NCL 08-04-2012

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Front cover_magazine 7/20/12 12:48 PM Page 1

Fairfax artist creates chromatic visions See Page 22 Battle of Plattsburgh See Page 28

A look back

Fossil Hunter

See Page 9

See Page 16

A restrospective of the Vermont State Fair.

On the hunt for ancient Vermont fossils.

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North Country Living Mag_magazine 7/20/12 12:05 PM Page 3

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Contents Table of

6 The Historic 1820s Benson Temple 9 A Look Back at the Vermont State Fair 12 Author Joe Citro spins Mysterious Tales 14 Shelburne Farms is about Sustainability 16 Chasing Fossils in Vermont 20 Defying Gravity’s Rainbow 22 A Retrospective of Artist Keith Gallup 26 The Terror Raid of October 1864 28 Relive the Battle of Plattsburgh 32 Explore the Wonder of Ausable Chasm 36 CATS: The Economy of the Future 38 Lake Placid Man Escapes Nazi camp 42 Take a Walk Back in Time 47 Explore Nature at the Wild Center 50 Fort Ticonderoga’s Silver Bullet 54 See 32 Miles of Beauty on Lake George 57 Steve Ovitt: A Man of the Woods Photo by Andy Flynn


elcome to the inaugural edition of North Country Living — a magazine produced by people just like you who deeply appreciate what a blessing it is to work and raise our children in an area steeped in history and replete with one-of-a-kind attractions and endless outdoor opportunities. Inside these pages, you’ll find intriguing articles about tucked-away locations that make the region a truly special place. You’ll find features about historic places and area artifacts and articles about your neighbors — stories of personal triumph and of overcoming adversity. Our goal with North Country Living is simply to entertain with fabulously written prose you’ll want to read to the end. But this is also a lasting keepsake that will paint a picture of the region — its land, its manmade attractions, its waterways and, most importantly, its people. Our organization has published superior products in the area for many decades, and we plan to be around for many more — so if you do not see your hometown represented or recognize the names on the pages herein, sit tight. We just might be knocking on a door near you. See you in the fall! — John Gereau

Published by: New Market Press, Inc. 16 Creek Road, Suite 5, Middlebury, VT 05753 (802) 388-6397, Fax: (802) 388-6399

Denton Publications, Inc. 14 Hand Ave., Elizabethtown, NY 12932 (518) 873-6368, Fax: 873-6360 Publishers Dan Alexander, Edward Coats Page Design Dan Alexander Jr., Andy Flynn, John Gereau Editorial Content Andy Flynn, Shaun Kittle, Lou Varricchio, Don Wickman Copyright 2012 New Market Press, Inc./Denton Publications, Inc.

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North Country Living Mag_magazine 7/20/12 9:57 AM Page 6

Temple Benson

By Lou Varricchio

Homeowner Sue Gilmore stands at the front entrance of the Temple Schoolhouse in Benson, Vt. Inset: Sue stands in the very same location with her mother Dorothy Barnauw in this cira 1950s photo


tone buildings are a rare sight in Vermont. With access to vast forest cover, early settlers of the Green Mountain State preferred abundant wood to equally abundant stone in the construction of their homes and barns. That’s why the old Temple Schoolhouse in Benson, dedicated in 1826, stands as an unique, historical architectural landmark. It is the last of eight one-room schoolhouses that existed before the town built a central school. Nestled on a wooded rise along Temple Road near Benson Landing, about a mile from the eastern shore of the southern end of Lake Champlain, the stone house is a classic example of how a family of sleuths uncovered the fascinating past of their antique homestead. Now owned by Sue Gilmore, R.N., the semi-retired daughter of the late Erik and Dorothy Barnauw, the Temple Schoolhouse was some-

what of a local mystery throughout most of the 20th century. Few written records existed about the house when Gilmore’s parents purchased the ruined structure in 1951. The kids used to call it “Daddy’s Folly,” she says. “I was a little girl when my parents drove us from Larchmont, N.Y., to Benson to buy the house,” Gilmore recalled. “My grandparents lived in Fair Haven; our family already had a connection with Rutland County. So, when my father got the place for a song – $85, including an acre of land – my grandparents seemed pleased that we had a summer place nearby. But I hated the place at first sight. It was a derelict full of bugs, like a ghost-town ruin.” But the ghost-town ruin eventually became a cozy home. The Barnauws spent years fixing up the 1820s stone building. Eventually,

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they moved in full time. During the reconstruction phase, the Barnauws left intact the original northern fir timbers and thick fieldstone walls of the 1820s. Eerily, the slanted outlines of 19th-century school desks can still be seen “burned” onto the living room’s wainscotting; they are like shadow images on an old film plate, thanks to the photographic-like action of ultraviolet sunlight on wood. As a writer, editor, film director, and a professor of dramatic arts at Columbia University, Erik Barnauw had an inborn interest in finding out more about the old house. He had spent the 1930s creating popular radio shows for the CBS and NBC networks. And he won a 1944 Peabody Award “Words at War”. Later, he became known for a threevolume history of American radio and television. As a hobby, Barnauw spent years playing Benson history detective, tracking down leads, often dead ends, until an intriguing Temple Schoolhouse history emerged. “My father’s work peeked into the vast and turbulent world of American history,” Gilmore notes. “He told this story in a 1992 book that remains in print.” Titled “House with a Past,” and published by the Vermont Historical Society, Barnauw wrote the incredible true story of the little Benson schoolhouse. Barnauw’s book, now is in its third printing, continues to be both an inspiration and the “how to” guide for anyone interested in learning about researching local and family history. “My father discovered that during the 1820s, Benson had a larger population than today,” Gilmore says. “And religion played a very big part of the community; my father discovered that our little house had an exciting life for a short period of time.” According to “House with a Past”, the Temple Schoolhouse was built by local Baptists to serve as a worship hall for its 27 congregation members. It also served as a one-room schoolhouse one of eight in the community. Unfortunately, local residents didn’t leave much of a written record about the place for future generations to enjoy. “My father’s work uncovered the fact that an African-American preacher named Charles Bowles – described as ‘mesmerizing’ – arrived in Benson,” Gilmore notes. “A black man, let alone a black minister, would have been a rare sight in all-white Vermont in those days.” According to Gilmore’s retelling of her father’s in-depth research,

The historic 1820s Temple Schoolhouse in Benson, Vt. served as a schoolhouse and place of worship for the 19th century Baptists and Mormons. Photo by Lou Varricchio

Bowles preached at the schoolhouse for a short time. Then, shockingly, he converted his flock of fundamentalist all-white Baptists to Free Will Baptists. The Free Will church was an heretical, anti-slavery church movement which ordained women – unheard in the years before the Civil War. (The sect still exists today as the National Association of Free Will Baptists.) During the 1960s and 1980s, the Barnauws added two, replica fieldstone wings to the original 1827 structural core which was only 20-by20 feet in size. They also included modern outdoor additions – a beautiful in-ground swimming pool and a two-car garage. “Of course I grew to love this place,” Gilmore says. “It’s no longer ‘Daddy’s Folly’ to me. It’s an architectural icon and is a special chapter in Vermont history; there are many memories here.” Sadly, Gilmore has just put the Temple Stonehouse up for sale. In May of this year, Marty Feldman, a local real estate agent, placed the first “for sale” sign in front of the historic structure since 1951. “Well, it’s time for me to move on,” Gilmore says. “I’ve decided to permanently move to a residence I own in Florida. How can you not love this setting? There’s enough Vermont history in this place to savor and explore for generations to come.”

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9_magazine 7/20/12 10:04 AM Page 1

State Fair

By Lou Varricchio

Library of Congress photos offer a look back at the past


ack in 1846, the United States entered a bloody war with the Republic of Mexico over claims to the vast southwestern territory. This action not only opened up an area for new states to form and join the Union, but it also produced military leaders who would take opposite sides, 16 years later, in the American Civil War. Another event took place in 1846, but it didn’t influence the course of nations; instead, it started a Vermont tradition that continues to this day—the Vermont State Fair in Rutland County. In 1846, the Rutland County Agricultural Society, Inc. was organized with Fred Button as its first president. Button didn’t waste time in kicking off a fair everyone would remember. The

society’s much anticipated first exhibition debuted in September of that year; it was held in the grassy field at a Castleton dairy farm. During the late 1850s, society officials decided to move the fair closer to the county’s main population center in the City of Rutland. The new fair, reincarnated in Rutland City, divided years between two city locations: Grove Street just north of Crescent Street and the historic Baxter Estate. Trains from around Vermont and nearby New York brought visitors to the noisy fairgrounds for fun and socializing. Eventually outgrowing both its Grove Street and Baxter Estate Continued on p.10



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Continued from p.9

County Park along today’s U.S. Route 7, in September 1859. Ever since, tents, midway entertainment, farm gear, barkers, racing – of one kind or another – and livestock have been its staples. According to a published history of the fair, there is a provision in the society’s deed that an agricultural fair must be held “on said property once a year.” Withstanding the 1917 flu epidemic, two world wars, barn fires in the 1960s and a devastating grandstand fire in 1939, the Vermont State Fair in Rutland endures, and today it is a colorful monument to Vermont’s rural heritage. Now a collection of high-quality, 35mm Kodachrome colortransparency photographs of the fair—taken in 1941 by celebrated Ukranian-born photographer Jack Delano (1914-1997) with a Leica Standard camera—has come to light at the Library of Congress. Delano was commissioned by the U.S. Government’s nowdefunct Farm Security Administration which, in turn, was financed by American taxpayers. Delano earned $2,300 a year for taking photographs of rural America. Among his many coast-to-coast assignments was covering the Vermont State Fair at the height of the Great Depression. The Delano collection is a fascinating, high-resolution peek at life in Vermont two months before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and America’s entry into World War II. And the Kodachrome color dyes which bring the Depression-era fair to life are as rich today as they were in 1941. Delano’s amazing photographs include glimpses of midway life, farm shows, even “girlie shows,” which were considerably tamer when compared to today’s graphic sexual entertainment.

At the time Delano captured the fair in ever-living color, the Rutland fair was the third largest fair of its kind in New England. It also ranked among the top 10 fairs in the nation. Even today, as it prepares to enter its 167th year in business, the Vermont State Fair at the Rutland Fairgrounds is a major event. The big event will be held Aug. 31-Sept. 9, 2012. And while this year ’s fair fashions and entertainment venues will look and feel different when contrasted with those captured by Delano’s lens in 1941, there are still common themes that endure: family, friends, farms and fun—Vermont traditions to be celebrated for many years to come.

Top: Backstage at the “girlie” show at the Vermont State Fair in Rutland, September 1941. Above: A midway barker takes a sip of soda at the Vermont State Fair in 1941. Photos by Jack Delano, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress


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Author Joe Citro spins tales of mystery, imagination A Growing up in Chester, Vt., Citro recalls that his re you interested in Vermont oddities, spirBy Don Wickman father possessed a skill for storytelling, and that he itualism and mystery? Then you have to inherited both the skill and the passion. The only differcheck out the work of Vermonter Joe Citro. ence between Citro and his father is that Citro develThe author of 13 books, Citro has focused on histooped a “healthy appetite for the bizarre.” And there was ry and folklore, but has expanded into regional humor, suspense certainly sufficient material out there to whet that appetite. novels, travel guides and even a book of essays. In publishing these collections, Citro could also be considered a But Citro’s forte is examining “Vermont’s weird tales,” even extending into New England, for he found the region “is full of preserver of history because he has saved a number of stories from wonderful examples of people getting wicked scared.” He first extinction. After all his publishing success, does Citro have some favorite found the more odd and intriguing Vermont material while researching his novels and they turned out to be “great stories.” tale? The answer is yes. He has always been intrigued over the He discovered no one had collected these tales, so back in 1994 he “mysteriously appearing water” in a Windsor home during the 1960s. Chittenden’s Eddy brothers, who owned the farm, even assembled “Vermont’s strange-but-true, strange-but-hopefullyattracted national interest in the 1960s when they allowed visitors but-maybe-true, and strange-but-hopefully-not-true-stories.” A number of Citro’s accounts were published in the anthology to participate in séances. Citro still has not “figured out what went “Green Mountain Ghosts, Ghouls and Unsolved Mysteries.” He on during those theatrical séances,” and it is a mystery that probdiscovered a niche with his writing — that book is now in its fif- ably went to the grave with the Eddys. Being raised in Chester, Citro possesses a fondness for fellow teenth printing. resident Clarence Adams, a real “Jekyll and Hyde character.” But As the stories continue to accumulate, so did the books: “Passing Strange” (1996), “Green Mountain Dark Tales” (1999), Citro cannot just list a ‘top three,’ for he states “there are so many more.” “The Vermont Ghost Guide” (2000), “Curious New England” Citro remains popular in books and on the speaker circuit (2003) and “The Vermont because many people have a genuine interest in his topic. Monster Guide” (2009). On some occasions, the Mysterys and the unexplainable tend to draw audiences, and Citro story that Citro hears is sees interest in the paranormal interest coming from two direcdetermined to be tions. First, we are taught early in life “to believe in the supernatuntrue, others require ural,” especially if we have had a religious upbringing. Religion is additional research. filled with spirits and supernatural actions like the splitting of the Folklore has that char- Red Sea and great floods. Second, we believe in ghosts because acteristic—it is not they provide comfort and “suggest that the grave is not the end, always substanti- [but] there is some sort of afterlife.” Throughout his story collecting Citro has discovered one ated. detail—that “some things don’t have an answer.” It is what makes the entire process more interesting for him, and it is what will keep him delving into the dark side, acquiring stories and writing, fulfilling his belief that his “role in this life is to collect and tell stories.” To learn more about Joe Citro, check out his website at:

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Farms Shelburne

By Rosalyn Graham

Focus is Agriculture, Sustainability


f visitor comments are any indication, Shelburne Farms, located along U.S. Route 7 in Shelburne, Vt., should be on your top 10 list of places to see in the Green Mountain State this summer or fall. The following quotes, taken at random from a recent tourist survey conducted by the Farms, speak volumes about this historic place: “We have been going to the Farms for 16 years and we still love it. Hey, I never would have milked a cow if it had not been for taking my boys to Shelburne Farms!” “I’m so glad Shelburne Farms exists. It’s like an oasis of common sense. When I visit with children I want them to soak up what they see around them: the idea that everything matters—the animals, the grass, the trees, and by extension ourselves.” “You represent all the wonderful things about Vermont—education, small farms, conservation, friendliness and beauty.” Today’s focus for Shelburne Farms is agriculture and a sustainable future, and that means fun, exploring, great food and spectacular scenery.


There are so many ways for a traveler to experience Shelburne Farms because in the early 1970s the greatgrandchildren of the farms’ founders developed a plan to dedicate the farm, its expansive lands and its historic buildings to education. Today, as a non-profit environmental education organization with a mission of cultivating a conservation ethic for a sustainable future, Shelburne Farms reaches out to all ages and welcomes students, educators, families and the general public. Visitors can experience the calming influence of the Frederick Law Olmsted-designed fields, woodlands and vistas; enjoy the hospitality of the original mansion, now known as the Inn at Shelburne Farms; dine on the bounty of Vermont farms and explore the historic property. The Inn is open from mid-May to mid-October and guests can transport themselves to the Gilded Age as they relax in bedrooms furnished with original furniture, loll on grand sofas in the library, sip their afterdinner coffee in front of a roaring fire in a marble fire-

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Children and adults can explore the wonders of farm animals at Shelburne Farms. Main photo by Kate Stein

place and stroll through the gardens. There are miles of walking trails that thread through the 1,400 acre working farm, past grand buildings that have been restored and adapted to new uses. The farm barn, a five-story edifice with a two-acre courtyard, houses offices, a bakery, a woodworking business, a school, the farm’s cheesemaking operation, the education center and the children’s farmyard where children (and their parents and grandparents) have fun meeting the lambs, kids, chickens, turkeys, pigs, milking the patient cow and learning, in the gentlest fashion, the importance of agriculture in our lives. The coach barn, once home to the carriages and sleighs and the teams that pulled them, is now a favored spot for community gatherings, conferences and special events. The graceful roads that lead to the inn and the lakeshore pass herds of brown Swiss cows grazing in the fields, cows whose milk is transformed daily into Shelburne Farms Farmhouse cheddar cheese, and other signs of a busy farm life—flocks of sheep, the modern dairy with its milking parlor and greenhouse

barns, and hayfields dotted with the hay bales that will feed the cows during the Vermont winter when they cannot make their daily walks to the carefully maintained pastures. The importance of agriculture and sustainability in the 21st century is a theme that runs through the programs and experiences at Shelburne Farms—and if that sounds stuffy and serious rest assured that a visit to this farm is fun. A visit to Shelburne Farms can be an opportunity for relaxation, a stay at the inn with its gracious hospitality and fine dining. It can also be an opportunity for a day or multi-day visit to learn and explore. Sun to cheese tours give foodies and budding cheesemakers a chance to learn about artisanal cheesemaking from Shelburne Farms’ cheesemakers. Other programs, some just an afternoon or an evening, some multi-day residential opportunities, provide a chance to explore and enjoy the story, the landscape and the mission of Shelburne Farms. For information about the programs, accommodations, reservations and directions, go to or call 802-985-8686.

North Country Living Mag_magazine 7/20/12 10:12 AM Page 16

By Lou Varricchio

Fossil collector John Fortier of Rutland displays a 480-millionyear-old Receptaculites fossil he unearthed while on a fossil hunt with the Rutland Rock & Mineral Club in Panton, Vt., in 2010. It was too large to move, he said. Photo by Lou Varricchio

480-million-year-old Vermont fossil is a scientific mystery


f you’re familiar with Vermont’s famous Champlain Black or Panton stone—a much sought after landscaping stone found in deposits along Lake Champlain from Vermont and New York to the Canadian border—you may have admired the ubiquitous marine fossils embedded in its dense gray matrix. These ancient reef creatures include a variety of seashells, crablike animals called trilobites and other invertebrate denizens of the prehistoric deep. Among the ancient reef fauna found in Panton stone (named after the town in Vermont where it was first identified) are distinctive, disk-shaped objects commonly called “sunflower coral.” These sunflower-like fossil disks were a big part of the local reef community and are frequently found in western Addison County, along Lake Champlain. Some of the disks are impressive, measuring three feet or more in diameter. Scientists have been debating the origin of the unusual disks since the fossils were discovered in the early 19th century. While some have identified the fossil as coral, others have identified it as a kind of hard porifera or sponge built up by tiny, protozoa-like

critters. Today, most fossil experts believe “sunflower coral” was the product of green sea algae—unicellular and colonial plants. If their theory is correct, then the layered, accretionary disks found in Vermont were built up by prehistoric algae absorbing minerals and nutrients via sea water and then expelling the waste to build up porous mounds. Continued on p.18

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Continued from p.16

mavericks consider “sunflower coral” as a kind of mysterious quasi-sponge, but they are unable to pin down exactly what tiny vanished critters created the calcite structures. But even with most researchers now favoring green algae as the source of “sunflower coral” found in the Panton Stone—with a few porifera holdouts—it remains to be officially classified to any biological phyla. In 2010, amateur fossil collector John Fortier of Rutland, Vt., found one of the largest “sunflower coral” fossils ever in a farmer ’s rock pile in Panton. “I knew there was a question about what this fossil was when it was alive,” Fortier said. “I believe it was a kind of meta sponge, but I will leave the debate to the experts. No matter, the big fossil I found a few years ago was simply too big to move. It covered a giant boulder that only a crane could have moved.” In 1830, French zoologist Henri Marie Ducrotay de Blainville gave the fossil its Latin, scientific name, Receptaculites (pronounced: receptacle-eye-tees), named for the hundreds of tiny receptacle-like chambers found in the disks. De Blainville also helped date the Panton Stone fossil—and its fellow turned-tostone reef lifeforms—to approximately 480-450 million years ago. “Receptaculitids appeared in the Ordovician and went extinct in the Permian, so they were confined to the Paleozoic Era. Receptaculitids were bag-like in form with the outside made of mineralized pillars (called meroms) with square or diamondshaped heads. The fossils are usually flattened disks because they were compressed by burial. You may notice now that the fossil at the top of this post is a mold of the original with the dissolved pillars represented by open holes,” according to invertebrate paleontologist Dr. Mark Wilson of the College of Wooster in Ohio. Receptaculites has been described by an author of a college geology textbook as “a double-spiral radiating pattern of rhombus-shaped plates supported by spindle-like meroms that grew on the seafloor. Fossils can usually be identified by the intersecting patterns of clockwise and counterclockwise rows of plates or stalk spaces.” In geometry, a rhombus is a quadrilateral shape with four sides of equal length. In zoology, meroms are tiny structures made of calcium carbonate, secreted by tiny lifeforms that provided a sta-


ble structure for the colony. Curiously, meroms are not found in any other group of organisms, living or extinct. “Receptaculitids are the least known fossils,” according to Dr. Matthew H. Nitecki, former curator of the University of Chicago’s Field Museum in Chicago. “Their demise was gradual in the fossil record, but they were a major component of massive organic buildups and were an important rock-building element. Beyond these facts, it is an unexplainable fossil group.” However, in the opinion of Dr. Char Mehrtens, professor and chairwoman of the University of Vermont’s Department of Geology, the Receptaculites mystery isn’t really a mystery. She has been studying fossils of the Champlain Valley for 28 years, most of her academic career. The veteran, award-winning Vermont geologist said the unique local fossil—found in rocks here and in Russia, China, Japan and Australia—is neither sponge nor coral. “Receptaculites is found in Panton Stone, a Middle Ordovician limestone,” she said. “Paleontologists can tell the difference between the wall structures of sponges and calcareous algae to determine the origin of this fossil. Calcareous algae make little plates of calcite, fused together. Sponges have very loosely constructed walls of little spikes, called spicules. Receptaculites was probably made by sea algae.” But the scientific debate about the Panton Stone fossils continues. In the end, according to Dr. Wilson, “(these fossils) belong to that fascinating group called Problematica, meaning we have no idea what they were. It’s those odd meroms that are the problem—they appear in no other known group, fossil or recent. I find it deeply comforting that we still have plenty of fossils in the Problematica. We will always have mysteries to puzzle over.” Check it Out: For safe, accessible examples of Vermont’s Panton Stone, visit the exhibits of the UVM Perkins Museum of Geology. For other examples of Panton Stone used in attractive landscape design, look for the low rock wall near the entrance to Middlebury College’s new main library. Middlebury’s downtown bridge, built in the 1800s, is made up, in part, of Panton Stone. A few fossils, including fragments of Receptaculites, may be seen in these rocks. Warning: Fossil collecting without the landowner ’s permission is illegal in Vermont and subject to heavy fines. State property also has severe restrictions regarding rock, mineral and fossil collecting. Before collecting any natural object, ask permission.

North Country Living Mag_magazine 7/19/12 10:33 AM Page 19

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Defying By Lou Varricchio


Rainbow D

efying gravity. The dream of ridding ourselves of Earth’s gravity shackles dates back to ancient times. On the Middlebury College campus, a mysterious stone marker hints at the astounding possibilities of anti-gravity inventions yet to come. The myth of Icarus demonstrates a human desire to soar—unfettered by gravity—through air and space. With the advent of the Space Age, humans finally fled the influence of much of Earth’s gravity field. Ironically, astronauts may have found weightlessness to be a sensory delight, but medical doctors discovered zerog to be a profound health hazard for long-duration space travelers. Down here on terra firma, the quest for a so-called “gravity insulator” has been the stuff of dreamers ever since Isaac Newton had a close encounter with an apple. British author H.G. Wells’ classic 1901 science-fantasy novel, “First Men in the Moon,” described Cavorite as an intriguing helium-based, blue metallic paste that cut off the force of gravity. The stuff enabled Well’s Victorian astronauts to fly to the moon and back. For multi-millionaire, engineer, investor, experimenter, and 1940 U.S. Presidential candidate Roger Ward Babson, the quest for both a genuine Cavorite-like device was all consuming for nearly two decades. Babson believed that such a device could prevent aviation accidents as well as act as a perpetual-motion machine to generate endless energy. The Massachusetts native left a trail of odd college cam-

pus marker stones to his gravity obsession throughout New England. One of Babson’s markers stands (or should we say ‘floats’?) along a footpath on the Middlebury College cam-

North Country Living Mag_magazine 7/20/12 12:08 PM Page 21

campus. Middlebury students like to call it their “anti-gravity stone.” Located near the southwest corner of Warner Science Hall, which fronts College Street (Route 125), the granite monument displays an enigmatic inscription: “This monument has been erected by the Gravity Research Foundation, Roger W. Babson, founder. It is to remind students of the blessings forthcoming when a semi-insulator is discovered in order to harness gravity as a free power and to reduce airplane accidents. 1960.” Babson’s connection to Middlebury College is rarely discussed, but a hefty contribution to a learning institution will always guarantee some form of lasting monument. A friend of inventor Thomas Edison, Babson believed Middlebury’s reputation as a scientific institution might someday produce student scientists interested in tackling what he termed “the gravity problem,” according to a campus newspaper article dated February 1960. Founder of Babson College in Massachusetts, the wealthy experimenter left a generous financial gift to Middlebury in 1960; the gift was in the form of the Roger W. Babson Venture Fund—a fund of stock of the American Agricultural Chemical Company (AACC). In recent years, after DuPont acquired AACC, the Babson fund finally paid off handsomely for the Vermont college. “The Middlebury monument was erected by the Gravity Research Foundation in 1960 and there was a dedication ceremony that my father, founding president of the GRF, attended and spoke at,” says George M. Rideout, Jr., president of GRF since 1988. “The monument was erected with the condition that a gift of stock would be allowed to accumulate for about 30 years until it reached $1 million, and then the funds would be used for the ‘purpose of acquiring building and equipment devoted to scientific purposes in the name of the GRF.’ The Middlebury funds actually accumulated to $4 million and were used in aiding the construction of the new Bicentennial science building.” Rideout adds that a Middlebury physics lab is named after the GRF and a plaque is at the site. “My father made all the Middlebury campus arrangements for the GRF on behalf of Roger W. Babson,” he notes. Curiously, there are no records of anti-gravity research being done at Middlebury College.

It’s not clear when Babson became interested in gravity, but his Gravity Research Foundation was established in 1948 in New Boston, N.H. Another granite marker located there retells the tale of Babson’s quest for the other side of gravity’s rainbow. From the start, the mission of the Gravity Research Foundation was “to stimulate a solution to the gravity problem.” In his book titled “Gravity,” Babson described how counteracting gravity’s effects would ease the pain of the elderly, lighten the weight of the obese (an anti-gravity mate-

rial could be applied to the soles of shoes to lighten anyone’s load), and develop vast industries undreamed of during our lifetimes. Babson designed a special lounge chair that raised his legs—and visitors’ legs—to theoretically ease the Earth’s pull on the human circulatory system. Today’s popular zero-gravity recliners are the direct descendants of Babson’s chair. Regardless of how interesting Babson’s scientific speculations were, they will remain firmly in the realm of science fiction for the foreseeable future. However, the development of magnetic-levitation technology offers some hope for a limited variety of “anti gravity.” Thus, Middlebury College’s “anti-gravity stone” should be appreciated as a public nod to scientific advances still to come in the fields of gravity and magnetic research. Although Babson died at age 88 in 1967, his Gravity Research Foundation is alive and well—having relocated from New Boston, N.H., to Wellesley, Mass. The foundation still awards annual prizes for technical papers on the topic of gravity. Despite the foundation’s unusual mission, many notable scientists continue to apply for the organization’s prize money. While he may have explored the borderlands of science, Roger Ward Babson will continue to inspire generations of Middlebury College students.

North Country Living Mag_magazine 7/20/12 10:24 AM Page 22


a work of By Lou Varricchio

Fairfax artist Keith Gallup creates chromatic visions on metal and canvas


rtist Keith Gallup straddles the Vermont modern art scene like a color colossus. Born to a family of notable artists, Gallup grew up with a paint brush in his hand in the Brattleboro area during the 1950s. Gallup, whose great grandmother, grandmother and mother were accomplished artists and feminists, received an undergraduate degree from the University of Vermont, and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Goddard College. Soon after graduate school, he was appointed art instructor at Bellows Free Academy in St. Albans, Vt. While at the high school for more than 30 years, Gallup met his future wife Belinda, a fellow BFA teacher. He jokingly refers to her as his “high school sweetheart.” “Art has been at the core of my life,” he said. “But it is an evolving thing—from the realistic to the abstract—it has never been the same.” Gallup, who now focuses on abstract art, began his career learning the precise Nicolaïdes method of drawing. “Kimon Nicolaïdes, who died in 1938, was a famous art teacher at the Art Students League in New York City,” Gallup notes. “He developed a very disciplined method of teaching drawing that is very famous. His method is outlined in a popular textbook, titled ‘The Natural Way to Draw.’” Gallup, having learned Nicolaïdes’ technical approach to art, created exquisite drawings and later watercolors. He spent Continued on p.24

Keith Gallup creates art at his mountaintop studio/gallery in Fairfax, Vt. Photo by Lou Varricchio

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I guess you have to learn the rules to break them. More and more I was drawn to abstract art.

several years producing exquisite botanicals, notably florals. “My florals show my subtle technique, which exposes nature’s beauty,” he says. But just like the living things he painted, Gallup’s art evolved. The artist’s love of flowers and realism eventually gave way to something completely different. “I guess you have to learn the rules to break them,” he notes. “More and more I was drawn to abstract art.” Gallup is now presenting a new concept to the art world with his own oil and lacquer painting technique which is totally different from his sensitive and delicate florals. His works have been exhibited at the Francis Colburn Gallery, the Southern Vermont Art Center, UVM, Goddard College and the Southern Vermont Art Center. “These new, exciting abstracts are full of color and movement; many are in a large format of 24-square-feet per painting,” he stresses. “The paintings are designed to enhance living spaces or corporate board rooms with their exciting movement and color technique.” At Gallup’s unique studio-gallery in northern Vermont—with its stunning 360-degree mountaintop view of Vermont, New York and Quebec—he displays his art on everything from traditional canvas to giant metallic forms that appear canvaslike at first glance. “The largest works here range from 6 by 12 down to 3 by 4, none smaller,” he stresses. “Why? I want them to command a large spacious environment to enhance their vibrant and exciting experience.” To the pedestrian viewer, abstract art like Gallup’s is a cypher. But to those with an appreciation for chromatic visions, his spindrift of colors tell metaphysical stories of light and motion. “Keep in mind that each painting is a story unto itself; they are full of deep and exciting technique, splashed with color reflecting the total atmosphere,” he notes. For example, take a Gallup painting titled “Crash.” It is a startling

— Artist Keith Gallup

image in metal, paint and styrofoam created in 2006 by the artist after a jet flight via Boston’s Logan International Airport. To many who view it, it is a disturbing image of red, bloodlike splashes, with eruptions of surface blisters. “When I fly, I think about what can happen when an aircraft falls from the sky,” he says of the painting. “‘Crash’ captures some of that inner horror—the aftermath of disaster.” But only a few of Gallup’s abstract pieces invoke such terror. In fact, many are happy, uplifting images with bursts of exuberance—perhaps phantasmagoric flowers opening their faces to alien suns or tropical waterfalls as viewed with kaleidoscopic vision and tucked away in the mind’s own Garden of Eden. Much like his personal art heroes Vincent Van Gogh and Jackson Pollock, Gallup’s works are created in his mind long before they ever appear in the physical world. “I know the materials and time involved with each painting,” he says. “I do have a family life, but I am always thinking of the work. Then, when I am ready, it becomes a matter of releasing the image from my mind in order to complete it.” Gallup believes the viewer is the best interpreter of his art. Isn’t there a danger of wild misinterpretations? He doesn’t think so. A quote, attributed to Jackson Pollock during the early 1950s best sums up Gallup’s approach to art: “Abstract painting is abstract. It confronts you. There was a reviewer a while back who wrote that my pictures didn't have any beginning or any end. He didn’t mean it as a compliment, but it was.” Keith Gallup enjoys sharing his art with the public. To arrange a private appointment to visit Gallup’s mountaintop studio and gallery located in Fairfax, Vt., call (802) 524-9007 or email him at Selected paintings may be viewed at the artist’s website at

North Country Living Mag_magazine 7/19/12 10:36 AM Page 25

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By Lou Varricchio

Each year St. Albans reenacts the terror raid of Oct. 1864


t. Albans, Vt., was far from the Civil War ’s bloodletting in October 1864. When the nation’s interstate violence spilled into sleepy Vermont on the unsuspecting morning of Oct. 19, the Union sounded the alarm. The odd thing was you couldn’t travel much farther north in the United States to distance yourself from the terrible fighting taking place in the southern states. Once a year, until the raid’s 2014 sesquicentennial year, this Franklin County town will hold a series of St. Albans Heritage Weekends that will include reenactments of the terror raid. The weekend activities will serve as a

Above: Award-winning actors Van Heflin, Peter Graves and Lee Marvin brought the St. Albans Raid to life on the silver screen in the 1954 Hollywood action-adventure motion picture “The Raid.” The film appears several times a year on the Turner Classic Movies network. Right: Southern terrorists: This Feb. 15, 1864 photo shows six of the 18 St. Albans rebel raiders following their escape to Montreal. From left to right, front row, are William H. Huntley, Marcus A. Spurr and raiders’ leader, Lt. Bennett Young. In the back row are Stephen F. Cameron (not a raider) and raiders Charles M. Swager and Squire Tevis.

27_magazine 7/20/12 1:32 PM Page 1

John Prushko of Middlebury portrays the provost for the Ninth Batalion at last year’s St. Alban Raid event. Visit to learn more about this event and the 2014 celebration of the famous Civil War raid. Photo by Gary Rutkowski

dress rehearsal, of sorts, for the raid’s 150th anniversary in three years. Each July, downtown St. Albans is transformed into a Civil Warera village, just as it was nearly 150 years ago. The center of the activity is Taylor Park. Few Vermonters know about the raid today, but in 1954 the St. Albans Raid captured the imagination of movie-going audiences when a Hollywood motion picture, titled “The Raid”—starring award-winning actors Van Heflin, Richard Boone, Anne Bancroft, Peter Graves and Lee Marvin—appeared in cinemas internationally to retell, if overly fictionalized, the heroic Vermont story on film. Every July, Civil War reenactors arrive in downtown St. Albans to set up camp. Weekend events transport visitors to the period when the northwestern Vermont community earned its place in American history as the site of the northernmost action of the war between the states. Champlain Valley Historical Reenactors camp at Taylor Park downtown; the same park where Confederate soldiers held civilian hostages while others robbed three banks of more than $275,000. It was a wild, terrifying outlaw event worthy of the worst of the rebel James Gang in Missouri a few years later. Several of the raiders were caught after they fled to Canada but they were not returned to the U.S. for trial. It took nearly a decade for the three St. Albans banks, robbed of more than $275,000 by the rebels, to win restitution from the Canadian and U.S. governments. This summer, reenactors, dressed in military and civilian clothing of the period, were part of a living history educational weekend that included: •Tours of the St. Albans Historical Museum, one of the sponsors of the event. •Period musical entertainment and the opportunity to speak

with and question reenactors, who faithfully remain in character. •A Civil War skirmish, artillery and medical demonstrations, and women in the Civil War and fashion demonstrations. •A display detailing Civil War-era medicine. •A chance to train with the Civil War troops. •A speech by “Abraham Lincoln.” •A sutler tent selling replicas of items and period merchandise originally peddled to soldiers by civilian merchants (sometimes called victualers) right near the battlefield. “The Civil War still reverberates in this community,” said Gary Rutkowski, public relations director for the heritage weekend in St. Albans. “It's hard not to remember when you are surrounded by buildings, period artifacts, local historians and, most importantly, enthusiastic re-enactors who aim to bring it to life for the public each July.” Rutkowski noted that “living history again played out right in front of the St. Albans Historical Museum, which also offers a portal to the past. School children watched the St. Albans Raid, the northernmost action of the Civil War, as it occurred just outside the same building nearly 150 years ago.” In addition to this year's reenactment events, downtown St. Albans will be home for an ambitious St. Albans Raid sesquicentennial weekend in July and September 2014. See for details. This summer, Civil War reenactment units included: Second Vermont Infantry, First Vermont Cavalry, Medical Corps, Second Mississippi, 61st Georgia, and 27 Virginia and 55th Virginia Middlesex Artillery.



28_magazine 7/20/12 10:49 AM Page 1

Battle of

By Andy Flynn


Re-live the War of 1812 battle through local museums, monuments and events


here are several ways to learn about the historic and pivotal Battle of Plattsburgh, fought between the Americans and British during the War of 1812. Exhibits, monuments, museums and an annual re-enactment help tell the story.

Macdonough Monument The first and most obvious sign that the Lake City of Plattsburgh has something special to share about its history can be seen downtown, in front of city hall. Towering above the busy intersection of City Hall Place and Cumberland Avenue is the Macdounough Monument, named for Master Commandant Thomas Macdonough, the naval hero of the Battle of Plattsburgh. President Theodore Roosevelt had called it the “greatest naval battle of the war.� And so it was, with four large ships supported by a fleet of 10 small gunboats, Macdonough used naval power to help drive away the British from Lake Champlain on Sept. 14, 1814. Those four ships are featured on each side of the Macdonough Monument: Saratoga, the flagship of the American fleet; Eagle; Ticonderoga; and Preble. The monument was erected in 1926.

The Confiance was a little larger than the American ships and had more guns, at 146 feet and 37 guns compared to the 143-foot Saratoga with her 26 guns. Yet the naval forces were almost equally matched. The British had 16 vessels, 937 men and 92 guns. The Americans had 14 vessels, 882 men and 86 guns. Commodore Macdonough anchored his fleet in a mile-long line in Plattsburgh Bay waiting for the British to arrive. After a battle that began at dawn and lasted two and a half hours, the Confiance was disabled and in a sinking condition when it struck its colors at 11 a.m., surrendering to Macdonough. Continued on p.30

Macdonough Monument Photo by Andy Flynn

Confiance anchor Across the street from the Macdonough Monument is the Plattsburgh City Hall, where an 1812 exhibit displays a main anchor from the British flagship Confiance, which surrendered in Plattsburgh Bay during the Battle of Plattsburgh. A cannonball was responsible for knocking it off the ship during the battle.

British re-enactors File photo

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Re-live the Battle of Plattsburgh at historic sites, events Confiance Capt. George Downie was killed early during the battle; a cannonball from the Saratoga hit the muzzle of a Confiance cannon and sent the artillery piece toward him, crushing Downie and killing him instantly. The cannon that killed Downie is on display in front of Macdonough Hall at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. Divers found the Confiance anchor in 1996, raising it temporarily. Then in 1998, the anchor was raised permanently and transported to the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Vergennes, Vt., where it was conserved before being placed on display at the Plattsburgh City Hall.

Battle of Plattsburgh re-enactment The Battle of Plattsburgh Commemoration Weekend is held in early September every year and features army and navy re-enactments. In 2012, the events will be held from Aug. 31 to Sept. 9. While Macdonough and the U.S. Navy were fighting on Lake Champlain, 4,700 American soldiers (regulars and militia) on shore were facing 10,000 British troops. Yet when the British army saw its navy surrender on Lake Champlain, it immediately retreated to Canada. The Battle of Plattsburgh Commemoration Weekend includes: battle re-enactments, an encampment, a replica of the Saratoga, parades, craft fair, children’s games, concerts, history tours, the Cannonball Run and fireworks. See the schedule at

War of 1812 Museum The War of 1812 Museum on Washington Road in Plattsburgh features exhibits that chronologically recount the events of the battles at Plattsburgh within the context of the War of 1812. It explores the political and economical causes of the war; the land and naval engagements at Plattsburgh; and the significant role that the battles played in the final peace negotiations. The exhibits include a large diorama and an interactive scale model of Plattsburgh and surrounding area as it was in 1814. It provides visitors with an aerial view of the 30,000-acre battlefield, the British and American encampments, the forts and batteries, and the culminating land and naval battles of Sept. 11, 1814. People can see scale models of the American ships that fought during the battle, a copy of the “secret” orders sent by Lord Bathurst to Sir George Prevost directing the British attack on Plattsburgh and displays depicting the battle scenes, prominent leaders, soldiers, sailors and citizens. The museum is open 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday. For more information, call (518) 566-1814 or visit online at

Confiance anchor Photo by Andy Flynn

Kent-Delord House Museum This property at 17 Cumberland Ave. in Plattsburgh has a commanding view of Cumberland Bay and its former residents played an important role in the Battle of Plattsburgh. In 1810, Henry Delord purchased the house and 3 acres from Judge James Kent. He became a gentleman farmer and established the Red Store on his property. American Brigadier Gen. Alexander Macomb persuaded Delord to extend credit to his officers and enlisted men prior to the Battle of Plattsburgh because they hadn’t yet been paid by the government. However, Delord was never able to collect on all the debt. About a week before the battle, Delord and his family fled their home, which was occupied by British junior officers in the artillery corps before and during the battle. The house was strategically located at the mouth of the Saranac River. British soldiers placed artillery batteries on the north bank of the river and on the shore of Lake Champlain. The Delords returned after the battle. In the summer (mid-May through early September), the museum is open 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, and guided tours are held 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. Tuesday-Friday or by appointment. For more information, call (518) 561-1035 or visit online at

British re-enactors Photo by John Grybos

American re-enactors Photo by John Grybos

North Country Living Mag_magazine 7/19/12 1:30 PM Page 31



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By Shaun Kittle

Wonder and Adventure cut through the Champlain Valley


hen the sun hits Ausable Chasm at the right angle, it sets the canyon walls ablaze. The fractured columns of Potsdam sandstone turn to burnt copper, and the hemlocks dotting the chasm’s rim shine with sun-kissed vitality. The Ausable River crests and swirls along its course, sparkling like agitated champagne; bubbling and frothy. Every morning, a great blue heron leaves its nest and glides between these walls on its way to Lake Champlain. Legend says that anyone who sees the bird making its daily sojourn will be granted good luck. Tim Bresett, Ausable Chasm’s general manager, doesn’t remember when he first heard that story, but he did see the heron, once, as he was standing on Flume Bridge early one summer morning. It flew toward him, its enormous wings outstretched to ride the air, and dipped below the 100-foot-high bridge as he gaped in wonder. Bresett says wonder is commonplace along the chasm’s trails, and maybe there is a little bit of luck involved, too. In his 10 years as general manager, he has seen business increase at a steady pace. Overseeing a feature that has been part of the landscape for 10,000 years might seem like an easy task—it isn’t like it can run

away or be misplaced— but to keep people coming back, Bresett has had to make changes to keep things interesting. Geologically speaking, the chasm will always be changing, but human changes tend to occur a little faster. Since it was opened to tourism in 1870, walkways have been improved, bridges have been added, a 140-site campground, complete with an 18-hole disc-golf course, has been built, and interpretive signs have been erected to educate visitors on the natural and human history of the chasm. “People on vacation don’t just want to see things, they want to learn something, too,” Bresett says. “It is a more fulfilling experience to gain knowledge.” Everyone who has visited Ausable Chasm during the last century is familiar with its main attraction—a deep, snaking gorge infused with trails that skirt its rim and plunge its depths. What most people don’t know is that there are two other canyons that run parallel to the main chasm. Aptly titled the Little Dry Chasm and the Big Dry Chasm because they no longer contain moving water, the two mini-canyons are now fully trailed and open to the public. “Some of our guides have known about these places for years and volunteered to create the trails,” Bresett says. “The paths are a little rougher, closer to something you’d find in the Adirondacks. It’s a much different experience than the main route.” Continued on p.34

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North Country Living Mag_magazine 7/20/12 1:29 PM Page 34

Continued from p.32

Ausable Chasm There is plenty to do at Ausable Chasm. Besides the scenic trails, there is tubing and a raft tour daily and a nighttime lantern tour every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. The campground, open from Memorial Day to Columbus Day, has an 18-hole disc golf course and a mountain bike center where visitors can rent a bike and ride to nearby Wickham Marsh, with a shuttle available to return bikers to the campground. 2144 Route 9, Keeseville, NY 12944 Open daily: Summer: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Spring/Fall: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Winter: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. For more information, call (518) 834–7454 or visit

And different is something Bresett is all about. This year, he has found a new way to get people up close to the geological wonder in something he calls the Adventure Tour. This three-hour excursion will begin by getting novice canyoneers into the chasm by way of a 20foot-cliff rappel. Next, they will go by way of a Tyrolean traverse—a steel cable strung across 150 feet of gorge that is crossed using the hands and legs—to the other side of the canyon where they will rappel off a 100-foothigh cliff. To balance things out, and to fully test the courage of those on the tour, a second Tyrolean traverse across the most vertigo-inducing point of the chasm, about 120 feet high, awaits. “People have been asking us to do something like this for years,” Bresett says. “Once I saw that we could do it safely, I decided to go for it.” Bresett’s new additions will certainly change the way visitors see the canyon, but if anyone at Ausable Chasm has witnessed change first hand, it’s Louis LaBounty. LaBounty has worked in Ausable Chasm for 51 years. He spent his first 36 years as a boatman, navigating large wooden boats filled with tourists down the river. Once


emptied of their sightseeing cargo, the vessels were then pulled back upriver using pulleys and manpower. The boats LaBounty controlled have since been replaced by inflatable rafts, so these days he can be found manning the gatehouse, high and dry in an idyllic stand of red pine that overlooks the bottom half of the chasm. “I know just about every stone in here,” LaBounty says, his eyes fixed on an unknown point further down the gorge. “If something changes, I know it quick.” As the gatekeeper, LaBounty has gotten to know some of the animals, too. He kneels and extends his open hand to the ground, and from out of the understory a chipmunk cautiously approaches, nose and whiskers twitching curiously. The tiny creature will climb onto LaBounty’s palm if he has food to offer, and it will even let him pet it as it eats. The chipmunk has been visiting him for the last five years, and its round little belly indicates it will continue to visit as long as there’s food available. “This is one of the best places I’ve known,” LaBounty says, watching as his friend skitters off into the woods. “That’s why I’m still here.”

North Country Living Mag_magazine 7/19/12 10:40 AM Page 35


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Future The Economy of

Champlain Area Trails Executive Director Chris Maron hopes to boost the local economy by creating a network of trails


hris Maron stood atop South Boquet Mountain, the farmland and forest below him lain out like a patchwork quilt that blankets the Champlain Valley. He can trace a path with his eyes, many paths, in fact, that might someday connect the small towns and mountains that pepper the landscape between Lake Champlain and the Adirondack High Peaks. As he speaks, several birds chirp in the sur-

By Shaun Kittle

rounding forest, and somewhere in the distance a ruffed grouse drums its wings. From this mountain perch, Maron’s vision seems as realistic as the juniper bush at his feet —utilizing his position as executive director of Champlain Area Trails, he wants to make nature accessible to everyone, to protect the abundant natural resources in the region, and to boost the local economy. Maron came to the Champlain Valley in 2001 as the Nature Conservancy’s Champlain Valley program director, and transitioned to the executive director position at CATS after the declining economy forced the Conservancy to cut the Champlain Valley program. Departing from South Boquet’s summit along the well-worn Wildway trail, Maron explained that a lot of people he meets who live in the Champlain Valley travel into the Adirondacks to hike. He believes that, in an area teeming with nature, there is no reason people should have to go elsewhere to find a trailhead. So now, he is doing something about it. “What brings people here is the beautiful landscape, so protecting it will only help,” Maron says. “The trails provide beautiful views, and people will come here and use the businesses. It’s all interconnected.” The sort of dot connecting inherent in Maron’s logic

Pictured: Champlain Area Trails Executive Director Chris Maron Photos by Shaun Kittle

37_magazine 7/19/12 2:21 PM Page 1

reflects how the CATS trail system is being put together. After studying some maps to brainstorm potential trail locations, Maron realized that, with a little finagling, the paths could be joined to form a network of trails that links towns and villages throughout the region, enabling people to spend the day hiking and grab breakfast in Essex, lunch in Wadhams, and dinner in Moriah, all while enjoying the scenery of the Champlain Valley. Routes like the Wildway Trail don’t just carve themselves into the Adirondack forests, though. Maron and CATS board members start by looking to see where the best place for a trail is. The Eddy Foundation, which helps conserve land in the area, has been instrumental in giving CATS places to cut trails, but if private land is in the way, they have to get permission from the landowners before they can proceed. “So far, a lot of landowners have been on board,” Maron says. “If someone doesn’t want a trail on their property, we have to find a way to go around it.” Getting permission to use land is just the first step. By walking along the Wildway Trail, which mostly follows an old logging road, it becomes apparent that there is plenty of log trimming and brush clearing necessary to not only create, but to also maintain, a trail. Sheri Amsel is the vice-president of the CATS board, and has been with the group since the beginning. She has participated in numerous trail days, and says that volunteer work is great for bringing like-minded people together. “There is a strong sense of camaraderie when

doing trail work,” Amsel says. “You get to meet a lot of people, and a lot of us end up meeting for hikes after the work is finished.” Amsel does the artwork for CATS, which includes illustrating maps and brochures. She also created the CATS logo and designed their trail markers. The latest trail map will contain 30 trails, up from 12 on the previous map. It is a testament to the group’s ambition, and of Maron’s leadership. “Chris is the sun in the CATS solar system,” Amsel says. “As a group we just wanted to put together some trails on private land. Chris has pushed it in new ways.” The newest direction Maron wants to push CATS in is education. While on top of South Boquet Mountain, he talks about how the trail near the summit meanders through a unique calciferous oak-hop hornbeam forest, one of the most ecologically diverse landscapes in the Adirondacks. It is gentlelooking terrain, characterized by the peeling bark of the hop hornbeams and the rigid, furrowed bark of the oaks, and, unlike other northern forests, the understory is soft and open and composed of ferns, herbs, and grasses. By placing interpretive signs on some of the trails, others can learn about the ecology of the region as they enjoy the outdoors. It is a tool Maron would like to employ to help others appreciate the natural world around them. Through that appreciation, he hopes the forests of the Champlain Valley will always be protected, and will become the kind of place others seek out when they want to experience nature first hand.



38_magazine 7/20/12 11:02 AM Page 1


Man By Andy Flynn



Frank and Jaroslava Shatz on Whiteface Mountain Photo provided

Journalist escapes Nazis, Iron Curtain, settles in Lake Placid


nly two words are needed to attract people to the Adirondacks from all over the world — Lake Placid. That name, and its association to the 1932 Olympic Winter Games, was enough to establish this community as a mecca for immigrants, such as Frank and Jaroslava Shatz, originally from Czechoslovakia. The 1980 Winter Olympics solidified Lake Placid as an international village for later generations of athletes, coaches and others looking for a new home in America. Seventeen countries competed in the 1932 Winter Olympics. One was Czechoslovakia, where Frank Shatz grew up. Born in 1926, his hometown was Parkan, a port city on the Danube River now called Sturovo in the republic of Slovakia. When it came time to settle in the U.S., he knew exactly where to go. “We had already been familiar with the name of Lake Placid,” Frank said in an email. “It was known all over Europe as the site of the 1932 Winter Olympics. Thus, the decision to settle in a place that is surrounded by natural beauty and offers an opportunity to prosper made it an easy choice.” Yet Frank’s journey to Lake Placid was far from easy. It was filled with danger, near-death experiences and the anxiety of living through the Holocaust in World War II and behind the Iron Curtain in the Cold War. Frank wasn’t sure he’d make it past the age of 18, never mind reach his 80s.

Nazi-held Europe Hardship began for Frank Shatz and his Jewish family after the

Munich Pact was signed by Germany’s Adolf Hitler and leaders of the United Kingdom, Italy and France in September 1938. As a result of the repartitioning of Czechoslovakia, Hungary occupied one-third of Slovakia in November 1938, including Parkan. By 1944, Frank was 18 years old and working in a Nazi slave camp. During a B-17 bombing run, he hid in a cornfield near Budapest, then escaped, changing into clothes that were smuggled into camp. “I was roaming the streets of Nazi-occupied Budapest like a hunted animal,” Frank wrote in “Reports from a Distant Place,” his recently published book. “I had no money or identity papers — and no illusions about what would happen if I were caught. I knew I would be shot.” Luckily, Frank ran into a childhood friend from his hometown who was a member of the Zionist-led anti-Nazi underground. He led Frank to the Swedish House, operated by Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. He stayed there temporarily, obtained fake identity papers and joined the underground movement. Frank cheated death at least three times before the end of World War II. In one instance, he was getting new ID papers at a sanatorium known to hide Jews — changing his age from 18 to 16 so he wouldn’t be drafted into the army — and left moments before a death squad came and killed all the people in the building. In another instance, he was away from his apartment when it was bombed, killing all his roommates. And then, as the Soviets Continued on p.40

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Continued from p.38

Frank Shatz began occupying Budapest in 1945, Frank was confronted by a Soviet soldier who thought he was a spy (spion). With a rifle stuck to his ribs, he told the soldier he was a Jew, not a spy, so he was asked to say something in Hebrew. The recitation of a Jewish prayer saved his life once again. Frank’s mother wasn’t so lucky; she died in a concentration camp.

Communist-held Europe As soon as the Soviets occupied Budapest, Frank Shatz began using language to earn a living. He was an interpreter for the Soviet army and then began working as a reporter for a small town paper in Soviet-occupied Hungary before World War II ended in May 1945. With his education in Budapest and at the Karlovo University in Prague, Frank embarked on a journalism career after the war, spending much of his time as a Prague-based foreign correspondent. He met Jaroslava there. “My wife and I were married in Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1948, shortly after the Communist takeover of the country,” Frank wrote in his book. “As the Iron Curtain was descending, the borders were sealed off. But as an accredited foreign correspondent, I had a valid passport and could have left for the West. But without my wife. This I refused to do.” Over the next six years, the Shatzes dreaded the proverbial knock on the door in the middle of the night from the secret police. Frank worried because he had helped some people escape to the West. That knock finally came, and after more than 10 hours of interrogation, Frank was let go. Less than a year later, in 1954, he was under suspicion again. This time, they had to flee. “We fled Communist Czechoslovakia with only the clothes on our backs and a small piece of hand luggage,” Frank wrote. “But in it my wife, without my knowledge, had hidden my treasured copy of “The Anatomy of Peace,” by Emery Reeves, a book that has become my bible.”

Coming to America After getting through border checkpoints on the train from Czechoslovakia to Sweden, the Shatzes traveled around Europe and the Middle East, arriving in the U.S. on the Queen Mary in November 1958. “We requested to be awakened at dawn so we wouldn’t miss the sight of the Statue of Liberty,” Frank wrote. “It was, indeed, an inspiring image.”

Frank and Jaroslava Shatz with Lady Margaret Thatcher at the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Va. Photo provided

Frank Shatz used for his foreign correspondent papers in Prague from 1945 to 1954

After briefly working for Pan Am, he moved to Cleveland, Ohio to work for the Hungarian Daily as a foreign news editor. In 1961, an editor at the newspaper suggested the Shatzes spend a vacation in the Adirondack Mountains, and they took his advice. “We rented a cabin in Coreys, between Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake, and fell in love with the mountains, the lakes and the way of life here,” Frank said in an email. It was their first vacation in the U.S., and it changed their lives. By 1962, they had moved to Lake Placid and soon opened a leather-goods store on Main Street. “To my delight, Lake Placid proved to offer more opportunities than just hiking, skiing or making a living,” Frank said. “It provided also an opportunity for international interaction.” The Shatzes helped with the FISU Games in 1972 and then created the People-for-People Program for the 1980 Olympic Winter Games, hosting athletes from all over the world. They were uniquely qualified, as the couple speaks six languages, including English, Russian, German, Czech, Hungarian, Polish and a few other Slavic languages. “Lake Placid has become our homestead and the source of inspiration to try to live a life worth living,” Frank said. After the Olympics, the Shatzes decided to spend winters in Williamsburg, Va., where he began writing the “World Focus” column for the The Virginia Gazette. This column about international affairs is reprinted weekly in the Lake Placid News. Frank is also heavily involved with the Wendy and Emery Reeves Center for International Studies at the College of William and Mary. They spend summers in Lake Placid. “To really appreciate freedom, you have to experience life first under a totalitarian regime,” Frank said. “Basically, I see myself as a survivor who, thanks to circumstances and with the help of decent ‘good people,’ managed to survive and finally land in America.” The Shatzes still like to travel, but they avoid places that remind them of the Holocaust. “Although we have been back to Western Europe many, many times, never to Eastern Europe,” Frank said. “It is a place with too heavy baggage of bad memories.”

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42_magazine 7/20/12 11:11 AM Page 1

Walk Back in Time By Andy Flynn

Downtown Saranac Lake Photo by Andy Flynn

Take a self-guided walking tour of historic Saranac Lake


hile volunteers from Historic Saranac Lake periodically give guided tours of the village’s historic districts, the group is now offering a do-it-yourself opportunity with its self-guided walking tour of historic downtown Saranac Lake. The tour offers 24 stops and includes a list of five other historic properties. The village of Saranac Lake was incorporated in 1892, and Dr. Edward L. Trudeau was named its first “president,” what we now call the mayor. Eight years earlier, Trudeau had established the Adirondack Cottage Sanitarium and put Saranac Lake on the map, so to speak, as people suffering from tuberculosis traveled to this village to take the “cure” and use Trudeau’s methods of treating TB. Saranac Lake soon became a health resort. At Trudeau’s sanitorium — the first successful one in the U.S. for treating tuberculosis — he established a model of treatment based on the value of fresh air, rest, hygiene, good nutrition and a positive outlook. That was 1884. Ten years later, he built the first laboratory in the country for the study of the TB germ. Saranac Lake became known throughout the world as a center for scientific research and patient care until the discovery of TBkilling antibiotics in the 1950s. The Trudeau Sanitorium closed in 1954. Ten years later, Trudeau’s grandson, Francis B. Trudeau Jr., founded the Trudeau Institute on Algonquin Avenue, and the Institute continues to provide basic scientific research to prevent and treat afflictions, such as cancer, asthma, allergy, arthritis, colitis, multiple sclerosis, and infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, influenza, and sepsis. Saranac Lake is filled with businesses and landmarks —

including cure cottages where TB patients stayed — that helped service the needs of the local health care industry. These buildings have stories to tell. Take a walk with this self-guided tour, and re-live the events that helped shape the Saranac Lake we see today. 1) LAKE FLOWER: The village started here, where the river was dammed to power a sawmill in 1827. The logs were sent down the river to Lake Champlain. The pond was renamed from “Mill Pond” to “Lake Flower” after New York Gov. Flower, who gave the money to clear the lake of stumps. 2) RIVERSIDE INN: This hotel stood where the park and bandshell are today. Mark Twain some-times sat on the veranda during his visit in 1901. TB patients checked in here when they came to town. It was torn down in mid 1930s. 3) POWER AND LIGHT BUILDING: Built by Paul Smith’s son, Phelps, in 1927, on the site of the town’s first electric company. A businessman and guide, Paul Smith built an elegant hotel on the site where Paul Smith’s College stands today. The hotel was the most fashionable of the many great Adirondack hotels. 4) HARRIETSTOWN TOWN HALL: The first town hall burned in the 1920s. Today’s tower is modeled on Philadelphia's Independence Hall tower. Note the traffic light on the top. It was once used to alert village police to call in case of an emergency. 5) TOUSLEY BUILDING (Madden’s): Built with an elevator that fits two cars, it became an important storage facility that held the Crown Jewels of Luxembourg. It has a fur storage vault, and once held copies of valuable records of many major U.S. companies. Continued on p.44

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Saranac Lake

Walking Tour

Continued from p.42

6) MILO MILLER STORE (Owl’s Nest Bar): Built in 1867 by pioneer resident Milo Miller, this is the oldest commercial structure in the village. The old mansard roof can still be seen. 7) CHARLIE GREEN’S STORE: Charlie Green came from England with TB, and like many others, stayed on after his cure. He ran this grocery store for over 60 years. One patron was Jack "Legs" Diamond, who ran liquor from Canada during prohibition. His brother cured in the village. 8) POST OFFICE PHARMACY: This was the town’s first library building. Robert Louis Stevenson was a patron in the winter of 1887-88. It became a pharmacy in 1936, and is the last of the town’s nine original pharmacies. 9) DONALDSON BLOCK (China Jade): Owned by Alfred Donaldson, a banker, TB patient and historian, who wrote the two volume History of the Adirondacks. 10) HAASE BLOCK (Adirondack Bank): Owned by the prominent Hasse family. Mrs. Haase helped start he Village Improvement Society which founded many local parks, including the Riverwalk. She sponsored a summer tent theater behind the building, where Rosalind Russell got her start in 1929. 11) ADIRONDACK NATIONAL BANK: Today’s bank looked like this before the front was covered in 1963. It was built in 1906 on the site of guide Reuben Reynolds house, where Dr. Trudeau stayed when he first came to the village. 12) T. F. FINNIGAN’S: Once a candy store, it still has the original cabinetry and woodwork. In 1923, it was bought by T.F. Finnigan and it is operated by his grandson today. At one time there were ten independent clothing stores in business in downtown Saranac Lake. Finnigan's is the only original one still in business. 13) COULTER BLOCK (Liz and Company): William Coulter

Map by Jim Hotaling

was a master architect who came for the cure and established his office here. He designed many of the greatest of the "Great Camps,” as well as this block in 1899. Kollecker ’s photography store was one of the storefronts. The large building to the left (Surgical Eye Care) once housed Leonard’s Department Store. 14) PONTIAC THEATER (Parking Lot): During the boom years, the theater played to a full house nightly. It had, at one time, the largest screen in central NY and a $12,000 orchestral organ. Al Jolson performed a benefit here. The world premiere of the 1954 film, The Silver Chalice was held here, hosted by Art Linkletter. It was Paul Newman’s film debut. 15) BERKELEY HOTEL (park with bandstand): Built in 1875 to take TB patients. It was expanded several times, but burned to the ground in 1981. U. S. President Benjamin Harrison stayed at the Berkeley in September of 1890 when he was in town to dedicate the new high school, where the Hotel Saranac stands today. 16) HOTEL SARANAC: Designed by local architects Scopes and Feustmann, the hotel was built in 1927 and is listed as an Historic Hotel of America by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It was taken over by the hotel management school of Paul Smith's College in the 1960s. It boasts a grand ballroom on the second floor which served as the site of dances, wedding receptions, conferences, dinners, balls and other celebrations. In 2006, the college sold the property to a private owner. 17) SARANAC LAKE FREE LIBRARY: Founded in 1907, today the library houses an excellent archive in the Adirondack Room. Vest Pocket Park was once the site of the Study and Craft Guild which provided education, job training and enrichment courses for TB patients and the community. 18) DR. E. L. TRUDEAU HOUSE: Dr. Trudeau’s first house in the village was built on this site in 1884, but was destroyed by fire. This was his second home and the site of 3 generations of medical practice by the Trudeau family. E. L. Trudeau’s greatgrandson, Garry, is the creator of the comic strip Doonesbury. 19) ST. LUKE CHURCH OF THE BELOVED PHYSICIAN: Saranac Lake's first church, it was designed by architect R.M. Upjohn and built in 1878. The congregation held their first services in the Berkeley Hotel. Dr. E. L. Trudeau led the fund drive to complete it. He served as treasurer and warden for 38 years. 20) SARANAC LABORATORY: Built in 1894, this was the first lab built in the U.S. for the study of TB, designed by E. L. Trudeau’s cousin, J. L. Aspinwall. It is open to the public as a museum, operated by Historic Saranac Lake. 21) UNION DEPOT: Built in 1904, by the D&H Railroad, the station was instrumental in the growth of Saranac Lake into a health resort. The depot handled 18 to 20 trains per day, and was the largest station on the line north of Utica. 22) STEVENSON COTTAGE (44 Stevenson Lane): Where the great author spent the winter of 1887-88, under the care of Dr. E. L. Trudeau. Now operated as a museum, call 518-891-1462 for hours of operation. 23) HELEN HILL NEIGHBORHOOD (East of Church St.): The neighborhood with the greatest concentration of cure cottages. 24) MARTHA REBEN MARKER: This marker commemorates the TB patient who sought her cure in the wilderness with local guide, Fred Rice. She became an acclaimed author of The Healing Woods and The Way of the Wilderness.

Historic Saranac Lake


Historic Saranac Lake operates the Saranac Laboratory Museum at 89 Church St., Saranac Lake. The museum is open year-round, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., Tuesday-Friday, and Saturdays from June 23 to Oct. 6. The admission is $5, with members and children free. Call (518) 891-4606 or visit online at Also learn more about the history of Saranac Lake at the Historic Saranac Lake Wiki site ( (Text and map used by permission of Historic Saranac Lake.)

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PLANET By Andy Flynn

Explore nature at the Wild Center


he Wild Center in Tupper Lake is on par with some of the finest museums in the world, and it is located here in the heart of the 6-million-acre Adirondack Park, far away from big cities, noise and pollution. This center, officially named the Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks, helps visitors explore that natural side of the grand experiment we call the Adirondack Park. Founded in 1892 by the New York State Legislature, the Park was designed to protect the environment and has evolved into a model that is now copied around the world. More than 100 years later, the Wild Center shows how far we’ve come in protecting the natural communities of the Adirondack ecosystem and how far we have left to go. After all, this region is not located in a bubble; it is affected by national and global factors, such as climate. And the Park is unique in that about half of it is protected under the state Forest Preserve, which cannot be developed, and the rest is privately owned. There are thriving communities within this state park. The Wild Center helps explain what effects human activities have on the environment, specifically here in the Adirondacks. The Wild Center is a not-for-profit organization located on a 31-acre site in the town of Tupper Lake. It is science-based, and its experiences, exhibits and programs are designed to open new ways to look into the latest discoveries made by natural scientists. The average visitor spends about three hours at the museum. There are walking trails, naturalist guides, movies, live exhibits including hundreds of live animals, live otters, and a wealth of information about the natural world of the Adirondacks. The Wild Center has a full slate of daily special programs with different events for all ages and interests.

In addition, the Wild Center hosts a weekly Farmers’ Market from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursdays from mid-June to midSeptember.

Indoor exhibits The indoor Hall of the Adirondacks houses the Living River Trail and its live exhibits, including the otters at Otter Falls. The trail takes people on a journey from the marsh, past a deep lake, past a bog and forests up a river filled with trout to the summit of an alpine peak where visitors can touch a cloud. Along the way there’s a wealth of information about the nature of the wild Adirondacks. Planet Adirondack, a new experience for 2012, fills its own hall for daily guided events where people can watch the Earth come to life in an amazing display that will help visitors see the world with new eyes. People can sit down in the Find Out Forest, filled with high definition media screens where visitors choose where to go and what to watch. Journey up to the top of the mountains with a cloud catcher, track an immigrant moose or raft down the Hudson River Gorge. Travel into the Big Wolf Great Hall to see the Glacial Ice Wall and its moving story of the formation of the modern Adirondacks. Visitors can also see daily animal encounters and members of the Wild Center ’s living collection. The Flammer Panoramas Theater features a series of daily films, including Banff Mountain Film Festival finalist, “A Matter of Degrees,” narrated by Sigourney Weaver. This Wild Center production takes viewers back to the age of mastadons and ice to see how much the world is impacted by changes in climate, and the importance of a few degrees of change. Also see Carl Heilman’s “Wild Adirondacks.” Continued on p.48

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Continued from p.47

The Wild Center Outdoors adventures The Pond Loop Trail is fully accessible and has bridges that take visitors over the water. The osprey tower is also on the Pond Loop. The Meadow Bird and Oxbow Overlook trails lead people past the Wild Center ’s Cairn down to special overlooks on an unusual oxbow on the Raquette River. The New Path is another outdoor exhibit that lets people see behind the scenes at the Wild Center ’s Silver LEED certified green building practices. The trail leads visitors from the solar and living roof of the BioBuilding to the flushless composting toilets and the grassy parking lot. The Wild Center is the first LEED certified museum in New York. Visitors can access the trails year-round and join daily scheduled excursions with naturalist guides who can answer questions and point out some of the nature that lives along the trails. The Pines The Pines, located off the Oxbow Overlook Trail, is a play area based on an old idea. It is open and ready to be run wild in. There are stick forts, logs, and no signs that say “No Running, No Playing, No Noise.” The Pines idea was inspired by the increasing evidence that too many rules and too many built environments — play areas where all the play is gone — shuts down creativity, and curtails fun. It is also inspired by the idea that children need time alone in their natural world to develop as people. There are places nearby for parents and other adults to sit and rest while the kids play.

Hours, contact Summer: From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the museum is open 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. daily. Fall: From Labor Day to Oct. 28, the museum is open 10 a.m. 5 p.m. daily. Winter: From Oct. 29 to Memorial Day, the museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, plus all Presidents Week and Martin Luther King Day. It is closed the month of April for exhibit installations. For more information, call (518) 359-7800 or visit online at

Fish exhibit at the Wild Center Photo by Andy Flynn


Activities at the Wild Center File photo

North Country Living Mag_magazine 7/19/12 10:47 AM Page 49

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By Andy Flynn

Silver Bullet tells story of espionage T

he silver bullet at Fort Ticonderoga is not really a bullet at all. It is an elliptical-shaped, hollow silver capsule disguised as a silver bullet to be used by a spy. The capsule has two parts that fit together, and the inside is big enough for a person to place a tiny, handwritten message on a piece of paper, which would be smuggled through enemy territory to another military commander, communicating essential intelligence information. That’s exactly what happened in 1777. The British objective seemed simple enough on paper: control the Lake Champlain-Hudson River corridor, and then crush the American rebellion. In practice, however, things went terribly wrong for the British forces and led to an American victory at Saratoga. That victory convinced the French that an alliance with the United States was worthwhile. Gen. John Burgoyne planned on traveling southward from Canada down Lake Champlain and the Hudson River to Albany. Col. Barry St. Leger planned on traveling eastward from Lake Ontario through the Mohawk River Valley to Albany. Sir Henry Howe planned on traveling northward from New York City up the Hudson River to Albany. Once in Albany, Howe would take control of the unified British forces. Change of plans. Howe decided to take most of his New York City troops and attack the American capital of Philadelphia, leaving Sir Henry Clinton in charge of a much smaller army to link up with Burgoyne. Burgoyne left Canada on June 17, 1777 with about 9,000 troops, including British regulars, German Hessians, Canadians and Indians. After four days of maneuvering, his army captured Fort Ticonderoga on July 6 without a shot being fired. St. Leger never made it to Albany; he retreated to Canada soon after the Aug. 6 Battle of Oriskany. That left Clinton as Burgoyne’s

only hope for victory. On Sept. 13, Burgoyne crossed the Hudson River to the west bank at Saratoga (now Schuylerville) and began moving southward. The Americans, under the command of Gen. Horatio Gates, had about 9,000 forces waiting nearby. On Sept. 19, the Battle of Saratoga began with a small victory for the British, who decided to stay and wait for Clinton’s reinforcements. Clinton was eager to help, but he had his own problems in the Hudson Highlands, just south of West Point. Clinton needed to capture Fort Montgomery and nearby Fort Clinton before sailing north. On Oct. 6, his 2,100 troops of regulars, loyalists and Hessians attacked less than 700 American soldiers led by brigadier generals Gov. George Clinton and James Clinton. The battle was just enough to delay the British, yet Sir Henry Clinton still had his eye on the north, sending a soldier to Burgoyne with an urgent message of hope: “Fort Montgomery, October 8, 1777. Nous y voici [here we are], and nothing between us and Gates. I sincerely hope this little success of ours may facilitate your operations. In answer to your letter of the 28th of September, by C. C. [Captain Campbell], I shall only say, I cannot presume to order, or even advise, for reasons obvious. I heartily wish you success. Faithfully yours, H. Clinton.” This message was written on a small piece of tissue paper and placed in the silver bullet now on display at Fort Ticonderoga. The bullet never reached Burgoyne, who began a second attack at Saratoga on Oct. 7. By the time Clinton had written his dispatch, Burgoyne had lost about 1,000 men and had begun retreating northward. Meanwhile, Sir Henry Clinton’s army believed they had wiped out the opposing American troops. Unfortunately for the British, Continued on p.52

View of Fort Ticonderoga from Mount Defiance Photo by Andy Flynn

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Continued from p.50

Fort Ti’s silver bullet there was something between Fort Montgomery and Gates—Gov. George Clinton and his small army of continental soldiers, who were planning to move northward to defend Kingston. When Sir Henry Clinton sent his messenger on horseback, Gov. George Clinton was headquartered about 4 miles west of New Windsor (just south of Newburgh). The man with the silver bullet reached a ragtag camp on Oct. 10, believing it was part of the British contingent. Likewise, the American soldiers thought the horseman was one of their own. “I am a friend and wish to see [British] General Clinton,” the horseman said. So he was taken to see the general, and when the messenger saw Gov. George Clinton in his headquarters, he realized his mistake and blurted “I am lost!” before swallowing the silver bullet to hide the evidence of his mission. The Americans were immediately suspicious and arrested the man. They summoned a nearby doctor, who gave the prisoner a tartar emetic to make him throw up the silver bullet, which he did. Then he swallowed it again. “He now refused a second emetic, when Governor Clinton threatened to hang him on a tree and search for the bullet with the surgeon’s knife,” wrote Benson J. Lossing in his January 1874 silver bullet article in the American Historical Record, which was reprinted in the May 1937 issue of The Bulletin of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum. The second emetic was administered, and the prisoner threw up the silver bullet again. After inspecting the capsule and reading Sir Henry Clinton’s message, the Americans knew they had a spy. “On his almost immediate march to Kingston Governor Clinton took the spy with him,” Lossing wrote. “At Hurley, a few miles from Kingston, he was tried and condemned to death; and whilst Kingston was blazing from the touch of the British torch, the Baronet’s messenger was hanged upon an apple-tree near the old church in the perishing town.” All was lost for Burgoyne at the Battle of Saratoga. While he waited in vain for Sir Henry Clinton’s troops, the American army swelled to almost 20,000 and surrounded what was left of the British army, about 6,000 soldiers. Burgoyne surrendered to Gates on Oct. 17, 1777. Fort Ticonderoga displays the silver bullet in a glass-enclosed case on the wall in its museum. The capsule is about 5/8 inch from top to bottom. The extremely fragile piece of paper with the message from Sir Henry Clinton is stored in the museum’s archives. It is too delicate to handle, according to Fort Ticonderoga Curator of Collections Christopher Fox. The silver bullet and its enclosed message were owned for a while by Gen. James Tallmadge, who was one of the executors of

Firearm demonstration Photo by Andy Flynn

Fort Ticonderoga Photo by Andy Flynn

Gov. George Clinton’s estate. The object then passed to Clinton’s son, New York Gov. DeWitt Clinton. In 1858, Lossing found the artifact in the possession of DeWitt Clinton’s son, Charles. “Can any reader of the Record tell where that bullet with the dispatch now is?” Lossing wrote in 1874. By 1937, Henry O. Tallmadge had donated the silver bullet to the Fort Ticonderoga Museum.

Fort Ticonderoga history Fort Ticonderoga was built by the French from 1755 to 1759 and called Fort Carillon. Due to its strategic location, the Fort was the “key to the continent” as the superpowers of the 18th century, the French and the British, contested for an empire in North America. In 1759, the British defeated the French here under Gen. Amherst. On May 10, 1775, Ethan Allen, Benedict Arnold, and the Green Mountain Boys crossed Lake Champlain from Vermont, surprised the sleeping garrison and overwhelmed them, making Fort Ticonderoga America’s first victory of the Revolutionary War.

Visit Fort Ticonderoga Fort Ticonderoga is located on the Fort Road in Ticonderoga and is open mid-May 10 to mid-October, daily, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. For more information, call (518) 585-2821 or visit Facilities consist of the restored 18th century Fort and a museum with more than 30,000 objects. In addition, there is the Log House Restaurant and Museum Store. The Thompson-Pell Research Center houses the administrative offices and the research library with more than 13,000 rare books and manuscripts. Below the Fort on Lake Champlain is The Pavilion. Next to The Pavilion and open to the public are The King’s Garden at Fort Ticonderoga, the 18th-century garrison garden, a children’s garden, and the Native American garden.


North Country Living Mag_magazine 7/19/12 1:32 PM Page 53

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By Andy Flynn

Mohican II on Lake George Photo by Andy Flynn

Cruise Lake George on a steamboat


here is only one way to really see all of Lake George, and that’s by taking the 4.5-hour Discovery Cruise aboard the Mohican II, a tour boat operated by the Lake George Steamboat Company. Leaving the southern end of Lake George at the docks in the village of Lake George, passengers will enjoy a guided tour of the Queen of American Lakes all the way to Baldwin Landing at the northern end in the town of Ticonderoga. It’s 32 miles from the southern end to the northern end, and there’s a lot to see along the way. The Mohican’s captain will narrate the geological formation of the basin, the early Indian settlements, the military history and the lake’s present ecological balance. The cruise offers meals, a gift shop and room for bicycles for those who want to get off at Baldwin Landing and return to Lake George village by pedal power along scenic Route 9N. See geographic places such as Diamond Point, Pilot Knob, Bolton Landing, Tongue Mountain, Black Mountain, Huletts Landing, Sabbath Day Point, Silver Bay, Hague and Rogers Rock. Hear about the mansions on Millionaires Row. Enjoy the wild surrounding of the Lake George Islands, surrounded by state-


owned wild forest on each side of the narrows. The Discovery Cruise runs Tuesday and Thursday from midJune to the end of August. It departs Lake George at 8:45 a.m. and returns at 2 p.m.

Lake George Steamboat Company Dining and scenic cruises are between 1 and 4.5 hours long and are offered on three boats: the Mohican II, Minne-Ha-Ha (paddlewheeler) and Lac du Saint Sacrement. The ships run from midMay to late October. Lac du Saint Sacrement: Noted marine architect Robert Simons designed the 190-foot Lac du Saint Sacrement, which was built at the Baldwin Shipyard. The keel was laid in June 1979, and the hull was launched in 1987. The Mohican II towed the hull to the Steel Pier, where it was fitted with engines and the superstructure was finished. It was christened on June 15, 1989. The vessel was given the original name of Lake George — Lac du Saint Sacrement — which was named by Jesuit priest Isaac Jogues in 1846. It means “Lake of the Blessed Sacrement.” Jogues was martyred by the Mohawks in October of the same year. Minne-Ha-Ha: The H.M. Tiedemann Co. of New York City designed the 100-foot sternwheeler Minne-Ha-Ha, which was

55_magazine 7/20/12 11:41 AM Page 1

built at the Baldwin Shipyard. The first hull plates were laid in October 1968 with construction under the supervision of marine superintendent James Marvel. The hull was launched on Dec. 6, 1968 and the Mohican II towed it to Lake George village, where work on the superstructure continued until the spring of 1969. It was christened on July 30, 1969. This ship is an authentic steamboat. Passengers can see the engine working through a glass wall at the engine room. The steam whistle blows. There is a steam calliope on the top deck. And the red paddle wheel dips into the deep blue waters of Lake George. The engineer responds to bell signals from the pilot house, and these bells were originally from an old Hudson River sidewheeler built about 1910. Mohican II: Naval architect J.W. Millard, of New York City, designed the 117-foot Mohican II. Hull plates formed in Newburgh and shipped by railroad to Ticonderoga were riveted together at the Baldwin Shipyard in 1907. The hull was launched on Dec. 14, 1907. It was christened the Mohican II — a steel-hull vessel — and was named after the original 93-foot Mohican (1894-1907), a wooden-hull vessel. The Mohican II was converted from steam power to diesel after World War II, with the conversion completed in 1946. The superstructure of wood and canvas was replaced by steel in the winter of 1966-67. In June 2008, the Mohican II was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Company history Ten years after Robert Fulton launched the first commercially successful steamboat company on the Hudson River in 1807, a new company would emerge on the Queen of American Lakes. The Lake George Steamboat Company was incorporated on April 15, 1817 and the first steamboat was the James Caldwell, named after the man who founded the town of Lake George. Caldwell (17471829) was also one of the founders of the company. The steamboat burned in 1821. Other boats in the early years were the Mountaineer, 1824; John Jay, 1850; and Minne-Ha-Ha, 1857. After the Civil War, the Steamboat Company became part of the Delaware and Hudson Railroad System, which operated the company from 1871 to 1939. During that time, the boats included the Sagamore and Horicon II. The boat business was hurting during the Great Depression, and the D&H scrapped the Sagamore in 1937 and then the Horicon II. The Mohican II was sold to Captain George Stafford, who ran it during World War II. After buying the company, Captain Wilbur Dow renovated the Mohican II in 1946; built the Ticonderoga in 1950 from sections of a World War II vessel, built the Steel Pier in 1954, renovated the Mohican II in 1966-67, built the Minne-Ha-Ha in 1969, and launched the Lac du Saint Sacrement in 1989.

Contact information The Lake George Steamboat Company at the Steel Pier is located at 57 Beach Road in the village of Lake George. For more information, call (518) 668-5777 or visit online at

Rogers Rock, as seen from the Mohican II Discovery Tour Photos by Andy Flynn

ement Lac du Saint Sacr Flynn Photo by Andy


Photo by Andy


North Country Living Mag_magazine 7/19/12 1:34 PM Page 56


Man of the


By Andy Flynn

Retired forest ranger still helping others, working in the woods


etired forest ranger Steve Ovitt is a man of the earth. Standing at the Raymond Brook trailhead off State Route 28 in North Creek, next to his hunter green pickup truck, he told stories about his life in the woods. He dressed the part, in earth-tone everything: brown hiking boots, work pants and belt and a green Gore Mountain cap, fleece jacket and T-shirt from fighting the 2008 Iron Complex forest fire in California. With a mixed soundtrack of car traffic, ovenbird songs and light raindrops, Ovitt gave a rare interview in early May, nine months after retiring from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and several months after starting his own business and a new chapter of his life in the woods. Steve Ovitt, of Wevertown, grew up on a dairy farm in Washington County. He worked on the farm and on a construction crew as a teenager in the summers. After high school, he earned a forestry degree, with a surveying minor, at the SUNY Ranger School in Wanakena, worked at the college as a technician for a couple of years after graduation and cruised timber for International Paper for a season in Maine and northern New York. Ovitt found that the experience he gained using equipment on the farm and in construction helped him in the forestry business. “When you’re on a tractor at 12, and you’re working with heavy equipment constantly, you learn what it can and can’t do, and then the surveying and forestry stuff just blended into that,” Ovitt said. Those early years with his family on trips to the Adirondack Park also had an impact on his career. “I spent a lot of time as a young man in the woods with my dad and family, my uncles, hunting and fishing all over the Adirondacks,” Ovitt said. “I was able to have a lot of good mentors.”

Photos by Andy Flynn

Call of the wild Ovitt briefly worked in construction for solar homes before getting a job as a DEC forest ranger in 1986, spending a year and a half in the Catskill Mountains before moving north to the town of Johnsburg in 1987. And he’s been here ever since.

Continued on p.58

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Continued from p.57

“It was my privilege to be able to help people that basically couldn’t help themselves in the woods, for the next 25 years,” Ovitt said. “With all the search-and-rescue and firefighting stuff, I had wonderful opportunities for training and experiences.” During those years at the DEC, Ovitt was able to develop national incident management qualifications by traveling around the U.S. on firefighting jobs. In the Adirondack region, he helped create airboat, helicopter and rope rescue programs. “When I started as a ranger, we were really self-supervised and in charge of our own destinies and in charge of creating these programs that didn’t exist or were just in their infancies,” Ovitt said. “It was such an independent position that they let the professionals in the field develop the programs.” Although the job had its challenges, Ovitt looked to the sunny side of the trees for inspiration, especially during search-andrescue missions. With phone calls at night and spending dozens of nights a year away from his family, it only took a smile to turn exhaustion into elation. “When you rescue young children off the ledges on Rogers Rock after a couple of them had already fallen and got seriously hurt or you pluck somebody from the Ausable River with the airboat and save their lives,” Ovitt said, “when you bring them out of the woods in the dead of winter and the worst of storms ... when they see you and they break into tears because now they know they’re going to live ... what a great thing to be able to have the privilege to do that, to help people like that.”

Retirement Ovitt retired from the DEC forest ranger corps in August 2011, and in early 2012, he started his own business. “I wanted the opportunity to start a second career and pursue the things that I’m passionate about,” Ovitt said, “the emergency management, providing that privately, working with the state of Vermont on their search-and-rescue program, developing really good recreational opportunities on public and private land without the constraints of the state on me.” Ovitt wants to spend the next 20 years taking the experience he gained in the public sector and work for the common good in the private sector. His business — Wilderness Property Management, Inc. — encompasses emergency management, trail construction and consultation on providing non-motorized recreational opportu-


nities, such as hiking, skiing and biking. He also builds wooden bridges on forested properties using cradle-to-grave concepts and wilderness techniques, a skill he learned with his dad on the farm. “We’re creating wilderness artwork,” Ovitt said. “So when people come across it, they’re very pleasantly surprised. It’s the kind of thing that they would like to think was out there, and when they come around the bend in the trail and they see it, hopefully that is giving them something ... that the bridge opens up a whole new world.”

On the trail In his spare time, Ovitt continues to be the most vocal advocate for hiking and backcountry skiing trails in the North Creek region. He develops trails, builds and maintains them, and speaks of them like they are his own children, with pride. He wants to spend quality time with them, and he wants residents and visitors to do the same. Ovitt sees the Thirteenth Lake to North Creek Trail System as a magnet for tourists and rates it among some of the best backcountry skiing in the Adirondack Park. During his DEC days and today, he’s worked closely with members of the Siamese Ponds Trail Improvement Society to develop the trail system and promote it. The Thirteenth Lake to North Creek Trail System is accessed from various points, such as the Raymond Brook Trail and trails radiating from the Ski Bowl Park. Destinations include Roaring Brook Falls, the North Creek reservoir, the summit of Gore Mountain, Garnet Hill Cross Country Ski Center, Thirteenth Lake and the 114,000-acre Siamese Ponds Wilderness Area. Ovitt started developing a plan for the trails in the 1990s. Now he’s helped create a trail system that includes challenging ski tours, family-friendly loops and multiple-day backpacking options. The lesson here is you can’t keep Steve Ovitt out of the woods, not even during a snowstorm. When more than a foot of snow blanketed North Creek on Thursday, March 1, he missed the North Creek Business Alliance meeting. You can’t ski at barVino. “There’s nothing more I love to do than backcountry ski or hike on a beautiful day without bugs, go hunting with my dad and then spend time with the family out there,” Ovitt said. “Those things are the priorities in life for me ... There isn’t a meeting alive worth missing a powder day on.”

North Country Living Mag_magazine 7/20/12 11:59 AM Page 59


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North Country Living Mag_magazine 7/20/12 12:00 PM Page 60