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Adirondack basics

August 14, 2011
By DON WILLIAMS , For The Leader Herald

Describing the patchwork quilt of Adirondack country is much like the proverbial blind man describing the elephant. Young and old, insiders and outsiders, find their own uses for that ocean of woods and waters we call the Adirondacks. They are often called "timeless" and each generation has defined their uses to fit the needs of that day. Today, we wrestle with the choices on what happens to this land we love.

The Adirondacks are not just:

forested mountains and sparkling, clear lakes;

a six-million acre park of public and private lands;

the early hunting grounds of the Native Americans;

hunting and trapping country;

once our country's leading lumbering center;

the territory for the Adirondack guides;

original source of guideboats, packbaskets and log architecture;

maple syrup and sugar bushes;

a boating, skiing, snowmobiling and swimming recreation land;

site of 46 high peaks;

3,000 lakes, 30,000 miles of rivers and streams, and countless waterfalls;

2,000 miles of marked hiking trails;

47 state campgrounds;

dozens of preserved fire towers;

the 133-mile Northville-Lake Placid wilderness trail;

designated touring byways, north and south, east and west;

scout camps, church camps, children's camps, and specialty camps;

the Adirondack Museum and the Wildlife Museum;

home of rustic twig furniture makers;

and a land of healing woods and waters,

The Adirondacks, then, are all of the potpourri of possibilities that, put together, produce the most pursued after places in the world-the majestic, unsurpassed, lake-filled, forested mountainsides known to all as the Adirondack region of New York?state.

The Adirondack State Park is rich in history. The exploration of Mt. Marcy in 1837 marked the exploring of the last frontier in our nation. The Park is bigger than Yosemite, Yellowstone, Glacier, and Olympic National Parks combined. Central Park in New York?City was created to "Provide for the poor people in the city what the wealthy enjoyed in the Adirondacks." Some of the oldest rock in the world is found in the Adirondacks and the largest garnet mine in the world is near North Creek.

The Adirondack Park has its rich and famous. Teddy Roosevelt became president in 1901 while on an Adirondack hike. Rudolph Valentino, movie star, vacationed at Fox Lair and world heavyweights, Max Barr and Gene Tunney, trained at Speculator. America's wealthiest families - Vanderbilts, Rockefellers, Whitneys, Posts, Huntingtons, Durants, Woodruffs, Morgans, Brandreths, Litchfields, Garvins - built camps and owned, and some still own, Adirondack estates. Melvil Dewey, Admiral Richard Byrd, John Philip Sousa, Henry Ford, Henry Firestone, Charles Steimitz, and John Burroughs all had their Adirondack connections. And American Presidents have found the Adirondacks a great place to vacation.

The Adirondacks have become, in many ways, a place for everyone. We can all find our own Adirondack connections if we just take time out to seek them. Today, the Adirondacks continue to inspire our artists, to stimulate our writers, to satisfy the sports, and to provide a place of peace in our busy world.



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