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Bill Cotter

The Adirondacks in the 1960s

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There was some mention of tourist attractions in another thread about HoJo's. I thought they deserved their own entry so here goes.

Here are some shots of the great spots kids got to enjoy in the Adirondacks in the 1960s. Sadly many of them are gone now...

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Storytown USA is now Great Escape. Gaslight Village was lying in ruins when I was there around 3 years ago.

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Frontier Town closed for the second and final time in 1998. I hadn't realized it lasted that long.

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Enchanted Forest now has one of the 1964 General Foods Arches

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Sterling Alaska Fur and Game Farms - I believe this is closed

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Santa's Workshop is still with us

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Sadly, the Land of Makebelieve was destroyed in a series of floods

All of these are from a souvenir booklet I bought way back in 1966 while on vacation up there.

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Thanks for that, Bill.

I remember Ausable Chasm, and possibly Storyville from my hazy early childhood. We once vacationed at Saranac Lake as well. We did not have a boat but stayed at a place w a boathouse which I thought was the coolest. This of course is the habitat of those magnificent Chris Craft wooden power boats. I can almost hear them.

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Funny you should mention that. The guy in the next room to me in college had a house right on Saranac Lake, complete with boat house - and a classic boat, might well have been a Chris Craft. We went there one time before the start of the school year. It was a wonderful experience. We were out on day and my friend said "Hey, there's someone you just have to meet!". We pulled over to a dock and had the pleasure of meeting Buster Crabbe. He was as nice a guy as you could ever hope to talk to. As a fan of the old Flash Gordon serials that was quite a thrill indeed. That whole area is great - except for some of the weather...

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There is a wonderful documentary shown on PBS stations about the designer and builder of Santa's workshop and the land of Make Believe, Arto Monaco. The documentary includes home movies of his attractions .. http://www.aptonline.org/catalog.nsf/vLinkTitle/CASTLE+IN+EVERY+HEART+A+THE+ARTO+MONACO+STORY

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"Not in schedule now. Please check back later"

Drat. If anyone turns up a copy please let me know. I have very fond memories of those spots.

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Thank you for posting these images. I know I have said some of this in another thread, but there is a tribute to Arto Monaco at the ADK Museum in Blue Mountain. It is an outstanding museum and they have eight or ten of his scale models for the Land of Makebelieve theme park. Also, the public library in Upper Jay--about fifteen miles from Lake Placid--has several of his scale models. There were plans to turn the main entry building and former gift shop of the Land of Makebelieve into the Arto Monaco Historical Society but there was significant damage to the site during the hurricane of 2011. The park sits in a valley along the Ausable River and when the storms hit, that already wild river becomes an uncotrollable torrent that washes out roads, bridges, houses and towns. I have seen boulders the size of cars thrown all over by that river. In 1979, a severe storm in November caused the Ausable to shred the only east-west road into Lake Placid. A car full of athletes who hoped to be the US luge team for 1980 plunged into the gorge created when the road washed out and all were lost.

Frontier Town still stands--empty and forlorn. It is the Northway (I 87) exit just before Westport and Elizabethtown (this is the exit for Lake Placid). The motel still stands and many of the original structures remain. The Frontiertown train will see new life as a tourist train in central NYS beginning in September in a small town along NY Route 20 near Utica.

Ausable Chasm remains a popular attraction and Enchanted Forest is still very active and has a huge water park. It is the site of one of the remaining NYWF GF arches.

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PS: The comment about ADK weather is interesting. To most, the climate is forbiding in many ways. Lake Placid, for example, has a growing season so short, farmers cannot grow corn. In the 1850's, John Brown was given land near North Elba (just outside of Placid) as a home for fugitive slaves and free blacks. He called it Timbucktu and knew slave catchers would never travel that far north. But it never worked because the farms never prospered and the winters were long and brutal.

Brown was buried on his farm in North Elba after his hanging in Charlestown, VA in 1859. The Olympic ski jumps are very close to his farm which is a NYS historical site. I would add that the soil is thin and acidic. It's a tough environment for any farmer.

By the late 19th Century, wealthy New Yorkers "found" the ADK mountains and many built "great camps"--many of which remain today. Trains brought tourists to the mountains and by the 1890's NYS drew the "blue line" boundaries and created the largest single park in the lower 48 states and declared the region to be "forever wild." By the 20th Century, winter sports found a home in Lake Placid which was the nation's first true winter resort. And LP hosted two Olympic winter games in 1932 and in 1980. It remains an incredible active and amazingly beautiful resort to this day and has made outstanding use of its Olympic facilities and has actually enlarged and improved all of them (a new luge track and bobsleigh run opened just a few years ago).

Yes, the weather can be tough. But there is nothing more glorious that a sparkling, humidity free, crystal clear summer day in the North Country. The autumn months can be beautiful when the leaves begin to change and there is no way to describe the spectacular colors against an azure ADK sky. Winter, at its peak, is like something out of a story book especially in towns like Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake etc. With evergreen garland everywhere, trees lighted for the entire season, ski slopes alive with action and those spectacular mountains providing the backdrop, the region is beautiful beyond words. A sunny ADK winter day takes my breath away. And spring, which is often hard in coming, produces mountain wild flowers found only in Alpine regions of the world.

I love the whole area. I spent much of my youth in the park and I love every inch of the region. If anyone is interested, there is a book entitled Adirondack Country by William Chapman White. Published about sixty years ago, his incredible tribute to the Adirondacks and his celebration of the Adirondack year--month by month--is prose at its absolute best. It will draw any new visitor to the region and make those of us who want to be there feel very homesick.

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Jim, I went to college in the Adirondacks, over in Potsdam. When I first went up there to interview I noticed the digital thermometer in front of the bank said +76. It was unusual to see the plus sign so it stuck with me. Well, jump up to second semester of freshman year, as the bus rolls into town and passes the thermometer, which now reads -24. And it got colder later that night. Or a year or so later when we got 48 inches of snow in one storm - which translated into 8 foot drifts. I love the Adirondacks and go back often - but never in winter.

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Gaslight Village was leveled and removed this year. A Charlie Wood institution, gone forever. Charlie also owned Storytown, which he closed at 6:00 PM. Then, the families would take the kids to Gaslight Village in the evening. Charles got the families to open their wallets twice a day!

A very interesting guy and philanthropist. Worth a Google.

Jack in the Beanstock is still at Story Town, which is now a Great Escape Fun Park, as are many of the classic structures from Story Town's earlier days. Cinderella's horse-drawn pumpkin coach, with Cinderella taking children for rides around a short oval track, the 3 Little Pigs cottage and many more original attractions live on and are enjoyed by today's kids. It's a real opportunity for parents to share the kinds of fun we had back in the '50s and '60s. Lake George also has a Drive-In Theater which does very well in the summer. Another opportunity so share the past with your kids.

I'm not surprised that Gaslight Village petered out in the 1990s and 2000s. We are the last generation to have a connection to the Gay Nineties. We grew up with grandparents that were born in the 1800s and a Surrey with the Fringe on Top was familiar to us, as were shaving brushes, barbershop quartets in striped jackets and musty smelling Victorian furniture.

I recently asked my own 30-year-old son and daughter-in-law if they knew what the phrase Gay Nineties meant. As I suspected, they didn't know. (shame on me, I suppose, for not making sure my son had that historical knowledge, but oh well, at least he knows Roman numerals and can read a ruler!)

One of my daughter-in law's 8th grade students recently asked her what "he drank the Kool-Aid" means. She gave the student a correct answer as to what it implies, but after telling me that story, I asked HER if she knew where it came from. She had never put the statement together with the Reverand Jim Jones, Guyana tragedy. Of course, she had a feint recollection of the incident that had happened two years before she was born, but didn't know the Kool-Aid thing was from that event.

I'd be interested to hear other peoples' thoughts on this "connection to the past" issue.

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I'm not surprised that Gaslight Village petered out in the 1990s and 2000s. We are the last generation to have a connection to the Gay Nineties. We grew up with grandparents that were born in the 1800s and a Surrey with the Fringe on Top was familiar to us, as were shaving brushes, barbershop quartets in striped jackets and musty smelling Victorian furniture.

I recently asked my own 30-year-old son and daughter-in-law if they knew what the phrase Gay Nineties meant. As I suspected, they didn't know.

I think a big part of the Gay Nineties concept being kept alive for extra generations was Walt Disney. It was his favorite time, and just think how many movies were set in that era. Even non-Disney movies, like the original Cheaper by the Dozen, Stars and Stripes Forever and the Titanic epic A Night to Remember (all three of those movies resulted in Clifton Webb getting so tied to the Gay Nineties time it's hard to think of him actually living in the mid 20th Century), and The Music Man (do you remember the Gary, Indiana song?). How about Judy Garland in Meet Me in St. Louis?Those movies made that era seem downright attractive. The Keystone Kops comedies were Gay Nineties as well.

But when Walt died, it all went out the window.

...except for one place. It's kept alive in the Disney Parks with Main Street USA.

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After watching an old episode of Disney's DAVY CROCKETT with both of my young sons recently, they asked me what my favorite western of all time was. I told them it was a film called THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE and went on to give them a basic plot summary of the classic film starring Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne. A few beats of silence followed. And then both of them asked-- "Who's John Wayne? And who's Jimmy Stewart?"

Oh, the impermanence of fame.

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Incidentally, here's a link to someone's 2009 photo exploration of the ruins of Frontier Town:

http://projectabsurd.byethost6.com/frontiertown2.htm

And if you'd like to buy Frontier Town... it can be yours for only $650K!

http://www.bizbuysell.com/Business-Real-Estate/Frontier-Town-Tourist-Attraction-in-the-Adirondacks/639251/

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Wow, that was both interesting and depressing. Mother Nature sure likes to reclaim what was hers.

More at frontiertown.net.

I should be back in that area next summer, and if works out I'll see if I can get by for one last look before it all vanishes forever.

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One TCM movie per day should be required for all children under 18.

They'd learn more in two hours than they'd learn all day in our schools.

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Bill, I know just what you mean! Winter in the north country can be bitter cold. I worked at a summer camp on Lake Champlain for many years. I remember a kid in my cabin had a t-shirt that read: "Plattsburgh: It is not the North Pole but you can see it from there."

That pretty much says it all. Having said this, the NYS DEC has indicated that there are serious concerns that annual snowfall amounts have steadily dropped over the past four decades. Lakes which once froze solid (Champlain, in particular) no longer do so. And annual mean temperatures in winter have slowly risen several degrees since 1970. It is no fluke that Whiteface Mountain (the Olympic mountain) which has the steepest vertical in the East, also has the most advanced and largest snow making equipment on the East Coast. There was a snow drought in 1980 and this has been a recurring problem every few years ever since the LP games. The winter sports capital needs that equipment. Something is happening and it does not appear to be good.

Jim

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My college has a webcam overlooking the parking lot next to my old dorm. I was astonished this year to see NO snow on the ground on Jan 1. There used to literally be several feet of it there all winter. Now much of this past winter there was next to nothing if any snow at all. People can debate what causes global warning but there's no way anyone could ever convince me it's not warmer than it used to be. Update NY gets far less snow than it used to - and downstate it's the same. My old Boy Scout camp runs a winter camping program and we used tol go and actually build igloos up in the Catskills. This past year they weren't sure if there would be enough for snowballs. On Long Island the local lake would freeze solid and everyone would go skating, so the town built a skating pavilion. When that wore out they didn't rebuild it as the lake never freezes any more.

Here in Los Angeles it is definitely much hotter on average than when I moved here 35 years ago. I agree with you 100%, Jim - it's not looking good.

I see cities in upstate NY are now rationing water due to drought. That would have been unthinkable in my years there. The biggest problem was getting rid of all the water. I really fear for all of those beautiful forests up there.

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Cooler temperatures this summer in Europe, with excessive rain. Flooding in some areas.

It seems there there are shifts in the global weather patterns... some get more, some get less. We'll have to see if it shifts back to 'normal' in coming seasons.

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My wife read some kind of article last week that said there is some kind of major planetary event in another solar system happening out there that scientists can't figure out, that is exerting some kind of forces that are influencing our entire solar system... including increased solar flares, and disrupting the weather patterns on Earth.

Sounded a little wacko to me... but who knows? Maybe they'll win a Nobel prize or something... :D

In the meantime, it actually rained in the L.A. area yesterday. In July. Go figure.

Here is a similar article:

http://io9.com/5822097/asteroids-are-making-earths-orbit-and-weather-unpredictable

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I think that the general concept, in the minds of many, is that global warming means every place will just get warmer and that in the future, palm trees will grace the shores of Lake Ontario, for example.

More to the point, global warming does mean changes in the weather patterns we have come to know. It could be shifts in snow bands, rainfall, temperature, the severity and number of violent storms and the like. Upstate New York had the mildest winter ever recorded in 2011-12. Now we are in the midst of the a stunning deficit in rainfall. It is so bad that a local ski resort, Greek Peak (south of Syracuse), may close. What is significant is that it is a year round resort complete with an indoor/outdoor water park and it attracts visitors from NYS, NJ, PA and even Ontario. It employs over 1,000 people in the summer alone. But it had virtually no ski season. What season they did have was cut short by a surprising heat wave (temperatures in the mid-80's) in mid-March so there was no spring skiing at all. It has almost no cash on hand to pay employees and is in dire trouble. There are motels and restaurants in the North Country of NY that are barely hanging on because they had no snowmobile tourists this past winter. The trails never had enough snow. I have no idea what is happening but the seasons in the Northeast have changed in my life. The Adirondack Council and the NYS DEC have both reported a loss of Alpine growth on the some of the High Peaks in the Adirondacks.

Whatever it is, things have clearly changed.

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Precipitation has somehow shifted from the North American continent to Europe. Europeans say it's because of changes in the temperature of the water in the Gulf Stream, which actually originates in the mid-tropic areas (apparently the source for all weather patterns). Any melting of polar ice caps might be just one of the symptoms, but might not be the root cause.

Usually whatever the Gulf Stream is doing is mimicked by the Japanese current in the Pacific, which pushes warm water up past Japan and past Alaska and western Canada in a clockwise direction, exactly like the gulf stream. There are the same patterns in the southern Hemisphere (south Atlantic and south Pacific), pushing in the opposite direction.

I don't know if the Southern hemisphere is experiencing the same precipitation shift... I suppose it would be in the opposite direction- from Africa to South America. If that theory is correct, then Western and Central Africa should be experiencing the same kind of droughts that North America is seeing. And central Asia- like Mongolia and the steppes- should be getting a drought too.

While we haven't seen this kind of shift in our lifetimes, what we don't know is whether these kind of shifts are a recurring cycle in the history of the earth. That article above says it's now impossible to evaluate back across thousands or millions of years because of the effect of those two asteroids. But who knows- maybe the asteroid wobbling or some other event out there is causing the solar flaring and screwing up our weather. And it might be something that happens every million years or so, and it might last a hundred years. There's no telling.

We just have to hunker down I guess. If it lasts a long time, building standards might change- like building Florida-style houses with cool breeze patterns- in places like Michigan.

What's more worrisome is the food supply. A lot of our food in California comes from the Central Valley, and things seem okay there. The Central Valley can probably feed a lot of people beyond California, but not the entire North American continent.

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The Northeast is enduring a drought that could approach the infamous one in 1965, In any event, NPR had a story today about several US cities (Chicago and Salt Lake in particular) which are planning for the results of climate change. Chicago is looking for trees that would better endure warmer temperatures and less rainfall to shade streets and parks, and has begun using a more porous asphalt for paving roadways especially in alleys in the center city in order to keep water in the ground and not in storm sewers. They are also looking at ways to better protect the lakeshore and the beaches in case the severity of storms increases. Salt Lake is exploring ways to conserve water and locate new sources in the face of even more arid conditions than they already have.

Sure sounds as if something very real and very dramatic is taking place right under our noses.

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