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Adirondack Explorer

Archive for the ‘history’ Category

August, 2013

Students Consider Adirondack, Wilderness Act History


This summer, Union College student research fellows and Union College staff involved with the College’s Kelly Adirondack Center in Schenectady County visited the Adirondack cabin of National Wilderness Act author and chief legislative advocate Howard Zahniser, and that of Paul Schaefer, foremost Adirondack Park campaigner for wilderness and wild rivers in the 20th century. The two cabins, and the close friendship that developed between Schaefer and Zahniser help tell the story of where wilderness preservation began and how the Adirondack Park has served as a national and global model of wilderness history, preservation and active stewardship so proximate to villages, >>More


August, 2013

Local CIrcus Performers: Fred Kerslake’s Pigs (Part Three)


There were tough times when a lead pig died suddenly, forcing Fred Kerslake to regroup, find a new leader, and complete the training. But saddest of all was when he spoke of Jennie. In 1909, Rollo was the clown pig and a great performer. Kerslake called him “a wonder that does everything but talk, and after a fashion it actually does that,” referring to Rollo’s human-like responses to his comments. Rollo rose to fame after the death of his mother, Jennie, a very special performer and friend. Said Fred, “She was certainly gifted with the divine light of human intelligence. Not >>More


August, 2013

Fred’s Kerslake’s Remarkable Pigs (Part Two)


The three mains stars hogging the limelight from Fred were pigs Jerry, Peggy, and Pete, whose antics were irresistible. Recognizing the possibilities, booking agents sought them for summer tours and winter vaudeville circuits. Rave reviews followed in Buffalo, Chicago, Philadelphia, and a host of other stops in between. Audiences couldn’t get enough of watching pigs play leapfrog, read, and count―it was both bewildering and hilarious at the same time. Professionals were taking notice as well. Among them was Germany’s Carl Hagenbeck, who pioneered the displaying of animals in their natural habitats rather than in caged enclosures. Hagenbeck emphasized properly selecting >>More


August, 2013

Forest Preserve History: The Warwick Carpenter Papers


One of the highlights of my recent trip to the Adirondacks was a morning spent at Blue Mountain Lake, at the Adirondack Museum, looking through a folder of papers that had been donated to the collections there more than fifty years ago. They belonged to Warwick S. Carpenter, who had served as a young Secretary of the New York Conservation Commission from 1918 to 1921. Warwick Carpenter’s name was familiar to me thanks to my research on John Apperson. Apperson had already earned a reputation as a leader in the Adirondack preservationist movement by helping to win several legislative battles >>More


August, 2013

The Largest NYS Land Purchase in Forest Preserve History


The state’s ongoing purchase of some 65,000 acres from the Nature Conservancy brings to mind the largest land purchase for the Forest Preserve in history.  In 1896, the needs of the Erie Canal resulted in the state’s purchase from Dr. William Seward Webb of 74,584 acres. The story begins with the Black River, which starts primarily at North Lake reservoir and travels in a route that begins southwesterly then turns northwesterly around Forestport to ultimately end at Lake Ontario.  At 115 miles, it is the longest river running completely within New York’s borders. Bodies of water adding to the Black >>More


August, 2013

Fred Kerslake’s Great Pig Circus


“That’ll do, pig.” It’s a line I’ve heard more than once from my wife and business partner, Jill (we’re always razzing each other about something or other). It is, of course, the famous line near the end of Babe, a movie we both enjoyed. We’re also fans of Arnold from Green Acres, and of the pigs who played leadership roles in George Orwell’s allegorical novel, Animal Farm. You can see a theme developing here―a bunch of very smart pigs who, in fantasy worlds, did all sorts of things that a reasonable person knows a pig can’t really do. Can’t really >>More


August, 2013

Warren County Rural Heritage Festival Saturday


The second Warren County Rural Heritage Festival & Youth Fair, cosponsored by the Warren County Historical Society and Cornell Cooperative Extension, will take place this Saturday, August 10th, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm at the Warren County Fairgrounds on Schroon River Road in Warrensburg. This event explores and celebrates our rural traditions in work and play from the early days of Warren County through the mid-20th century. This year the Festival will be celebrating Warren County’s Bicentennial with displays and programs by local historical societies, museums, and military re-enactors. The festival will also feature displays and programs by area >>More


August, 2013

Twelve Years A Slave: Solomon Northup of Minerva


Minerva, primitive and remote in the early 1800s, hardly would have seemed a likely birthplace for a man who would write a book which would attract national attention, make the author a household name, and, to some degree, help start a civil war. But indeed, it was there that Solomon Northup, author of Twelve Years A Slave, was born. Technically the town of Minerva did not exist at the time of Solomon’s birth on July 10, 1807 (though his book gives 1808 as his year of birth, more official documents have it as 1807); the town of Minerva was not >>More


July, 2013

Dave Gibson: The Economic Value of Protected Land


The Catskill Park and Forest Preserve may be smaller in size than our Adirondack Park but, like Avis in relation to to Hertz, Catskill residents may feel the need to try harder. One senses some good energy in the Catskill Mountains these days, and interesting initiatives are underway there, including an attempt to quantify visitation to the Catskill’s protected public and private lands and waters, and resulting economic value added to the Catskill economy. It would make sense if the same evaluation study method were applied to the Adirondack Park. The Catskill Park is just over 700,000 acres in size, >>More


July, 2013

Park Perspectives: On The Fort Ticonderoga Ferry


You can measure time a number of ways aboard the Fort Ticonderoga ferry. The voyage from shore to shore of the Lake Champlain Narrows takes seven and a half minutes. Set your watch. Seven and a half minutes across, seven and a half minutes back. Or you can free your mind to roam as you chug across the waterway. Let the Civics, Fiestas, and 4-by-4’s on the deck dissolve in your imagination and be replaced by rustic passengers in the rowboats and canoes that plied the crossing when ferry service began in 1759. Or picture those that crowded onto the >>More