My Thoughts: “The Boys of Winter”

On February 22, 1980 I was just 8 years old and beginning a love of hockey. Our family moved into our brand new home on the same day along the north shore of Long Island. It was a bitter cold day. All I remember of the “Miracle on Ice” was the newspaper cover I saw the next morning and as an 8 year old I didn’t realize the impact it had on America. Four months later Ken Morrow and my beloved New York Islanders would win the first of four Stanley Cups.

A vast majority of the players on this team would hail from Minnesota and I find it kind of ironic that in the 1980’s I was not only an Islander fan but a North Stars fan as well. I wore my sweater’s proudly and even came home periodically from street hockey with blood on them. I was devastated when the Stars moved to Dallas and shortly thereafter my love for them had waned.

On Saturday August 18th Julie and I were in Lake Placid for the weekend and had wondered into “Bookstore Plus” along Main Street. We purchased several books this day with “The Boys of Winter” being one of them. I am fascinated with the in depth stories of these players, along with their individual successes and heartaches. All this sewn into the three period account of February 22nd 1980 as history played out in a small Adirondack village along the shores of Mirror Lake against an overwhelming Soviet Union team. I felt my Patriotism swell.




Prints for Sale: Adirondack High Peaks

I’m offering two different prints of the Adirondack High Peaks for sale. These images are sized at 10″X20″ and look amazing when printed. These prints will make a wonderful addition to your home or office.

Each print cost is $45.00 which includes shipping within the continental United States. Outside the United States there will be an additional cost dependent on where you are. Please contact me for shipping information if you are outside the USA.

Payment information and instructions: Payments will be made through Paypal to: Please specify which image and finish you would like in the message area of Paypal.

Please note: It usually takes 7-10 days to receive your item once the order is placed.

Finishes available:

Glossy, Matte, Luster and Metallic

Olympic Ski Jump
Adirondack Loj Road

Saranac Lake New York

Ever since I laid eyes on the Old Town Cayuga 146 (14′ 6″) kayak I was in love. However I was just simply too fat to fit in the boat. Old Town stopped making this boat a few years ago and they are almost impossible to find used. Early this spring I discovered that St. Regis Canoe Outfitters of Saranac Lake use them in their rental fleet and occasionally they will sell one or two.

As luck would have it a Cayuga 146 complete with rudder did come available and I immediately reserved it and made my trek north. The weather in Saranac Lake today was absolutely perfect, a cool 38 degrees this morning when I woke. I picked up my boat right after they opened and shortly I was on Lake Flower.

Paddling along gazing at the serenity, making a few adjustments to my seat a gentleman in a beautiful Eddyline kayak came up upon me and asked me where I was headed. I promptly said “I Have no clue”.  He introduced himself as “Dave” and offered for me to tag along. Dave would guide me along from Lake Flower, Oseetah Lake to the lower locks & dam where Oseetah and the Saranac River meet. According to my map we paddled about 9 miles down and back. As an added bonus to me this section is part of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, adding a few miles in my ongoing quest to complete the 740 mile route in pieces.

I love this boat! Super comfortable, fast and tracks pretty darn well and has a ton of storage for a multiple day camping trip. One last impression was that I’ve been using my 17lb Hornbeck canoe for sometime now so this 50Lb kayak was an eye opener.

Looking forward to getting some more miles in this sweet thing here real shortly.

Lower Locks & Dam Oseetah Lake to Saranac River September 3rd 2016
Lower Locks & Dam Oseetah Lake to Saranac River September 3rd 2016
Dave & I Oseetah Lake Adirondacks September 3rd 2016
Dave & I Oseetah Lake Adirondacks September 3rd 2016
Dave & I Oseetah Lake Saranac Lake NY September 3rd 2016
Dave & I Oseetah Lake Saranac Lake NY September 3rd 2016
Oseetah Lake Saranac Lake NY September 3rd 2016
Oseetah Lake Saranac Lake NY September 3rd 2016
Saranac Lake NY September 3rd 2016
Saranac Lake NY September 3rd 2016


History Past: House of 1000 Animals

House of 1,000 Animals August 1970 Lake Placid, NY. Kodachrome slide from the collection of Joe Geronimo.
House of 1,000 Animals August 1970 Lake Placid, NY. Kodachrome slide from the collection of Joe Geronimo.

With the invention of the automobile and Henry Ford’s mass production of the Model T, a new type of tourist was created, freed by the motorcar to explore at will. Facilities had to be invented to serve these happy wanderers, and a new generation of business owners realized that the middle-class nomads passing in front of their properties were a potential source of income. The most essential services for tourists provided gas, food and lodging. But in this explosion of roadside commerce, there was a fourth type of establishment, which had nothing whatsoever to do with fulfilling basic needs. A wide variety of tourist attractions were conceived as a way to divert travelers. They evolved not only to amuse the children in the back seat, but also to seduce the children living within the adults in the front seat. Roadside attractions were also important to travelers needing to stretch their legs, relax for a while, use the very necessary rest-room facilities, or just to have some fun.

The highway havens in the North Country were and are a microcosm of such marvels developed across the United States. Although they were condemned by many as being in bad taste or condoned by others as kitsch, a variety of destinations arose and thrived. The beginnings of the phenomenon are shrouded in the mists of the past, and just how these businesses began to appear is at best a matter of conjecture.

One theory is that some people involved in serving up travelers’ essentials added amusement facilities as a means of drawing attention and income and to distinguish themselves from competitors. One Adirondack example was a black bear kept at an auto camp near North Hudson in the 1920s. The bear was trained to guzzle bottles of soda pop purchased by passersby, and sometimes a man would wrestle the beast before the assembled throngs.

The earliest stand-alone tourist diversions in the region, as in many other parts of the country, began as operations devoted to raising animals for clothing and decorative items. Although it’s hard to imagine now, there was an ostrich farm in Saratoga Springs in the first decades of this century. Such farms of gigantic birds were commonplace in California, Texas and Florida, and the plumage was harvested to produce feather boas in various colors as well as pompoms, fans and novelties, all sold in shops on the premises.

But the Florida Ostrich Farm in Jacksonville—taking a cue perhaps from visitors who migrated with the seasons—launched a summer branch in Saratoga on Ballston Avenue. People became so fascinated by these creatures, which could weigh up to four hundred pounds, that the business was opened so that curious guests could gawk at chicks hatching from gigantic eggs; ride behind big ones in sulkies or up on their backs; ooh and aah as birds swallowed oranges whole, which would then be seen as round objects descending stomachward; or, in what was described as a “painless operation,” observe plumes being plucked. Among Saratoga’s most famous ostriches were one behemoth named “Prince of Wales,” and another, “Oliver W,” billed as “positively the only thoroughly harness-broken ostrich in America today.” Ostrich ranches, though, went the way of feather boas and disappeared from the American landscape.

Joseph S. Sterling, born in New Jersey in 1878—and who moved to Alaska in 1904, where he prospected for gold, ran a steamship line and operated trading posts—came up with the idea of raising captive animals for fur. He drifted back East, started a silver-fox farm in Schuyler Falls, New York, in 1915, and in 1920 established an exhibition farm at Ausable Chasm. The very next year Sterling opened another show farm in Lake Placid. The Lake Placid location, on Route 86, became the area’s major tourist attraction in the 1930s, and survived until 1976.

Out-of-towners were fascinated by Sterling’s foxes, mink, beavers, Hudson seals and so-called “wolf raccoons,” and he boasted in the early 1930s that visitors could “See 50 Alive.” Over the years, other species were added as the facility evolved into the Sterling Alaska Fur and Game Farm, popularly known as the “Home of 1000 Animals.” Many of the inhabitants were trained to perform tricks: bears did stunts in exchange for treats; “Peppy and Mike” starred in a daily chimp show; and children could ride llamas. Joseph Sterling died in 1959, but his wife, Martha, carried on, expanding and modernizing the facility.

(Note): The above text was taken from Adirondack Life ” Once upon a time in the Adirondacks, when theme parks ruled the roadside” by John Margolies.

The buildings still exist, with the main building on Saranac Ave. at the intersection, right before Whiteface Inn Lane. Sadly it is now an antique store.


Sunset Tupper Lake, NY September 24th 2015. Image © Joe Geronimo
Sunset Tupper Lake, NY September 24th 2015, Image © Joe Geronimo.

On a recent morning before going to work I was reminiscing in my mind of a trip to the Adirondacks I had taken not to long ago. The trip was a memorable one to say the least. Fresh in my mind was the vivid sunset I had laid witness to while in Tupper Lake, NY that evening. I’d have to say it was one of the most breath taking I’ve seen in my lifetime.

I was fortunate to be able to make several images of that sunset during its many stages. However one image in particular I never really liked so it never made it to the editing process. Over the past several days that particular image has grown on me and I’ve found myself going back to look at it repeatedly. I finally realized what it is I have come to love about that image. Its not perfect, and neither am I or anyone else for that matter. It reinforces to me that even though we as humans are not perfect there is something to love about everyone.



New York State buys Boreas Ponds:

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo visits Boreas Ponds in the Adirondacks which is among 69,000 acres that were acquired by the state. (I obtained this image via Google).
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo visits Boreas Ponds in the Adirondacks which is among 69,000 acres that were acquired by the state. (I obtained this image via Google).

The state paid $14.5 million for the tract, according to a deed filed April 5 in the Essex County clerk’s office. The state has yet to announce the sale, and the state Department of Environmental Conservation refused to answer questions about how public access will be managed. In the past, DEC has suggested that the public will be allowed to drive to within a mile or so of the ponds via a dirt road.
A source told the Almanack that the road to the ponds is gated (and probably will remain so for the duration of mud season) and that the ponds are still frozen. The Nature Conservancy confirmed the sale after the Almanack broke the story. Its news release linked to a video of Boreas Ponds.
The conservancy’s website also offers breathtaking photos of Boreas Ponds. The Nature Conservancy bought all 161,000 acres of the Finch, Pruyn lands in 2007. It later sold 89,000 acres to a Danish pension fund. The state owns a conservation easement on these lands that permits logging but prohibits subdivision and development.

In 2012, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the state would purchase, in stages, 65,000 acres for the Forest Preserve, including the Essex Chain Lakes, OK Slip Falls, parts of the Hudson Gorge, and Boreas Ponds. The other properties have already been acquired.

“We are grateful to Governor Cuomo and his team for recognizing that investing in nature is an investment in New York’s future. From providing cost-effective natural water filtration and carbon storage to bolstering the tourism economy, protecting these forests and waters is an investment that will produce very big returns. We look forward to continuing to work with the state and Adirondack communities,” said Mark Tercek, president and CEO of the Nature Conservancy.

DEC and the Adirondack Park Agency now will have to decide how to manage and classify the Boreas Ponds Tract — decisions sure to be controversial.

Environmentalists want most of the tract added to the High Peaks Wilderness, whereas local officials favor a Wild Forest classification. The main difference between Wilderness and Wild Forest is that motorized uses and bicycling are banned in Wilderness Areas.

The Adirondack Council and Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) are sponsoring a petition drive dubbed Be Wild NY to persuade the Cuomo administration to add to the High Peaks Wilderness not only the bulk of the Boreas Ponds Tract, but also the Dix Mountain Wilderness and some smaller parcels of former Finch, Pruyn lands. If this is done, the High Peaks Wilderness, already the largest Wilderness Area in the Adirondack Park, would grow to roughly 280,000 acres from 204,000 acres.

But North Hudson Supervisor Ron Moore, whose town includes Boreas Ponds, told the Adirondack Explorer last fall that he wants the tract classified as Wild Forest to facilitate public access and maximize its recreational potential. For example, he wants people to be allowed to bicycle on old logging roads in the area.

“We’re not looking to destroy the environment,” he said. “We’re looking to use an existing infrastructure of roads. We want as many people to enjoy the area as possible.”

Willie Janeway, executive director of the Adirondack Council, maintains that the Wilderness classification will attract a variety of outdoor enthusiasts, including hikers, paddlers, snowshoers, and cross-country skiers, and boost the local economy. He added that the tract could serve as a new gateway to the popular High Peaks Wilderness.

Controversy also has arisen over the status of Gulf Brook Road, a former logging road that leads to Boreas Ponds. Environmentalist groups agree that much of the road should be left open to allow the public to drive as far as LaBiere Flow, an impounded section of the Boreas River about a mile from Boreas Ponds. From there hikers could walk and canoeists could paddle and portage to the ponds.

Some wilderness advocates, such as Bill Ingersoll, publisher of the Discover the Adirondacks guidebooks, maintain that the road should be closed. This would require people to hike about seven miles to get to the ponds. In contrast, Moore contends that the public should be able to drive beyond LaBiere Flow to within three-quarters of a mile of Boreas Ponds. The disabled, he said, should be able to drive to within a quarter-mile of the ponds.

Gulf Brook Road also figures in a disagreement among environmentalists over where to draw the line between Wilderness and Wild Forest.

Protect the Adirondacks contends that Gulf Brook Road is the logical boundary. Under this scenario, it would also serve as a snowmobile trail in winter connecting North Hudson and Newcomb.

The council, ADK, and Adirondack Wild favor a plan that would extend the Wilderness boundary south of Gulf Brook almost to Blue Ridge Road, a major county highway. The snowmobile trail would then be cut between Blue Ridge Road and the Wilderness Area.

The hitch with this plan is that Gulf Brook Road would then penetrate the Wilderness Area. In order to allow people to drive to LaBiere Flow, the road would be classified as a Primitive Corridor.

Peter Bauer, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks, contends that creating a Primitive Corridor would weaken the protections for Wilderness in the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. “If we’re going to have a motorized road, it should be in a Wild Forest Area,” he told the Explorer last fall. He also said that using the road for the snowmobile trail would obviate the cutting of thousands of trees.

Janeway counters that the Be Wild NY plan maximizes the amount of land to be classified as Wilderness and that state regulations would limit the number of trees cut for the snowmobile trail.

Other issues are whether a lodge on the south shore of Boreas Ponds, built by Finch, Pruyn as a corporate retreat, should be removed and whether a concrete dam at the foot of the ponds should maintained.

Author: Phil Brown Adirondack Explorer