you need is love, as they say -- and great music. If you don't yet have it, buy it. Today. Slip it into the CD player in your car and smile.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Mergers and Acquisitions, by Dana Vachon

Jay McInerney on Dana Vachon: "Dana Vachon writes with rare insight about the American plutocracy at work and at play. He's been to all the right schools, met all the right people and betrayed all of their confidences. If there is any justice he will be blackballed from all the right clubs and have several drinks thrown in his face. Mergers & Acquisitions is a witty and entertaining immorality tale which should earn Vachon many fans, if not necessarily among his friends and family." Dana's book is to be published by Riverhead and will be available in April. The novel can be ordered in advance at Amazon.

Book Description from

A stylish and hilarious novel about the lives and loves of well-to-do young Manhattanites in their first year on Wall Street, destined to become one of the year's most buzzed-about debuts.

Mergers & Acquisitions is the story of Tommy Quinn, a recent Georgetown grad who has just landed the job of his dreams as an investment banker at J. S. Spenser, and the perfect girl, Frances Sloan, the daughter of one of New York's oldest moneyed families. As he travels from the most exclusive ball rooms of the Racquet and Tennis Club to the stuffiest boardrooms of J. S. Spenser, from the golf links of Piping Rock to the bedrooms of Park Avenue, and from the debauched yacht of a Mexican billionaire to the Ritalin-strewn prep-school dorm room of his younger brother, he finds that the job and the girl are not what they once seemed.

Sharply written, fast-paced, and bitingly witty, Mergers & acquisitions is a compulsively readable story of Manhattan's young, ambitious, and wealthy. Set against the backdrop of money, lust, power, corruption, cynicism, energy, and excitement that is Wall Street, it is suffused with an authenticity that only an author who lives in that world can provide. A former investment banker at J. P. Morgan, Vachon offers an insider's point of view on the financial scene, and he knows the moneyed turf of Manhattan inside out.

About the Author

Dana Vachon was born in Greenwich, Connecticut, and raised in Chappaqua, New York. He attended Duke University, graduating, as he claims, "cum nihilo" in 2002. Following graduation, Vachon landed a job at J. P. Morgan as an analyst and began work on this novel. His writing has appeared in the International Herald Tribune, Men's Vogue, The New York Times, and Salon.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Boulders, Fourth Lake

The Boulders is one of the true great camps on Fourth Lake. It burned down to the ground once and was re-built in the 1920's. This is the main lodge. There is also a wonderful, big boathouse with a great game room above the boat slips. There are wildflowers throughout the grounds, a little garden, a tennis court, guest house, and several tiny cottages that must have been housing for the staff. Two screen porches on either side of the main house provide respite from the sun and elements. The lake is just down the hill, shining in the sunlight. A little island with a lean to sits directly across from the house. It would make a great little hideout for a lucky kid.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Arrowhead Lodge, Inlet, New York

The Arrowhead Hotel or Arrowhead Lodge was one of the beautiful Adirondack hotels of the past. Here is an image of the interior of the Arrowhead, the place where Chester Gilette visited after the murder of his mistress Grace Brown on Big Moose Lake. Inlet's Arrowhead Park's baseball field and landscaped parkland is now what occupies the land where the Arrowhead once stood.

Nina's Point, December 2006

The snow this weekend blanketed the forest, but the sun beat down winter by Sunday. The lake had just started to freeze, creeping slowly, methodically through the water in the bays. A film of ice began to reach out into the deep center of the lake as the weekend and the cold continued, but by Sunday the sun had returned, the temperature had risen, and the ice was once again beaten back. The sun-flecked lake beat against the ice, rhythmically, patiently dismantling the millions of ice crystals that had crept across the shallow waters, easy prey.

We took the snowmobile for its inaugural run, but we could feel the gravel creeping up from beneath the shallow layer of snow beneath the sharp, fierce treads of the sled. There was a kind of tension in the air, in the water, and in the earth -- between snow and sun, the border of fall and winter. The forest was in transition, damp and murky and unsure. The loons were nowhere to be seen or heard as the sun defrosted the little bit of winter that had just started to get its confidence back after three seasons in hibernation. You could feel a little of its excitement and the townspeople almost wanted to cheer it on and welcome it back with mittened hands and down sheathed arms.

Adirondack Camp with Hunters, 1902

An antique postcard dated January 1st, 1902 shows Adirondack hunters at a typical Adirondack camp in the Adirondack Mountains, New York.

Through the Fulton Chain, August 1914


Who Get Near to Nature in a Ten Day Trip in the Adirondacks

August 1914. To H.G. Dobson, "official log keeper" for the canoeing party which also included D.V. Bradley, A.E. Sizer, and A.L. Kimball, we are indebted for the following interesting account of their trip through the Fulton Chain of Lakes.

Although our trip was not taken in the interest of the public, or for any periodical, we are pleased to tell about it, if for no other reason than to see our writings in print. Before we started we had our trip thoroughly planned and were equipped with maps, compasses, firearms and fishing tackle. We left Brockport on Sunday morning, August 2, at four a.m., via auto in order to catch the 5:50 train at Rochester. Our trip through the Adirondack mountains was to start at Old Forge, at which place we had a pleasant visit with Dr. Lindsay formerly of this place. We rented our canoes there and obtained sufficient supplies for our immediate need. Our first camp was made in about 30 minutes, about three miles from Old Forge, near a cool spring. This land was part of a 10000 acre property owned by Lyon DeCamp, who gave us the permission to use the land for camping. We were already in the thick of the forest with no life in sight except the occasional passing of boats on their way to Fourth Lake. Our first rest was broken about two a.m., by the tearing of the paper covering on our "grub" which was hung in a tree. A shot brought the intruder down and showed it to be a porcupine.

We started in good time in the morning planning to save the middle of each day for rest. The trip through Second and Third Lakes was uneventful.

On Fourth Lake, we called at Seymour Point, where is located the summer camp of Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Sylvester. Mr. Sylvester might well take pride in showing his estates with its open camp, boat house, rustic bridge, and rustic stairways, crowned with a beautiful home like camp, all make of the hewn spruce with which the place behind the clearing is forested. He brings cold spring water from the woods, and by means of compression system has the whole camp piped with it. He has his own little saw mill, repair shops and plumbing equipment. He receives mail from the boat twice a day including Sunday and a fully stocked grocery boat comes to the door every day but Sunday. And yet will all these conveniences he is in the wilds, for deer graze in his potato patch each night and he has but to open the door to get the "smell of the woods."

Continuing our journey, we went the length of Fourth Lake to Inlet where a tiny stream afforded us passage to Fifth Lake which is little more than a pond. Here comes our first carry which although only half a mile, seemed as hard as any of the longer ones which came later. We were traveling so heavy that it required two trips to transport our whole "duffle". The canoes which naturally would seem to be difficult to carry, were provided at the center with a yoke, just fitting on the shoulders, and were a comparatively easy load. We paddled through Sixth Lake and into Seventh Lake at the end of which we made our second camp. The last mile of this journey was through broken stumps and logs, the channel marked by green shingles placed to right or left.

Between Seventh and Eighth was our second carry of one and one half miles. On this path we found much of interest including an eagle's nest, a platform on the extreme top of a dead pine, possibly 150 feet in height. The birds followed us for a mile scolding us for trespassing on their sacred preserve. Eighth Lake is owned entirely by the state and is the wildest and prettiest of the chain. It is probably three miles long and contains one island. There were probably fifteen to twenty camping parties on the shores, some transients, as we others spending more or less of the whole season. The fishing proved good here and we were rewarded with a hearty meal of bass. Here was another carry of about a mile to Brown's Tract Inlet which consisted of a well "paddled" path through reeds and water lilies. It was little over a mile as the crow flies, but with many turns we went about four before we arrived at Raquette Lake. On the inlet we saw two beaver mounds and we were told that they were now becoming quite numerous, having been introduced and protected by the State.

At Racquette Lake which is on the railroad, originally an old logging road, we learned our first war news. On this lake lives Mr. R.J. Collier, owner of Collier's Weekly, who was receiving a special press service by telegraph. He had given permission for the copies to be posted for the information of the public, so we learned the news up to the minute while we were there. He left while we were on the lake to see Glenn Curtiss to offer him $200,000 to act as War Correspondent for Collier's, and to carry him as passenger. Evidently his purpose failed for the papers have said nothing of the project. Mr. Collier owns one motor boat on the lake which plows through the water at 43 miles and also has a hydroplane at his camp. Our camp on this beautiful island dotted lake was on Indian Point, State Land, and was surrounded by white birches against a background of evergreens. Our second morning on this lake we noted the flags at half mast for the death of Mrs. Woodrow Wilson. We left in the afternoon with a heavy wind blowing at our backs. With our heavy loads, it took continual attention to keep boats headed and even then our boats shipped some water. At the carry between Racquette and Forked, we found a team to make the haul for us.

On each new lake we found new and interesting things and the scenery varied, so that it became not at all monotonous. At the end of Forked Lake, we lost our way for a little while and had to land across a heavily wooded point to get our bearings. We made camp at Racquette river (the lower part) near an old logging camp which is still kept open by the Norwood Co. for the purpose of housing guides and making carries. This carry around Buttermilk Falls and several lengths of rapids, not navigable, was about five miles and was made for us with a team. This old carry brought us through the wildest part of the mountains past the finest trout streams. Mr. La Pell occupied the camp and made the carry for us and in him, as in everyone we met, we found genuine friends who went out of their way to make things pleasant for us. We remarked on this fact several times and finally laid it to the fine mountain air, which made people feel so light hearted and whole souled.

We took up our journey again on Sunday morning, on Long Lake which is nothing but a widening of the river. We passed Deerland and Long Lake, both fashionable resorts reached by attractive automobile routes through the mountains. We made camp that night on West Island on which we found our first unoccupied open camp. Across to the mainland, a quarter of a mile, we found the finest spring we had struck and extremely cold. As we entered Long Lake that Sunday morning, we pass through fields of thousands of while water lilies, to my mind the most beautiful flower that grows. While at this site we witnessed a most peculiar sight, the passing of 14 canoes in the rain. It looked as though the German army was upon us as they came through the narrows. We found later that it was a summer school of boys from eight to twelve years old, who came from Baltimore, Md. We overtook them on the next day's carry and had pleasant visits with them. At the end of the lake we again entered the river, stopping Tuesday night at Axton, another camp leased from the State by Fred Woods, a guide. The spot was formerly used by the Cornell Institution for the study of forestry. There are several unoccupied houses there, any one of which was offered to us for the night. Mr. and Mrs. Woods made us feel as though we had always known them. Mrs. Woods sent us our first taste of fresh milk. Mr. Woods told us of the fishing holes and helped us get ready to go to the river for bullheads, of which we caught a big pailful about 11 p.m. Then he came down to our camp in the morning and showed us how to skin the fish.

Wednesday morning we left on the first leg of our journey, planning to reach Tupper Lake that night. During this run we made two short carries, which cut off the long curves in the river. We passed hundreds of wild ducks and came so close to them it would have been almost possible to touch them with a fish rod. Cranes were also numerous, and we afterward learned that there was a marsh on Tupper Lake on which most of the cranes of the country were hatched. At Tupper Lake we made an interesting trip through the Santa Clara Lumber Co's. mill, which close to 2000 logs a day were cut and the lumber sorted and piled. Here also we had an experience, which tended to mar out pleasures for the last of the trip. As we landed at the Tupper Lake dock, a motor boat brought to our feet a couple of youngsters who had fallen into the water. No heart action was present, even tho we detected a small pulse. We administered artificial respiration, and soon doctors were on the scene to direct us. We worked over an hour before the word was given that there was no hope. We packed our belongings early the next morning and reluctantly boarded the train at Tupper Lake, which was to carry us away. Our mountain vacation is over, but the memories are present, and will long remain with us.

Henry Seymour Dies

Henry Seymour, of No. 42 West Forty-sixth Street, died suddenly on Tuesday, at Sourdnahunk Camp, in Maine, where he had gone ten days before on a fishing trip. His health had not been good for several months. Mr. Seymour was born in Batavia, N.Y., but had resided in New York city nearly all his life. He was for many years an active member of the Produce Exchange, and for the last twenty years had been in charge of the insurance department of the New York Life Insurance and Trust Company. He was a member of the Manhattan Chess Club and the Society of Colonial Wars. He was unmarried. [1906?]

Seymour Point Ice Box Rolls


Ice Box Rolls

Pour 2 cups boiling water over
2 heaping tbls. lard
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 yeast cakes dissolved
2 eggs beaten
8 cups flour gradually
Stand over night in ice box
Make into rolls & stand 3 hrs.
Half of this recipe makes 30 rolls.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Welcome, Winter

Snow has finally started to accumulate around the house, and undulating ribbons of ice are forming atop the various small bays around the lake. For now, the main body of the lake continues to resist dropping temperatures and frozen precipitation, its current still marching on. Having wavered now for several weeks, it seems that the environment around us has plunged into Winter at last.

It's at these times that I sometimes like to think of the season we've just left behind, as a kind of farewell. This picture was taken during a warm and languid Fall evening several weeks ago. Welcome, Winter.

Friday, December 08, 2006

New York State, 1796

Verplanck Colvin's Geodetic Field Book

Surveyor Verplanck Colvin (1847-1920) created more than 440 field books between 1872 and 1900 to complete a survey of the Adirondack wilderness of New York. This volume shows the area of Blue Mountain Lake in Hamilton County. Colvin began surveying the Adirondacks in 1865. In 1872, the Board of Regents appointed him supervisor of the State Survey and established a Commission of State Parks to study the idea of an Adirondack Park. By 1880, Colvin had completed the most thorough survey of the Adirondacks ever done. He continued work as state surveyor for the next twenty-eight years. While doing his surveys, he also gave speeches to promote the establishment of the Adirondack Park. The Adirondack wilderness area was designated part of a State Forest Preserve in 1885, and as the Adirondack Park in 1892. This book is on loan to the New York State Archives from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Real Property Services.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Guide to the Adirondacks

Why the Adirondacks?

Of late, some of our posts have spurred divergent reactions and a fair amount of debate. We have been accused of living in a fantasy world. We have been called transients. Some have gone "on record" as supporting our lifestyle, which they deem "alternative." All of this has led us to believe that perhaps we should write down why we started this blog in the first place and, by extension, why we set out to build a house in the Adirondacks.

During Memorial Day weekend ten years ago, I set foot inside the Blue Line for the first time. I had just met someone who had been going to Fourth Lake since his earliest memory, the third generation of his family to do so. In fact, one of the first topics we ever discussed was the Adirondacks and his family's place there. To be honest, I was ambivalent. I had moved to New York City several years before, full of all the hopes and aspirations that propel young people to that island of possibility, and New York granted me much of what I sought. Unforgettable experiences. Knowledge the like of which I could only have imagined a few short years before. The sense that I was living in a true center of the world, participating in living history. For me, New York was a kind of promised land. In spite of my misgivings, I accepted his invitation to visit the family camp.

It was like nothing I'd ever seen before. By then I had already traveled or lived in Europe, Latin America, parts of North Africa and the Middle East. I had seen ancient sites and beautiful vistas that burn in my memory to this day. I had been in Berlin as the Wall was being dismantled. But this was different. It was sheer wilderness commingled with the genius of civilization. Structures unique to the world, hewn, it seemed, from the very earth itself. It was all so gentle, just as it was violent. Impenetrable fog would slowly give way to the most dazzling light, even more beautiful than that of the Aegean. It was a place that demanded that one live in the moment, simply because the unfathomable beauty of that moment could vanish in the blink of an eye. It was nature, culture, history, hope and failure converging in the same place. Still, I was merely smitten and not yet in love.

I kept coming back over the years and slowly began to grasp the rhythm of the place. The house began to take on a life all its own, a personality just as complex as the environment that surrounded it. I couldn't help but feel that the place was sizing me up, judging if I was up to the task of committing a lifetime to it. It was the first to judge that I was a transient. Days of unending rain, punctuated by only the slightest glimmer of gloaming light just before sunset. Fleeing from terrible biting insects, only to come upon the most graceful of herons hovering just above the surface of the lake. It was all maddening, but I also found myself falling in love.

Five years ago, 9/11 happened. I saw the second plane hit the second tower. I heard the talk of people jumping from the highest floors. The avenues were emptied of all traffic, populated only by the occasional emergency vehicle. An endless current of people walked uptown, and I walked with them, away from a solid wall of black smoke more forbidding than the angriest thunderstorm I had ever seen. Never had such a beautiful day turned so ugly. I was numb, thinking only that I had to avoid all famous landmarks in case more destruction was on its way. My promised land had been ripped from me. Forever. In the terrible months that followed, New York was less an island of possibility than it was a prison of trauma. I wondered if this was really the kind of history I wanted to live through. If I do live in a fantasy world, this experience informs that fantasy more than any other.

And so we built our house, and we write this blog. We write because we truly believe that the Adirondacks are unique to the world. That its legacy and the genius of its generations past and present are things worth celebrating and preserving. That it is a place where one moment and place in time can be a universe unto itself, if only one stops to look and listen. It is the place that took a transient like me and stopped me in my tracks.

Old Forge Hardware 1960's

The Old Forge Hardware Co. is probably the only really worthwhile place to shop in Old Forge. We walk around town often, looking for a place to browse and something to buy for the house. We always end up at the Hardware, with its long aisles of interesting goods, puzzles and tools and pack baskets. Kitchen tools. Everything. It is a quirky place, less so than it used to be, unfortunately, but still a place with a history and a certain charm and lots of character.

Adirondack League Club Lodge

Rickety Rackety Railroad, H.M. Beach

Memories of Cohasset

I remember taking walks to Cohasset during my childhood, after dinner, to buy candy from the little store in that charming inn on Fourth Lake. Now, Cohasset has become what so many other of the old, great hotels of the Adirondacks have become - private homes. The old hotel was demolished, killed, really. Now there are a bunch of small and unremarkable houses on the point where the majestic old hotel once stood.

An article from the Syracuse newspaper from June 1929:

Consists of Hotel and Group of Small Cottages

Old Forge, June 1 - High on a wooded knoll overlooking the beautiful south shore of Fourth Lake stands Cohasset. Surrounded by towering pines and birches, the cool depths of the forest are brought to the very verandas. Below the grove surrounding the hotel, a wide sand beach circles the point jutting out into the lake, offering a romp or lounging place where one is enchanted by the sparkle of the crystal water in the sunlight.

Cohasset consists of a main hotel and a number of modern cottages all placed within communicating distance and connected by enticing paths through the woods and along the shore of the lake. The lower floor of the main building is flanked by broad verandas whereon one may find quiet seclusion in a shaded nook or join the happy family of guests bound together through the mutual enjoyment of the inspiring natural beauties.

Cottage life at Cohasset offers an ideal vacation for a family with children or a group wishing to stay by themselves. The buildings are clean and attractive, with big open fireplaces and the conveniences of the main hotel.

Cohasset is reached by two trains daily from Utica and two trains daily from Montreal to Thendara, then taking either a train or a taxicab to Old Forge, which makes connections with the steamboat up the lake. Motorists may go by State road from Utica to Old Forge with a good shore road leading from there to the camp, seven miles distance.

Zebra, by John Derian Decoupage, New York

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

June 1966: Historic Albedor Lodge Sold

Historic Albedor Lodge, originally the estate of Col. and Mrs. E.A. Simmons of the New York publishing firm Simmons-Boardman Co. has recently been purchased by Dr. and Mrs. Harold T. Frendt of Jim Thorpe, Pa.

The spacious Adirondack-style lodge, with an exterior of native stone and western spruce clapboards, has been a landmark of Fourth Lake since [1930]. A crew of 70 men worked a year and a half to erect the main house and its eleven out-buildings, including a huge two story boathouse. The Douglas Fir supporting timbers were shipped all the way from the west coast via the Panama Canal to Baltimore and thence by rail to Eagle Bay. Throughout the lodge, the wood ceiling and wall paneling was hand rubbed to a satin-smooth finish. A hundred tons of slate was used to roof the buildings.

The name Albedor was derived from the names of the Simmons' daughters: Aline, Betty and Dorothy.

Mary's Gift Shop, Inlet, New York

Inlet, New York Circa 1925

Inlet, situated on the eastern terminus of navigation of the Fulton Chain of Lakes, is the center of the resort section of the Central Adirondacks, stress is laid on the fact that when the hardy pioneers left that section for fresher fields they made their way to this part of the woods which had never been visited by white men. Nat Foster, one of the beloved characters of the Fulton region had headquarters at the head of Fourth Lake where this village now stands, using it as a half-way house when on his way to Raquette Lake and other lakes of the north. When Robert Fulton first visited this wonderful chain of lakes which now bears his name, he little dreamed that this strip of wild woods and water would later be one of the foremost resort centers of the State. Inlet abounds with points of interest, Rocky Mountain, Black Bear Mountain, Bald Mountain and many other high peaks where hardy hikers may enjoy mountain climbing, are all within a short distance of the village. The Eighth Lake excursion attracts hundreds each season. The Seventh Lake and Limekiln Lake waters are filled with trout and bass, and so much state land surrounds the lakes that they look as primitive as a century ago. Hotels, garages, stores, restaurants, gift shop, in fact everything which the tourist or camper may desire are to be found in this enterprising little mountain village. And last but not least, one finds here the real old time Adirondack pioneer and guide. Those lovable mountain characters, quaint in their ideas and rich in the tales of the early days, can tell stories of the woods so vivid that the listener can almost smell the smoke of the camp fire, and impress him with the fact that the great outdoors breeds men of broadened minds and rare honesty. Good roads from all parts of the State lead to Inlet. A new concrete road leads along the northerly shore of the chain of lakes through Eagle Bay to Inlet. Improved dirt roads are found to Limekiln, Seventh and Raquette Lakes and other points of interest. The boat trip through the Fulton Chain of Lakes is an outstanding feature of a Summer vacation as well as the Blue Mountain Lake excursion; all being easily made in a few hours from Inlet. No Summer itinerary is complete without some of these numerous jaunts through nature's great wonderland, with Inlet as a starting point.

From Inlet Chamber of Commerce Brochure, circa 1925

Eliza Vanderbilt Webb and Dr. William Seward Webb


Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch, in Los Olivos, California has fallen into disrepair since Mr. Jackson's departure from the United States last year. New pictures recently published on the web show the once pristine grounds now covered with dead grass, wilting flowers and general lifelessness. This has gotten me thinking about the massive undertaking of keeping up an Adirondack property. It is really a full time job. The trees alone keep us busy -- constantly falling, dying, needing to be cut and removed. New trees need to be planted to replace the old, fallen ones. And then, there is the history to preserve. An old wood shed that needs a new roof, a dock to be rebuilt. It is a never ending labor of love. The challenge -- one of them -- is to rebuild and replace in keeping with the original. The roofing material should be cedar shakes, not new 30 year roofing. The posts must be real, bark-on trees, cut in winter to preserve the bark. And to what end, all of this Adirondack preservation? Is it worth the effort and expense or should we just bid farewell to a lost era and enjoy what's left?

Another View of Bald Mountain House

Dr. William Seward Webb & Eliza Vanderbilt Webb

Eliza Vanderbilt Webb (center) and Dr. William Seward Webb (far right) and family are pictured here. Mrs. Webb was a member of the wealthy Vanderbilt family and Dr. Webb used her substantial fortune to promote his railroad and other businesses in the Adirondacks. The Webbs were, around 1893, the owners of the land that eventually became Seymour Point and later Penwood, Lots 40, 41, 42 and 43 within Herkimer County, Town of Webb.

Many Faces of the Adirondacks

We hope that nobody minds our reprinting here of the dialogue that appears in the very cool blog York Staters, but since it all started here, we wanted to memorialize it in our pages.

Two Faces of the Adirondacks: The Almanack and the Boys
Published 12.04.2006 by York Staters

In general, among us Upstate bloggers there tends to be a climate of amicable tolerance and friendly exchange. Certainly, we come from all points of the political prism—from Anarchist (that’s me!) to conservative (such as my old arch-nemesis the “Let Upstate Be Upstate” blog[1])—but overall we’re all just pretty much thrilled that other people are also interested in our region.That’s why I was pretty shocked to read the Adirondack Almanack’s latest post: An Angry Adirondack Almanack Note to Neighbors, which tears into the (relatively) new and highly prolific blog Adirondack Boys (“Everything Fabulous About New York’s Adirondack Park”).I must mention here that I’ve always had a deep respect for the Almanack’s thoughtful commentary on life “Behind the Blue Line,” the Almanack seems to never post unless its something that it deems useful and important (which is a bit different from the Boys… but different styles are ok). The Almanack writes about the new blog:

The posts started nicely enough, mostly the history of Penwood (Old Forge), where the Adirondack Boys have recently had a home built for them. All was well for a while, until, perhaps inevitably given the pace of posting, the posts started turning to other subjects and, well, frankly, began pissing us off.For several weeks the Almanack held a regular internal debate about the new blog. The Almanack doesn't always agree with even our favorite bloggers, and we don't always have to comment on a bad post or two. The Almanack encourages conflicting viewpoints, alternative ideas, even the downright outlandish. The Almanack doesn't want to be mean. The Almanack wants friends in the blog world and wants to encourage Adirondack blogs. Today however, the insults aimed at locals reached a crescendo and if there is one thing we can't stand it's hypocrisy: don't believe one thing and support the exact opposite just because it fits your social milieu more appropriately. If you worship the devil at night in the woods, don't send money to evangelical TV preachers and sell bibles on the side.

Yes, that’s us that they’re referring to as a “favorite” blog that they don’t always agree with[2]. Fair enough. But this post, which I’m not going to quote much further (you should read it yourself) goes on to condemn the boys for hypocrisy (for instance they’re gay men who love President Bush enough to copy his entire lunch menu as a post) and outright classism.Without a doubt, the Boys seem completely clueless about the world of the working folk around them. Their celebration of what is ‘fabulous’ about the Adirondacks refers primarily to the Great Camps of the wealthy elite of the Gilded Age. As someone who worked at one of these Camps as a tour guide for three years, I can tell you that perhaps the lives of the wealthy there were ‘fabulous,’ but to not mention the lives of those who worked in and built those camps and lived in them year round is to ignore history just as vital as that of the “Summer People” (their words) that arrived for a few weeks. The descendents of those same workers are the ones that the Boys blissfully ignore or denigrate all around them.It is within the Adirondacks that the Upstate-Rural-Poor versus Downstate-Urban-Rich dichotomy is the most acute. It is there that jaded, tired Downstaters build their sprawling ‘camps’ and host their elaborate parties. Of course nthing wrong with a little bit of R&R, I can’t think of an Adirondacker that doesn’t appreciate that land for its calming, healing properties. But in the view of the Boys, the Adirondack Park is simply that: A Park. A place for their own amusement. While I admit and enjoy the unique nature of the Adirondacks, I try never to forget that it is also a human place where people make their lives—they and their communities are never simple backdrops for my Adirondack adventures or props for the fulfillment of my dreams. It is that simple truth that the Boys have missed as they have treated decorative lamps and terra cotta urns as more important subjects than the lives that surround them.-Jesse

[1] I’m pretty sure that Let Upstate Be Upstate, the blog of the Business Council of NY, doesn’t share in my analysis of our relationship. However, this letter I wrote to them explains my feelings.[2] Which of course, gets me curious as to which posts they’re referring to.

12 Responses to “Two Faces of the Adirondacks: The Almanack and the Boys”

TourPro on 12:37 PM, December 04, 2006

I think the very issue that is illustrated by the Adirondack Boys' post is something very much worth discussing. At least the Boys were cognizant enough to recognize the significance of the incident and their role, and even acknowledged the criticism from the Almanack. This is one of the historic dichotomies that makes the Adirondacks interesting.

Jesse on 3:13 PM, December 04, 2006

TourPro-I've looked through both sites and I can't see where the Boys responded to the Almanack. They don't have a post up about it, at leas that I can find. You're right on the money to say that this is the core social dynamic of the Adirondacks, throughout its history as a tourist destination (which has been over a hundred years). One could go further and say that the dynamic between the wealthy few who control land, power and resources and the poorer majority who work in the institutions controlled by the wealthy is one of the most important forces at work in human history. Is it not the dynamic that allowed factory owners to move to Mexico and China, devastating our Upstate cities for the past 30 years?The Adirondacks only highlights these forces since they are so acute. It is perhaps fitting that the "Boys" celebrate the camps of the great industrialists of the late 1800s since they themselves represent the same phenomenon in the modern era. The Almanack is, of course, a voice for the opposite view today--it is interesting that the Internet has allowed both a voice and a chance to face each other. The workers have always critiqued the lifestyles of the wealthy in the Adirondacks, it is only that the Web has amplified their voices.

Adirondack Boy on 9:48 PM, December 04, 2006

It doesn't seem to take much more than the mention of summer people to ignite a firestorm of criticism. As we mention in our post today, its not that we feel greater or lesser than locals, but that the two populations are different, and interesting for their differences. We love the Adirondacks as much as everyone does, and our blog celebrates that sentiment. It also explores our view of the world using the Adirondacks as a prism through which to view it. Adirondack Almanack thinks we live in a fantasy world; but the Adirondacks can be about fantasy, dreaming, the un-real - just as much as it can be a place of hardship, loneliness, poverty and grief. We have chosen to focus more on the former than the latter, but we aren't ignorant of the suffering and difficult lives that are as much, if not more, a part of the park as great camps and antique boats.

Jesse on 12:14 PM, December 05, 2006

I tossed and turned in my bed last night mulling over the questions raised by these posts and comments (yes, I know that I need to get a life... but at least it was more 'real' than some of the 19th century anthropological theories I spend my days memorizing). What exactly raised my hackles about the Adirondack Boy's site and what did I see in the Almanack's post that inspired me to join the fray? After all, York Staters has featured pictures of beautiful Adirondack sunsets, examples of old architecture and regional dishes. We certainly don't shy away from celebrating the beauty of this land--in fact we would post ourselves many (if not the majority) of the posts on Adirondack Boys if they were submitted to us. In fact, I applaud the global warming post.The conclusion that I came to was that I was disturbed by two inter-related, but distinct aspects of this question: the selected celebration of history and the presentation of the present.Any presentation of history is always selective--because we are always constrained (by time, space, resources), we can never present all of history, or even all that we know of history. Instead, what all historians (at least the good historians) do is synthesize historical events and convey them to others. My problem with the Boys' celebration of the Gilded Age of Adirondack History (very roughly 1890-1929) is that their selection emphasizes certain elements of the story while ignoring others--in particular the stories of the working people of the Adirondacks.Let me give an example, one that I know well. On Sunday, the Boys posted a picture of Great Camp Sagamore, a beautiful Great Camp near Raquette Lake that was owned by the Vanderbilt Family; I have worked there for three summers as a historic interpretor and archivist. The story of Sagamore can (and has) been told of one of rustic luxury, summer fun, Christmases with roaring fires, men in fine suits and ladies in beautiful dresses. This is one of the stories of this place, a legitimate and important one.But Sagamore has other stories to tell. The land on which it sits was first acquired by the developer William West Durant via money he inherited from his father, Thomas Clark Durant, the infamous architect of the Credit Mobilier scandal. The money used to buy the land was either stolen openly from the railway investors (both private and the US government), extorted from farming communities along western rail-lines or beaten out of the backs of the Irish, Chinese and Black laborers along the lines. Closer to home, William took control of the Adirondack land through shady dealings with Lt. Governor Timothy Woodruff--he was paid the highest price ever given for Adirondack land by the state, retained isolated lake parcels for his camps...and Woodruff was given nearby Kamp Kil Kare. Durant proceeded to chain off 'his' outlet to Raquette Lake---and when locals continued to fish there (remember this is for sustinance, not entertainment), Durant posted snipers on the rocks to shoot them. Neighbor JP Morgan had armed men and dogs patrolling his property lines to drive out locals who had hunted there for generations (and probably didn't have a clue where boundary lines were found). Another neighbor, a Rockefeller, used goon squads to intimidate locals into selling their land. Is this also a legitimate story of the Adirondacks? Yes. Is it as pretty? Of course not. But to completely ignore it in some 200+ posts is to show either a complete ignorance or a lack of concern (perhaps the later leads to the former) of these abuses. In fact to completely ignore the vibrant, interesting and often beautiful stories of these working people (working life isn't always hardship, loneliness, poverty and grief), is to systematically continue the same marginalization and oppression that the great industrialists began in the region 110 years ago.I have lived and worked in the Adirondacks for close to 12 months over the period of the last three years. During that time, I found the locals to often be suspicious and cautious with outsiders. I also found the same in several other small, rural communities in which I've worked (Walsenburg CO, Argyll NY, Mexico NY), despite their lack of 'Summer People.' Those communities don't even have the thriving oral history of systemic Gilded Age oppression that the Adirondacks have. At the same time, I have found the people of all four communities to be warm and welcoming... if you come to the situation right. To come to the Adirondacks and to go to tourist-only bars and restaurants (you can thell them not only by clientele, but price, ambiance) will get you marked as not interested in their lives as them as people---understandable given the generations of experience. But, on the other hand, when you start going to local bars, talking to people at libraries, laundrimats or--perhaps ideally--working with them cleaning the bedrooms, bathrooms of tourists or serving them food or chopping their firewood--you'll find them to be as open and friendly as people anywhere else in the world.How we treat the past is how we treat the present. When you continously gloss over the fiscal scandals and systemic oppression of the Gilded Age, I am not surprised to find your interactions with those same phemonena today to be lacking profundity. I believe in fantasy, dreaming and the un-real... but my flights of fantasy always have their launching pad from the real world. I love and celebrate beauty and whimsy, but I believe that if they were paid for in blood and sweat, that to ignore that history is to commit an injustice against those who sacrificed.[This comment has also been posted on the Adirondack Boys site]

have skunk on 2:50 PM, December 05, 2006

Adirondack Boy on 9:48 PM, December 04, 2006 "... Adirondack Almanack thinks we live in a fantasy world; but the Adirondacks can be about fantasy, dreaming, the un-real - just as much as it can be a place of hardship, loneliness, poverty and grief. We have chosen to focus more on the former than the latter, but we aren't ignorant of the suffering and difficult lives that are as much, if not more, a part of the park as great camps and antique boats."You're right, Adk Boy. Your blog focuses on the fantasy world of great camps and antique boats and the carefully cultured shadowboxes of privilege that surrounds them. You and yours, as you repesent your sensibilities in your blog, are top carnivores in an economic food pyramid that you will never fully understand in your role as transients, even if you live in the Adks for ever more. Being "summer people" is as much a state of mind as it is a descriptor of a type of seasonal inhabitant. Your blog focuses on an unreal world of artificial valuations. For the people you overlook, there is no such artifice, but just the clarity that comes with being the practical people upon whom the summer people call when something real needs to happen, like fixing a leaky roof. An apt metaphor would be that the real Adkers, the caretakers and carpenters and the like, are the James Bakers to your little family of George W. Bushes: the family fixer who unclogs the toilets and gravels the driveways and fixes the boat dock so that you can go on living in your happy, ignorant bubble. I hope I haven't put too fine a point on my point.Nice blog, yorkstaters.

Natalie on 3:44 PM, December 05, 2006

Jeezy creezy, I'm off the grid for a couple days studying, and the comment lines are burning up. Jesse - It's hard to find posts on Adirondack Boys sometimes, they have quite a number of tags that aren't all consistent, and posts get pushed off the first page very quickly with a flurry of new ones. But I recall when Adirondack Almanack posted their article last week, the Boys reproduced it in full, no comments, just a re-posting of the Almanack critique.Jesse, Skunk, etc. - As for the balance of the life they portray, most of the Adirondack Boy posts are images, and historic images of the Adirondacks that are easy to come by in digital form are more often than not of the "lifestyles of the rich and famous" Posting images, and even celebrating the positives they see in that part of history doesn't necessarily advocate a return to it.

joe on 3:58 PM, December 05, 2006

Jesse most of that stuff you said about how the land was acquired and how it was owned would be superfluous in a post about the history of the structures and the structurization of the camp(s).But AB aren't even giving a history of a great camp or their development. Y'all aren't even in the same frame and are misusing 'people's history' discourse.

Jesse on 5:43 PM, December 05, 2006

Natalie- I would heartily disagree with you, you were also a Sagamore tour guide and you know that the first breath out of many people's mouths when they see the Main Lodge is "Wow, so beautiful!" and the second is "I wish I could live like that!" Celebration of an oppressive era without recognition of its oppressive nature justifies the same oppression in the modern day. I know that most of the ADK Boys posts (I did find their commentary by the way) are simple pictures, but communicative media involve far more than words and essays. Joe-I agree that most of what I said about the land aquisition of the land would be superflous to a picture blog... and I don't expect anyone except for a few Sagamore junkies like myself to even know it. What I am trying to say is that there is a world beneath the glitz and glamour. They didn't call it the "Gilded" age for nothing. I wanted to strip away the gilt for a moment and show what lay beneath. Even if you don't always articulate what lies beneath, you have an obligation to keep it in mind.

Jesse on 8:43 PM, December 05, 2006

Not to beat a dead horse or anything, but Joe, I think that how land was acquired and how it was owned is incredibly relevant to the history of the structures. The architecture of the camps reflect a Romantic value on the importance of unity between humans and nature--that the divine could be found in natural landscapes. The architecture of the Adirondack Camp is notable in particular because it is the first large scale American architectual form to open embrace unity with nature...harmonization over domination. But once again, the Camp is a complex place and the front 'Gilding' is not the whole story.When we begin to look at land-use patterns and other aspects of the buildings (especially the service complexes), we see another story: the continued importance over dominance. Nature was shaped and controlled at the camp and part of that story involves the exploitation of cheap human labor in order to construct the fantasies out front. The Camp purposefully cannot be separated from the landscape and the story of the Camp is not complete without the story of the land around it.So, if we only look at the buildings, we see Romantic love of nature and if we only look at the service complex, we see heartless exploitation of both nature and of the working classes in order to construct fantasies. But the most valuable story of Sagamore is the fusing of both of these stories: the ambivalence of our views of nature. This is a cultural paradox that continues until this very day, one that Sagamore is uniquely well-suited to reveal.

Natalie on 10:36 AM, December 06, 2006

Jesse - saying "wow, I wish I could live like that!" is the viewer projecting their desire onto the structure. the building or image itself doesn't carry that in it, the people viewing it do. I think when indicting others for the perceptions that they bring to a structure, place, or issue, it might be worth considering that the dualistic (oppressor-oppressed) perspective you bring as a lens itself, not entirely unlike the rosecolored lens with which the Adirondack Boys view the history around them. As long as no one has blinders on, I think we can continue to have interesting and meaningful discussions regardless.

joe on 12:15 PM, December 06, 2006

the AB have no duty to present the suffering in the Adirondack park as they're not giving any kind of history.(everything great about the park... shouldn't be taken as some serious proclamation) And if you really wanted to force what they're doing into some sort of history of the elite, then you're still wrong to chastize them whereas they've written about raquette lake and the difficulty of life there in the winter, they've written about the deaths of non-elites and the lives of regular people and even in calling locals crazy they've presented marginal living.From what you've said it seems like you've read more of what Almanack has said about AB than what AB have actually written in their zillion posts... for christ's sake have you actually read how the Almanack used a short story to call the AB hypocrites and bushite acolytes:If you write the following:...The young, hormone-rich bodies of the two fourteen-year-old boys sent signals to Mark and Tad that urgently needed translating. Their conversations, normal verbal communication, in the fresh, Adirondack air, by the lake and in the sun, and at night, definitely at night, were subsumed by a much more powerful chemical communication exchanged between them through the air, in a language neither understood and neither could control...You are being a hypocrite, of the Mark Foley variety, when you revel in the "magical" quality of the Bush oligarchy and are proud of your role in propagating its lies and hypocrisies. Boys, in case you've been living in your own fantasy-land since the days your hormone rich fourteen-year-old bodies shared that cigarette - Republicans are opposed to you and your lifestyle. Today's Republicans have been, and still are, leading the charge to make your lifestyle illegal. When you smoke pot and work for the DEA, you are a hypocrite - plain and simple.Almanack is a joke.

Joe on 12:17 PM, December 06, 2006

Again, Jesse, AB aren't giving a story of the camp(s) that you can use a people's history discourse on.

Forever Wild, Enshrined in the New York State Constitution


Section 1.

The lands of the state, now owned or hereafter acquired, constituting the forest preserve as now fixed by law, shall be forever kept as wild forest lands. They shall not be leased, sold or exchanged, or be taken by any corporation, public or private, nor shall the timber thereon be sold, removed or destroyed. Nothing herein contained shall prevent the state from constructing, completing and maintaining any highway heretofore specifically authorized by constitutional amendment, nor from constructing and maintaining to federal standards federal aid interstate highway route five hundred two from a point in the vicinity of the city of Glens Falls, thence northerly to the vicinity of the villages of Lake George and Warrensburg, the hamlets of South Horicon and Pottersville and thence northerly in a generally straight line on the west side of Schroon Lake to the vicinity of the hamlet of Schroon, then continuing northerly to the vicinity of Schroon Falls, Schroon River and North Hudson, and to the east of Makomis Mountain, east of the hamlet of New Russia, east of the village of Elizabethtown and continuing northerly in the vicinity of the hamlet of Towers Forge, and east of Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain and continuing northerly to the vicinity of the village of Keeseville and the city of Plattsburgh, all of the aforesaid taking not to exceed a total of three hundred acres of state forest preserve land, nor from constructing and maintaining not more than twenty-five miles of ski trails thirty to two hundred feet wide, together with appurtenances thereto, provided that no more than five miles of such trails shall be in excess of one hundred twenty feet wide, on the north, east and northwest slopes of Whiteface Mountain in Essex county, nor from constructing and maintaining not more than twenty-five miles of ski trails thirty to two hundred feet wide, together with appurtenances thereto, provided that no more than two miles of such trails shall be in excess of one hundred twenty feet wide, on the slopes of Belleayre mountain in Ulster and Delaware counties and not more than forty miles of ski trails thirty to two hundred feet wide, together with appurtenances thereto, provided that no more than eight miles of such trails shall be in excess of one hundred twenty feet wide, on the slopes of Gore and Pete Gay mountains in Warren county, nor from relocating, reconstructing and maintaining a total of not more than fifty miles of existing state highways for the purpose of eliminating the hazards of dangerous curves and grades, provided a total of no more than four hundred acres of forest preserve land shall be used for such purpose and that no single relocated portion of any highway shall exceed one mile in length. Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions, the state may convey to the village of Saranac Lake ten acres of forest preserve land adjacent to the boundaries of such village for public use in providing for refuse disposal and in exchange therefore the village of Saranac Lake shall convey to the state thirty acres of certain true forest land owned by such village on Roaring Brook in the northern half of Lot 113, Township 11, Richards Survey. Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions, the state may convey to the town of Arietta twenty-eight acres of forest preserve land within such town for public use in providing for the extension of the runway and landing strip of the Piseco airport and in exchange therefor the town of Arietta shall convey to the state thirty acres of certain land owned by such town in the town of Arietta. Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions and subject to legislative approval of the tracts to be exchanged prior to the actual transfer of title, the state, in order to consolidate its land holdings for better management, may convey to International Paper Company approximately eight thousand five hundred acres of forest preserve land located in townships two and three of Totten and Crossfield`s Purchase and township nine of the Moose River Tract, Hamilton county, and in exchange therefore International Paper Company shall convey to the state for incorporation into the forest preserve approximately the same number of acres of land located within such townships and such County on condition that the legislature shall determine that the lands to be received by the state are at least equal in value to the lands to be conveyed by the state. Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions and subject to legislative approval of the tracts to be exchanged prior to the actual transfer of title and the conditions herein set forth, the state, in order to facilitate the preservation of historic buildings listed on the national register of historic places by rejoining an historic grouping of buildings under unitary ownership and stewardship, may convey to Sagamore Institute Inc., a not-for-profit educational organization, approximately ten acres of land and buildings thereon adjoining the real property of the Sagamore Institute, Inc. and located on Sagamore Road, near Racquette Lake Village, in the Town of Long Lake, county of Hamilton, and in exchange therefor; Sagamore Institute, Inc. shall convey to the state for incorporation into the forest preserve approximately two hundred acres of wild forest land located within the Adirondack Park on condition that the legislature shall determine that the lands to be received by the state are at least equal in value to the lands and buildings to be conveyed by the state and that the natural and historic character of the lands and buildings conveyed by the state will be secured by appropriate covenants and restrictions and that the lands and buildings conveyed by the state will reasonably be available for public visits according to agreement between Sagamore Institute, Inc. and the state. Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions the state may convey to the town of Arietta fifty acres of forest preserve land within such town for public use in providing for the extension of the runway and landing strip of the Piseco airport and providing for the maintenance of a clear zone around such runway, and in exchange therefor, the town of Arietta shall convey to the state fifty-three acres of true forest land located in lot 2 township 2 Totten and Crossfield`s Purchase in the town of Lake Pleasant. Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions and subject to legislative approval prior to actual transfer of title, the state may convey to the town of Keene, Essex county, for public use as a cemetery owned by such town, approximately twelve acres of forest preserve land within such town and, in exchange therefor, the town of Keene shall convey to the state for incorporation into the forest preserve approximately one hundred forty-four acres of land, together with an easement over land owned by such town including the riverbed adjacent to the land to be conveyed to the state that will restrict further development of such land, on condition that the legislature shall determine that the property to be received by the state is at least equal in value to the land to be conveyed by the state.

Sec. 2.

The legislature may by general laws provide for the use of not exceeding three per centum of such lands for the construction and maintenance of reservoirs for municipal water supply, and for the canals of the state. Such reservoirs shall be constructed, owned and controlled by the state, but such work shall not be undertaken until after the boundaries and high flow lines thereof shall have been accurately surveyed and fixed, and after public notice, hearing and determination that such lands are required for such public use. The expense of any such improvements shall be apportioned on the public and private property and municipalities benefited to the extent of the benefits received. Any such reservoir shall always be operated by the state and the legislature shall provide for a charge upon the property and municipalities benefited for a reasonable return to the state upon the value of the rights and property of the state used and the services of the state rendered, which shall be fixed for terms of not exceeding ten years and be readjustable at the end of any term. Unsanitary conditions shall not be created or continued by any such public works.

Sec. 3.

1. Forest and wild life conservation are hereby declared to be policies of the state. For the purpose of carrying out such policies the legislature may appropriate moneys for the acquisition by the state of land, outside of the Adirondack and Catskill parks as now fixed by law, for the practice of forest or wild life conservation. The prohibitions of section 1 of this article shall not apply to any lands heretofore or hereafter acquired or dedicated for such purposes within the forest preserve counties but outside of the Adirondack and Catskill parks as now fixed by law, except that such lands shall not be leased, sold or exchanged, or be taken by any corporation, public or private.

2. As to any other lands of the state, now owned or hereafter acquired, constituting the forest preserve referred to in section one of this article, but outside of the Adirondack and Catskill parks as now fixed by law, and consisting in any case of not more than one hundred contiguous acres entirely separated from any other portion of the forest preserve, the legislature may by appropriate legislation, notwithstanding the provisions of section one of this article, authorize: (a) the dedication thereof for the practice of forest or wildlife conservation; or (b) the use thereof for public recreational or other state purposes or the sale, exchange or other disposition thereof; provided, however, that all moneys derived from the sale or other disposition of any of such lands shall be paid into a special fund of the treasury and be expended only for the acquisition of additional lands for such forest preserve within either such Adirondack or Catskill park.

Sec. 4.

The policy of the state shall be to conserve and protect its natural resources and scenic beauty and encourage the development and improvement of its agricultural lands for the production of food and other agricultural products. The legislature, in implementing this policy, shall include adequate provision for the abatement of air and water pollution and of excessive and unnecessary noise, the protection of agricultural lands, wetlands and shorelines, and the development and regulation of water resources. The legislature shall further provide for the acquisition of lands and waters, including improvements thereon and any interest therein, outside the forest preserve counties, and the dedication of properties so acquired or now owned, which because of their natural beauty, wilderness character, or geological, ecological or historical significance, shall be preserved and administered for the use and enjoyment of the people. Properties so dedicated shall constitute the state nature and historical preserve and they shall not be taken or otherwise disposed of except by law enacted by two successive regular sessions of the legislature.

Sec. 5.

A violation of any of the provisions of this article may be restrained at the suit of the people or, with the consent of the supreme court in appellate division, on notice to the attorney-general at the suit of any citizen.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Night in the City

Another day in the big city. We are debating whether we will be at the camp this weekend. The four and a half hour drive is daunting at the end of a long week. Sometimes is is a snap decision to get the car and go; other times, the night draws on and neither of us makes a move toward the door. Tonight, we have spent the evening watching "Pride and Prejudice" -- twice. It is 10:35 p.m. and I have just listened to Miss Elizabeth Bennett, played by Keira Knightley, argue with Mr. Darcy, for the second time. The same argument, twice. "You ruin his chances, yet you treat him with sarcasm!. . .you are the last man in the world that I could ever be prevailed upon to marry!"

Bald Mountain House

Bald Mountain House is no more. It was one of the great Adirondack hotels filled with visitors from around the world. Unfortunately, what replaced it is a collection of trailer homes that have not surprisingly failed to live up to the standard set by the grand old Bald Mountain House. There was an iron archway that stood at the lakefront welcoming guests to the Bald Mountain Colony. The iron archway is still there, but there is nothing much beyond it to remark on.

Dying Dock, Fragile Forest

I am thinking of rebuilding our dock next year. It has been ravaged by time and ice, freezing and thawing over years and years. It is tied together with rope, propped up with poles and held stable by boards shoved up into its innards. It is a larger dock than most, having been built before there was any guidance on what size docks were permissible on an Adirondack lake. It was originally part of a waterfront that included dozens of huge trees mounted as breakwalls, almost all of which have rotted away or been removed.

The waterfront also had a beautiful boat house with a number of slips and living quarters above. It was burned down around 1939 by tenants renting the house. They used the fireplace, which was filled with debris from squirrels and mice and other creatures, and was waiting for a spark to bring the whole thing down.

Speaking of fire, the property was originally called Burnt Point because a raging fire had destroyed most of the flora and fauna, the trees and the plants, that filled the peninsula. When the original camp was built at Penwood, there were few trees around it. Hemlocks were planted at the beginning of the 20th century to fill out and repopulate the land with trees. We have continued that tradition, now turing to white birches and river birches to replace many of the trees that have been lost to windstorms, weather, rot, decay. If I could, I would plant a thousand trees there - and wait for them to grow.

Camp Fulton, Fourth Lake

To All Our Friends and Critics

Whatever you think our viewpoint is, we think it's pretty clear that we love the Adirondacks. We have spent time there every year for the past 37 years. Our family has been there for more than 53 years. We spend about 40 hours a month in an old Toyota driving back and forth to our camp from New York just to get a day or two of Adirondack splendor. And we spend everything we earn to make that possible.

We live in a small rental apartment in New York and fantasize about living the life that we seem to espouse in some of our posts. We think that fantasy is an important aspect of the Adirondacks. It invites dreaming and dreamers and indulges fantasies of all kinds. Anyone who has witnessed an Adirondack sunrise or sunset knows what we mean. And our fantasies are not just about wealthy Adirondack families, but about good design, good books, the stories of the houses and places that populate the park, beautiful artwork, photography and scenery. Plain old beauty, in all its forms.

Our interests range from alabaster lamps to antique boats, Adirondack sunsets to global warming and the effect on our environment. When we write about beautiful things, we are writing about how we see the world and how we define "home". We aren't being elitist.

We don't have any animosity toward local Adirondackers. We appreciate them and we are curious about their lives, but we can write only about what we know. We don't know a lot about how locals live and what they think, except based on what we observe when we interact with them. And our observation is that there is a significant divide between locals and "summer people", for better or for worse. It is a fact, not a put down.

Our blog is meant to celebrate not only all the fabulous things in the Adirondacks, but the things that we think make life, and home, beautiful.

We can't find a thing wrong with that. And we hope our readers won't either.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Forge House, Old Forge, New York

Nothing but the Best for J.P. Morgan

Raquette Lake RR Station and Steamboat Dock

The railroad was the principal mode of transportation to the Adirondack Park during its heyday. Once in the park, visitors often took large steamboats across the lake to their destinations, or just to tour the lake. Large tour boats, like the Clearwater on the Fulton Chain of Lakes, and Raquette Lake Navigation Company's vessel, continue to give visitors a similar experience with its narrated tours of the lakes.

Adverstisement for Prospect House, Blue Mountain Lake, New York

Hon. Merlin Wiley, Former Attorney General of Michigan

Merlin Wiley was a former Attorney General of the State of Michigan. He was executor of the estate of JAMES HORATIO SEYMOUR, brother of HELEN SEYMOUR SYLVESTER. When HELEN SEYMOUR SYLVESTER died, her brother inherited Seymour Point, with a life estate reserved to her husband WILLIAM BEDELL SYLVESTER. JAMES HORATIO SEYMOUR left the Seymour Point estate to HELEN SEYMOUR WILEY of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Here is an excerpt of an address of Mr. Wiley to the Michigan Supreme Court:

Hon. MERLIN WILEY, former Attorney General of the State of Michigan, addressed the Court as follows:
May it Please the Court:

I am sure I reflect the sentiments of the Michigan Bar when I say that it is a signal honor to have present this afternoon all of the former members of this Court now living, Mr. Justice MOORE, Mr. Justice CARPENTER, and Mr. Justice STEERE.

When the members of the committee, appointed in 1928 by Mr. HENRY C. WALTERS, then President of the Michigan Bar Association, to procure portraits of former members of this Court, expressed to Judge CARPENTER and Judge STEERE their earnest wish that their portraits be presented to the Court on this occasion and asked their permission to do so, they very graciously consented, and both of them generously offered to provide their respective portraits—which the committee was happy to accept.

We have also prevailed upon both of them to be present this afternoon, but in doing so they have placed me under orders that I dare not disobey, on the presumption, I assume, that some time within the next century, in the relentless course of events, someone will have an opportunity to say in this room the things I should like to say now.

I am sure, however, that I will not transgress if I refer briefly to the careers of these two jurists whose lives are so woven into the warp and woof of the legal and judicial history of this State as to have left an ineffaceable impression.

Mr. Justice CARPENTER came to this Bench after a service of eight years upon the Circuit Bench of Wayne County. He served here six years, and then voluntarily re-entered the practice of the law in Detroit. He is today the acknowledged Dean of the active Bar of this State.

Mr. Justice STEERE came to this Bench after a service of 30 years upon the Circuit Bench of the now Eleventh Judicial Circuit, and voluntarily retired from this Court after a judicial service of 46 years—a long time, your Honors, during which to be a chosen arbiter between one's fellow citizens.

May I digress to say that it is with unusual pleasure that I am here in this capacity today. Twenty-five years ago I commenced the practice of law in Chippewa County before Judge STEERE. When I tried my first case—as Prosecuting Attorney before him, I tried the first Circuit Court case I had ever tried alone. I needed help about as badly as any young barrister ever needed it, and I needed still more a full measure of sympathy. I received both from Judge STEERE in abundant measure.

I am not going to say anything about the service of these two men upon this Bench. That is spread upon the written records or this Court and is permanently woven into the juristic fabric that has made the Michigan Supreme Court one of the greatest Courts of this country.

It is a signal honor, may it please the Court, to be a member of this Bench. COOLEY, CAMPBELL, GRAVES, and CHRISTIANCY made it famous as well as first among the great State Courts of this country. This Court is today, gentlemen of the Bench, one of the recognized great tribunals of this country—and rightly so, and why? Because the people of Michigan have always regarded ability and character of the highest order a prerequisite to membership within its circle. Whatever errors of judgment they may have committed from time to time in the political field, they have approached this tribunal with an attitude of reverence, for this Bench has been, in a very solemn sense, the guardian of the people's liberties and the protector of their rights.

I wonder if we, Bench and Bar alike, realize to what extent this Court is trusted. This government of ours is a government of law. The order that expresses the divine law in the great cosmic universe finds its compelling reflection in the governments of men. This Court is, within its appointed jurisdiction, the final arbiter. When it speaks, lawyers and laymen alike lay down their weapons and accept its decisions upon the law as final—not only as it is—but as it ought to be.

Of this great galaxy of Michigan judges, may it please the Court, Mr. Justice CARPENTER and Mr. Justice STEERE stand in the front rank, in learning, in character, and in that vision that makes great judges. There are none above them. They have glorified the traditions of this Bench, and they have abundantly justified life.

It is a pleasure and a privilege, Mr. Chief Justice and gentlemen of the Bench, acting for the Michigan State Bar Association, to present to this Court the portraits of these two distinguished jurists.

The Other Secret Cigarette

Mark kept the secret cigarettes in a china box in the vanity in his bedroom, deep inside, so that he had to stick is whole arm inside the cabinet to find them. Sometimes he stuck his arm in just to be sure they were still there. Other times, he thought of them while sitting on the dock or reading by the lake, or watching "The Price is Right" on television. The overexcited, foolish contestants jumped up and down and slobbered on Bob Barker's fine suits while Mark thought of the cigarettes. Poor Bob Barker, Mark thought.

The vanity in Mark's bedroom had three mirrors, but only two doors. The unopenable second cabinet made the vanity feel a little like a hidden door, or a hole in the wall: nothing could be seen, so anything could be there. He half expected someone to grab his arm when he stuck it inside, or to feel some foreign object left there fifty years before, a treasure, or a hair clip, or a bottle of perfume. There was a yellow children's toy inside, a giraffe with red plastic balls where the giraffe's body was. There was an old candle. And the secret cigarettes, of course, a stale pack of Winstons from the previous summer, well aged after a freezing, quiet winter during which the drafty house stood empty.

In the afteroon, after "The Price is Right" concluded with Bob Barker's admonition to "get your pet spayed or neutered", Mark headed into the small town near his house to buy a jelly doughnut. Inside the little bakery, the smell of fresh bread and gooey, just-baked cookies permeated the air and mixed with the fresh breeze blowing off the lake and into the bakery just up the hill from the docks where he parked his little red boat. Behind the counter, Anthony, a young kid working at the bakery during the summer, asked Mark what he'd have.

The rich, fresh smell of the bakery and the smiling Anthony behind the counter, made Mark dizzy with excitement. Anthony was the capitan of the town's little league team, had the best uniform and mitt, and was in this small world, a star. Mark felt small and insignificant asking for his dozen jelly doughnuts and two headlights, and he felt an electric excitement too. It was like being slammed in the gut with a fast pitch, unexpected and jarring, causing the world to stop - fast - and resume only a minute later. The minute was lost, along with all the other minutes, and could be recovered only in a dream, or a nightmare, or a flashback.