Saturday, December 15, 2012

Wrapping up 2012

In those brief moments during the holidays when we have time to take a deep breath, memories of the past 12 months flash before our eyes like a newsreel with a twitch. Snippets come and go, sights, sounds, smells, a warm summer breeze, the bite of winter, the taste of a favorite meal.

"This year went by fast," a friend says. "But we did so much."

Yes, we did. 2012 was a productive year for me, although I wish I could have done more. I think back on my list of goals for the year, and I fell short as usual. But there were small victories.

I wrote more, including one book; I was supposed to write two, but the one I finished wasn't even on my Jan. 1 list. I'm still working on the others. But I got paid for most of my writing, which is a plus considering that's what I want to do.

I lost weight, not the 200 pounds I had planned but a modest and respectable 35 pounds for the year. I hope to do better in 2013.

I took a lot more photos than in 2011, but I'd still like to take more. This wasn't on my list, but photography gives me great pleasure, and I had hoped to be more happy in 2012. I'm pretty sure I succeeded, and the photographs help transport me back to all the places I visited and things I did in 2012.

Below is a short list of my favorite 2012 assignments writing for the North Creek News Enterprise. Spending time in North Creek wasn't even on my radar on Jan. 1, but becoming the editor there was one of my biggest highlights in 2012. It's a great little Adirondack town with warm, hard working people. I highly recommend you visit.

North Creek baker competes on Jeopardy
Justin Gonyo a fourth generation railroad man
Moose-calling contest draws crowd to Indian Lake
School super visits Newcomb on bike trip across U.S.
Railway makes historic run to North River
Friends, family honor retiring Johnsburg Coach Tim Leach

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Adirondack Attic Top 100 Challenge updated

The Adirondack Attic Top 100 Challenge (download PDF) has been updated and is ready to be used. I only had to fix two objects.

I recommend using this scavenger hunt at the Adirondack Museum with the six "Adirondack Attic" books in hand. Although the books are not necessary to find the objects, they make it easier and give more meaning to the artifacts than the small signs in the exhibits.

Dawn and I were able to find the 100 artifacts within a few hours on Sunday; however, you will need more time to enjoy the hunt and learn about the history. I'm already familiar with them, so it doesn't take me as much time.

Buy the books on this website or directly from me. They are no longer available at the Adirondack Museum gift shop. We found six copies on the sale rack, but I assume that once they're gone, the museum will no longer carry my books. It's a shame, since the books are about the museum. So if you want to buy a copy of Volume 1, which is out of print, there's one for sale at the museum gift shop for 50% off the retail price of $16.95. That's a bargain. The other five are 30% off.

Radio Show: Pike's Cantonment in Plattsburgh

The Adirondack Attic Radio Show segment about artifacts found at Pike's Cantonment, a War of 1812 winter camping site for the American army during the winter of 1812-13, aired on North Country Public Radio Tuesday, Sept. 4.

Listen to the show on the Adirondack Attic page at

Here is a photo of the artifacts discussed in the program.

Thanks to Battle of Plattsburgh Association President Keith Herkalo and the War of 1812 Museum in Plattsburgh for their hospitality during the taping of the interview on Aug. 16.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Lake George souvenir china

Editor’s Note: The following is a sample of an “Adirondack Attic” story by Andy Flynn originally published in newspapers in 2008 and re-printed in “New York State’s Mountain Heritage: Adirondack Attic, Volume 6.”

In addition to Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington and a historic hill in Ticonderoga called Mount Defiance, Prospect Mountain near Lake George is the only other mountain in the Adirondack Park where you can drive your car to the top. However, Prospect Mountain was the only one in the Park with a railroad built to its summit.

In 1954, New York Gov. Thomas Dewey signed legislation creating the Prospect Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway but did not include a means to pay for the construction. In 1966, New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller signed legislation approving the funding, and the road opened to the public in 1969. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation operates the road, which is open from May to mid-October.

In September 2008, curators at the Adirondack Museum acquired a memento from the heydays of Prospect Mountain, at a time when there was a hotel on the rocky summit. The museum now has two souvenir china pieces, both made in Germany for the Adirondack tourist trade, which feature color paintings of the Prospect Mountain House on the front. One is a small teapot and the other is a small vase. Both are several inches tall and can be lumped into the knickknack category. In addition to the illustrations, they are painted blue and green with gold accents.

In 1877, Dr. James Ferguson, of Glens Falls, bought Prospect Mountain and constructed a hotel on the summit. The hotel burned in 1880, and it was soon re-built. In the 1890 issue of Lake George Illustrated, Glens Falls photographer and publisher Seneca Ray Stoddard referred to the building as the Prospect Mountain House, “formerly the Mount Ferguson House,” and announced that “the house will be enlarged, a new observatory built, and a telephone line run to connect with the telegraph and hotels at the lake shore.”

In the summer of 1895, a 1.4-mile “cable road” or “incline railway” brought travelers from the village of Caldwell (later changed to Lake George) to the top of the mountain.

The Prospect Mountain House featured a restaurant, billiards, a bowling alley and a rifle range. By the turn of the century, the railway was declining in popularity. In 1902, the Otis Engineering and Construction Company acquired the railway and operated it through the 1903 season. George Foster Peabody bought Prospect Mountain in 1904 and subsequently gave the land to the state of New York.
Iron gears from the Otis cable road remain on the summit today, and part of the 1.7-mile hiking trail from Lake George village to the top of Prospect Mountain follows the old railway bed.

(Read more about this Adirondack Museum artifact in “New York State’s Mountain Heritage: Adirondack Attic, Volume 6.” Buy now. $18.00.)

Copyright 2008 Andy Flynn/Hungry Bear Publishing

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Adirondack Attic Top 100 Challenge Tour

This is your official invitation to join me for a day at the Adirondack Museum from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 2 for the Adirondack Attic Top 100 Challenge Tour. We'll be updating the Adirondack Attic Top 100 Challenge, making sure all the artifacts are still on display as they were two years ago when I created the list.

Meet us at 10 a.m. in the lobby of the Visitor Center on Sept. 2. You will be responsible for your own admission; however, I believe admission is free on Sundays for year-round Adirondack Park residents. Proof of residency such as a driver's license, passport, or voter registration card is required.

If you have copies of the Adirondack Attic book series, please bring them, but make sure you have your name printed inside them to prove that they are pre-purchased so you don't get stopped at the bookstore for shoplifting. If you don't have the books, that's OK. You can either purchase them at the museum's bookstore or download a PDF copy of the Adirondack Attic Top 100 Challenge (2010 edition) to help guide your way. Owning the Attic books is not a prerequisite for this tour, as my goal is to update the list. Please print this PDF and bring with you on Sept. 2. Copies will not be supplied on the day of the tour.

I created the Top 100 Challenge for people who want a self-guided tour of the Adirondack Museum's artifacts on display, as told in my Adirondack Attic book series. With more than 300 stories in the six-volume set, the Top 100 are obviously just a sampling of my work. By visiting the objects on display, book in hand, you get a much richer version of the story behind each artifact, beyond the signs posted at the museum. It's meant to be interactive.

On Sept. 2, we will be visiting each of the exhibits to update the Top 100 Challenge, and the updated PDF will be available soon on the Hungry Bear Publishing website. As a group, we can discuss the artifacts and Adirondack history in general. But there are 100 objects, so we must not be too slow.

Here's the tentative schedule for Sept. 2:

10:00 a.m. Meet in the lobby of the Visitor Center, check in at Admission Desk
10:15 a.m. Visit exhibit on first level of Visitor Center
10:45 a.m. Visit Boats & Boating exhibit
11:00 a.m. Visit Living with Wilderness exhibit and Lynn Boillot Art Galleries
11:30 a.m. Walk to Lake View Cafe via the Log Hotel, Artist's Cottage and Buck Lake Club Camp
12:00 p.m. Lunch at the Lake View Cafe (all are responsible for their own lunches)
12:30 p.m. Visit the Woods & Waters exhibit
1:00 p.m. Visit the Roads & Rails exhibit
1:30 p.m. Visit the Logging in the Adirondacks exhibit via the Marion River Carry pavilion
2:00 p.m. Visit the Great Outdoors exhibit
2:15 p.m. Visit the Whiteface Mt. fire tower
2:30 p.m. End author-led tour at the museum store. The museum is open until 5 p.m., so you may visit the exhibits not included in the Top 100 Challenge at this time.

Times are subject to change as we move from exhibit to exhibit.

The Sept. 2 tour is offered at no additional charge, and it is not a program of the Adirondack Museum. I am doing it on my own, as a free service for Adirondack Attic fans. Preregistration is required by Saturday, Sept. 1 by calling Andy Flynn at (518) 891-5559 or emailing me at The group limit is 12.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Adirondack Attic: Clock Golf lawn game

(Editor’s Note: The following is a sample of an “Adirondack Attic” story, by Andy Flynn, originally published in newspapers in 2008 and re-printed in “New York State’s Mountain Heritage: Adirondack Attic, Volume 6.”)

Looking to practice your golf game and hang out with your family in the back yard at the same time? Look no further. You’ve just found the Clock Golf lawn game, just one side of the golfing tradition here in the Adirondack Park.

Versions of the Clock Golf lawn game still exist. I found some sets for sale on Web sites from the United Kingdom, but these modern versions have telescoping putters and plastic parts. The Clock Golf game from 1926 featured metal parts: the cup, flag pin and Roman numerals (I-XII) for the clock.

The Adirondack Museum owns the 1926 version of Clock Golf, made by “GEEBEE.” Actually, the game itself is missing; only the box and lid remain.

Participants first had to mark a circle using a chain that was included inside the box. It did not specify a size for the circle, which could “be made any size desirable, according to the proportions of your lawn.” Then it was time to put the numbers in the grassy circle, placing the metal Roman numerals as you would see them on a clock or a watch. “Next make a hole anywhere off the center edge of the circle and then insert the metal cup and flag pin. The reason the cup is placed off center is that it affords the player an opportunity to make long and short shots.”

If the cup was placed closer to the XII, then it would be a short putt. By the time the golfers made it to VI, it would be a long putt, and so on. Players started at I and moved clockwise to XII. Just like in golf, the player with the fewest number of strokes at the end of the round wins the game.

The game was open to any number of players, and they could use the “Rules of Golf” when necessary. One rule in place pertained to the boundary. If a ball was hit outside the clock, it was deemed out of bounds and had to be placed back inside the circle, at the point it left the line. As expected, the player was penalized by one stroke.

The box only held the chain, numbers, cup, flag pin and possibly the balls. Although there is no specific reference on the box made about the contents, it seems the players had to furnish their own putters.

Many Adirondackers have played golf or know someone who plays golf, making it one of our most cherished Adirondack sports. So why not make this accessible sport part of the family get-together this summer? Maybe it’s time for a little Clock Golf at your next picnic.

(Read more about this Adirondack Museum artifact in “New York State’s Mountain Heritage: Adirondack Attic, Volume 6.” Buy now. $18.00.)

Copyright 2008 Andy Flynn/Hungry Bear Publishing

Monday, August 20, 2012

Death by Chocolate Moose

May 30, 1925 issue of The Adirondack News (St. Regis Falls)

Mrs. Farr, 35 years old, wife of Herman Farr, of Champlain, has confessed to the District Attorney that she poisoned her husband with strychnine last week Wednesday morning, from which he died after 24 hours of convulsions and agony.

Farr was employed by the town at the sand pit and went to work there that morning. He stepped out of the house a moment after he had fixed his dinner pail and while he was gone his wife put in it a chocolate drop from some which he had brought home Tuesday afternoon. In this she had inserted strychnine. He ate the chocolate while at work and was taken suddenly ill. A doctor was called, cared for the man and took him home.

About the first thing Farr asked when he entered the house was, “Who put the chocolate in my pail?” Mrs. Farr after a severe grilling admitted putting strychnine in the chocolate and putting it in his dinner pail. It is said that about three weeks ago Farr took out life insurance for $2,000. The Farrs have two daughters 12 and 18 years of age.

Nov. 8, 1900 issue of The Elizabethtown Post

Saranac Lake, N. Y., Nov. 2 — Charles Martin, an Adirondack guide, brought to Saranac Lake, today, a bull moose shot at Grass Pond.

The animal weighed about 800 pounds. This was the first moose killed in the Adirondack Mountains, outside of private parks, in 25years.

The above, clipped from the New York Mail and Express of Nov. 2, 1900, is certainly startling and if true is the most important news we have had concerning moose in the Adirondacks for many years.

During our series of articles on the much mooted moose question last winter and spring we brought out many highly interesting details as to moose killing in the Adirondacks in the "good old days." Our simple question: When, where and by whom was the last Adirondack moose killed, started the ball rolling.

The Forest and Stream, New York Times, Utica Observer and other papers took the matter up and the question was carried to the four corners of the earth. We concluded from what was written for the POST "on the subject that honors were divided between the late Phineas Moody and the late John Cheney, each of whom killed a moose as late 1862. Now, however, if the report given above is true, our hitherto revered worthies are cast in the shade. Won’t some of our subscribers at Saranac Lake pie write us concerning this late development along the moose line.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Empty nesters circa 1852

While digging through the old newspapers online at Northern New York Historical Newspapers, I found this item from the June 26, 1852 issue of the Essex County Republican, published in Keeseville by Jonathan Tarbell, publisher and proprietor:

THIS is to certify that I have given my son, Louis Ladd Jr., his time, and from this date I shall neither claim his earnings, nor pay any debts of his contracting.
Dated Essex June 14, 1852

Here's a link from a contemporary empty nester article from The Telegraph newspaper titled "Empty nest and couldn't be happier."

Like the Adirondack Attic page on Facebook.

Upper Hudson Bluegrass Festival

Dawn and I enjoyed ourselves at the Upper Hudson Bluegrass Festival in North Creek on Saturday, Aug. 18. Unfortunately, we weren't able to stay the entire day, only about five hours, but in that short time we saw some toe-tapping good bands.

My favorite of the afternoon was the Atkinson Family, of Harrisville, N.Y. They were joined by Rachel Burge, of the West Virginia-based band called No One You Know. We were too late to see the morning set by No One You Know, but we were glad to have Rachel play mandolin with the Atkinson family. Apparently, they had just met, but you couldn't tell; Rachel played that mandolin like she had been playing with the Atkinsons for years. What a great show!

We also enjoyed seeing Smokey Greene on his so-called "Farewell Tour." He's a great storyteller. He invited a 3-year-old onto the stage during one of his songs. You've never seen so many bluegrass fans get up off their lawns chairs and rush the stage to take photos! That was a treat.

The bands this year were: Rivergrass, Atkinson Family, No One You Know, Remington Ryde, Vern Young, Smokey Greene, Dave Nichols & Spare Change, Audie Blaylock & Redline, Goldwing Express, James King, Cedar Ridge and HoneyGrass.

Anyway, the festival continues today, so go check it out. You'll love what the Gore Mountain region of the Adirondack Park has to offer.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Sandpaper made with North River garnet

Soon after my latest Adirondack Attic radio program aired on North Country Public Radio, I got a chance to ride on the historic first run (6 miles) of the Saratoga & North Creek Railway's trip (Wednesday, Aug. 8) from North Creek to the Barton Mines processing plant in North River. It was on the Tahawus Line, so known because the tracks run almost 30 miles from North Creek to the Tahawus mine, which closed in 1989, in the town of Newcomb. It is officially known as the Sanford Lake Branch. The railway's parent company, Iowa Pacific Holdings, wants to haul freight from the Tahawus mine and Barton Mines. See my Adirondack Attic show on sandpaper. See my story on the historic first freight train to North River since 1989.