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Bill Cotter, July 12, 2012 in Community Chat
These are amazing. I am going to Lake Placid on Thursday and, if time permits, would like to drive to Upper Jay to see if anything at all remains of The Land of Makebelieve. I think Hurricane Irene wiped out the castle and other remaining structures in September of 2011.
I really enjoyed the videos. Thanks. It looks like the Frontier Town one was from Maryland, but it pretty much matches the NY look. I got a kick out of the Lake George footage - one of the most beautiful lakes in the country and people jump into a swimming pool. I guess you can heat a pool, though, and Lake George never gets very warm, but it just looks odd. The shot of the kids chasing the robbers was amazing - today someone would get hurt and it would end up in court.
More Adirondacks fun!
Last time I was at StoryTown/Great Escape in Lake George, maybe 10 years ago, they still were doing the bank robbers skit in their "western town". They had all the kids come out in the street and follow the sheriff to help find the bank robbers. When the robber appeared coming out a window above a "hotel" the sheriff would shoot a blank from his gun and all the kids yelled bang bang and the robber did a stunt fall off the roof onto a mat behind a wagon. I imagine they probably still do that there. I think it was every hour, or so. A great attraction that survived all these years.
A real winner of an old-time roadside attraction is Clark's Trained Bears (that's what we locals call it, although it's really named Clark's Trading Post) in New Hampshire's White Mountains. Saw a TV ad for them last night, in fact. Of course, now the bears ride Segways. It's a great place that grandparents went to as kids in the 1950s and 1960s, and is still popular today. They keep improving the attractions, yet it always feels nostalgic to the older visitors.
And check this out, they offer a Segway Safari for $25 bucks. It was $40 at Epcot in 2005.
From their site:
In 1928 Florence and Ed Clark opened a roadside attraction for White Mountain travelers in Lincoln NH. "Ed Clark's Eskimo Sled Dog Ranch," featured guided tours of their pure-bred Eskimo sled dogs and artifacts from the far North. The original "Stand", or Trading Post, offered souvenirs, tonic (a New England term for soda pop), and maple candy to the motorists on nearby U.S. Route 3.
Florence and Ed purchased their first Black Bear in 1931. Clark's Bears acted as the perfect "stopper," a visible attraction, gaining the attention of the curious passer-by. Starting in 1949 Edward and Murray, sons of Florence and Ed, began teaching and training the bears for show work. The Clark brothers and their bears, delighted guests with a healthy dose of wit, humor, and hospitality as they entertained and educated the audience. The Bear Show was born!
"Each performance is unique," Murray says. "The weather, dynamics in the den, audience reaction - any number of things can affect the bear's attention and distract them from the performance."
Doug, are you saying real bears ride Segways?
Yeah, Mike, that's what I saw on their TV commercial last night. I said to my wife, "hey, is that Ray Dashner?" and she said "no, it's one of Clark's trained bears!" Just checked the website... no picture of the bear on the Segway online.
Clark's also has several very well done "museums like their service station and fire station all filled with antiques.
Must be something in the water up there.
Yup, smartwater, Mike!
"The bears were swinging on swings, getting in barrels, riding segways and scooters! They were hilarious. I really love animals and this was just great to see how happy these animals really are!"
They're probably on Youtube, too.
I was in Lake Placid for several days this week and can confirm the Howard Johnson's restaurant is alive and well. I also drove to Upper Jay and there is now nothing left of the Land of Makebelieve other than the entrance building and former gift shop which were supposed to become the Arto Monaco Upper Jay Historical Society. Tropical Storm Irene in September of 2011 wiped out the few remaining Arto Monaco buildings that were undergoing renovation including the fairy tale castle. Everything is gone. It is not difficult to understand why. The park stood in a little valley along the edge of the Ausable River which flows from the High Peaks to Lake Champlain. When the Ausable River becomes angry, nothing stands in its path. Virtually every bridge, guardrail, road shoulder and many structures were washed away. There are always boulders in the Ausable that are the size of automobiles, but the storm washed them all over the landscape and it is not an unusual ocurrence. The vidence of that storm's ferocity can be found at every turn.
It was also interesting to discover that in Old Forge, almost exactly across the road from the General Foods Arch at Enchanted Forest, is an abandoned Howard Johnson's restaurant. It must have become something else in its last days because the roof is green, but the signature cupola and HoJo architectural style are very evident. It is located near the famous Old Forge Hardware Store which sells virtually every man-made item one can imagine.
Finally, the ruins of Frontier Town remain along the Northway. There is nothing to stop someone from pulling into the weed covered parking area and exploring the abandoned motel and gas station or the park itself. It is all right there.
Mark and Trey,
Thanks for those vids. Finally got around to watching.
Those Upper Jay, Saranac and Tupper Lake amusement areas are in my pre NYWF youthful memory register that gets harder to access every day. Thanks for the nudge. I will dive into the 35mm slide box.
And thanks to all who added comments from their own experience of that beautiful region that played a major role in my upbringing!!!!
You know, there is something about an Adirondack Chair. A personality. A friendly presence... You don't see them elsewhere!
Witness the hurtful vinyl straps of a chaise lounge, or the bland sameness of one of those soulless, unyielding poolside mattresses you find bowdlerizing the most exotic James Bondian locale, and that is why they both remain extras in the movie of my life.
But when I see the ultra-dynamic Adirondack Chair, and OH YES, the standard aluminum row boat, ringing like a bell against the dock or during bad weather winched up at a steep angle on the front lawn of the rented cottage, hungering for dad's 15 horse Evinrude, bought after his being suitably impressed at the NY Colosseum Boat Show and maintained at his Transit Mix Concrete, Flushing worksite (periodically tested in a 55 gallon drum, its performance appraised by the local Machinists Union), to be mounted on its transom for a few weeks each summer... well, I imagine those chairs as fully involved participants, not spectators, but a Greek Chorus in my family's yearly visit to...
Adirondack Chairs did not have speaking roles but nonetheless chewed up the New England scenery in all our home movies; just as well; our movies had no sound. What are we, Bell and Howell?
Watch any home movie of that era and tell me those chairs do not deserve a "starring as" credit by any definition. Woody Allen's movies were love letters to New York. John Ford loved The West and Monument Valley. Dad? Well, he worked within budget.
At this point those chairs represent significant fond memories. They are not background or extras but deserve star status as memory triggers in the movie of my life.
Adirondack chairs are amazing. The Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain has a gigantic ADK chair on display. I am not great with relative sizes but that thing is huge. Those chairs are an iconic image of the park. To sit on the shore of Long, Saranac, Raquette, Champlain, Placid, Tupper, Mirror, St. Regis, Big Moose or one of the hundreds of other ADK lakes in one of those chairs is about as close to true serenity one can come.
PS: there is a new book about the Lake Placid 1980 Olympic Winter Games entitled A Longshot To Glory, How Lake Placid Saved The Winter Olympic Games. I heard an interview with the author on the Capitol Pressroom, an NPR interview program devoted to NYS politics. I learned that the man who was president of the Spokane World's Fair was brought into the LPOOC in 1979 when it became evident that the organizers were in difficulty. He arranged for the advertising, marketing etc. for the games.
I believe that was Petr Spurney, who then helmed the 1984 New Orleans World's Fair.
Yes, I believe that is correct. Did not know about New Orleans. He should have quit after Lake Placid.
I think he did a fairly good job at New Orleans based on some of the things that he inherited. I had a very nice time chatting with him while I was researching my book and man, did he have some stories about Louisiana politics!
You are probably correct, of course. Based on the interview on The Capitol Pressroom with the author of the new LP book, the 1980 games were headed for disaster by 1979 especially with the looming boycott of the 1980 Moscow games. That gentleman probably inherited a mess in Lake Placid but was able to successfully turn it all around. That interview, by the way, is available on the website for The Capitol Pressroom.
One thing he told me really stuck with me. The 1984 Fair based their attendance estimates - and thus all of their budgets - on annual tourism figures supplied by the state. The state got them from tourist bureaus located all across the state, often run by local chambers of commerce. The state supplied tourist material - maps and brochures - and have the bureaus a small fee for each one they handed out.
Well - perhaps you can see what's coming - it seems that a lot of these bureaus realized that if they ordered more brochures the state would give them more money to hand them out. So over the years there were literally millions of brochures shipped out and fees paid to give them to tourists - but in reality the brochures were simply being tossed out. There were no controls in place to make sure that they were actually going to tourists. I think Petr told me they eventually realized the state estimates were off by 400% due to this scheme. If the true numbers had ever been known he feels the 1984 Fair would never have been held, as the state just didn't have the tourist draw to support it.
Would it have some accuracy to say that a number of fairs financially failed because of incorrect attendance predictions or inflated attendance predictions? For example, the 1964 NYWF predicted an attendance of 70 million. I have sometimes wondered how they calculated that figure and then presented it to investors. In fact, that number was so remarkably incorrect and it hurt the fair.
I think it is wonderful, Bill, that you have had the chance to meet someone so interesting and accomplished. He is certainly credited with making the LP Olympic Winter games a great success and that beautiful village has lived off its 1932 and 1980 legaies for more than thirty years and all of the venues remain in contant use and are updated to meet current IOC standards. ORDA just completed a renovation of the 1932 arena and a fourth new rink has been built hehind the 1980 field house; A new bob sleigh run, new luge run and another for the skeleton are open and in comstant use--year round.
The IOC has recently stated that Lake Placid has made the most effective and successful use of its Olmpic legacies when compared to otler host cities. Get this: The IOC has actually asked organizers in LP to consider a bid for the new Youth Olympic Games. LP aimed for 2016 but has updated its plans and will bid for 2020. Should they win, and they will, they will actually have MORE winter athletes (aged 13 to 19) from MORE nations than they hosted in 1980 and all winter olympic sports will be available. And LP is an official Olympic training center. I guess it all points back to the original organizers, They did their work very well.
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