Archive for the ‘History’ Category

source: PostStar.com

Two historic fire towers closed for more than 20 years could be reopened under a plan to boost tourism in the Adirondacks.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation said this week that restoring the Hurricane Mountain and St. Regis Mountain fire towers would allow full public access. The plans also call for interpretive materials related to the towers’ history.

If the projects go ahead, the restorations are expected to result in increased tourism in Essex and Franklin counties.

Both towers have been closed to the public since they were discontinued for use as fire observation stations. The Hurricane Mountain tower closed in 1979, and the St. Regis Mountain tower was shut down in 1990.

The towers are listed on the state and national registers of historic places, which allows government officials to look at alternatives that would allow for their preservation.

The towers had been slated for removal because Hurricane Mountain is classified as a primitive area and St. Regis Mountain is in a canoe area. Both land classifications called for the fire towers to eventually be removed, but in October 2010 the Adirondack Park Agency board voted to classify the land beneath the two towers as historic, a move that allowed them to remain and be restored.

The restoration plans are available online and for public review at DEC headquarters in Albany and the Region 5 headquarters in Ray Brook, located just outside Lake Placid. CDs of the plan also will be available at the same locations, as well as the offices of the Town of Keene and Town of Santa Clara.

The DEC is accepting public comment through Nov. 15.
Hurricane Mountain tower: http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/78001.html
St. Regis tower: http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/78006.html

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YNN, link to original post

It’s a quiet, pretty walk along the Erie Canal path in Chittenango. The area’s history dates back centuries. However, you might not be aware its rich paranormal activity. “When we first started investigating the Erie Canal, we came as a fluke. We didn’t really expect much, but we did get a lot of evidence,” said Stacey Jones, the founder of CNY Ghost Hunters.

The original Erie Canal is actually half a mile up the road. It was 40 feet wide and four feet deep. It was used from the 1820s through the 1850s. The area is believed to be haunted. “There was an outbreak of Cholera at one point and a lot of the people building the canal were buried out in the woods and were not given proper burials,” said Jones.

Douglas Rainbow, the Co-Founder of the Chittenango Landing Canalboat Museum added, “Clay Hill road, which sits up here about half a mile on the right, was originally called Cholera Hill. And the mass graves are still visible if you know where to find them.”

This canal, or the Enlarged Erie Canal was expanded to 70 feet wide and 7 feet deep to allow for larger barges. It was used from the 1850s through 1917. It also has its share of paranormal stories.

In the 1800s, a Sheriff and his horse died there. “The lore surrounding it is that the horse got spooked by something that was on the other side of the canal and it was describe as being something like a ghost-like figure or a shadow figure. And that’s what ended up spooking the horse and killing them both,” said Jones.

That death was documented in local papers. Two other deaths were also well known. “The boiler exploded here in 1906. And there was two men killed. One guy was pushed through the building by timbers and was crushed and died later on that night. The other one had his head blown off. And the body was found down in the woods down there, and they never did find his head,” said Rainbow.

However, there’s one death that very few people know about. In a dying message to his sister, a man told her about a boy who he and his friend witnessed drown in the canal when they were just 10 or 12 years old. And before the sister died, she told the story to Douglas Rainbow, the Co-Founder of the Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum.

“This kid was from out of town and they goaded him into jumping off the bridge, which he went into the mud head first. I don’t think he jumped. I think he was pushed. And they realized that he died. He suffocated and died. And they didn’t know what to do with him. And there was an old barge parked along here, called the “Beech Nut.” And it was far enough away from the wall, and they buried the body in the mud,” said Rainbow.

There isn’t any record of the death. “You didn’t report it nationwide. It didn’t go out in a bulletin. You went to your local PD if you son or grandson was missing. And generally, that’s as far as it went,” said Rainbow.

Stacey Jones and her team, the CNY Ghost Hunters, have done several paranormal investigations there.

Jones said, “We get a lot of EVP which is electronic voice phenomenon. And the phenomenon is disembodied voices. We’ll ask questions, and these voices will come back and give us answers.” She continued, “Everybody experiences something different here. Some people get pictures. Some get EVP. Some people actually physically see things.”

Jones and her team say it’s the compelling evidence they get every visit that will keep them coming back for years to come.

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by Max Cea, Nyak News & Notes, link to original post

Area outdoor enthusiasts will soon be able to boldly jog, walk and cycle into the woods on a paved path where no man has gone before, following the path of a train that once did. The Joseph B. Clarke Rail Trail, which runs from Oak Tree Road in Tappan to Orangeburg, will be extended 1.6 miles from Lowes on Route 303 to Blauvelt. “With funding from NYS Department of Transportation, we’ll break ground in August of 2014 and finish the project within a year,” said Orangetown Supervisor Andy Stewart.  “Right now we are focused on the design of the street crossings and connections at the beginning and end of this section of the trail.”

Although New York State will fund construction of the trail, Orangetown’s Highway and Parks and Recreation Departments will be in charge of the trail’s maintenance. The new segment of the trail will conform in appearance to most of the existing trail.  The trail will be ten feet wide, mostly level, and paved with gravel and macadam pavement.

As the region recovers from recession, the extended rail trail — along with a new “Shared Use Path” on the north span of the new Tappan Zee Bridge — will bring thousands of new visitors on foot and two wheels to Orangetown, Piermont, Nyack and Tarrytown. According to Parks and Trails New York (PTNY), bicycle tourism is a low-impact way to give local economies a much needed shot in the arm. “Bicycle Tourists… are well-educated older adults from upper-income households that typically travel in groups of friends or family members. They spend money and are interested in learning about your community. [This group] provides an incentive for preserving a community’s unique character, historic heritage and natural features.” In other words, the cyclists we will soon see will be very different from the uber-riders with whom Rockland residents have become familiar. They are likely to take shorter rides than the serious road warriors who ride up 9W from NYC. They will have their cars and their wallets with them when they ride about a dozen miles across the new bridge and through the adjacent downtowns. Additionally, PTNY says they are likely to be shoppers, spenders and site-seers.

The business community in the river villages is eager to greet these new customers. “Nyack already knows what a boon for business having hundreds of bicycle riders from the larger metropolitan area can be,” says Nyack Chamber of Commerce President Scott Baird. “Every Saturday and Sunday- local coffee shops, breakfast restaurants, see a great influx of business as bicyclists from all over come to enjoy Nyack’s unique shops, eateries, and natural beauty.”

But local residents have a mixed response to the serious cyclists who flock to Nyack from the five boroughs and North Jersey. Motorists don’t like it when bikers run stop signs — although only about three out of ten drivers come to a complete legal stop themselves. Cyclists are miffed when cars play chicken with bikers and violate New York State’s Safe Distance (“3 foot”) law when passing. Motorists regularly break the exceeding posted speed limits; cyclists break the law when riding two abreast in the river villages. Forget what they say about each other, what it really is about is speed: cars don’t like anything that interferes with their ability to go as fast as they want; cyclists don’t see why they need to slow down for stop signs if no one is in the intersection. Bottom line? It’s a mess and both the motorists and the motorless are to blame.

And it’s going to get a lot more crowded out there when the new Shared Use Path opens on the new Tappan Zee Bridge. Today, as many as 5000 cyclists travel to Nyack on a busy summer weekend — that’s almost as many people as live in the village. The Walkway Over The Hudson — a tourist attraction between Ulster and Dutchess Counties, near Poughkeepsie — projects about 500,000 visitors each year. If the river villages got 1/10 of that traffic it would be overwhelming. But the likelihood is that the region would see at least as many as 500,000, given Rockland and Westchester’s vicinity to Bergen County and New York City.

Planners have floated the idea of getting the Tappan Zee Bridge project to pave the rest of the rail trail from Sparkill to Nyack, giving future tourists easy access to the business districts and available parking in Piermont, Nyack, Orangeburg and Blauvelt. If the state paved the remainder of the rail trail through these villages and addressed the security concerns of property owners, South Nyack, Grandview and Piermont could be relieved of the maintenance costs and liability they currently assume. In addition to it being good for local businesses, Baird says it would make things safer for cyclists and motorists. “Having a paved separate trail would improve the safety for drivers and bicyclists alike,” he says.

But local officials aren’t biting.  “What is there to gain?” says Larry Lynn, Mayor of Grandview.   “It’s not like we’re going to open up a Starbucks down there.  We have no commercial property.  Whereas Piermont and Nyack profit from the traffic and bicyclists who come up here, we don’t.  They just come buzzing through our village, yelling.  There’s no commercial value.  We don’t want tourism in Grandview because there’s no place for there to be tourism.  We have no water front park.  We have nothing to sell people.  We’re just a quiet residential village who wants to maintain its character.”

Grandview, which sits between South Nyack and Piermont, has a population of only 285 homes. About a dozen homes in Grandview are adjacent to the unimproved rail trail. In addition to addressing the current safety concerns and future parking issues, a paved rail trail of about a dozen miles from Nyack to Blauvelt would add a popular new public park for the 47,000 people who live in Orangetown.

Grandview’s opposition to paving the rail trail isn’t new, according to David Schloss, a biking enthusiast and co-owner of Gypsy Donut in Nyack. “From what I’ve heard the only village that opposes it is Grandview, and that hell would have to freeze over before they take steps to increase the use of the trail.”  When asked if Grandview would consider supporting the project if the state paid to pave it and assumed maintenance and liability, Lynn left open the possibility of working with the state. “I’d want to see that it’s safe and I’d want to see that someone else is incurring the costs,” he said. “We’re open to any discussions that are to be had, but the issue hasn’t been raised in years.”

The Orangeburg part of the rail trail is named after Joseph B. Clarke, Orangetown’s Superintendent of Parks and Recreation, from 1969 to 1996, who championed the idea of re-purposing the abandoned Erie train line as a rail trail.  In South Nyack the trail is called the Raymond G. Esposito Memorial Trail in honor of the former mayor who promoted the trail’s expansion. Starting at the tennis courts on South Franklin in South Nyack, they trail passes four downtown shopping districts, three libraries, a college campus, several churches, three shopping centers, secluded woodlands and wildlife and plant sanctuaries, hamlet center parks and several streams, ponds and a reservoir. In Grandview, the rail trail is known as Hader Park.

There Was A Train To Nyack? (history)

The Erie Railroad route from Nyack to Jersey City became known as the Northern Branch. It extended through the towns of Nyack, Grandview, Piermont and Tappan, New York. In New Jersey, it went through the towns of Northvale, Norwood, Closter, Demarest, Creskill, Tenafly, Englewood and Ridgefield Park. In the late 1800s, this line carried over 60 trains a day! After the Erie-Lackawana merger, trains terminated in Hoboken.

Commuter service was discontinued in the 1960s. The tracks remained intact to Piermont until the Continental Can factory was closed. It was replaced by luxury condominiums with spectacular Hudson River views. In the 1980s, the tracks were removed from all portions of the Northern Branch in New York State. Local freight service is still run on the line as far north as Northvale on the NY/NJ border.
Source: PierceHaviland.com

This article is sponsored by the Piermont Bicycle Connection. In addition to their expertise in bike sales and service, they can help you become Masters of the eBay Universe turning your extra stuff into extra cash! Visit them online for details or call 845-365-0900 for more information.

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The NY/NJ Trail Conference has recently published FREE brochures and maps for all five of the Fire Towers located in the Catskill Park. Click here for info & download links.

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I am excited to announce that a fourth book on Lost Ski Areas, this time covering the Northern Adirondacks, is presently being researched/written and will be out late summer or early fall, 2014! This book will be very similar to the Southern Adirondacks book, and will be published by The History Press.

Lost Ski Areas of the Southern Adirondacks

Lost Ski Areas of the Southern Adirondacks

Research has just begun, but there are already interesting discoveries and historic photos uncovered. If you have anything to contribute, please let me know (email: nelsap@yahoo.com). I’m looking for photos, trails maps, stories, newspaper articles, etc.

The book will cover the area from Ticonderoga w’ward to the edge of the Adirondacks and north to Canada. The exact western edge has not been determined yet.

In addition, there will be some exciting changes coming to the NELSAP.org website in the next few months!

For info on Lost Ski Areas of the Southern Adirondacks click here.

Jeremy Davis
source: Snow Journal

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A new driving guide makes it easy for the public to visit the Chemung River by vehicle, enjoy the natural views and learn about the waterway’s history.

 “Shoot the chute.” The new driving guide tour includes a visit to the site of a former wooden water toboggan used in the early 1900s near today’s Fitch’s Bridge in Big Flats where locals went to “shoot the chute” and ride a wooden sled down the toboggan into the river. (Photo provided by Friends of the Chemung River Watershed). Notice the boat paddlers in suits and ties.

“Shoot the chute.” The new driving guide tour includes a visit to the site of a former wooden water toboggan used in the early 1900s near today’s Fitch’s Bridge in Big Flats where locals went to “shoot the chute” and ride a wooden sled down the toboggan into the river. (Photo provided by Friends of the Chemung River Watershed). Notice the boat paddlers in suits and ties.

“A Driving Guide to History Along the Chemung River,” a free 12-page publication, includes maps, photos and GPS coordinates to historic sites along the river, including a former Civil War prison camp, the Chemung Canal, tobacco farms and a wooden water toboggan. It is a self-guided driving tour of the river between Big Flats and the town of Chemung that helps people explore the 45-mile river and learn about its historical significance.
The scenic two-hour tour visits historic sites and boat launches and brings you to the river’s edge and history’s doorstep. Many of the boat launches include kiosks spotlighting local history for visitors. A word of caution: Some of the narrow boat launch access roads are crushed stone or dirt, so conditions can be rough at times.
The full-color spiral-bound guide was written and published in a partnership between the Friends of the Chemung River Watershed (River Friends) and the Chemung County History Museum to encourage the public to visit the river and learn about its history and natural beauty. It was paid for by a grant through the museum.
The guides are available at the museum gift shop, 415 E. Water St., Elmira or at the River Friends office, 111 N. Main St., Elmira. You may also access the guide online at www.chemungvalleymuseum.org  or www.chemungriverfriends.org  at  http://www.chemungriverfriends.org/pdf/DrivingGuide_History.pdf

Take A Paddle - Finger Lakes

Take A Paddle – Finger Lakes

Go back & paddle the Chemung River (& other area rivers) using the guidebook “Take A Paddle – Finger Lakes New York Quiet Water for Canoes & Kayaks.”

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Oswego County Today

The Great Bear Recreation Area near Fulton has been added to the series of self-guided walking tours along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail National Scenic Byway.

Members of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail and Finger Lakes Volkssport groups met recently at Great Bear Recreation Area to enjoy the scenic trail system. You can do it also as a self-guided walk any time.

The Great Bear Walk, organized by the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Volkssport Association and Friends of Great Bear, is the first of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Walks to be entirely “off-road” as it follows well-marked woodland trails.

Volkssporting in German is “the sport of the people.” The Great Bear Walk joins a series of walks created by the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Volkssport Association along or near the 518-mile Great Lakes Seaway Trail National Scenic Byway which parallels Lake Erie, the Niagara River, Lake Ontario, and the St. Lawrence River in New York and Pennsylvania.

The walks are family-oriented and targeted to those who enjoy outdoor physical activity in which people of all ages and fitness levels can participate.

Participants may purchase a pin designating the Great Bear Recreation Area Volkssport Walk by completing the information on the start card for the walk at Great Bear.

Participants may purchase a pin designating the Great Bear Recreation Area Volkssport Walk by completing the information on the start card for the walk at Great Bear.

The Great Bear Springs area is comprised of more than 400 acres in the city of Fulton and town of Volney. The name is based on a Native American legend in which a young brave was attacked by a large bear near the springs.

The property also contains the historic Oswego Canal guard lock number 2 and towpath that were a part of the original Oswego River Canal.

After completing the walk, participants have the option of purchasing a collectible pin depicting the bear for which the area is named.

“The area has more than eight miles of natural trails over rolling terrain, and is ideal for walking, cycling, cross-country skiing and snow shoeing,” said Richard Drosse, coordinator of the Friends of Great Bear. “The Great Bear Walk was developed with the option of either a 3.1 mile or 6.2 mile route, and is sanctioned by the American Volkssport Association.”

The walk is open to all, and there is no charge except for Volkssporters wishing to earn credit or for those interested in purchasing the pin.

In May, a group of 18 walkers from the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Volkssport Association and the Finger Lakes Volkssport Club met in Fulton to christen the Great Bear Walk.

“The Great Bear Walk makes an excellent addition to the series of Great Lakes Seaway Trail Walks, and we’re confident it will serve as an important means to attract visitors to the region,” Great Lakes Seaway Trail Volkssport Association President Daryl Giles said.

To get started, go to the Riverside Inn located at 930 S. First St. in Fulton and ask for the Great Bear Walk box at the front desk. Participants may purchase a pin designating the Great Bear Recreation Area Volkssport Walk by completing the information on the start card for the walk at Great Bear.

Walkers can then sign in and pick up the walk directions. Oswego County also hosts a sanctioned Volkssport walk near Fort Ontario. The walk is headquartered at the Quality Inn and Suites, 70 E. First St., Oswego, and commemorates the 1814 British Naval attack on Fort Ontario. The walk can be done in 5 and 10-kilometer routes.

For more information on the Great Bear and Oswego 1812 walks, and the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Volkssport Association, visit www.seawaytrail.com/volkssport

To learn more about the Great Bear Recreation Area and Friends of Great Bear, visit www.friendsofgreatbear.com

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