Boreas Ponds

When I heard in the Spring of 2016 that New York State acquired the 20,758 acre Boreas Ponds Tract from the Nature Conservancy which subsequently was purchased from the Finch, Pruyn Paper Company I had all I could do to contain myself. This 320 acre beauty is bordered by the North River Mountain Range to the west, the Boreas Mountain Range to the east and the High Peaks Wilderness to the north. I have been chomping at the bit since to make this journey and canoe this remote piece of heaven.

I car camped Friday night along Blue Ridge Road in the town of North Hudson, NY about 6 miles east of the access road to the ponds. Early Saturday morning I woke to 38 degree temps as I made my way to the parking lot which is 3.5 miles down a dirt road, a rather bumpy dirt road I might add. When I arrived it was a mere 30 degrees, looking around I noticed there were four other cars in the lot as well. The sun had just begun to rise, as I stepped out of the car I could feel that brisk chill take a hold of me. I quickly added another top layer and began to load my canoe and gear for the additional 3.6 mile hike to the Boreas Ponds. Canoe strapped to the canoe cart as I slid under the barrier to the DEC register box. All signed in and off I went. I quickly experience technical difficulties with the canoe cart due to my inexperience in lashing the canoe to it. The trail in is quite boring and lacks scenery until you get closer to your destination. I covered the 3.6 miles in 1:18:20 hauling about 30 pounds of canoe and gear. Upon arriving I was in awe of the view that I didn’t notice a guy and his dog sitting along the waters edge. I was startled by Shelby a yellow lab barking at me, we quickly made friends. I chatted for a few minutes with the gentleman and he told me that they had hiked in yesterday and were camping close by. Unpacking my gear I caught a glimpse of two people in a green canoe fishing off in the distance.

Getting my act together out on the water I went. The magnitude of peacefulness was awe-inspiring. Paddling across First Pond the whisper of my paddle entering and exiting the water complimented boreal birds who were singing along the shoreline. Soon enough the call of Loons shattered the stillness with their own chorus echoing off the mountains. I decided to pay a visit to the two men in that green canoe. We made small talk but I learned that they had only caught 1 trout, they were from Lake Luzerne and their wives were hiking in to camp that evening.

I spent around 2 hours exploring this magnificent resource before heading back to shore. Canoe and gear reloaded and properly secured it was time for my 3.6 mile hike back to the car. Along the trail I passed quite a few hikers, bikers and canoers all on their way to enjoy the wonders of the Adirondacks. I covered the return distance in 1:01:53 and had my gear loaded back onto and into my car. Now it was coffee O’Clock, so out came the Jetboil and in about 2 minutes I had a very nice hot cup of Joe. I sat on a large rock and drank in this experience, one I had been dreaming about for over a year. It was everything I had thought it would be.

Beginning my adventure on the Boreas Ponds September 2nd 2017. © Joe Geronimo
I have just arrived at the Boreas Ponds and the Gothics stand proud in the distance September 2nd 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Making my way across Second Pond September 2nd 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Another view of the high peaks paddling into Third Pond September 2nd 2017. © Joe Geronimo
All loaded up and ready for my trek back out, September 2nd 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Going to sign out in the Boreas Ponds register, September 2nd 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Coffee O’Clock September 2nd 2017. © Joe Geronimo

Cuomo Announces Approval Of Adirondack Rail-Trail Plan

As George the cranky steam roller from the Thomas the Tank Engine series says “Tear them up and turn them into roads” but in this case trails. I’ll be honest, I agree with this plan. I work in the rail industry, however I enjoy the outdoors. The original plan was to remove the rails from Big Moose to Lake Placid. Now the rails will only be removed from Lake Placid to Tupper Lake a distance of 35 miles rather than about sixty or so.

I believe that if the rails were to stay and the entire line be restored to active service it would boom until the nostalgia wore off. Who knows maybe I am wrong? I do believe a rail trail will draw more visitors than the railroad. Right now in America the “Rail Trail” boom is booming and they continue to grow in popularity. I guess only time will tell if this was the right decision.

Below is the story by Phil Brown  of the

Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday announced approval of a controversial plan to remove state-owned railroad tracks between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake to create a 34-mile multi-use trail. In addition, the state is committed to restoring 45 miles of tracks between Big Moose and Tupper Lake.

The governor’s announcement is a victory for Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates (ARTA) and a defeat for the Adirondack Scenic Railroad (ASR), which operates a tourist train on a 10-mile stretch of tracks that will be removed. Later in the day, ASR revealed that it recently filed a lawsuit in State Supreme Court seeking to save the tracks.

ARTA President Joe Mercurio, who lives in Saranac Lake, said he was thrilled by the governor’s announcement. “ARTA and a great many others have worked long and hard for this,” he said. “Governor Cuomo deserves a huge round of applause for his support. It was the right thing to do.”

The trail would be used by bicyclists, hikers, and others most of the year and by snowmobilers in the winter.

In a news release Tuesday afternoon, the governor’s office said the trail will be finished within three years, at a cost of $8 million. The line south of Tupper Lake will be rehabilitated within the same period, at a cost of $15 million.

“By rehabilitating the railway and building a scenic trail, we are better utilizing the corridor and its surrounding lands to create more economic and recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike,” Cuomo said.

One argument for removing the tracks was that the ASR train that runs between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid does little for the local economy. ARTA and many local officials contend that a recreational trail will attract more tourists.

If the tracks are removed, ASR will have to shut down the Lake Placid train. Also, Rail Explorers USA, a rail-bike operation that started last year in Saranac Lake, will have to relocate.

ASR will still be able to run trains out of Old Forge and eventually extend its excursions all the way to Tupper Lake. The Old Forge train is seen as more successful than the Lake Plaid train.

However, it’s not certain ASR will continue to be the rail operator in the corridor. The state plans to solicit bids for a rail operator.

The entire state-owned rail corridor extends 119 miles from Remsen to Lake Placid and is managed by the state Department of Transportation. The updated management plan for the corridor was drafted by DOT and the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which will oversee the construction and maintenance of the recreational trail.

DEC officials said Tuesday that track removal could begin as early as December or, if not then, in the spring. ASR and Rail Explorers can continue to operate on the tracks through November.

Supporters of the railroad have argued, among other things, that removing the tracks would violate the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. They also point out that the corridor and the tracks are on the state and national registers of historic places.

In February, after the Adirondack Park Agency approved the rail-trail plan, ASR started a campaign to raise $100,000 for a legal fight. As of late March, it said it had raised about $40,000.

Bill Branson, president of the Adirondack Railway Preservation Society, which operates ASR, said in a news release late Tuesday afternoon that the railroad recently filed a lawsuit against DEC and the APA. “We are an important driver of tourism in the Adirondacks, and we cannot understand why DEC is determined to destroy vital transportation infrastructure and the only operator on that infrastructure,” he said.

Steve Engelhart of Adirondack Architectural Heritage also criticized the decision. “We are disappointed by the governor’s announcement, as we feel that the railroad advocates made a strong case for the preservation of the entire 119-mile rail corridor for its economic, social, and cultural value,” Engelhart said. “In addition to destroying a significant section of this National Register-listed historic resource, this decision will shut down a successful local business, Adirondack Rail Explorers, and eliminate the northern operations of the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, a popular attraction for area visitors with thousands of riders every year.”

In addition to building a rail trail and fixing up old tracks, the state intends to:

  • Build snowmobile trails near the corridor to connect Tupper Lake and Old Forge and improve snowmobile connections between the Adirondacks and Tug Hill.
  • Evaluate the feasibility of a hut-to-hut cross-country ski trail from Beaver River to Horseshoe Lake.
  • Establish railway stops for visitors and outdoor recreationists.
  • Consult with the State Historic Preservation Office to mitigate the impacts of removing the rails.
Adirondack Scenic Railroad "Railroader's Special" arrives the station at Big Moose, NY on September 24th 2015.
Adirondack Scenic Railroad arrives the station at Big Moose, NY, image © Joe Geronimo.

History Past: The Lake Placid Club

In early 2015 I had purchased this vintage “Large Letter” postcard of Lake Placid. I’m a huge fan of the area and I just love the graphics of these pieces of history. An even bigger attraction was that it had been written on and mailed as well. However I payed little attention to the actual “Postmark” on the back until recently while going through some of my postcards. I noticed that the postal cancel was from the “Lake Placid Club” and not the Lake Placid, NY Post Office and this baffled me.

I decided to send a scan of the postcard to Bill German the Editor of the Postmark Collectors Club and he did some research for me on this subject. His initial response was that he was unaware of this “Postmark” as well. Bill recently wrote back to me with some history on the “Lake Placid Club” and as a matter of fact they will be running this in their March newsletter. Below you will find some interesting information about the “Lake Placid Club”.

LP CombinedThe Lake Placid Club was a social and recreation club founded 1895 in a hotel on Mirror Lake in Lake Placid, New York , under Melvil Dewey’s leadership (The Melvil Dewey of the Dewey Decimal System) and according to his ideals. It was instrumental in Lake Placid’s development as an internationally known resort.

Dewey intended the club as a place where educators might find health, strength and inspiration at modest cost. Under his leadership, the club became nationally known for winter sports, building a winter clubhouse in 1907 that allowed year-round visits to Lake Placid. By 1923 the Club had grown to 9,600 acres, with 356 buildings (including 110 residences), its own theatre (seating capacity 1,200), library, boathouses, 21 tennis courts, seven golf courses, farms, a staff of 1100, a fire department and even a school, today known as Northwood School.

Early in September, 1899, trustees of the Club found the time ripe to bring together those most interested in home science, or household economics. They sent out many invitations for the first Lake Placid Conference scheduled to take place Sept. 19-25, 1899. One of the attendees, Ellen Swallow Richards, a founder of the modern domestic science movement, was elected chairman of the conference. The conference took place each year from 1899 to 1907.

The Club had been an active center of skiing ever since the 1910s. Ski-joring as seen in the picture at right was one of the attractions; ski jumping, ice skating, carnivals and cross-country ski lessons were others. Melvil Dewey’s son Godfrey was instrumental in bringing the Winter Olympics to Lake Placid in 1932. Without the club’s facilities and its national profile, Lake Placid would not have qualified to host the Games.

In the 1930s, a group of students from the Yale School of Drama performed at the Club’s Lakeside Theater during the summer months.

In 1966 Fred Missildine, who compiled a record of more than 30 national skeet and trap titles while working for Winchester-Western, operated the Fred Missildine Shooting School at the Lake Placid Club.

Membership declined steadily as vacationing trends among the wealthy changed. Air travel and time constraints meant that fewer families spent the entire season at the Club. In 1977 only 471 families renewed their membership, compared to 711 the previous year. The Club closed its doors soon after serving as headquarters for the International Olympic Committee during the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid.

During the 1990s the Club was a frequent target for arson and vandalism. Its last buildings were demolished in January 2002.

In 1926 Dewey established a southern branch of the Club in Lake Stearns, Florida; the town was renamed Lake Placid as a result. It is now owned by the South Florida District of the Church of the Nazarene, which operates it as the Lake Placid Camp and Conference Center.

Exclusionary Policies:

For most of its existence the Lake Placid Club excluded Jews and other socially stigmatized groups. A Lake Placid circular explained that, “No one will be received as a member or guest against whom there is physical, moral, social or race objection, or who would be unwelcome to even a small minority … This invariable rule is rigidly enforced. It is found impracticable to make exceptions for Jews or others excluded, even though of unusual personal qualifications.” Dewey was forced to resign as New York State Librarian after it was shown that these policies were traceable to him personally, despite his denials. (Dewey soon after took up permanent residence at the Club, and beginning 1906 devoted himself to its development.)

In 1904 the New York State Board of Regents received a petition demanding Dewey’s removal as State Librarian because of his personal involvement in the Lake Placid Club’s policy of excluding Jews and other religious and ethnic groups. While the Regents declined to remove Dewey, they did issue a public rebuke, and in the summer of 1905 he resigned as a result.

In 1954, a New York Times article criticized the Club for its refusal to admit Blacks and Jews. The B’nai B’rith Anti-Defimation League filed a complaint about the Club. The dispute lasted several years, until the League decided to drop the charges of discrimination in 1959. Representatives of the Club claimed that its members were religiously motivated and therefore wished to vacation as Christians among Christians in order to “strengthen their appreciation of and attachment to Christianity.” Since Dewey’s time, the Club had been very strict about membership, avoiding fashionable vacationers, not serving alcohol in the dining room, and only accepting guests who came recommended by other members. The criteria for membership remained intact until 1976.