About Philip Terrie

Philip Terrie is an Adirondack and environmental historian, and the author of five books on regional history, including Contested Terrain: A New History of Nature and People in the Adirondacks (2nd ed., Syracuse UP, 2008) and Seeing the Forest: Reviews, Musings, and Opinions from an Adirondack Historian (Saranac Lake: Adirondack Explorer, 2017).

Reader Interactions


  1. louis curth says

    Thanks to Phil Terrie for an interesting and thought provoking article about the vast human imprint that is a significant part of the history of the Adirondack region that we all care so much about.

    While traveling through various parts of the Forest Preserve as a young ranger, I would sometimes come upon the remains of an earlier human presence (old cellar holes, open wells, stone walls, lilac bushes, apple trees, etc.) that had been abandoned long ago and were being reclaimed by nature. It was always a time of reflection for me as I wondered about the human stories behind these artifacts now so out of place on the “forever wild” state land.

    Whether it was the early settlers clearing land in a futile attempt to farm the rocky soil, or the extractive miners, the loggers then and now, and the endless stream of entrepreneurs who have made Adirondack tourism thrive in so many creative ways, these Adirondacks will always be a scarred landscape. Nevertheless, it is all we’ve got, and it is up to all of us to work together to preserve the Adirondack wildlands, and to strike the right balance in order to protect nature and minimize people’s adverse impact on this increasingly fragile resource..

    For the sake of future generations who, like us, will seek solace here, may we all keep on trying to get this balance right.

    • nathan says

      i also love when i go off the beaten trails and find of old cellars, foundations, derilick vehicle half buried in the middle of nowhere, to think most of the adirondacks was farm land of sorts in the 1800’s and all regrown, but sometimes you find traces of those farms and such!


    All 8 Billion humans cause a scar upon nature because the human body is the most anatomically and physiologically weak, vulnerable body of all living species. Therefore, humans must destroy a forest and replace it with a crop of cotton to make clothing to stay warm, cut a forest to build a home for shelter, and mine to heat a home. Otherwise, humans will die. So, the only way that humans will not leave scars is if there are less humans-approximately the same number of humans as wolves on Earth. That would solve environmental problems. CONTRACEPTION IS THE STRATEGY THAT WORKS.

  3. JT says

    Interesting views on humanity…extreme, yet valid (IMHO). We are bound for more imbalance to the planet by virtue of our desire to live without sacrifice, our sense of feeling entitled. At least we [should] feel the need to regress in our wanton desire for every shiny thing we see and need (want).
    ‘Live simple, so the planet can simply live’

  4. Gerhardt says

    Great points made. I’ve always felt a connection with the Adirondacks from a spiritual and philosophical standpoint.

    I get upset with Jet Skies, motorboats and a voyeuristic interest in becoming a 46’r without every spending a night in the woods.

    It’s a sign of the times that people want instant gratification, the ability to post a selfie on social media of their outdoor conquest and ignorance toward this unique environment that makes me yearn for a better way to preserve the park,

    Wisdom is old men planting trees that they will never see grow, and in man’s interest to isolate a portion of the wilderness for himself he threatens the existence of the entirety!

    People need to take time to embrace and not quantify what should be a spiritual experience and not an excuse to party.

  5. Anonymous says

    I am a wildlife photographer who lives within the Blue Line. I cruise back roads, dirt roads and logging roads throughout the Adirondacks. I am often shocked by how trashed the landscape is. There are endless borrow pits, mine tailing piles, clear cuts with piles of debris so big that only the most garbage tree could get a foothold, an overabundance of messy municipal dumps (brush, asphalt piles, rusting trucks and equipment, gravel, general crap), illegally dumped contractor stuff… you name the ugly junk it’s right out there.

    And then you have the unappealing, junky “businesses” who don’t give a second thought to what their properties look like from the main roads and highways. Just look around next time you’re driving. (The southern and central Adks are the worst.)

    Most towns would have zoning that requires a certain level of mitigation, cleaning up, or fencing of such properties. Most towns don’t permit their highway departments to dump debris in numerous locations, simply starting a new mess when the old one is too big.

    The fact that this occurs within the Blue Line is nothing more than our towns thumbing their noses at the tourist industry. They stew and frett about wanting more tourists, but unless you can hike, and get into the pristine wilderness (shrinking everyday), this is not always a scenic place.

  6. Terry says

    Phillip story…“Henry Fair uses pictures to tell stories about people and things that affect people.” “Industrial Scars: And, you show the Bobsled run? Really Come on guys…..really?

    Well, i believe i heard the same story when the Lake Placid Olympic Committee upon recommendation of the International Olympic Committee in 1977 said they had to widen the downhill trails on Whiteface to stage the 1980 Alpine events. Enviromental zealots protested. They were the same ones that called the new ski jump towers an “eye sore” for 1980. These kinds of people are the new Ludites. Enviromental terrorists.

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