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Nationally-known Adirondacks

December 18, 2011
By DON WILLIAMS , For The Leader Herald

I am like a fish out of water, a city boy on an Adirondack trail, a pig in the cornfield, the proverbial bull in the china shop, or a tone-deaf singer in the back row of the junior high school choir. At the present moment, I finished the last of my Arcadia Image Series photograph books, now at the press, and I do not have another book in the works. Walking in the shoes of the late Adirondack author, Barbara McMartin, I cannot image my daily life without working on the "next" book.

It is a good time to dig out what the national publications have to say about the Adirondacks. I turned to the prestigious National Geographic Magazine; I grew up on the National Geographic in our school library and it is a part of American life. A friend brought me a recent edition; I had dropped my subscription because with all my Adirondack reading I never got time to enjoy it. The September 2011 edition had an article, "Adirondack Park - Forever Wild." Unfortunately, they are a little confused about the fact that the Adirondack Park of public and private lands is not "forever wild," it is the Forest Preserve, state-owned lands, that are constitutionally "forever wild." Take time to read the article, it is a good review of the "state of the state" in the Adirondacks.

National Geographic Magazine began its association with the Adirondacks in June, 1938. Frederick Vosburgh, one time editor, wrote an article on "New York's Air-conditioned Roof" with 24 illustrations. It was accompanied by 10 natural-color photographs, Adirondack Idyls, by Harrison Howell Walker. The article was, and is, somewhat a forerunner of the Arcadia Image books, combining vintage photographs with descriptive captions. My local hero, Nick Stoner, appeared in the National Geographic with a photograph of his bronze statue on the small hill at Wheelerville. The caption refers to Stoner Island on Canada Lake, supposedly, but rightly a myth, that Nick swam underwater to reach the island.

In 1974, the National Geographic Magazine made another Adirondack connection; there, on page 12, was a full-colored Norman Rockwell painting of some young people and their dogs sliding down a snowy hill on their "Adirondack" toboggan, made by the Peters Toy Company in Fulton County. Interestingly, the Rockwell page was only printed in the East Coast editions of the magazine.

In May 1975, the late Anne LaBastille took us to "My Backyard-the Adirondacks" on the pages of the National Geographic Magazine. She called the Adirondack Park, "a country of cloud-splitting peaks, sunny beaver meadows, somber spruce forests, fragrant balsam flats, and trout-blessed streams, clear and dark as bock beer." She visited the Adirondacks again in the Geographic Magazine in November 1981. Acid precipitation had hit the news and she asked, "Acid Rain-How Great a Menace?" Researching the acid rains affect on the Adirondack wildlife, she concluded with a question, "Will the 21st Century be silent?"

There are those who know and love the Adirondacks from coast to coast in our country. It is good that the national magazines occasionally pay the Adirondacks a visit and share the stories and update the news on New York's great wilderness. The next best thing to being there is to enjoy a "printed visit" via a national magazine or an Adirondack book.



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