A FREE online visitor's magazine building on 130 years
of news coverage for Lake George and the Adirondacks
Lake To Locks
Subscribe to the Lake George Mirror Barnsider Barnsider

Premier Auto Show to be Staged in Lake George

By Mirror Staff

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A premier auto show will come to Lake George in mid-September: the Hemmings Motor News Concours D’ Elegance.

According to Village Mayor Bob Blais, the show will be staged at the Charles R. Wood Park’s Festival Commons on September 15-17.

“This remarkable event brings a nationally- recognized show that will be publicized throughout the United States to Lake George, showcasing our beautiful surroundings,” said Blais.

Established in 2007, the show was held at Stratton Mountain Resort, Vermont, before moving to Saratoga Springs in 2012.

“In the tradition of the classic French Concours D’ Elegance, with each vehicle carefully selected and admitted by invitation only, the show was designed to highlight the progressive design of the automobile,” Blais explained.

According to Blais, the beauty of the Lake George setting helped persuade organizers to move the show to this community.

And because of its proximity to local attractions, shops and restaurants, the Lake George venue “promises to provide ample entertainment throughout the Concours weekend for the entire family,” Hemmings Motor News said.

Another advantage of the Lake George location, organizers said, is that it easily accessible from the Northway.

Blais said the Concours weekend will now include an open-admission, collectible car show on Saturday, an awards banquet and a cruising rally that will lead drivers through the North Country.

The show’s highlight, Sunday’s invitation-only Concours D’ Elegance, will celebrate the 50th anniversaries of the Chevy Camaro and Pontiac Firebird and feature the 1963-73 Buick Riviera; Studebaker; MG; wood-bodied station wagons; and professional vehicles through 1980. Pre-and postwar American and European cars, American muscle cars and vintage trucks will also be featured.

Tags: ,


Mayor Bob Blais, event organizer Austin Glickman and Chamber of Commerce executive Amanda May Metzger announce a new event for Lake George’s Wood Park

Mayor Bob Blais, event organizer Austin Glickman and Chamber of Commerce executive Amanda May Metzger announce a new event for Lake George’s Wood Park

Lake George to Host Family Getaway for Law Enforcement Officers

By Mirror Staff

Monday, February 27, 2017

If you happen to be in Lake George Village on the weekend of May 19, you can expect to see hundreds more law enforcement officers than usual.

No, the Village will not be hosting a head of state or an international conference.

Rather, it will play host to the officers themselves –and their families – in what is expected to be the first annual Law Enforcement Officers Weekend.

Lake George Village Mayor Bob Blais is organizing the event with Austim Glickman, a New York City Police Department officer, the Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce and leaders of local law enforcement agencies.

While there will be opportunities for the public to observe events as varied as a Memorial Service and teams pulling the Warren County Sheriff’s ten ton counter-insurgency vehicle, the Law Enforcement Officers Weekend is largely for policemen and their families, Glickman explained.

“The event is an opportunity for officers to meet, relax and offer mutual support,” said Glickman.

Referring to the fatal encounters between civilians and police officers over the past few years, Glickman said he hopes “the event will take attention away from the negative publicity that Law Enforcement has received recently.”

Glickman said there are few if any law enforcement-themed events that include educational seminars, a memorial service and recreational and competitive activities.

While the event could eventually attract thousands, Blais said he would judge the inaugural Law Enforcement Officers Weekend a success if only a few hundred attend.

“Many events, whether it be Americade, the Elvis Festival or the Adirondack Nationals car show, started with just an idea and grew larger over the years. I’ve been involved with all of them and never have I been as excited as I am about this first Law Enforcement Weekend,” said Blais.

Blais and Lake George Chamber official Amanda May Metzger said the event will contribute to Lake George’s efforts to broaden its tourist season beyond the eight weeks of summer.

“We feel this is the right time and the right place for this type of event,” said Blais.

Metzger said that more shops and restaurants are opening earlier in the season and remaining open longer than in the past, making Lake George a more attractive site for off-season events such as the Law Enforcement Weekend.

Hotels such as the Fort William Henry and the Courtyard Mariott have offered reduced rates to those attending the event “out of respect for the uniform,” said Blais.

Discounts have also been offered by Great Escape, the Lake George Steamboat Company, Wild West and the outlet stores, said Blais.

Active and retired law enforcement officers living in the area are invited to register for the event, said Glickman. Information is available at leoweekend.com.

Tags: ,


Country Weddings: The Barn at Lord Howe Valley

By Mirror Staff

Sunday, February 26, 2017

A wedding hall has opened in one of the most historic landscapes in the Lake George region, and appropriately enough for a site that’s been farmland and pasture for hundreds of years, it’s a timber frame barn.

Called “The Barn at Lord Howe Valley,” it’s nestled between the eastern-most slopes of the Adirondacks and Lake George, on the road between Ticonderoga and Hague.

Not only was the land part of a farm owned by some of the region’s first settlers, it’s not far from the place where Lord George Howe was killed early in Britain’s 1758 assault on France’s Fort Carillon, the bloodiest battle on North American soil before Gettysburg.

It’s also near the site of Major Robert Rogers’ Battle on Snowshoes, from which he escaped – or so his enemies believed – by rappelling down the rock slide that now bears his name.

Sarah Latchford, the founder and owner of The Barn at Lord Howe Valley, is happy to help usher into the valley more peaceful, indeed, more joyful pursuits.

“Wedding planning has been a passion of mine for years, and we wanted to give couples – local residents as well as visitors – a new alternative if they wanted to be married in the beautiful Adirondacks,” said Latchford, who grew up in Chestertown and who now lives in Saratoga with her husband Tim.

Latchford and her family bought the land last year after searching throughout the region for land on which to build a wedding hall and event space that would fit naturally into a rural or wild landscape.

Coming from a family that’s been active in the business community for years, she also wanted “to bring extra business to the area not only in the summer but in the spring and fall as well, to hotels, restaurants and shops, among other businesses,” she said.

Latchford will bring new business to wedding and event-related entrepreneurs such as caterers, florists, dress designers and bands as The Barn at Lord Howe Valley develops.

“Caterers are responsible for almost everything we offer,” said Latchford. “All we do is rent the space and help our clients make it their own for the day.”

She’s already contributed to the local economy by utilizing local builders, craftsmen and contractors.

The barn was built by Blue Line Barns, a timber frame construction company owned by Sam Caldwell of Bolton Landing.

“After seeing an ad for Blue Line Barns in a local paper, we met with Sam a couple of times and really came to appreciate his post- and-beam designs,” said Latchford. “We also liked the fact that he was a local builder with a great knowledge of this kind of construction and of the area and its history as well.”

The farm tables were custom-made by another Bolton Landing company, Shack Valley, owned by woodworker David E. Cummings.

The construction of the barn began in July and was completed in time for the new space’s first wedding in late summer.

For more information about The Barn at Lord Howe Valley, visit its facebook site or contact Sarah Latchford at (518) 321-4898.

Tags: , ,


Exhibit illustrating defence of Fort William Henry, 1757

Exhibit illustrating defence of Fort William Henry, 1757

New Display at Fort William Henry Unveiled, Dedicated

By Mirror Staff

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

What might Lake George have looked like 260 years ago, on the eve of the French attack on Fort William Henry?

That’s what Steve Collyer, an artist and Fort William Henry’s lead interpreter, has attempted to depict in a new display in the entryway to the museum and historical attraction.

The display, which includes three figures – an American colonial, a British regular and a ranger, all sculpted by the late Jack Binder decades ago – was unveiled on October 24.

It was dedicated to Bob Flacke, Sr., the former state commissioner of Environmental Conservation and longtime president of the Fort William Henry Corporation, for his stewardship of Lake George and its history.

According to Melode Viele, the museum’s director, the display “is the first thing visitors see when they enter Fort William Henry; it not only has to be up-to-date but authentic in its portrayal of Lake George in 1757.”

One inauthentic feature was a figure who looked more like Daniel Boone than one of Rogers’ Rangers or Hawkeye, the hero of the novel by James Fenimore Cooper that was based on the events at Fort William Henry in August, 1757.

“Daniel Boone was not at Fort William Henry in 1757 so Daniel Boone had to go,” said Viele.

 

Detail of exhibit, illustrating Rogers’ Ranger

The display is titled “Preparing for Battle.” Throughout the summer of 1757, the Marquis de Montcalm and his force of French regulars, Canadian militia and Native American warriors were moving south from Carillon, over the Tongue Mountain range, through the swamps and up the lake in bateaux.

The British had fortified their northernmost outpost with at least 18 cannons, one howitzer, two mortars and 17 swivel guns.

On August 1, they were anticipating the attack that would become one of American history’s most famous.

Following the siege and massacre, Montcalm ordered Fort William Henry destroyed. In the two centuries that followed its destruction, the only visible reminder of the fort’s past was the old well on the grounds of the Fort William Henry hotel.

In 1954, a replica of the fort opened to tourists.

Interpreter Steve Collyer displays plaque dedicating exhibit to Robert Flacke, Sr.

The new display establishes a context to help visitors understand what they will see once they enter the fort, said Tom Wysocki, Fort William Henry’s director of sales and marketing.

The Archaeology Hall and other rooms in the Fort contain thousands of artifacts discovered on the grounds since the 1950s, when reconstruction of the fort began. Recent discoveries, such as prehistoric pottery shards as well as buttons from the uniforms of American soldiers in the War of Independence, suggest that the site was used before and after the fort was burned in 1757.

The exhibits are part of a larger “Living History Program” designed to enable visitors to better understand the history of the colonial era. The program includes tours led by guides in authentic costumes, the firing of 18th century muskets and cannons, recreated scenes of life at the fort and scenes from the events that took place there, as well as visits to dungeons, a powder magazine and a crypt of the victims of Montcalm’s 1757 massacre.

Fort William Henry is open from May through October.

Tags: ,


The Adirondack

The Adirondack

Hear That Whistle Blow

By Anthony F. Hall

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A Steam Launch’s Whistle  Refurbished for a Tour Boat

If the bright notes you hear whenever Shoreline Cruises’ ‘Adirondac’ circles Bolton Bay don’t have a familiar ring, they should.

That’s because they’re not only piped from an old fashioned brass steam whistle, that steam whistle once belonged to the Pamelaine, the private steamboat of Bolton Landing’s own Mason ‘Doc’ Saunders.

The Adirondac’s pilots blow the whistle in honor of Saunders, who died in 2006. Back in the day, that is, in the 1960s and 70s,  Lake George experienced something of a steamboat revival, and Mason Saunders quickly became its ringmaster.

Starting in 1973, Lake George was the scene of an annual steamboat race. The winner the first three years, and, in fact, every year in which he competed, was  Saunders.

Racing actually began in 1965, when Paul Eckhoff of Bolton Landing and Ted Larter of Hague raced their steam launches in an “Old Days on Lake George” weekend in Hague.

That race proved to be so popular that the Lake George Chamber of Commerce decided to sponsor a steamboat race in 1973, with the Lake George Steamboat Company’s ‘Minne-Ha-Ha II’ taking part. A race between electric boats was added to the event, and the Chamber promoted both as “environmental boat races,” since every craft was powered by clean, non-polluting energy.

Dr. Saunders himself may not have expected to win that year; it was, after all, his first race.

A few years earlier, Saunders had bought a 1918 Fay & Bowen from Lamb Brothers. The hull was stripped and recaulked in Bolton. Saunders then took it home to Albany and began the four year job of restoring the boat and converting its engine from gas to steam. It sat in his driveway, exciting the curiosity of his Pine Hills area neighbors.

 

Mason Saunders aboard the Pamelaine

Billie Saunders, Mason’s wife, once  recalled coming out of the house one morning to find perched in the boat the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany, “in full regalia.”

Outfitted with a canopy, a red smoke stack and brass whistle, the boat was christened “Pamelaine,” in honor of the Saunders’ two daughters.

By the spring of 1972, she was ready to be launched. When it was announced in 1973 that a steamboat race would be held, Dr. Saunders entered the “Pamelaine,” accepting a challenge Paul Eckhoff had made the summer before.

As the Pamelaine moved toward the starting gate, Saunders checked his lines and discovered that at the end of one of them a heavy bucket had been tied. Someone obviously had fears that Saunders would prove a formidable competitor, which, as it turned out, were justified, for that year he won easily.

The second race was held off Rogers Park in Bolton Landing, with an audience of over a thousand people.

Dr. Saunders almost missed the 1975 race. A few weeks before the race, the boat overturned, losing its boiler, the canopy, and a prized collection of ship’s lamps, whistles and flags. He won nevertheless, and the trophy, a rib from the original ‘Minne-Ha-Ha,’ which sank in 1877, became the permanent possession of Dr. Saunders.

Saunders with Bob Benway and Joe Zarzynski

In 1998, when I happened to be interviewing Dr. Saunders about his steamboats at his home, a converted barn north of Bolton Landing, he spoke wistfully about that missing collection.

He could not have anticipated the phone call he would receive six years later, more than thirty years after the Pamelaine capsized.

The call was from Joe Zarzynski, a founder of Bateaux Below, the not-for-profit organization devoted to exploring and preserving the shipwrecks of Lake George.

Zarzynski told Saunders that the underwater archaeology team had located the canopy of the Pamelaine and the wreck site.

“It was like a call from Mars,” Saunders told Zarazynski and Bob Benway, another founder of Bateaux Below.  “It was too good to be true.”

Zarzynski and Benway dove to the site and retrieved some of the artifacts that were lost in 1975, among them, one of the vessel’s wooden name boards, the wooden eagle that adorned the bow and a lantern.

According to Benway and Zarazynski, Saunders looked at the eagle and said, “Welcome home, buddy.” And he asked the two if there were any chance that the steam whistle could be recovered.

The Pamelaine racing the Minne Ha-Ha

So, in October 15, 2005, Bill Appling, Benway, and Zarzynski made a dive and retrieved  the Pamelaine’s 2 ft. long, 14 pound brass whistle. By the time the whistle had been restored, Saunders had passed away. Bateaux Below therefore presented it to his daughter, Lanie Angel.

So how did the steam whistle come to be on the Adirondac’s wheelhouse?

According to Bob Benway, “Captain Hal Raven and I were discussing his installation of steam whistles on Shoreline’s ‘Horicon’ and he happened to mention that he’d like to have a much larger whistle; the possibility of obtaining the ‘Pamelaine’s’ whistle came up. Hal contacted Mitch and Laine Angel to ask if they still had it and, if so, would they consider selling it.”

Tags: ,


Bolton Supervisor Ron Conover and the LA Group’s Jeff Anthony and Tracey Clothier discuss the renovation of Rogers Park with members of the New York Planning Federation.

Bolton Supervisor Ron Conover and the LA Group’s Jeff Anthony and Tracey Clothier discuss the renovation of Rogers Park with members of the New York Planning Federation.

Visitors Center, Museum Wing, New Landscaping, Will Transform Bolton Landing Park

By Anthony F. Hall

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The construction of a new Bolton Landing Visitors Center and an addition to the town’s historical museum, both framed and unified by new landscaping in Rogers Park, will start this autumn.

The entire project is expected to cost approximately $2.2 million, said Bolton Supervisor Ron Conover.

“There will be no affect on the tax rate,” said Conover. “The costs of the project will be met through grants, private contributions, money that we’ve saved and set aside for our parks and from community development funds that will be repaid from occupancy tax receipts.”

While both buildings are owned by the municipality, “it’s what happens inside these  building that makes them important. The Chamber of Commerce and the Historical Society, which will occupy them, are terrific partners. Their commitment to the town sets our community apart from others,” said Conover.

Earlier this spring, the Town Board adopted a resolution authorizing the Supervisor to sign contracts with JMZ architects, the planning and design firm LA Group and AR Stern, an architectural services firm.

“This is a good team. We  had many meetings, and then we started in earnest by contracting for very specific, detailed drawings. We’re now ready to take the next steps,” said Conover.

 

The New Visitors Center

 

JMZ, the Glens Falls firm led by Bolton native Tenee Rehm Casaccio, has designed the Visitors Center, which will replace the Bolton Chamber of Commerce’s log building and the existing rest room building.

Last summer, the Town Board gave its conceptual approval to the project after viewing preliminary designs by the LA Group and JMZ, which developed plans with an advisory committee composed of representatives of the Chamber of Commerce, the Historical Society, the library and the town’s residents.

According Casaccio, the advisory committee chose a design for a Visitors Center linking new Chamber offices, rest rooms, a public space  and a gazebo by porches and walk ways.

JMZ Architects’ rendering of the new Bolton Landing Visitors Center.

JMZ Architects’ rendering of the new Bolton Landing Visitors Center.

The Visitors Center will be situated closer to Main Street than the existing building, both to align it with the street’s commercial buildings and to provide a storefront on Main Street.  The building will also be accessible from the park.

“We’ve talked of the Visitors Center as a gateway to the town and the park. We’re inviting people into the community.  As architects, we solve problems, and one of the problems we addressed was how to make a gateway that’s welcoming,” said Casaccio.

Casaccio expects the gazebo to be especially popular.

“I believe it will become one of the town’s favored and favorite places; it can be used for special events, but it will also be a nice place to observe activities in the park, such as the annual tree lighting ceremony,” said Casaccio.

“I think the building as a whole will enrich the experience of being in the park. I hope that when people see it, they will feel that it sits in the landscape so well that it appears as though it has always been there. I also hope that it conveys the message that our town is one that cares about good architecture,” Casaccio continued.

New Landscaping for Rogers Park

 

A new entrance to the Bolton Historical Museum and its addition will be linked to the Visitors Center by a walkway with a central plaza, said Tim Larson of the LA Group.

Working with the Town of Bolton as well as with the architects of the Visitors Center and the museum addition, the LA Group will create a landscaping plan for the park, a plan that includes sidewalks, lighting, benches and kiosks,  said Larson.

“When we were asked by the Town to work on this phase of the improvements to Rogers Park, we treated the site as a single, unified project,” said Larson.

As part of  the new design, memorial stones and benches, as well as the sculpture by Leon Pratt, will be moved to new locations, said LA Group’s founder Jeff Anthony.

“Given the new circulation areas, as defined by the new sidewalks, they will have to be re-located,” said Anthony. “But I have no doubt that Supervisor Conover will be  very sensitive to the concerns of the families and that appropriate places will be found.”

The sculpture by Leon Pratt, who worked as an assistant to famed artist David Smith before his death in 1965, was loaned to the Historical Society by Smith’s two daughters, said Ted Caldwell, the town historian and a member of the Historical Society’s Board of Directors.

Its future location will be determined in consultation with that family, said Caldwell.

The LA Group will also be responsible for planning the efficient delivery of water, sewer and other services to both buildings, said Anthony.

The Lake George Association has received a grant to help craft a storm water management plan for the site, and the LA Group will work with that organization as well, Anthony said.

 

The Historical Museum’s New Wing

 

Allan Stern, an architect now living in Bolton Landing, is responsible for overseeing the construction of the addition to the Bolton Historical Museum.

The new 1,800 square foot gable and timber frame wing, which will be connected by a vestibule to the existing building, a church built in 1890.

Reuben Caldwell, the Bolton Central School graduate who designed the wing with Leigh Salem,  his partner in the Brooklyn-based firm Studio Tack, will work with Stern.

Among the design’s most prominent features are large windows, creating seamless views of the park, the lake and the mountains on the opposite shore.

“I like the fact that it’s open; it’s almost transparent,” said Bolton Supervisor Ron Conover. “It’s modern, but fitting. The reaction from our Town Board has been overwhelmingly positive.”

“The glass is intended to make the interior inviting from the park; pedestrians could look inside the building and see what’s on display,” said Ed Scheiber, the president of the Historical Society’s Board of Directors.

“From the inside, the vistas of the park, the beach, the lake and the Sagamore are no less inviting,” said Scheiber.

Al Stern’s rendering of the new wing of the Bolton Historical Museum, based on designs by Ruben Caldwell

Al Stern’s rendering of the new wing of the Bolton Historical Museum, based on designs by Ruben Caldwell

Inside the new wing, exhibits would be displayed on panels, which could be moved about as exhibitions change or removed altogether when the space is devoted to exhibitions of boats or other large objects.

The wing is intended, in part, to be “an ode to the wood construction of the boats held within,” said Caldwell.

Among some people, the building will evoke images of boathouses, old marinas and boat builders’ workshops, Caldwell said.

“Every building contains clues about its origins,” said Caldwell.

But, he added, a building should not be so literal in its translations of its sources as to limit interpretations and impressions.

“We use elements in such a way that people can look at the building from multiple reference points, including barns, ice houses and the commercial buildings of Main Street, as well as boat houses,” said Caldwell. “The building should communicate something meaningful to a broad range of back grounds.”

In addition to its origins, a building also provides viewers with information about its function, said Caldwell.

He added,  “the function of the museum is not solely to preserve accumulated history. The contemporary feel of the new wing should remind people that we’re always creating history.  This is a building that says the story is on-going.”

According to Scheiber, the Historical Society has raised approximately $150,000 for the new wing. An additional $30,000 has been raised by the Friends of the Bolton Historical Society, a group of younger residents who organized a committee to support the new wing.

The renovation and redesign of Rogers Park  and the construction of the new buildings “is a transformative moment for the Town of Bolton,” said Supervisor Conover.

“You can begin to see how our plans for the parks and the hamlet are coming together. The new pier and the docks, the new Visitors Center and the museum expansion, are no longer just elements. They’re part of a whole, a successful building program that builds upon and re-enforces what we have in place,” said Conover.

Tags: ,


Beyond These Stone Walls

By Anthony F. Hall

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Fort Ticonderoga Opens for the Season

Fort Ticonderoga has more than one story to tell, the site’s president, Beth Hill, likes to emphasize.

It even has a richer, more extensive military history than can be explained by the stone fortress that has been reconstructed over the past one hundred years.

“The more I learn about the site and its history, the more conscious I am  that the fort was only one part of a military complex that included  extensive earth works,” said Hill.

Establishing the links between the fort and its grounds, and the multiple uses they’ve served over the centuries, and in ways that are compelling to the contemporary visitor, drives Fort Ticonderoga’s mission, said Hill.

One goal of the Fort’s new comprehensive plan, which its Board of Trustees approved in March, was to refine that mission.

“We wanted to look at the site as a whole, from the Fort to the Pavilion and the gardens, to our museum-quality collections. We have so many assets. We tested concepts, took surveys, all with a view to understanding what works, what will resonate with visitors and what it will take to sustain Fort Ticonderoga well into the future,” said Hill.

The Comprehensive Plan is not a public document, and Hill declined to answer questions about such topics as the trustees’ plans for the Pavilion once it has been restored, or to address rumors that it might become a wedding hall, a corporate retreat or an inn or a restaurant.

Nevertheless, the future of Fort Ticonderoga is becoming discernible, if not always visible,  as the site opens for its annual summer season.

Its plan to link the Fort with Lake Champlain has received the most attention.

Earlier this year, Fort Ticonderoga announced that it had purchased the Carillon, a 60 ft tour boat built by Scarano Brothers in 1989.

Ninety minute narrated cruises, departing three times a day from the state boat launch at the Ticonderoga ferry landing, will be offered throughout the summer. The boat is also available for charters.

Access to Lake Champlain and its role in the histories of the French and Indian War and the American Revolution will enhance Fort Ticonderoga’s standing “as a cultural destination experience,” said Hill.

A network of docks, whose location has yet to be determined, will be part of the Fort’s new “waterway transportation and recreation system,” and will include space for the tour boat as well as visitors’ boats, said Hill.

Four new exhibits will open in the Fort’s newly renovated South Barracks: 1756: The Front Line of New France; Iron & Stone: Building Fort Carillon; Object Lessons: Perspectives on Material Culture and Diorama-Rama: History in Miniature.

The exhibitions demonstrate that the Fort’s collection of art and artifacts, from prehistory to the 20th century, are among its greatest assets, assets that have yet to receive the attention they deserve.

Making certain that they do is another long range plan, said Hill.

“Our plan is to build a museum that will allow us to exhibit our world class collections,” said  Hill. “That’s something that was always envisioned. It would also offer us an opportunity to orient our visitors before they enter the site.”

Now that information is instantaneously available through a variety of media, people no longer have to visit historic sites like Fort Ticonderoga to learn about the past. That presents a challenge to the Fort, where for decades the learning experience was a passive one, absorbed, presumably, by school children, summer campers and vacationing families as they shuffled along the ramparts.

Interpretation is more important than ever, said Hill.

“We not only have to present history but historiography; how and why, for example, the reputations of figures like Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold are always being re-evaluated. We need to help our audiences develop a set of meta-skills that will enable them to ask the right questions, no matter what historic site they visit,” said Hill.

And in exhibitions like “Diorama-Rama: History in Miniature,” which displays historical dioramas fashioned in the 1950s, the Fort signals that it will also cast a curatorial eye on the ways in which Fort Ticonderoga itself has interpreted history.

“We have a history as a mid-century tourist attraction. We also have a history as the first example of a visitors’ destination inspired by the Colonial Revival. The reconstructed fort is itself an example of Colonial Revival architecture,” said Hill.

While the Pavilion was built in 1826, its restoration and interior decoration by Stephen H.P. and his wife Sarah G.T. Pell in 1909 was clearly inspired by the Colonial Revival movement. In fact, Stephen Pell may have planted some non-native trees, such as the black locust, because Jefferson had featured them in his landscape designs for the White House, Monticello and Poplar Forest.

As the current restoration of the Pavilion proceeds, the Fort’s staff is looking beyond the house and its formal gardens; they’re exploring the property’s history as a working farm.

This year, for example, visitors may have the opportunity to pluck heirloom apples from the property’s orchards and witness the re-introduction of Red Devon cattle and heritage chickens.

Hill also speaks of Fort Ticonderoga’s ambition to become “a learning campus.” That ambition will take another step toward realization this summer, when the Fort welcomes its first Edward W Pell Graduate Fellows, who will live in a converted boarding house owned by the Fort and work in a variety of programs. This fall, Fort Ticonderoga will

Expand its collaboration with the School for Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins by hosting military leaders and scholars as they study the Battle of Valcour.

Fort Ticonderoga, of course, remains a popular attraction, and this year there will be plenty to occupy the tourist, from re-enactments to scavenger hunts. But could any of those activities be as interesting as watching Fort Ticonderoga emerge as a unique multi-disciplinary, multi-layered cultural institution?

“Ultimately, what you will be able to understand when you come here is the continuity linking of all our stories,”  said Hill.

Tags: ,


Washington County Fiber Tour Set for Last Weekend in April

By Paul Post

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Fifteen farms from Granville to Cambridge will host open houses during the 23rdAnnual Washington County Fiber Tour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, April 25-26.

Visitors may also tour the Battenkill Carding and Spinning Mill in Greenwich, a commercial operation, to see how fiber is processed.

Participating farms have sheep, goats and alpacas, whose fiber products have won major prizes at the Eastern States Exposition, the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival, New England Area Cashmere Goat Show, Empire Alpaca Extravaganza and the Southern Adirondack Fiber Festival.

“Pick any farm as a starting point and enjoy meeting the farmers and their animals,” said Lubna Dabbagh of Blind Buck Farm in Salem.

A recent study by Helen Trejo of Cornell University found that Washington County has the most fiber-producing farms of any count in the state.

The tour is family-friendly and gives people a chance to see how spinning, knitting, weaving and felting is done. Kids especially like being able to get an up-close look at llamas, alpacas, bunnies, goats, sheep and lambs.

Of course, some farms have retail shops where people can purchase yarn and woolen apparel.

Several farms raise sheep, a diverse species with wool for products ranging from carpets to baby clothes. The tour’s most primitive sheep is the double-coated Icelandic, with its long silky fibers that cover a soft undercoat.

Another rare breed is the Leicester Longwool, which George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both imported. Merino and Cormo sheep have very fine wool for clothing with next-to-the-skin softness.

The long-wooled Romney is the most popular on the tour, with six farms raising flocks of this breed. “They’re easy sheep to raise outdoors on pasture,” said Mary Pratt of Elihu Farm in Easton. “Their rugged constitution and heavy woolen coat helps them to thrive in rain or snow.”

Other farms raise Blue-Faced Leicesters and the Freisian, a dairy breed.

Five farms on the tour focus on alpacas.

“Alpacas are earth-friendly,” said Faith Perkins of Quarry Ridge Alpacas in Salem. “They’re economical to feed and have one of the finest fibers in the world. Besides that, they are fascinating!”

Gentle Angora rabbits are also featured on the tour along with Cashmere and Angora goats.

Farms promote the textile arts with demonstrations and workshops such as hand spinning, dyeing demonstrations, clipping fur from angora rabbits, felt making, and wool carding and blending fibers from different species.

Hand-spinners and farmers can also learn how to choose fleeces and live animals for their fiber quality.

Other activities include goat cart driving, sheep shearing, sheepdog herding and finger puppets for children. Individual farms also offer for sale breeding stock for sale.

For those who plan to spend the entire weekend, Washington County has a number of country inns, bed and breakfasts, and restaurants to choose from.

For information go to washingtoncountyfibertour.org.

Tags: ,


Crown Point to Benefit from New Investment in State Parks

By Paul Post

Monday, March 30, 2015

Upgrades to Crown Point State Historic Site are part of a statewide $900 million, multi-year parks capital program.

In 2009, on the 400th anniversary of explorer Samuel de Champlain’s discovery of Lake Champlain, the state made a major investment at the site.

Crown Point, near the newly reopened Champlain Bridge, is one of 20 parks, campgrounds and historic sites in the parks system’s Capital-Saratoga Region. The land is owned by the State Department of Environmental Conservation, but the site is managed by the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

“At that time, we renovated the visitors centers and we put in a multi-media interpretive program,” said Alane Ball Chinian, regional parks commissioner. “Plus, when the bridge was rebuilt, we were able to install nice, new handicapped-accessible pathways to get people from a nearby (DEC-run) campground to the historic site, under the bridge.”

Next, plans call for stabilizing the historic site’s lakefront banks.

“There’s kind of a cliff on Lake Champlain, right at the edge of the peninsula, that’s been eroding,” said Chinian. “There’s archaeological issues with that. We need to shore up that cliff.”

It’s not certain if work will take place this year, but the project is one of many in the department’s capital spending program. State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey outlined details during a March 2 press conference at Saratoga Spa State Park.

The state has been allocating $90 million per year since 2011 for capital improvements. The plan is to maintain funding at that level through 2020 — or $900 million altogether.

Only a few years ago, many state parks were faced with cutbacks and possible closure because of State belt-tightening during the “Great Recession.” Harvey said many facilities statewide had fallen into disrepair.

More than half of all capital money will be used for park infrastructure such as roads, bridges, parking areas, clean water and restrooms. Another 27 percent will be for new recreational facilities at state parks, to encourage young people especially to have more active, healthy lifestyles that will hopefully continue into adulthood.

However, staffing shortages are still a problem because there has been no increase in operational budgets, despite more money for capital projects.

Harvey said $850 million of the $900 million earmarked for capital spending is state money, with the rest a combination of private and federal dollars. In recent years many “Friends” groups have raised money to support projects for their respective parks, which were threatened by state fiscal constraints.

In 1759, the British took over the abandoned French Fort St. Frederic and began building “His Majesty’s Fort of Crown Point,” which contributed to the British conquest of Canada.

1775, at the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, the rebellious colonists captured the fort and secured sorely needed cannons and heavy ordnance. Crown Point was occupied by General John Burgoyne’s army in 1777 after the American evacuation to Mount Independence and remained under British control until the end of the war. The ruins of Fort St. Frederic, “His Majesty’s Fort of Crown Point,” and surrounding lands were acquired by the State of New York in 1910.
Today, visitors can explore the ruins of the original 18th-century structures and tour the newly renovated museum. Across the street, the historic Crown Point Pier and newly restored Champlain Memorial Lighthouse are also open to the public.

The 2015 season begins May 1. An on-site walking tour is scheduled for May 30.

Most of Harvey’s presentation dealt with broad themes for the parks system such as increased recreational use, protecting art and culture, and using parks to promote local economies through special events. For example, Saratoga Spa State Park alone hosts 60 athletic races per year with 21,000 participants.

“We’re not just fixing, improving and enhancing,” she said. “We’re transforming. We are going to change the state parks system. We’re going to modernize it and make it more relevant for the 21st century.”

Also of local interest, she said plans are moving forward for Moreau Lake State Park to acquire 1,200 acres surrounding the former Mount McGregor Correctional Facility that closed last summer.

“It is in the works,” Harvey said of the impending land transfer. “We’re very optimistic. There’s just a lot of process. I don’t know how long it will take. We’re really happy with what we believe will be the conclusion. We’re adding really natural beautiful lands that make the connection to different parts of Moreau state park.”

Empire State Development is charged with marketing the former prison’s 71 buildings. To date, no proposals have been announced.

Tags: ,


Fort Ticonderoga Adding Tour Boat Cruises to Offerings

By Anthony F. Hall

Friday, March 27, 2015

Before Paul Saenger died last fall,  he hoped his cruise boat, ‘The Carillon,’ would find a berth on Lake Champlain, its home waters.

That wish has been fulfilled with the announcement that Fort Ticonderoga will purchase the 60’ foot boat and incorporate it within a new waterfront initiative.

“We are extremely pleased to acquire this iconic vessel,” said Sandy Morhouse, Fort Ticonderoga’s board chairman. “My wife and I were privileged to be Paul’s guests on his last cruise before passing away.  He clearly wanted the boat to stay in the southern part of Lake Champlain. We’re pleased that we’re able to fulfill that wish while, at the same time, enhancing the Fort Ticonderoga experience.”

The Carillon was built in 1989 by Scarano Brothers, the Albany-based firm that also built Shoreline Cruises’s Horicon and Adirondac, which sail out of Lake George Village. Built to recall a Thousand Islands tour boat from the 1920s, the wood boat has been based across the lake from Fort Ticonderoga in Shoreham, Vermont.

It will now be berthed at Fort Ticonderoga, said Beth Hill, the Fort’s president.

“We’ll use the Carillon for field trips, private cruises, cruises that help tell the story of Fort Ticonderoga and, at least once a week, scenic cruises for the general public,” said Hill.

Access to Lake Champlain and its role in the histories of the French and Indian War and the American Revolution will enhance Fort Ticonderoga’s standing “as a cultural destination experience,” said Hill.

A network of docks, whose location has yet to be determined, will be part of the Fort’s new “waterway transportation and recreation system,” said Hill.

Even before it became known that the Carillon was for sale, the Fort had applied for grants to purchase a tour or pontoon boat  and construct docks, Hill said.

A $70,500 state grant, announced in December, will help the Fort construct its first dock, said Hill.

According to Hill, the Carillon will benefit the Town of Ticonderoga as well as the Fort.

“This project is directly linked with a Town of Ticonderoga priority to increase access and waterway experiences through tourism development. Our goals are aligned, which makes this initiative especially exciting,” said Hill.

Tags: ,