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Adirondacks help health

April 10, 2011
By DON WILLIAMS , The Leader Herald

I was invited recently to the Turning Stone convention center in Verona to give a talk to the New York State Parks and Recreation Association on "History, Humor, and Health in the Adirondacks." In the newspaper columns, I sometimes raise up the idea that the Adirondacks are a "health-giving" place in many ways. They have a long history in doing so.

Native Americans "summered" in the Adirondacks and found the healing springs some 400 years ago. They took Sir William Johnson, the Baronet from Johnstown up to the fringes of the Adirondacks and showed him the health-giving mineral springs. He then wrote to Philip Schuyler to tell him of the "amazing healing springs." Others were to follow in finding these health-giving features of the forested mountains and lakes of New York.

I dug out some of my previous articles on "healthy Adirondacks" and found that I had written some 10 or so articles on the subject in the last 22 years. In fact, the first article that began this column was on the healthy Adirondacks. I know everybody likes to talk about their health.

The articles included those on the findings on health, the health-giving features, the healing waters, the great wilderness feelings, healthy benefits, TB research, famous visitors, and Adirondack medicines including ginseng, spruce gum and skunk oil. In my estimation, we humans require that contact with nature and there is no better place to get it than the Adirondacks.

John Burroughs made his Adirondack foray in 1863. He was a 26-year-old nature lover and he recorded his Adirondack impressions in "WAKE ROBIN," nickname for the trillium flower. He found a "wordless intercourse with rude nature," and felt the "health and vigor in her veins."

The Reverend W. H. H. Murray, famous minister of Boston's Park Street Church, told us about the healthy Adirondacks in his 1869 book, "ADVENTURES IN THE WILDERNESS."

"I visit the Adirondacks and urge others to do so, because I deem the excursion eminently adapted to restore impaired health," he advised. It is a suggestion that is still good for today's world. Murray also found that "no portion of our country surpasses, if indeed any equals, in health-giving qualities, the Adirondack Wilderness!"

From the days of the Native Americans seeking out the pine tree bark for Vitamin C, to Sir William Johnson's seeking out the Native American healing waters, to Dr. Trudeau seeking a TB cure, to the Reverend Murray's pine-scented air and to the thousands seeking out the healthy waters and air of the Adirondacks since they were first discovered, the Adirondacks have generated a wealth of history, humor and good health. They are right there where they have always been, waiting for us to take advantage of their healthy offerings.

Change is probably the most consistent element in our modern American life. Just a short look back at the ways to yesterday reveals a life virtually foreign to today's generation. Our forefathers and mothers, and their children, made good use of the healthy Adirondacks. They would be shocked at our "indoor lives" and the associated results of that type of life. IME, we need to make this the year of the out-of-doors and fill the Adirondacks with people of all ages taking advantage of the healthy Adirondacks.



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