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Learn about the birds and bees in Vermont See Pages 20-29

Horse rescue offers a second chance See Page 42 A survivor’s tale on board a sinking aircraft carrier See Page 56

Then & Now

All Aboard!

See Page 18

See Page 68

A new start for Pierce’s Country Store

Broadway set designer builds railroad museum


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page 4_magazine 9/20/12 1:44 PM Page 1


Contents Table of

6 The Vermonter who Photographed a Frontier 10 Experience the Okemo Difference 14 Visit Lester Farm this Autumn 18 New Life for an Old Country Store 20 Birds of a Feather Flock Here 25 Vermont’s Famous Waterbury Inn 26 Why Vermont is the Land of Milk & Honey 32 Dreams of Farm Life Become Reality


elcome to the fall edition of North Country Living magazine. Don’t you just love the fall in the North Country? Sleeping under layers with the window cracked, waking to the crisp autumn air that just seems to rejuvenate the soul. Slipping into a comfortable flannel and pulling on a pair of wool socks. Going for a hike amid a patchwork quilt of vibrant fall colors. Floating on a lake of crystal blue-green water as leaves gently flutter to the surface all around you. What’s not to love about that? As promised, we have returned with our second edition of North Country Living. Our inaugural edition this summer was a colossal success — we couldn’t put them out fast enough and 20,000 editions flew off local newsstands. And — did we mention — it is free? Please, help yourself to one, but be quick about it. I am quite positive that our latest offering of stories about all the North Country has to offer will again make this magazine a very desired item. We are definitely on to something here, and expect this product to be around for a long, long time! So ease back next to the woodstove, kick off your hiking boots and dive in. I guarantee you will not want to put it down. — John Gereau

42 Unwanted Steeds get a Second Chance 50 Lake Placid’s Historic Olympic Center 52 The Rail Helped Build this Mountain Town 56 One Man’s Story Aboard a Sinking Carrier

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

Denton Publications, Inc.

64 Saving the Weiner Dog; One at a Time

14 Hand Ave., Elizabethtown, NY 12932 (518) 873-6368, Fax: 873-6360

68 Broadway Designer creates Railroad Museum

Publishers Dan Alexander, Edward Coats Page Design Dan Alexander Jr., Andy Flynn, John Gereau, Shaun Kittle Editorial Content Andy Flynn, John Gereau, Shaun Kittle, Lou Varricchio, Bonnie MacPherson

72 Artifacts tell the story of Warrensburg

Copyright 2012 New Market Press, Inc./ Denton Publications, Inc.

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page 6_magazine 9/17/12 12:44 PM Page 1

W.H. Jackson

By Lou Varricchio

The Vermonter who photographed a Frontier


tanding firmly beside Matthew Brady, George S. Cook, and Timothy O'Sullivan in the pantheon of 19th-century American photography is W.H. (William Henry) Jackson of Vermont—a talented man who made the transition from artist’s canvas to photographer’s silvered glass plate, and back again. Born in upstate New York on April 4, 1843, Jackson’s family settled in Rutland, Vt., when W.H. was a lad. Despite his various mailing addresses and transcontinental treks over the years, Jackson always considered himself to be a Vermonter in both mind and spirit. A long-time resident of Rutland, Jackson’s career blossomed following the Civil War, but early during the War Between the States he signed up as a private in Company K of the 12th Vermont Infantry. During the war, Jackson was a witness to the Battle of Gettysburg. He documented the lives of fellow Vermont soldiers with various pencil sketches. This priceless artwork, discarded by Jackson, was rescued from an ash heap by his mother, who was still living in Rutland. Jackson’s talent sprang from deep fonts fed by both nature and family nurturing. His mother, Harriet (Allen) Jackson, was a talented painter and a graduate of Middlebury's Emma Willard School. While still residing in Rutland, Harriet surrounded W.H. with art and passed along her love of painting to the boy. Before he enlisted with the 12th Vermont, at age 19, Jackson was already an up and coming artist. After the war, Jackson returned to Rutland. There, he opened a downtown studio devoted entirely to a diverse portfolio—sketching, painting, and photography. An inner restlessness—perhaps resulting from memories of war and a growing young man's wanderlust— caused the breakup of his engagement to a beautiful, young, high-bred Rutland woman named Carolina Eastman. Rutland society was a-twitter soon after the attractive couple broke up. To avoid the painful gossip of those days, Jackson packed his wartime portmanteau and left Vermont for good. He told a friend that he wanted to lose himself, while dulling the memory scars of love and war, Continued on p.8

W.H. Jackson’s frontier self portrait. The artist used a squeeze bulb, barely visible in the image, to trip the shutter.

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Continued from p.6

in the big sky of the American West. He never spoke of Carolina again. According to a short U.S. National Park Service biography of Jackson, the artist wanted to become a silver miner in Montana, but fate stepped in; W.H. headed in a new direction—both literally and figuratively. In 1866, the young Army veteran hopped a Union Pacific train which dead ended—before the driving of the Golden Spike three years later— 100 miles west of Omaha, Neb. There, Jackson signed on as a bullwhacker on a wagon train heading northwest on the perilous Oregon Trail. According to Park Ranger Mike Singer of Yellowstone, Montana, who helped write the NPS' Jackson biography, “Experiencing the west struck a chord in Jackson; he began to realize that documenting the settling of the frontier might become his life’s work.” In 1868, back in Omaha, Johnson lensed a series of now famous photographs of Native Americans. By 1871, the images came to the attention of geologist Ferdinand Hayden. Hayden was organizing a scientific expedition to study the natural features of Wyoming Territory, especially the geology along the Yellowstone River, and he needed a skilled photographer to document the expedition. Hayden offered Jackson the assignment of expedition photographer. The man from Rutland became the first photographer to film the grandeur of what geologists later identified as the Yellowstone supervolcanic complex. “For the next seven years,” according to Singer, “Jackson worked with Hayden for the U.S. Geological Survey. The survey took him to such unique and unexplored places as Mesa Verde and Yosemite, which Jackson documented with thousands of photographs.” Jackson continued his career in frontier photography into the early 1900s. But as settlers pushed the frontier to the Pacific coast, Jackson grew disillusioned with what he saw as America's vanishing wilderness. At age 81, W.H. returned to creative roots set first firmly in Vermont— painting. He created dazzling scenes on canvas, mostly derived from his own photographic collection. And he would never return to the camera lens, which he had so skillfully mastered years before. Jackson died in New York City in 1942, two months shy of his 99th birthday.


Above: A scene of the west by W.H. Jackson: twin images for use with a stereopticon. Below: W.H. Jackson’s famous “Chief Garfield Velarde” portrait. The original platinum photograph was signed, titled and dated 1898. Photos courtesy of USGS and the Micael Caden Gallery, Wyoming

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page 10_magazine 9/20/12 10:18 AM Page 1

OKeemo World :

Class By Bonnie MacPherson

Owners Tim and Diane Mueller look to the future with optimism


ith 30 years under their belts, Okemo Mountain Resort owners Tim and Diane Mueller continue to look toward the future. A statement made in 1985, by Okemo President Tim Mueller, that best reflects the resort’s success over the past 30 years, still rings true today: It is “the Okemo Difference” that skiers and snowboarders have come to experience since the Muellers took the helm in August 1982. The decade prior to the Muellers’ purchase of Okemo saw big strides in expansion as well as some financially challenging times for the community-owned ski area. Okemo was making yearly improvements and, by the early 1970s, the ski area boasted a modern base lodge and new trails and lifts, including three double chairs. Then, the 1973 flood damaged the resort, recession hit, and gas shortages negatively affected travel. By 1976, business was starting to rebound, but a cautious board of directors was ousted by ambitious stockholders who wanted to see more rapid capital improvement. A local group, called the Friends of

Continued on p.12

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Okemo, garnered enough support to replace the board and began plans for a $600,000 snowmaking upgrade, the largest in the country at the time. Two snow drought winters brought financial despair to Okemo and all New England ski areas. In spite of snowmaking improvements, the resort experienced a shortened 1980-81 season and a net loss of $340,000. The following year was a better winter for Vermont ski areas, but it was too little, too late for Okemo. Despite a successful season, Okemo was $1.4 million in debt, the lift system had become antiquated, a fire flattened the maintenance garage, and in the spring of 1982, the bank pulled Okemo’s line of credit. Okemo’s board of directors knew it had a superb, four-season mountain, but it also knew that times had changed for the ski industry. Skiers wanted chairlifts and gondolas instead of surface lifts, especially ones that were constantly breaking down. Okemo’s master plan detailed deficiencies in the area and offered recommendations estimated at $8 million. With resources exhausted, the directors went in search of a new owner. In 1982, the Muellers were managing a resort on the Caribbean Island of Saint Thomas; they had helped Diane’s parents develop the tropical site. With two children, ages five and one, the Muellers were eager to return to Vermont, where they had built a house in 1977. In their search for a business opportunity, the Muellers hoped to find a lodge or inn, but found Okemo to be a diamond-in-the-rough that offered tremendous potential. With the dreams of youth—they were both age 32 at the time—and an entrepreneurial spirit supported by their own practical resort experience, and that of the well-seasoned Okemo staff, the couple began their new adventure. “We liked the challenge that the mountain presented,” said Diane Mueller. “We believed in it and in ourselves.”



From the start, the Muellers wanted to provide their guests with a great mountain and a superlative skiing experience. “When we took over, we knew we were a disadvantaged physical complex,” Tim said. “We didn’t have time in 1982 to make any major changes, so we had to operate within that framework for an entire year. We had to concentrate on what we could do to make a difference, like add some paint and spruce things up and hire good employees. We had to instill in the staff that they could make a difference; it was the only thing that the skiers were going to notice as a change with new management. So we explained to staff that we were going to be different by offering the kind of service that we knew people on vacation, or spending top money on skiing, wanted.” Okemo has grown from a small, rough-hewn ski area to a worldclass resort destination encompassing five distinct mountain areas. A mountain with three double chairlifts, six antiquated Poma surface lifts, and a handful of trails has evolved into one of the East’s most popular winter resorts with 119 trails, 19 lifts (including five high-speed detachable quads), and the Northeast’s greatest inventory of trail accessed mountainside lodging. Okemo consistently wins awards and accolades for its snow quality, grooming, terrain parks, children’s programming, and guest service. Skier visits have soared from 95,000 during the winter of 1982-83, to more than 600,000 last winter. The Muellers have taken their model for success across state lines to Mount Sunapee Resort, in Newbury, N.H., and to the Rocky Mountains of Crested Butte, Colo. “We’re looking forward to the next 30 years,” Diane said. “With our son, Ethan and daughter, Erica working with us at Crested Butte Mountain Resort, it’s clear that this business is in our blood.” For more information about Okemo Mountain Resort, call (802) 228-1600 or visit online.

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At Lester Farm By Lou Varricchio


utumn is pumpkin time in Vermont and the all-natural Lester Farm, located on U.S. Route 7 in New Haven, is your one-stop shopping hub for everything related to the orange, seasonal icon. The Lesters are marking their second year by providing local residents, and tourists, with a wide selection of pumpkins and gourds to mark both the spooky Halloween season and the traditional Thanksgiving holiday. When Sam and Maura Lester came to Vermont from New York, they left behind their lives as vegetable farmers on their native Long Island. As farm land shrank on the increasingly urbanized island, the price of vegetable and potato farming increased as well. The husband and wife decided it was time to pull up their deep family roots and replant them in Vermont. Sam came from a multi-generation Long Island potato farming family, so it was a tough decision to make; much to his regret, the island’s agricultural heritage continues to disappear rapidly. So, who wants to be the last man standing, he asks? The Lester ’s newest green dream finally took hold—they looked far north of New York City and decided to create a new Vermont farm that would provide local residents, and visitors, with fresh, sustainably grown vegetables, as well as pumpkins,

gourds, squash and other colorful New England hallmarks of autumn. They also wanted to invite visitors to tour the operation, pick their own pumpkins, and enjoy traditional hayrides around the farm. “We wanted to see what Vermont had to offer and we found this wonderful place in New Haven, in Addison County; we decided to make our big move. We opened to the public in August 2011,” Sam said. The Lesters transported a tractor, wagon, tools, and even Sam’s antique Ford Model A pickup truck from New York to their new home in Vermont. The Lesters have worked the flat-terrain farmstead, in the west side of U.S. Route 7, for more than a full year now. In 2011, they enriched the ancient, glacial-lake-bottom clay with natural organic material, planted seeds, and watched the crops come in despite a crazy first year of heavy spring rains and Tropical Storm Irene. Amazingly, a warmer than average autumn last year helped extend the growing season for much of the crops. It was as if Ceres, Continued on p.16


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Lester Farm offers hay rides during September and October. Photos by Lou Varricchio

Continued from p.14

the ancient Roman goddess of agriculture, was smiling down on Lester Farm. During September and October, Lester Farm’s produce barn is open for business, and local residents are always surprised to see one of the largest locally grown selections of vegetables. “Just talking about tomatoes—we have 27 varieties,” said Maura. Spread out in neat wooden bins inside the farm store are all varieties of green stuff. “As you can see, we grow a wide variety of high-quality produce, including tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, squash, eggplant, melons, watermelons, beets, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, pumpkins, gourds, and even flowers. We also prepare our own tomato puree and pickles. We pick fresh throughout the day,” Sam said. “Sure, it’s a lot of work, but we love it.” The Lester Farm is the largest farm of its kind along the U.S. Route 7 corridor, at least between Bennington and the Canadian border. The farm’s selection is bound to satisfy customers far and wide. “We have 15 acres under cultivation,” Sam said. “It’s all natural. No pesticides are used in our operation.” The Lesters work with several local groups such as ACORN and NOFA to educate residents about locally grown produce. They also negotiate with local restaurants to carry the farm’s fresh produce as part of the locavore movement. The Lesters said their greatest satisfaction in sticking with the farming life is working the good earth. “This work gives us a lot of joy,” Sam said. “We think it’s important to control our own food and the quality of it. Only local produce can give you that assurance.”


Maura and Sam Lester of Lester Farm in New Haven, Vt. The 15-acre vegetable farm is the largest farm of its kind along the U.S. Route 7 corridor in Vermont. Lester Farm is located at 2297 Ethan Allen Highway (Route 7) in New Haven, Vt. The farm is located in the lower Champlain Valley, approximately four miles north of Middlebury and 28 miles south of Burlington. The farm market is open for business until the end of October, seven days, rain or shine. Hours: Monday to Friday, 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Call (802) 453-3132 for additional details, tour scheduling, and hayride times.

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NC Living Fall Magazine_magazine 9/20/12 1:23 PM Page 18

By Lou Varricchio

Quaint, historic Vermont country store gets a new lease on life


hree years ago, a group of North Shrewsbury residents became the masters of the town’s Civil War-era general store, Pierce’s Country Store. That’s why, on Aug. 25, 2012, the official date of the three-year anniversary of the formation of the Shrewsbury Cooperative at Pierce’s Country Store, the residents of this rural Vermont community gathered to toast a successful experiment in collective stewardship. Believe it or not, Pierce’s Store, which opened under a different name, has been open for business — except for an eight-year-long interruption — at the same location since 1865. In those days, today’s North Shrewsbury was known as Northam. Like many country stores in the mid-19th century, it was the hub of the community and also served as the post office. What is known today as Pierce’s Store went through several names (and owners), including Lord’s Store at the dawn of the 20th century. Following the Lord family, the W.E. Pierce family, a multi-generation Vermont family, operated the general store from 1918 until 1993; that’s when the last remaining local Pierce — Marjorie Pierce — decided to close the store for personal reasons. “Until then the store had been a community hub, known as much for its penny candy as it was for a place to visit with the local

neighbors,” said K.P. Whaley, the store and co-op’s manager. “Before her death in 2001, Marjorie handed over the historic treasure to the Preservation Trust of Vermont, a non-profit organization that assists local and state efforts to maintain and use historic resources. Her wish was to have the store operational again and draw the community together.” In 2008, the trust approved ownership by a new cooperative formed for the specific reason of operating the historic country store. “That year was an exciting time for everyone involved. We poured a lot of sweat equity into the store and crossed our fingers when we opened the doors on Aug. 25, 2009," said Sally Deinzer, president of the co-op’s board of directors. The once crazy concept of cooperative ownership of a country store has turned into a surprising local success story. Support from the community has been beyond everyone’s expectations. “We are a cooperative running a true historic country store, with everything from motor oil to fresh baked scones and bread. We really try to offer something for everyone in the community and also try to give folks a reason to come into the store and visit with their neighbors,” Deinzer said. “With offerings such as take-out pizza night, fresh seafood pick-up, Friday night dinners, and monthly wine and beer tastings it’s hard to imagine how the community wouldn't cherish and support this historic community institution.” According to Deinzer, to mark the anniversary, the co-op shared coffee and cake with visitors.

NC Living Fall Magazine_magazine 9/18/12 4:57 PM Page 19

Pictured at left is Pierce’s General Store, then known as Lord’s Store and the Northam Post Office, as it looked in 1900. The store opened in 1865 and has been in business ever since. Above and below are K.P. Whaley, manager of the store today, and volunteers Jane and Lee Emerson, part of the hometown crew that operate Pierce’s Country Store and Co-op in North Shrewsbury, the former town of Northam, Vt. Photos by Lou Varricchio

“Our on-site baker and chef, Rob McKain, has prepared something special,” she said. Pierce’s has something for everyone, whether you prefer conventional or organic groceries. And there’s always someone around to answer questions or help select merchandise. All co-op members, like Jane and Lee Emerson, take turns working the store as volunteers. A recent scan — by no means complete — of the store shelves confirmed the “something for everyone” billing: Ballgame-brand hot dogs, Lipton-brand teas, Kellogg's cereals, Duncan Hines cake mixes, Campbell’s Soups, Teddiebrand peanut butter, even Bounce-brand fabric sheets (good for laundry and chasing away mice and voles). You don’t have to be a member of the North Shrewsbury co-op to enjoy the bounty of the wholesome offerings available at Pierce’s. This historic store is worth a special trip, if only to savor its old-time ambiance — such as the store’s original wooden, glassed-in display cases, mechanical cash register, Bell candlestick telephone, Regulator wall clock, and antique post-office mail slots, among other artifacts. We’ll hazard a guess that you’ll return home with a bag of local-sourced groceries in tow, too. The Shrewsbury Co-op at Pierce’s Store is open seven days a week, Monday to Saturday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m., and Sunday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

The store is conveniently located at the intersection of Northam and Eastham roads and CCC and Old Plymouth roads, easily accessed from the Rutland area via Route 103 in the Cuttingsville area. To learn more about the history of Pierce’s Store and the Shrewsbury area, see “Good Vermonters: The Pierces of North Shrewsbury” by Karen D. Lorentz, and “Shrewsbury, Vt.: Our Town As It Was” by Dawn Hance. NORTH COUNTRY LIVING


page 20_magazine 9/20/12 11:05 AM Page 1

Setting Birds Free

How one man has released more than 500 birds from the wood that confined them

Stories and Photos by Shaun Kittle

Above: Bob Spear’s workshop is a place where accurate representations of Vermont’s birds come to life. Facing Page: All manner of local life-size aviators are represented at the Birds of Vermont Museum.



t all begins with a nondescript piece of basswood, but when it enters

the cocoon of Bob Spear ’s workshop a metamorphosis takes place. The wood is carefully turned, chiseled, sanded, sculpted, and manipulated to reveal an entirely new form. It’s as if each chunk of timber has a wood duck, or a night heron, or a hermit thrush trapped within its grain, and Spear is a conduit, sent down from some imaginary, avian heaven to set the wood’s inner bird free. Spear got into woodcarving by accident. One day, when he was 18 years old, two parakeets flew into his family’s barn in western Massachusetts. Unlikely guests in New England, Spear decided to capture them forever by carving their likenesses into a piece of white pine. And then something changed. Spear soon began carving while on lunch break at the General Electric plant where he worked as a technical specialist. A greater purpose, a desire to educate others about the lives of his subjects, started to materialize. He began to realize a flaw in using stuffed birds for educational purposes, and saw the wooden counterparts as a viable alternative. “I found that, when you try to teach people about birds using a stuffed bird, people become more fixated on the fact that they’re looking at a dead animal,” Spear says. “With wooden birds, they can pay more attention to learning about the birds.” After moving to Vermont, Spear founded and became director of Vermont’s first chapter of the National Audubon Society, joined a group to preserve Camel’s Hump mountain, and wrote some of the first books on birds in Vermont. When the Birds of Vermont Museum opened in 1987, he had 231 life-size carvings ready to place within its walls. Spear set an arbitrary goal of 500 individual bird sculptures for the non-profit museum and proceeded to carve a male and female of each species represented. Local artist Libby Davidson painted realistic backgrounds for every diorama and the breeding pairs were carefully placed, along with vegetation and a nest containing eggs. Now, 25 years later, the goal has been realized

page 21_magazine 9/17/12 1:42 PM Page 1

page 22_magazine 9/17/12 2:32 PM Page 1

‘Spear is a man of few words, but there could be a good reason for that— the museum isn’t about him, it’s about the birds.’

and the 92-year-old woodcarver has set a new goal of 540 individual carvings. Ready to keep moving forward, he also wants to embark upon a new challenge — carvings of local butterflies, which will be hewn from black ash, a type of wood that can be easily bent when wet.

The Birds of Vermont Museum sits on 40 acres of forest in Huntington, Vermont, and has trails linking several ecosystems together, giving visitors a realworld sample of some of the scenes found within the building. Spear is a man of few words, but there could be a good reason for that — the museum isn’t about him, it’s about the birds, and the birds speak for themselves. Avian voices are an integral part of the museum’s bird observation room, where visitors can sit behind a wall-sized observation window and watch as wild birds visit feeders on the property. various Microphones placed near the feeders are connected to speakers within the room, so visitors can associate bird voices with the birds themselves. The observation room is really just a link to the outdoors, a crossover from the living nature on the property to the reconstructed nature in the building, where art, education and conservation work handin-wing. As Spear leaves the observation room and walks from display to display, he exudes a sense of confidence in his work. It isn’t that he is proud of his accomplishments; rather,

Above: Two adult loons and a chick greet visitors at the Birds of Vermont Museum. Right: Blocks of wood slowly evolve into carefully carved replicas of the natural world in Bob Spear’s workshop.

he seems to be proud of the birds themselves, as if they are all members of his extraordinarily extended, beautifully biologically diverse family. Dressed in khakicolored pants and matching shirt, a pair of binoculars dangling from his neck, Spear fits right in with the dioramas in the museum — he looks like a birder who’s about to take to the field. But upstairs, in the wood shop, Spear looks like a craftsman. He places a partially finished Canada goose on the table and turns on a Dremmel tool. It emits a soft, steady purr as he presses it to the wood. A smile slowly stretches across his lips — he is lost for a moment, intent on rounding out the top portion of the bird’s wing. “I find carving to be therapeutic,” he says above the gentle whir of the tool. “It helps me relax.” As the bird’s features take shape, the sculpture is brought closer to becoming part of a bigger picture. Every diorama is a window into the forest, a moment of the creature’s life realized in wood, paint, and metal. In one diorama, aluminum-forged dandelions bend to reach the light of an invisible sun; in another, an insect appears to be making its final squirms of protest before being placed firmly into a hungry chick’s beak. There are real-life elements in some of the displays, too, and with the right kind of eyes, observers can find them. Although every egg is hand carved and hand painted, there is one exception (hint: look for the dio-

rama of the bird whose rapid wing beats sound like a motor trying to start), and the wild turkey, a carving that contains more than 45 separate pieces of wood and took 1,250 hours to complete, sports a real turkey beard. Woodcarving isn’t a competitive sport for Spear, though, whose passion reads like a billboard across each individual sculpture in the collection. He explains that every indentation on every feather was made with a wood burner, that every marking on every sculpture is hand painted, and that every display was carefully crafted to emulate every bird’s habitat. “I just kind of figure it out as I go,” Spear says with a slight grin, his voice barely audible above the shrill cry of the blue jay perched at the feeder outside. This casual attitude might explain why Spear ’s work is so meticulous. Like nature itself, he has evolved his craft slowly over time, only changing what was necessary and leaving the rest behind. Through his methodology, what Spear has really created is an enduring legacy that will expose future generations to conservation utilizing a healthy blend of art and education. It is a message born of respect and compassion for the natural world, one whose execution, as put forth in the Birds of Vermont Museum, is as solid and everlasting as the wood itself.

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The Waybury Inn in Middlebury as it looks today with many exterior improvements added since the 1980s, including a change in color. The inn looks much improved since its days appearing in the ‘80s sitcom Newhart. Photo by Lou Varricchio

The sitcom that put the



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or fans of Newhart, one of the most popular sitcoms of the 1980s, there’s some very good news. The award-winning series, which originally aired on CBS-TV from October 1982 through September 1990, is now available on high-quality DVD for home viewing on regular and high definition sets. Until recently, only bootleg copies of the sitcom were available for fans, albeit illegally. While it’s viewed as a definite period piece today, Newhart is fondly remembered by many Vermonters because it features glimpses of the Waybury Inn in East Middlebury, Vt., used as the series’ fictitious Stratford Inn, as well as aerial views of surrounding Middlebury and Addison County used in many transitional scenes. Newhart was a whacky, weekly ensemble comedy show about a writer of rural how-to books named Dick Louden, played by comic and actor Bob Newhart. Louden buys an out-of-the-way 18th century Vermont inn—called

the Stratford Inn—with his wife Joanna. Other Newhart characters included a privileged maid working her way through college, a dimwitted handyman (played by T.V. veteran Tom Poston), and the deceptive owner of the rundown Minuteman Cafe competitor across the road. For local fans, memories of the popular T.V. show still live on at the Waybury Inn and its cozy pub. The real inn, a former stage-coach stop at the foot of the Green Mountains along Route 125, served as the exterior of the show’s fictitious inn. “Location scouts for Newhart felt the Waybury represented the essence of a New England inn,“ according to Bob Newhart fan Ed Edwards, who started the website a few years ago. “It was that essence the producers wanted to show each week. The T.V. inn’s interior — which looked nothing like the classier Waybury’s — was a constructed on a Hollywood sourestage.” All that remains of CBS-TV’s circa-1981 exterior 35mm Panavision shoot of the Vermont inn are a few aging wooden prop signs found in the Waybury’s backroom pub — “The Stratford Inn” and “The Minuteman Cafe.” Among the show’s main cast, only comic actor Bob Newhart has failed to pay a visit to the Waybury Inn, Edwards notes. “As far as we know, Bob Newhart’s only visit to Vermont was a quick, promotional event at the Burlington International Airport during the ‘80s,” he says. Apparently, the T.V. star, a former stand-up comic and accountant, never left the terminal. Edwards says the ‘80s sitcom boasted television’s most hilarious series finale episode, titled “The Last Newhart”, in which character Dick Louden wakes up in bed next to Suzanne Pleshette, Newhart’s costar in The Bob Newhart Show series, which appeared earlier. “Viewers learn the entire ‘80s series was nothing but a bad dream of Bob Newhart’s earlier ‘70s T.V. sitcom psychiatrist character,” he said. Twentieth Century Fox’s new Newhart DVD video package is produced directly from archival studio films of the original show; the episodes have been remastered for home video. Despite its demise on primetime television more than 20 years ago, the ghost of Newhart will live on at the Waybury Inn for a long time to come.



page 26_magazine 9/21/12 2:58 PM Page 1

With 2,070 registered beekeepers maintaining 10,629 hives in 2,557 locations, and more cows per capita than any other state, Vermont truly is the land of milk and honey.



tanding among more than a dozen brightly colored boxes and being surrounded by the thousands of honey bees that call them home is a little intimidating, even with a bee suit on. The buzzing becomes a steady, multi-pitched hum, inducing a subconscious, knee-jerk style triple check of any potential entry points to ensure that elastic and Velcro alike are holding tightly. “Besides a couple guard bees, they really aren’t that interested in you,” says Mike Willard, master beekeeper of Green Mountain Bee Farm in Fairfax, Vermont, as he removes the lid from one of the boxes. He is so sure of this statement, he isn’t even wearing gloves. “Sure, you get stung sometimes, but it isn’t that bad,” he says. Mike goes on to explain that a common beekeeper prank is to put a drone — a stingerless male bee whose primary function is to deliver sperm to virgin queens — into a new beekeeper ’s hood. I thank him for sparing me, and envision myself running haplessly through the bee city, covered in honey and pursued by a million angry worker bees as I knock over hive boxes in a panic-induced frenzy. Regardless of how harmless they are, instinct dictates that the thought of one trapped in my clothing is unsettling, and not unlikely considering the cloud around me. Mike has something to calm them down, though. “This just confuses them a little, so they’re distracted,” Mike says as he fumigates the hive with pine-scented smoke from a metal canister that looks like it was pilfered from the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz. The honey bees respond by keeping their distance, allowing Mike to safely pull a honey comb slat out of the box. It consists of countless hexagonal chambers, some of which are quite active — a honey bee begins emerging from one of the cells while its adult counterparts

From hive (left), to centrifuge (center), to table (right), Green Mountain Bee Farm supplies the region with pure, unprocessed honey. Left photo by Shaun Kittle


page 27_magazine 9/17/12 1:49 PM Page 1

HONEY BEES Story by Shaun Kittle Photos by Mike Willard

page 28_magazine 9/21/12 2:59 PM Page 1

busily scuttle past it, on another slat some of the compartments are occupied by larva while others ooze with bright, golden honey. The changing leaves and crisp air indicate that it will soon be time to winterize the hives, which means insulating the lids to help prevent condensation and wrapping tar paper around the outside walls to facilitate solar warmth. But first, the Willards will harvest some honey. The slats are removed for the hive boxes and taken into the Willard’s garage, where they are placed in a centrifuge. The machine spins the hives so fast the honey is drawn from them, and a spigot on the bottom of the centrifuge releases the extracted product onto a filter, the only processing the honey receives before it is jarred and sold. After the harvest, winterization will help the bees, who never sleep or hibernate, live through the coldest months of the year. To a beekeeper, it’s a little reassurance that the colony will survive, but it’s debatable whether the bees need the help. Honey bees spend the winter inside the hive, flexing their flight muscles and pressing their abdomens against the hive to warm it. The method is so effective they are able

to keep the hive’s internal temperature above 92 degrees, which is exactly where they like it. For nourishment, they eat honey from the bottom of the hive up, an important consideration for beekeepers when determining how much honey to harvest. Mike and his wife, Nicole, have been beekeeping since 2006. Nicole says Mike has always had an interest in beekeeping, but a course he took turned it from a hobby into a passion. The couple now has more than 60 bee colonies, and Mike helps teach the class that inspired him. They also belong to the Vermont Beekeeper ’s Association and the Eastern Apiary Society, and recently attended a conference at UVM that hosted attendees from 26 states and several countries, including Ireland and New Zealand. At the conference, the Willard’s Vermont wildflower honey flew away with first-place awards in three categories — extracted honey in the light division; the black jar award, which is judged solely on taste, not looks; and the cookery division, for Nicole’s almond and honey granola. Mike also won second place in the macro photography competition. People usually don’t get into bee-

keeping to win awards, though, and Mike and Nicole are no exception. For them, beekeeping started as a hobby, but it turned into something else when commercial beekeepers around the country began reporting a 50-90 percent loss in their bee populations in 2006. “It’s really that whole piece about doing our part,” Mike says. “This occurrence wasn’t isolated, it was across the country.” The honey bee apocalypse quickly earned itself a title — colony collapse disorder (CCD) — and biologists began piecing together factors that might be responsible for the suddenly high mortality rate. The story begins with the viroa mite, an external parasite that feeds on bee blood. The dust-speck sized mites burrow into the side of a bee and drop off when they’ve had their fill, leaving a hole behind that never heals. “Viroa mites aren’t necessarily the cause of bee deaths, but what it does do is make that bee more susceptible to bacteria, viruses, pesticides, and herbicides,” Mike says. “It’s really the vector.”

Mike Willard keeps more than 30 hives at Green Mountain Bee Farm in Vermont. Above: A smoker is used to confuse honey bees, allowing easier access into their hives. Photos by Shaun Kittle

page 29_magazine 9/17/12 1:51 PM Page 1

“From an ecological standpoint, all pollinators are important. We could switch to living off grasses, but it’d be a pretty dull diet.” In some colonies that exhibited CCD, scientists found detectable levels of 50 different pesticides in each of the affected hives. The bees were being exposed to non-lethal doses, but over time the chemicals were building up in their wax combs, where honey and pollen are stored. When the honey and pollen was fed to the young bees, the pesticides were fed to the young bees, too, causing their immune systems to be compromised from their larval developmental stage into adulthood. A weak immune system and an open wound combine to form a welcome mat for bacteria to enter the honey bees. By raising honey bees, beekeepers can keep tabs on viroa mite occurrence, and can reduce bee fatalities by changing the honey comb slats every couple of years, forcing the bees to build new, chemical-free combs. But there is more at stake than keeping bees, which are not native to the U.S., alive. Since bees are responsible for pollinating about 130 crops in the U.S., it stands to reason that people rely on bees more than bees rely on people. “From an ecological standpoint, all pollinators are important,” says Bill Mares, former president of the Vermont Beekeepers Association and lecturer for the Eastern Apiary Society. “We could switch to living off grasses, but it’d be a pretty dull diet.” In today’s world, beekeeping is more than a backyard hobby — it’s big business. Professional beekeepers have 5,000-10,000 hives and are hired by farmers around the country to pollinate their crops. They make their money from pollinating, not from selling

honey, but there are risks involved. The cramped nature of large, industrialized beekeeping operations puts the bees at risk of some of the problems typical of large feedlots. “When the bees get to a place like California to pollinate the almond trees, it’s like walking into a flu clinic,” Mares says. “If the bees get sick, they go back and afflict others.” Mares has been working with honeybees, and beekeepers, for 40 years, and has taught more than 500 people how to keep bees. These days, he has teamed up with Green Mountain Coffee to help coffee farmers in Central America raise bees. Since the coffee farmers have trouble earning enough money from selling coffee beans, they can use beekeeping to supplement their incomes, and their diets. So far, Mares says it’s catching on, and even though he admits that more bees are dying now than were dying 30 years ago, he doesn’t think people should fret too much. Bees are resilient and adaptable, more so than mega fauna like cattle, and he is certain their numbers will rebound quickly. Besides, people take to bees, and there will always be people like the Willards to raise them responsibly. “A lot of people have discovered beekeeping because of this crisis,” Mares says. “When they find they can take part in the love and care of these creatures, they get involved, and that puts them right on the cusp of nature, between people and the wild.” To learn more, visit

Secrets of the hive Approximately one third of every mouthful of food we eat has either directly or indirectly benefited from honey bee pollination. In California, the almond crop uses more than 1.5 million honey bee colonies to pollinate the trees. California produces more than three quarters of the world’s almonds. Approximately 130 U.S. crops depend on honey bees for pollination. They include: Almonds, apples, avocados, blueberries, canola, cherries, cranberries, cucumbers, grapefruit, macadamia nuts, pears, pumpkins, soybeans, squash, sunflower seeds, watermelon

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture

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page 32_magazine 9/17/12 2:13 PM Page 1

Country Dreams Harvesting Education: Dreams of farm life become a reality here


group of fifteen children has gathered in the driveway of Country Dreams Farm in Plattsburgh. An anticipatory buzz flows between them, and their eyes are wide and focused. At the center of all the excitement a man wearing a straw-colored baseball cap is down on one knee, his kind, tanned face framed by a long, white beard. George Weidle is at eye-level with his young guests because he wants them to know how to behave when he gives them a tour of the farm. He speaks slowly and clearly so they know he means business, but his manner is friendly, and engaging. “You’re not going to climb on any fences or gates, right?” His question is met with a unanimous “No” from the small crowd. “And you’re not going to feed your fingers to my animals, right?” The response is another unanimous “No.” Weidle has been working on this farm for 20 years, and he understands that the best way to keep his visitors safe is to make sure the animals are safe. He stands up, and the children follow him to a cart drawn by two draft horses— Renee and her daughter, Marie. “Now, be quiet and calm when you go by the horses, ‘cause horses are big fraidy cats,” Weidle says, his hands on his knees so he can once again be at eyelevel with the children. “Horses are afraid of everything.” The skittish nature of horses is something Weidle is familiar with, and if you ask Country Dreams Farm owner Melissa Monty-Provost, it’s how he came to be farm manager of the 95-acre property. It was, after all, a serious case of horse fever that forever changed Weidle’s life. Weidle was working as a truck driver and mechanic in Jersey City, New Jersey, when he saw an ad for 14 acres of land for sale in the North Country. Frustrated Continued on p.34

Farm Story and photos by Shaun Kittle

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Pictured: Melissa Monty-Provost with George Weidle. Below: Cameron and Dallas Kittle make their way through a corn maze, one of the autumn offerings at Country Dreams Farm. For more activities and events, visit

Continued from p.32

with city life, he got into his truck and drove north, in the middle of January, and bought the property without thinking twice. He soon found a job working as a mechanic for a local trucking company, but this time, he was surrounded by farms and forests instead of parking lots and buildings. “Life up here is different,” Weidle says. “It’s better than therapy.” One day, about 25 years ago, Weidle was at work and he noticed a pony wandering around outside. He knew it belonged to MontyProvost, the woman across the street, so he caught the animal and gave her a call. She thanked him and headed out, but failed to mention an important detail—the pony had a bad habit of biting men. “He was pretty mad when I got there, so I told him that a bite from a horse causes horse fever, and that there is no known cure,” MontyProvost says, laughing. Weidle was immediately concerned that he had contracted the strange illness from the pony bite, so Monty-Provost explained the side effects: Once you’ve been bitten, you’re overcome by an unquenchable urge to have horses in your life. It took a few years of doing repairs and other odd jobs for MontyProvost before Weidle finally succumbed to the diagnoses. Now, 19 years after he began working at Country Dreams Farm, he helps care for 20 horses, but that’s not all. The farm is also home to 60 chickens, 30 goats, five cows, three pot-bellied pigs, and a few sheep. The animals are certainly a draw for visitors, and children especially enjoy having a goat pluck an ear of corn out of their flattened hands, but Monty-Provost and Weidle have a goal beyond entertaining — they want people to make the connection between farming and where their food comes from. “A lot of people think their food comes from the grocery store,” Monty-Provost says. “When I pull a roast from my freezer, I know exactly where it came from. I think about that animal, and know it lived a good life.” Giving their animals a good life is important to Monty-Provost and Weidle. All of the farm’s inhabitants are free-range, and are raised without the use of antibiotics or growth hormones. Monty-Provost wants people to understand that they do have a choice when it comes


to food, and that they can support the local economy in the process, too. “We want to show people the importance of raising good food and teach them that if we can do it, they can do it,” Monty-Provost says. What Monty-Provost and Weidle really offer visitors is a chance to sample the portion of farm life of their choosing. Guests can go on a tour of the farm, learn to make apple-cider muffins using local ingredients, shell corn and feed it to the animals, or take a lesson in candle making, rope making, or blacksmithing. “One guy had a basic knowledge of horses, so he came up and spent a day horse logging with George,” Monty-Provost says. “We’re not just one thing. If you’re adventurous, you never know what you’ll find going on here.” Some days Monty-Provost and Weidle might be harvesting corn, other days they could be attending to the birth of a goat, but today, it’s all about the school field trip. Weidle grabs the reigns and uses them to guide the horses down a well-worn dirt road. The wagon gently rocks to the rhythm of the earth beneath its wheels, and the children’s eyes reflect fields occupied by pumpkins and donkeys. Weidle points to a one-year-old mule and says its name is Holly. A little girl perks up, exclaiming, “Holly’s a good name!” Weidle smiles in response. He is hoping that every impression he makes on people is a lasting one, one that helps inspire them to support the way farming has been done for generations.

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page 42_magazine 9/20/12 1:24 PM Page 1

Horse rescue gives unwanted animals a second chance on life By John Gereau

Natalia DeValinger poses with Johnny Cash, a horse that was rescued by Adirondack Equine Center & Horse Rescue. Photo by John Gereau

Continued on p.44

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page 44_magazine 9/20/12 3:19 PM Page 1

Griffin Ward spends a bit of quality time with two of the rescue horses at Adirondack Equine Center & Horse Rescue. Griffin, of New Jersey, was celebrating his 12th birthday on a trail ride with his mom Julia. Photo by John Gereau

It’s contagious, saving a horse from cruelty or slaughter. Life should be about making a difference — about leaving this world a better place than we found it. We are making a difference, one animal at a time.


cool, late August breeze blew through the grounds of the nordic complex at Mt. Van Hoevenberg as Natalia and Travis DeValinger worked to saddle up the rank and file who anxiously waited to experience the region’s beauty on horseback. At the same time, few of the riders were aware that these composed, sturdy animals were once destined for a life of cruelty or the slaughterhouse floor. It’s been said the eyes are the gateway to the soul. Perhaps nowhere is that more evident than in the gaze of these creatures, who seem to understand their fate would have been different had they not been given this second chance. And they embrace it. “It’s contagious, saving a horse from cruelty or slaughter,” Natalia said with a deep smile. “Life should be about making a difference — about leaving this world a better place than we found it.” “We are making a difference, one animal at a time.” The concept of rescuing horses for use in their trail riding business began in 2006 when the DeValingers answered an ad in Want Ad Digest for a Belgian mare. When they arrived they found the animal diseased, emaciated and malnourished, more than 500 pounds underweight. Her 3-month-old foal by her side was in similar condition. “The foal was a rack of bones, you could actually pick her up, which you shouldn’t have been able to do with a horse of her age,” Natalia said. The couple knew what they had to do and decided to nurse the two animals back to health. From that moment on their life’s work became helping to reduce the unwanted horse population, and


— Natalia DeValinger, co-owner of Adirondack Equine Center & Horse Rescue

Adirondack Equine Center & Horse Rescue was born. Rescuing unwanted horses comes with its own host of challenges. Many are in need of expensive medical care and have been abused and neglected, their owners casting them off because they can no longer afford the nearly $3,000 a year it costs to care for a horse. The floundering economy has compounded the problem. The number of abandoned horses is at an all-time high — which is where the slaughter brokers enter the picture. The demand for horsemeat for human consumption in places like Europe and Asia is high. It can fetch up to $20 a pound in these markets, where it is considered a delicacy, making its export a tantalizing business opportunity to American buyers. While the slaughter of horses for human consumption is not legal in the U.S., that is not the case in nearby countries like Canada and Mexico. The seven federally licensed slaughterhouses in Canada alone butcher more than 100,000 horses annually, and there is nothing stopping American buyers from exporting them there. Through mid-July of this year, nearly 400,000 horses had been exported from the United States for slaughter. That compares to just 286,000 in 2011. One of the largest horse auctions in the Northeast takes place in New Holland, Pa. Some are saved by ranchers and horse rescue organizations like Adirondack Equine, but a vast majority — more than 80 percent — are purchased for slaughter, as many as 300 per week. It is a stark reality few in this country have knowledge of, Travis said. “People simply don’t know it is happening until you put it in front of them,” he said. Continued on p.46

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page 46_magazine 9/17/12 1:54 PM Page 1

While the DeValingers started by taking in what they considered disadvantaged horses, they soon realized the problem was oceans deeper than that. “We really didn’t understand at the time just how deep it went,” Travis said while hurriedly snacking on a late lunch between trail rides. “The more we got into it, the more we realized how big the problem is.” The union of Travis and Natalia seems to lend itself perfectly to their objective of saving horses. Travis grew up on a horse farm in Saranac Lake, and Natalia is a veterinarian technician — sort of the human equivalent of an emergency medical technician —able to administer drugs, start an IV, and diagnose certain ailments. These specialized skills helped the couple nurse the Belgian mare, named Rosie, and her foal, named Anne, back to health. A forage based diet of pellets and hay helped the horses slowly regain lost weight, and antibiotics helped cure a syndrome known as “elephant leg.” Both horses also needed worm medication and each suffered from a painful fungus that attacks the animal under the skin, known as rain rot. Their hooves had also been neglected. “Rosie actually had holes in her hoof, and her coat was literally falling off,” Natalia said. While Rosie eventually had to be humanely euthanized, Anne is now a healthy 6-year-old filly, happy to be stable mates with the 40 or so other horses that call Adirondack Equine home, which is maximum capacity for the DeValingers. “We get calls every day from people looking to locate a horse,”

Pictured above are before and after photos of Rosie and her foal Anne. The horses were rescued in 2006 by Travis and Natalia DeValinger and nursed back to health. Photos provided by Adirondack Equine Natalia said. “It is heart wrenching — you want to save them all, but you just can’t.” While the business is a for-profit, the couple said they are definitely not in it for the money, but rather to do their part in offering a nurturing home to horses that would otherwise not have one. Hay costs alone push the $40,000 mark annually, and veterinarian and grain expenses add another $1,000 a month or so to the bottom line. “We make enough to keep the lights on and the horses fed,” Natalia said, again through a warm smile. “Many people want more — the expensive house and car. There is so much greed in the world.” “But you can’t put a price on how it feels to save an animal from cruelty or an untimely death. I decided long ago that is what I wanted of life.” As Natalia finished speaking, Travis rounded the corner, leading the latest group of nine people back from their hour-long ride. Continued on p.48

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page 48_magazine 9/20/12 1:26 PM Page 1

Continued from p.46

Horses with names like Ranger, Sparky, Luna, Sinatra, George, Willy and Munchie walked slowly and obediently into the staging area, and heads lowered to munch on hay. The DeValingers employ a resistancefree method of training their horses, many of which came with bad habits like biting or kicking, a product of the abuse they endured. But over time and with positive reinforcement, and lots of love, the horses eventually begin to respond, becoming the gentle creatures they were meant to be. Rosie’s foal Anne is a perfect example. “She is such a sweetheart,” Travis said, stroking her mane. The DeValingers, who operate out of AuSable Chasm in the spring, Lake Placid in the summer and provide sleigh rides at the Lake Placid Club in the winter, employ three stablehands. One of the employees, Nick Cunningham, is also a member of the U.S. Bobsled Team. He trains throughout the day, then helps lead trail rides at the nordic complex down the road. “These guys put in 16 hour days, so by the time I get here, they are usually ready for a break,” Cunningham said. Originally from California, Cunningham ran track in college in Idaho. He tried out for the bobsled team on a whim at the urging of his parents, and to his surprise made it. Now, he finds respite from his training regiment working with the horses at Adirondack Equine. “It’s amazing what they do with these horses,” he said. “These horses come here abused. It is not like they can just take them out — it takes a serious time investment to get them to how you see them today.” But, it is worth it in the end, he said. “The horses love people and the people love the horses,” he said. Another employee, 18-year-old Brittany Irvine, said she also believes deeply in the rescue. She has two horses of her own at her home in Bloomingdale. “I think it’s great; it’s a great program,” Irvine said. “You wouldn’t even know these horses are rescue horses. They are just super to work with.” What does the future hold for the DeValingers? The couple most definitely plans to continue rescuing unwanted horses, and hopes to someday turn the operation into a not-forprofit, raising the funds needed to help more animals. Meanwhile, a larger indoor arena would be a welcome addition to the couple’s farm in AuSable. The arena would allow more teaching opportunities to youth, Natalia said. A children’s camp is also in the works that would offer “all things equine” to kids ages 7-18. A rehabilitation center offering services to the disabled is another idea the duo is contemplating. What will always be at the core for this North Country couple, however, is the burning desire to end suffering, whatever the form. “In reality, we are all in the same boat, whether we choose to


At left: Travis DeValinger takes out a trail ride in Lake Placid. Above: The DeValingers pose with Dreamboat Annie, a horse they saved from being slaughtered in 2010. Below: Stablehand and U.S. Bobsled Team member Nick Cunningham takes a quick break from his duties helping out at Adirondack Equine Center & Horse Rescue. Photos by John Gereau associate with animals or not, our similarities are very obvious,” Natalia said. “By this, I mean that everyone should make a difference, whether it is saving an injured animal off the road or helping a human child succeed at school and in life — we only have so many years to live, and finding success in helping others should be our number one motivation.”

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page 50_magazine 9/17/12 1:56 PM Page 1

Olympic Center L A K E P L AC I D ’ S

By Andy Flynn

Miracle on Ice Photo by ORDA

Home of the ‘Miracle on Ice’ I

t was the height of the Cold War, and a David and Goliath hockey match between the U.S. and Soviet Union teams during the 1980 Winter Olympics gave Americans hope that we would eventually win the war, at least a proxy war on the ice. With a 4-3 U.S. win, this game was dubbed the “Miracle on Ice.” And it happened right here at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid. That rink where the men’s hockey team eventually won the gold medal was later named the Herb Brooks Arena after the hockey coach who led his team to the miraculous victory. The 7,700-seat 1980 Rink Herb Brooks Arena was originally called the 1980 Olympic Fieldhouse. Lake Placid already had an Olympic Arena, one built for the III Olympic Winter Games in 1932, when 16-year-old figure skater Sonja Henie won a gold medal and the hearts of skating fans from around the world. The 1932 Rink Jack Shea Arena was named after the hometown hero who won two gold medals in speed skating in 1932. His son, Jim, competed in Nordic combined in the 1964 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, and his grandson, Jim Shea Jr., won a gold medal in skeleton during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Lake Placid is the home of veteran and aspiring Olympians. One of its native sons — Charles Jewtraw — was the first person ever to win a gold medal during the Winter Olympics, which he did in 1924 in Chamonix, France. He was the only member of the U.S. team to win a gold medal during those games. With the 1932 and 1980 venues operated by the New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA), Lake Placid still plays host to international winter sporting events. Those venues include the Olympic Speed Skating Oval, Olympic Ski

Jumping Complex, Whiteface Mountain Ski Center in Wilmington, and the Olympic Sports Complex at Mount Van Hoevenberg, home to cross-country ski and biathlon trails and the combined track for bobsled, luge, and skeleton. A U.S. Olympic Training Center and home of U.S. Luge also keep this small Adirondack town in the Olympic limelight after 80 years on the international stage. But, as ORDA says, “the glory isn’t all behind us.” The Olympic Center still hosts hockey tournaments and camps, skating shows like the “Stars in Ice” and other events. The rebuilt convention center opened in 2011 and is the setting for conventions throughout the year.

1932 Arena Photo by Andy Flynn

page 51_magazine 9/17/12 1:57 PM Page 1

Olympic Museum In order to get a true sense of Lake Placid’s ‘Miracle’ and Olympic magic that this town creates every day, people can visit the Lake Placid Olympic Museum on the first floor of the Olympic Center to hear stories from past Olympians. In its collection, the museum has torches, medals, skates, bobsleds and historical memorabilia from the 1932 and 1980 Olympic Games. Visitors can also watch the never released historical 1980 Miracle on Ice hockey game. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The cost is $6/Adults, $4/kids age 7-12 and seniors, and free for kids age 6 and under.

Skating at the Oval

1980 Herb Brooks Arena

Photo by ORDA

Photo by ORDA

OLYMPIC CENTER TOURS Local guides tell stories of Lake Placid’s Olympic heritage up and down the halls of the Olympic Center. Hear firsthand accounts of the Miracle on Ice, learn the secrets of this building, and embrace the only village in the U.S. to host two Olympic Winter Games. Tours are held MondaySaturday at 10 and 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. The cost is $10 per person. Learn more about the Olympic Center and Lake Placid’s Olympic venues online at Call (518) 523-1655.

OLYMPIC VENUES In addition to the arenas and speed skating oval at the Olympic Center, the Olympic Regional Development Authority operates three other venues from the 1932 and 1980 Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid.

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page 52_magazine 9/21/12 3:05 PM Page 1

Tupper Lake NEXT STOP!

By Andy Flynn

Objects help tell railroading history of Tip Top Town


upper Lake is well known as a lumbering town, with lumberjacks and their families living there in the 19th and 20th centuries, lumber mills dotting the shoreline, and logs floating down the Raquette River and piled high on Raquette Pond. Old-timers tell stories about skipping school to “run the logs” on the pond. Transporting the lumber out of town was relatively easy, once the railroads were built. Tupper Lake, as you see, was also a railroad town. The Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain preserves history for the many villages and towns of the 6-million-acre Adirondack Park. And several artifacts — in storage and on display — help tell the history of railroading in Tupper Lake.

NY Central brakeman’s hat Lumbering and railroading teamed up to form one powerful economic engine in Tupper Lake starting in 1890. That’s when John Hurd finished his Northern Adirondack Railroad from Moira to Tupper Lake and opened his Big Mill on the shore of Raquette Pond, where the ballpark is currently located. In 1889, Tupper Lake was a tiny hamlet. A year later, it was a boomtown

thanks to the mill and the railroad. The tracks went right to the mill. By 1892, Dr. William Seward Webb’s Adirondack & St. Lawrence Railway (a.k.a. the Mohawk & Malone Railway) offered service from Herkimer to Malone. Service opened in July 1892 from Malone to Childwold, and the entire line opened in October 1892. Webb’s and Seward’s railroads met at the Junction, known early on as the hamlet of Faust. Today the locals call it “downtown.” By the turn of the 20th century, the New York Central was operating both rail lines out of Tupper Lake. Hurd’s line became the New York & Ottawa, with the train station eventually located “uptown” on Raquette Pond, and Webb’s became the New York Central’s Adirondack Division, with the train station located at the Junction. As Tupper Lake grew in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the town attracted many families to work in the mills, the service industry, and the railroad. Charles M. Laramee was one of those young men looking for work. Born on Nov. 16, 1887 to Abraham and Lucy Rule Laramee in the village of Lyon Mountain, he arrived in Tupper Lake in 1905. His career with the railroad began six years later. Laramee married Bertha Hodge (1896-1974) on Oct. 1, 1914. He died at the age of 86 on July 12, 1974 in Tupper Lake. Continued on p.54


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page 54_magazine 9/17/12 1:59 PM Page 1

Continued from p.52

Tupper Lake artifacts The Adirondack Museum owns several objects that Laramee used while working for the New York Central, including a conductor ’s uniform jacket and vest, a conductor ’s hat, and a brakeman’s hat. In 1911, Laramee started working for the New York Central as a stationary fireman for the roundhouse at the Junction. By 1912, he was a railroad plumber ’s helper for Adelard Carrow, and in 1913, he was hired out as a railroad yard brakeman in the Junction. He worked in the Tupper Lake yards until 1920, when he became a road brakeman for the New York Central, performing that job until 1942. Then the company promoted him to freight and passenger conductor, a position he held until his retirement in December 1957. By the time Laramee retired, railroading in the Adirondack Mountains was on the decline. The New York Central’s New York & Ottawa line was scrapped in the 1930s. Passenger service on the New York Central’s Adirondack Division was discontinued in the mid-1960s, and freight service along the line was halted in the early 1970s. The tracks were refurbished in the late 1970s to transport people to the 1980 Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid, and the line was abandoned soon thereafter. Since the Adirondack Park centennial in 1992, railroading has come back to life along the old Adirondack Division tracks with the opening of two excursion trains. The Adirondack Railway Preservation Society opened a 4-mile Adirondack Centennial Railroad excursion from Thendara to Minnehaha on July 4, 1992. It was operated through the 1992 and 1993 seasons. In 1994, the line became the Adirondack Scenic Railroad. Trains now depart Utica and travel to Thendara. People can also take trains from Thendara south to Otter Lake or north to Carter station. The Tri-Lakes region of the Adirondacks now has its own Adirondack Scenic Railroad excursions between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, opening in 2000. It takes 45 minutes to travel about 10 miles from each station. Thanks to the efforts of volunteers, community leaders and the grassroots group Next Stop! Tupper Lake, the village of Tupper Lake has rebuilt its train station on the foundation of the previous structure (near the Lumberjack Inn). Railfans and Tupper Lakers hope to soon be able to take an excursion train from Saranac Lake to Tupper Lake, re-connecting Tupper Lake with its deep-rooted railroading heritage. I can’t speak for Charles Laramee, his family or all the other railroad veterans from Tupper Lake, but it’s safe to say the return of the train to Tupper Lake would make a fitting tribute to their contributions to the Tip Top Town.

1892 silver spike The Adirondack Museum owns a silver spike from the Adirondack & St. Lawrence Railway’s 1892 opening ceremony. The spike was given to John Black Sr. when the railroad line was completed. He was Superintendent of Right of Way Improvement for Webb’s railroad. The Adirondack rails were laid north from Remsen and south from Malone. The junction of the lines was at Twitchell Creek south of Beaver River. On the day that the rails were joined, a gala celebration was held. Silver-plated spikes were used in laying the last rail, and one was given to Black as a souvenir. The date was Oct. 12, 1892. Knowing this was an historic occasion, the judge

Artifact photos courtesy of the Adirondack Museum

also saved two of the rolls that were served at a dinner honoring the railroad employees. The first train from New York City to Montreal along this line ran on Oct. 24, 1892. For his achievements, the railroad company gave Black a 200-acre farm, 6 miles from Malone. But he eventually settled down in Tupper Lake, at the Junction.

Platform bricks, depot benches The last New York Central Adirondack Division passenger train rolled through the Junction in the early morning hours of April 24, 1965, on its way to Lake Placid. Upon arrival, the train was turned around, and it left the Lake Placid station for Utica at 8 p.m. on April 25, 1965. The Tupper Lake Free Press declared: “The end of an era came quietly.” In 1966, former Adirondack Museum Curator Ed Lynch learned that the New York Central Railroad sold the Tupper Lake train station and its land to Guy Lake, of Tupper Lake. While freight service continued on the line until 1972, the depot was no longer needed to provide services for passengers. Bricks from the platform would be a perfect addition to the Adirondack Museum’s collection. Just think, for some Tupper Lake soldiers who left in 1917 and 1918 to fight on French soil during World War I, this carpet of bricks was the last piece of Tupper Lake land that ever touched their boots. It would be worth saving. People interested in walking on the bricks from the former Tupper Lake Junction train station can find them on display at the Adirondack Museum. The bricks are laid out next to a private railroad car in the “Age of Horses” transportation exhibit. The four waiting room benches from inside the train station — also on display — and the bulk of the bricks were purchased from Guy Lake in 1966, and Charles C. Edgbert, of Utica, bought the rest of the Museum’s bricks from the New York Central Railroad Company and donated them to the facility. The Junction train station was razed in 1975. And now, thanks to the volunteers at Next Stop! Tupper Lake, another station is the centerpiece of renewed interest in railroading in the Tip Top Town.

ad pages 2012 fall_magazine 9/21/12 2:06 PM Page 27


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page 56_magazine 9/17/12 1:59 PM Page 1

By John Gereau

Pictured is the WWII aircraft carrier USS Block Island CVE-21, which was sunk by a German submarine May 29, 1944. On board was Arthur Carpenter, shown below. Photo courtesy of the USS Block Island Assoc.

The story of Port Henry native Arthur Carpenter aboard an aircraft carrier destined for the ocean floor


oung Navy Medic Arthur Carpenter sat on an overturned garbage can in the sick bay of the aircraft carrier USS Block Island, helping pass the time between tending to patients by reading a western that had grabbed his interest. The ship pitched little in the relatively calm Atlantic seas as the crew of 900 readied for a routine evening before turning in. But that calm was about to be shattered when the first of three torpedos slammed into the ship’s thick steel hull near her bow. Carpenter remembers being flung to the floor. “It felt like an earthquake,” Carpenter, now 91, said. “But we all knew immediately what it had to be — a torpedo hit.” It was early in the evening on May 29, 1944. The second world war was still a year from its conclusion. The USS Block Island CVE-21, along with four escort destroyers, were tasked with identifying and sinking German submarines, and her crew had become prolific at it. In just six months, she had played a key role in sinking two German subs and shared credit for two more. Aircraft would launch from the carrier, identify submarines from the air and call in attacks from the destroyers below, along with the Block Island herself. Continued on p.58

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NC Living Fall Magazine_magazine 9/20/12 10:56 AM Page 58

Pictured are survivors of the USS Block Island CVE-21 after being transported to the Port of Casablanca. Photos courtesy of the USS Block Island Assoc.

Continued from p.56

Because of the crew’s tenacity, the carrier earned the nickname “FBI” for Fighting Block Island. But on this evening, the tables were about to turn. Operating near the Canary Islands, off the northwest coast of Africa, heading for the Mediterranean in advance of the Invasion of France, the crew of the Block Island had no idea that a German submarine had penetrated its perimeter and lay in wait just 5,000 yards away. As the sun began to set, the sub maneuverered itself for an attack. Shortly after 8 p.m. the first torpedo hit the ship’s bow. Four seconds later, a second torpedo plowed into the stern, penetrating an oil tank and rendering the carrier dead in the water. Capt. Francis Hughes gave the order to man battle stations, and the crew scrambled toward the deck as the ship lost power and went dark. Before the Block Island’s 5-inch guns could be turned on the submarine, a third torpedo rocked the disabled carrier, and Hughes gave the order to abandon ship. A fourth torpedo missed the Block Island, but struck one of her four accompanying destroyers, the Barr, causing 28 deaths and many injuries. Carpenter, who grew up in Port Henry, NY before enlisting in the Navy, was 21 years old when he boarded the USS Block Island


in January, 1943. For the next 16 months he worked alongside the ship’s doctor, helping perform operations and attending to the ship’s crew. Little did he know that on this night, it would be his own life he’d be fighting to save. But first, there was work to be done. “The patients in the sick bay were the first to be saved,” Carpenter recalled. “We worked in near total darkness, leading people to the deck with just the standby lighting.” Life boats were cut loose and dropped the 20-feet or so to the water as men began to descend ropes dangling from the starboard side, but the handful of boats quickly became full as crewmen scrambled for a spot. One after another, the overflowing boats floated away from the doomed carrier as crewmen hurriedly inflated life rafts. Meanwhile, while others prepared to disembark, Carpenter returned below deck to attend to the last of the sick and wounded, one of whom was a black man with a deep gash on his left arm. At the time, African-Americans were fairly new to the ranks of the U.S. military. Those that were enlisted, like this man, were mainly relegated to service type tasks, like cleaning officer ’s quarters and serving food. Nevertheless, Carpenter saw nothing more than a man in need. “I remember you could see the bone,” Carpenter said, as he calmed the man and dug for his medic bag. “That, and I remember him telling me he couldn’t swim.” After attending to the wound, Carpenter gave the man a shot of

NC Living Fall Magazine_magazine 9/17/12 12:30 PM Page 59

morphine for the pain. At this point Carpenter was among the last crewmen to depart the ship. Also still aboard were the captain, ship’s doctor and a small crew of men who worked feverishly with an acetylene torch to free a man whose leg was trapped in wreckage. Eventually, the decision was made to amputate, rather than allow the man to go down with the ship. Unfortunately, he succumbed to blood loss, and died regardless. Another survivor, 16-year-old Otis Long, witnessed the event and later wrote about what he saw. His account was published by an association created in memory of the soldiers who lived and fought aboard The USS Block Island. Long wrote: “As the ship began to relent to the three torpedoes, the men all began to put on their life preservers and make their way into the Atlantic Ocean as the ship doctor called for help.” “The doctor was trying to free a sailor's leg, which was pinned under flight deck metal that had rolled up onto him from the heat of a torpedo. I witnessed the doctor cutting his leg off. It was the only way to get him out. At 16 years old, that was a little jarring to see. I can still remember him screaming. The man died from loss of blood caused by the amputation. He was one of six who died when the ship sank.” Meanwhile, Carpenter was attempting to escort the black man off the ship, but it became clear that the mixture of panic and morphine had the man frozen in his tracks. The carrier was now just 15 minutes from being swallowed by the sea. With a surge of adrenalin, the 150-pound Carpenter hoisted the

much heavier man over one shoulder in a fireman’s carry, and scrambled across the flight deck. Remembering his statement about not being able to swim, Carpenter finally located a life raft, and dropped the man on board. Following another quick scan for any remaining injured men, Carpenter activated the CO2 cartridge that inflated his life belt, grabbed a line and began lowering himself over the side — but none of the rafts remained, so he let go and plunged into the cold Atlantic. The surface of the water was thick with oil from the torpedo hit to the ship’s stern, and the undertow created from the now rapidly sinking carrier made getting away from it that much more difficult. Carpenter found himself struggling to keep his head afloat. “I wasn’t the strongest swimmer either,” Carpenter said with a wide smile. “And the closest raft was probably 150 yards away. But I swam for all I was worth, and I made it.” He clung to the side of the raft in the dark for several hours, while two of the escort destroyers — the Ahrens and the Robert I. Paine — slowly picked up the cold, wet survivors. “We were all wet, scared and tired,” Carpenter said. “But it was amazing how everyone really kept their composure.” Another crewman, 18-year-old John J. Ward, also wrote about his experience aboard the sinking carrier. He remembered an old seasoned Chief Warrant Officer the crew had dubbed “Ironsides,” Continued on p.60

page 60_magazine 9/17/12 2:00 PM Page 1

Pictured at left: The USS Block Island on trials circa March 1943. Above: The Block Island following the second torpedo hit. Below: Art Carpenter today, age 91. Photos courtesy of the USS Block Island Assoc.

Continued from p.59

who he met up with as he swam his way through the oily water with two crew buddies. “He was a stern old coot, but very fair and reasonable,” Ward wrote. “Anyway, as the three of us were plodding along, who should appear but ‘Old Ironsides,’ complete with his cap in place, moving at a respectable pace. The last words we heard from him were ‘“Swim on your backs, men.’” That advice came because the water was “alive with Portuguese Man-O-Wars, a very toxic jellyfish, which have numerous long tentacles,” Ward wrote. “Anyone who was foolish enough to remove their shirt and/or pants was in for a very painful surprise. Fortunately, we were fully dressed.” Ward’s wristwatch was frozen at 8:40 p.m., the time he hit the water. The last of the men departed the ship exactly one hour later at 9:40 and the carrier slipped below the surface 15 minutes after that. Shortly thereafter, depth charges on-board detonated, nearly sending the Block Island back to the surface. The Ahrens, which sat almost on top of where the Block Island had gone down, was “nearly lifted from the sea” as a result, and many of the survivors thought she too had been torpedoed. After, sitting with her engines idled, the Ahrens was able to pick up sonar noise from the German submarine, and radioed its coordinates to another destroyer, the Eugene E. Elmore. Antisubmarine mortars from that ship sent the sub and its crew to the ocean’s bottom. Until the submarine’s demise, the destroyers aiding the survivors, and even the men in the water, were in peril. “We could hear the explosion,” Carpenter recalled. “And a cheer rang out from the men.” Although six men were killed on board, miraculously, everyone who went over the side of the Block Island into the sea that day survived. A total of 674 men crowded every available space on the Ahrens and another 277 climbed the nets onto the Paine, including Carpenter. Unfortunately, of the six Wildcat pilots in the air at the time of the sinking only two were able to reach land. The other four were never found. The next morning the destroyer escorts containing the survivors made for the Port of Casablanca, with the badly damaged


Barr in tow. They arrived on June 1, 1944 where the survivors were issued Army khakis in an effort to keep the news of the sinking from the Germans. On June 8, Carpenter and the others were allowed to cable the news of the sinking home, and alert family that they had indeed survived. The crew was then transported back to the states for a 30-day survivors’ leave, during which Carpenter married his girlfriend Dorothy Pooler before returning to duty. Less than a month after the USS Block Island sank, a brand new escort carrier bearing her proud name was launched at Tacoma, Washington. The captain of the carrier was none other than Francis Hughes, who gave the order to abandon ship and was one of the last men off the sinking USS Block Island CVE-21. Hughes worked very hard to keep as many of his original crew intact, believing that they showed tremendous courage in the face of adversity. He knew the seasoned veterans would make the perfect crew for the critical role the new USS Block Island would play at the end of World War II. Hughes managed to bring together more than 100 original crew members who survived the sinking of the CVE21 aboard his new ship. And, on that elite list, was Arthur Carpenter.

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page 64_magazine 9/20/12 1:27 PM Page 1

‘Until there are None’

Crown Point couple strive to put an end to the homeless dachshund population


One of the dachshund rescue organizations Hirtle works with — All American Dachshund Rescue — agreed to take the dogs in and place them with foster homes in hopes they could be readied for adoption in a permanent home. All American is in Tennessee, so once foster families were located for the dogs, they had to be driven by volunteers, each taking a leg of the 1,200 mile trip. The final dog was placed in New Hampshire, Hirtle said, with volunteers driving 21 separate legs to complete the entire drive. When Zelda arrived at the Hirtles, she weighed just over 8 pounds. The first two nights she would not come out of her crate and howled throughout the night, but within a week she was beginning to respond to human interaction. And, she was the most social of all the dogs saved from the puppy mill. “It breaks my heart to think what they did to her,” Hirtle said. “But she is slowly coming around with lots of love, and is putting on some weight.” Hirtle has had dachshunds his entire life — between 10 and 15 total — and just “loves the breed.” He and his wife Kathy decided 15 years ago to become involved in helping rescue dachshunds that had been abused, cast off or surrendered by their owners. He since has taken in more than 40 foster animals and helped screen

By John Gereau

ev. David Hirtle relaxed in a large easy chair as his two rambunctious dachshunds tossed toys at his feet, pleading for him to play fetch. As he reached for one of the stuffed objects, a small head peaked around the corner from the next room. And, just as quickly, disappeared. “There she is, there’s Zelda,” Hirtle said, referring to his most recent foster dog. “She has a very difficult time with men — especially their feet.” “What do you think that says?” he added, alluding to the abuse the small dog had endured. Zelda, Hirtle explained, was rescued from a puppy mill in Missouri along with a dozen other dogs. In her first two years of life she had already been forced to deliver two litters of puppies. She had lived her life in a cage with no real human interaction, had never had a toy or been outside. “The authorities in Missouri are cracking down on puppy mills,” Hirtle said. “They said, ‘find a home for these dogs, or shoot them.’”

Continued on p.66

Kathy and David Hirtle with their two dachshunds, Fred and Emma, and a foster dog, Zelda. Photo by John Gereau

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Continued from p.64

and place them in “forever homes.” Along with All American Dachshund Rescue, Hirtle also works with Coast to Coast Dachshund Rescue based in Jacobus, Pa. to help rescue and place dogs with adoption homes. “I’m just glad to do what I can,” Hirtle said. “I just don’t know how anyone can abuse one of these little guys.” Hirtle currently has two miniature daschunds of his own, a 10year-old wire haired dog named Fred and a 2-year-old long haired dog named Emma. Squatting on the floor between the two, Hirtle spoke about how the family acquired Emma after their last dog Fritz passed away from a brain tumor. “After Fritz died, Fred went into a deep depression and refused to eat,” Hirtle said. “He was circling the drain, as they say.” So, Kathy and David took Fred to a breeder in Vermont to pick out a new housemate. When they arrived, 8-week-old Emma strolled over, took Fred by the leash and began walking him around. The couple knew they had found the newest addition to their family. “It saved his life,” David said. “Never underestimate how socially bonded dogs become with one another.” The Hirtles use that bond to help acclimate their foster dogs with their household, and help ready the dogs for their permanent homes that also may already have pets. On average, foster dogs spend about a month with their temporary households “until the right family comes

Kathy Hirtle shows how affectionate little Zelda can be. Zelda was rescued from a Missouri puppy mill. Photo by John Gereau


along.” They make a trip to the veterinarian where they receive any needed shots, are spayed or neutered and are microchipped. When adopted, they often come with a crate, collar and toys. The adoption fee — usually around $300 — just covers the cost of the rescue organization. The foster families conduct a thorough screening of those who apply for adoption, do background checks, speak to veterinarians that may have dealt with the perspective adoptee and then conduct site visits at the family’s home. “These dogs have had enough trauma,” David said. “We want them to go to a forever home. We don’t want to see them returned.” And, it is often heart wrenching to give the foster dogs up, David said. “They become a part of the family,” he said. “It is so hard to let go, so it becomes very important that we are comfortable with where they are going.” Kathy, arriving home from her job at Gunnison’s Orchard, sat in another arm chair and Zelda immediately leaped into her lap, looking up longingly for a kind pat on the head. Kathy took her in her arms. “She is such a sweetie,” Kathy said. “She really needs another small dog that she can hang out with.” If it were up to David, they’d have three dachshunds. “And that would be the third,” he said, motioning to Zelda. Diane Irwin, president of All American Dachshund Rescue, said her organization places between 300-350 dachshunds a year in new homes, nearly 90 percent of which come from southern states like Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee, where puppy mills flourish and the statistics of spaying and neutering are much lower. “Dachshunds are literally raining out of the sky down here,” Irwin said. “We get 5-10 requests a day to take dogs in and there is absolutely no way we can handle that many, so they die.” Irwin said breeders will attend flea markets and sell puppies for as little as $100 apiece. Then, new owners find out that the breed comes with its own unique set of challenges. Dachshunds can be very stubborn, can sometimes nip and bark and can be hard to housebreak. “So, rather than take the time to understand the breed and teach them through consistency and reward, they dump them at a shelter,” Irwin said. Irwin praised the volunteers who open their homes to foster the dogs as well as those who offer their time, vehicle and gas to help transport the dogs from the south to the north where they are much more apt to be adopted. “If it were not for these generous people, a lot more of these loving little dogs would die down here, and they are not paid, they do it out of the goodness of their hearts,” she said. There are any number of ways to help save the unwanted dogs from being put down, Irwin said. People can volunteer to take in foster dogs, can help deliver the dogs or can just donate a small monetary amount each month to help defray costs. Learn more by emailing Irwin at or visit or Hirtle said the dachshund rescue has a simple motto when it comes to saving unwanted dogs. “Until there are none,” he said.

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page 68_magazine 9/17/12 2:03 PM Page 1

Railroads on Parade Story and Photos by Andy Flynn

Broadway set designer plants roots in Pottersville


larke Dunham doesn’t play with model trains. He creates fantasy worlds with them for young and old. He’s the Walt Disney of Pottersville, his magic kingdom packed into one large room, 5,000 square feet, five different worlds that take you back in time. Railroads on Parade is a time machine. Pottersville’s latest seasonal tourist attraction — Railroads on Parade — is the brainchild of Clarke Dunham, who operates the business with his wife, Barbara. It’s open May to October. “This is a rather complex mom and pop when you get right down to the thing, and yet we still run it that way, and our staff has been with us now for 20 years,” Clarke said. At ages 75 and 74, respectively, Clarke and Barbara also operate Dunham Studios, building model train exhibits for others and set designs. Clarke’s been a designer since 1955. Educated at the Polakov Studio of Stage Design and the Tyler School of Fine Arts of Temple University, he has been the designer of scenery, lighting and/or projections for more than 350 productions on Broadway, Off-Broadway, London’s West End, theaters in Paris and Amsterdam, international opera companies, U.S. regional theaters and summer stock. Just two years ago, he created a rotating set for “Madama Butterfly” at the San Francisco Opera.

‘The Station’ & the Adirondacks Originally from Philadelphia, the Dunhams eventually moved to New York City. Clarke worked for NBC Television from 1979 to 1982 as a staff scenic artist for shows such as “Saturday Night Live,” Steve Martin specials and “Another World.” He also designed sets for Broadway and was a Tony Award-nominee twice for set design, for “End of the World” in 1984 and “Grind” in 1985. Then, in 1987, he designed “The Station” model railroad exhibit for the Citigroup Center ’s atrium in Manhattan, which was set up during the Christmas holiday season. “Originally ‘The Station’ exhibit was supposed to be a one-year project for Citibank and then it would go to the dump,” Dunham said. “They expected 30,000 people and got 141,000 people, and somebody decided, ‘Maybe we better do this again.’” And so they did, on and off until 2008, when the Great Recession gripped the nation. Citigroup Inc. collected a $45 billion bailout from the federal government, laid off more than 50,000 employees and shut down “The Station” for good, saving an estimated $240,000 a year, according to Bloomberg News. “The Station” features three sets of tracks on different levels, using separate scales of model trains. The journey takes the visitor from Weehawken, N.J. in 1945 to Generak, N.Y. in 1955, a Catskill Mountains logging operation in 1955 and the Adirondack Mountains in 1955. The reason Clarke chose Weehawken over Manhattan is the skyline. When you’re in Manhattan, you don’t see the skyline of New York City’s tallest buildings, but in Weehawken, you do. At one time, Dunham Studios was located in Glens Falls in a building behind the Post-Star. They were looking for a place to put their staff, because they brought their entire Broadway crew to Warren County to work on the train exhibits. Continued on p.70

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page 70_magazine 9/17/12 2:04 PM Page 1

Continued from p.68

“And, of course, the townhouses that we had rented on Lake George for $350 a month were now $800 a week in season,” Clarke said. “So we started looking around and nobody would rent to us.” Finally, they got a call from a real estate agent in Chestertown, which was far beyond any place they intended to look. “In fact, I had drawn circles around Glens Falls on a map, and this was just outside the last circle,” Clarke said. “But she showed us this place.” The place was a Victorian log cabin, what Barbara calls a mini Great Camp. “It was built in the 1850s, added on to and modernized in 1900, had a three-hole outhouse and a two-hole outhouse, but it did have plumbing,” Barbara said. “It did have a bathroom by the time we got there. We just absolutely fell in love with it, and in six weeks, we were there with the whole staff and starting work.” Dunham Studios moved into the garage, which the company quickly outgrew. “We started out with a 600-square-foot garage, which is now 8,000 square feet, three buildings interconnected, quite an exhibit establishment in and of itself,” Clarke said. Although the town of Chester wasn’t their first choice, the Dunhams have found their own Heaven on Earth in the Adirondacks.

Railroads on Parade In 2011, the Dunhams opened their Railroads on Parade attraction at 7903 Route 9 in Pottersville. It features five displays: The Station, the Hell Gate Bridge, Park Avenue/Subways, the Prince Edward Island Railway, and the 1939 World’s Fair. Railroads on Parade got its name from the 1939-1940 World’s Fair, held at Flushing Meadows, Queens, in New York City. “Now this is the 1939-1940 World’s Fair,” Barbara said. “When Clarke was a little boy, his grandparents took him to see it, and he keeps describing looking up at these immense trains. And that was the trains in the Railroads on Parade exhibit in which there were what they called dancing locomotives. Now they don’t really dance; they come forward, meet each other and back, each line of trains being from a different era in American trains.” Visitors can see the dancing locomotives in Clarke’s World’s Fair design. What they don’t see is the historical context in which the World’s Fair was held.


“It was an extraordinary fair because ’38, ’39, ’40 — these were very bad years in Europe,” Barbara said. “This was the rise of Hitler. You had Mussolini. You had Franco. People needed an escape. This was their escape for a few hours or a few days.” Visitors also don’t see the indoor exhibits, of which Clarke has fond memories. “There was a huge model train exhibit at Railroads on Parade as well,” Clarke said. “And I recall, again years afterward, drawing pictures of trains on high bridges. Well, of course, the bridges were no higher than the bridges you see over there (pointing to the Hell’s Gate Bridge), if they were even that high, but I was that high (holding his hand waist high).” When he designed “The Station,” it’s that same feeling of awe, with the O, the S, and the HO scale trains going back toward the wall. That was no accident; he designed it with small children in mind. “And those trains that are actually below our eye level are actually eye level for a 5-year-old,” Clarke said. “So imagine one of these guys coming right at you on eye level. And it’s a very different experience, an important one.”

The experience There’s a lot going on in one room for the eyes and ears. Visitors first walk into a wall of sound and are soon enveloped by the din of 50 tiny trains and trollies scooting around 2,500 feet of track. That’s almost half a mile or seven football fields long with trains including the New York Central, Pennsylvania Railroad, Reading, Southern, even Thomas the Train. There are hundreds of buildings, thousands of trees and “millions of memories.” See a man painting a billboard and a farmer with his tractor and animals. Visit a fairground or a cabin in the Adirondacks. Watch railroad machinists using a welding torch on a train. Look for a psycho at the Bates Motel. Or stop by a drive-in theater and watch Gary Cooper in the movie “High Noon.” But why is the movie subtitled in a different language? “I’m going to refuse to answer that because it’s not supposed to be subtitled,” Clarke said. And the movie only plays at night, when the lights dim in the Railroads on Parade exhibit space. The entire room is transformed into a nighttime scene, with lights turning on in buildings and on the street. Several minutes later, the room slowly turns into daytime. “People keep asking us, ‘What is it about model trains? What is it that makes them magical?’” Clarke said. “And the only answer that I’ve ever been able to come up with is that it lifts you out of your moment and puts you in another moment which is perhaps better or more interesting, but whatever it is, it’s magical.” The Dunhams have a knack for educating the public by way of arts and entertainment. They keep making plans, and as many their own age are living in retirement homes and golfing every day, the Dunhams continue to run their mom-and-pop shop as they always have, and always will. “I have no intention of stopping,” Clarke said. “I’ll fall over someday and that will be the end of it. The idea of retirement is sort of my idea of suicide. You’ve got to do this because you’ve got to do it, this or theater, it doesn’t matter what it is.” (Learn more at or call 518-623-0100.)

ad pages 2012 fall_magazine 9/21/12 3:14 PM Page 35

Your Place of Worship If you are visiting our area, we invite you to visit one of our local church services in Essex, Clinton & Franklin Counties

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Fr. Mark Reilly

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page 72_magazine 9/17/12 2:08 PM Page 1

Just the artifacts, ma’am Objects come to life with stories of Warrensburg


hether it’s the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain By Andy Flynn Lake or the Warrensburgh Museum of Local History, these institutions collect artifacts from our past and help tell the story of Adirondack frontier towns such as Warrensburg, which was founded in 1817. Located on the Schroon River near its confluence with the Hudson River, the town of Warrensburg has a rich history in logging, agriculture, commerce, outdoor recreation, and hospitality. It is one of the gateways to the 6-million-acre Adirondack Park.

Acme Leader Cooking Stove The region’s first mega-retailers came in the form of mail-order catalogs, such as Montgomery Ward and Sears, Roebuck and Co. in the late 1800s. Why? Because of needs and budgets. One stove from Warrensburg in the Adirondack Museum’s collection helps tell the story of this early form of local-versusnational retail competition. The local general store most likely sold stoves for cooking and heating, but the Chicago- based Sears, Roebuck and Co. offered products at “greatly reduced prices” (what WalMart calls

Photo by Richard Walker, courtesy of the Adirondack Museum

“rollbacks”), thereby making the catalogs a preferred means to save money for American families on farms and in small towns. In its 1908 catalog, Sears printed a testimonial letter from C.A. Zarker, of Lykens, Pa., thanking the company for its quality stoves: “Gentlemen:—I have in use one of your Acme Sunburst Double Heaters. It is the most beautiful heater I have ever seen and is satisfactory in every way. We have been using one of your Acme Royal Ranges and a Minnesota Sewing Machine. Either of them would have cost here double what you charged.” Continued on p.74

Warrensburgh Historical Society mural


Photo by Andy Flynn

ad pages 2012 fall_magazine 9/21/12 1:47 PM Page 36


page 74_magazine 9/17/12 2:08 PM Page 1

Continued from p.72

Warrensburg artifacts The Wehrle Brothers in Newark, Ohio manufactured the Acme stoves sold by Sears, Roebuck and Co. In 1908, the Wehrle Brothers (William and August) operated the “largest stove foundry in the world,” according to the catalog. Sears sold a number of stoves in the Acme line, including the Acme Rover, Acme Progress, Acme Giant, Acme Champion, Acme Pet, Acme Moose, Acme Hummer (a six-hole steel range stove), and Acme Leader. The Adirondack Museum’s Acme Leader cooking stove from Sears, Roebuck and Co., dates to the early 1900s. With four burners, it is a small, iron stove at 30.5 inches tall, 26.5 inches wide and 45.5 inches deep. It burned wood or coal and was used by Lucy Latham at 18 Horicon Ave. in the Warren County hamlet of Warrensburg until 1957. Hugh and Ruth Latham Trenary donated the Acme Leader stove to the Adirondack Museum in December 1966 in the memory of the Fred Latham family. Fred was Lucy’s brother.

Fire tower string map People will go to great lengths to protect the Adirondack Forest Preserve. Franklin K. Wheeler did in 1946. He became a forest ranger. The New York state forest ranger corps — with the Conservation Department and then with its successor, the Department of Environmental Conservation — is on the front lines of forest protection in the Adirondack Park. Wheeler embarked on his forest ranger career on May 6, 1946, and his duties included fire control, inspection of lumbering operations and administration of state-owned lands. Sixty years later, the Adirondack Museum received a donation of artifacts from Wheeler ’s conservation career. His son and daughter-in-law, Charles and Patricia Wheeler of Lake George, gave a handful of objects to the museum in September 2006 in the memory of the Franklin K. Wheeler family. The artifacts include a fire protection string map of Warren County. The National Survey, of Chester, Vt., published this “Recreational Map of the Lake George Area and Warren County, New York” dating to 1949. This topographical map was turned into a string map and used to help locate forest fires. Five towers are located on the map with a string attached to a tiny, circular sticker placed on the location of each tower on top of a mountain. All 360 degrees, placed in 5-degree increments, are printed around each tower with lines, resembling the rays of the sun. The degree numbers, in 10-degree increments, are printed on the inner part of the lines, with the 360-degree mark at north.

Artifact photos courtesy of the Adirondack Museum

The five towers were located on: Prospect Mountain in the Warren County town of Caldwell (the town’s name was changed to Lake George in 1962); Black Mountain in the Washington County town of Dresden; Hadley Mountain in the Saratoga County town of Hadley; Crane Mountain in the Warren County town of Johnsburg; and Pharaoh Mountain in the Essex County town of Schroon. New York state began erecting wooden fire towers in 1909 and started replacing them with steel structures in 1915. They were deemed obsolete after aerial detection was used. String maps were used on the ground by a forest ranger to cross reference a fire from the towers using triangulation. Franklin K. Wheeler was born on Aug. 31, 1909 in Gull Bay in the Washington County town of Putnam, bordering the eastern shore of Lake George. He ended his forest ranger career in 1971, retiring from the DEC in 1976. He died on Aug. 28, 1997 at the age of 87. New York State forest rangers provided an honor guard during his funeral. He is buried in the Warrensburg Cemetery.

Warrensburg hearse On Oct. 31, the ghosts of the dead return to earth in the Warrensburg Cemetery. Well, some do anyway. Members of the Warrensburgh Historical Society hold their annual Historic Graveyard Walks on Halloween, giving tours of the Warrensburg Cemetery with a spotlight on the dead. An artifact at the Adirondack Museum helps tell the story of the men who literally put many of the Warrensburg Cemetery residents in the ground: Berry W. Woodward (1876-1948), a funeral director in Warrensburg in the early 20th century who is buried in the cemetery; and Cassius “Cass” McCloskey (19011976) and Lee Orton, who bought Woodward’s funeral business after his death. All three of these funeral directors share a history with a horse-drawn hearse. This hearse is currently on display in the museum’s “Roads and Rails: Everyday Life in the Age of Horses” exhibit. It is displayed on runners for winter travel but also came with wheels for summer travel. Constructed by the George Brownell Company of New Bedford, Mass. around 1890, Woodward purchased it second-hand for his Warrensburg funeral home. It then passed to McCloskey and Orton, who gave it to the museum in 1957. Museum curators have placed a wicker removal basket inside the hearse for display. It was constructed around 1880 by German furniture maker Alfred Hurt in Brant Lake and was used for more than 70 years, transporting people from the place of death to the Barton Funeral Home in Chestertown. It was donated by Almon Scott of the Barton Funeral Home. For more information on Warrensburg history, visit the Adirondack Museum ( or the Warrensburgh Museum of Local History (

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ad pages 2012 fall_magazine 9/21/12 1:45 PM Page 38

In 2012 For The 11th Year In A Row!


NCL FALL 2012  
NCL FALL 2012  

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