This Weeks New York History Web Highlights

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Adirondack Rail-Trail: Railway Preservation Society Responds

49511What follows is a press release issued by the Adirondack Railway Preservation Society in response to a decision by the state to reopen the plans for the Adirondack Scenic Railroad route, formerly part of the New York Central Railroad, through the Adirondacks. The state acted following activism by the group Adirodnack Recreational Trail Advocates who seek to have the rails torn up for a rail-trail.

The New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced on June 6th that the State will initiate a public process to review the Unit Management Plan for the Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor, part of the 141 miles of track on which the Adirondack Scenic Railroad operates.  Although the Railroad does not feel that revisiting the UMP is necessary in determining the future of the rail corridor, the Railroad remains confident that the State will once again determine the best use of this public asset is to maintain its designation as a multi-use corridor with a completed rail line and blended recreational and trail opportunities along the completed line. Read more

The Social Fabric: To Knit or Not to Knit?

1885 Delaware River WatershedsThe Delaware Company’s president John Conway (Sullivan County Historian), invited me to speak at the newly formed nonprofit’s inaugural fundraising gala this week at the historic Ardmore Mansion/Mountain View Manor, in Glen Spey, the day after the NYSHA annual conference in Cooperstown ended.

The mission of The Delaware Company is to promote and support the history and historic landmarks of the Upper Delaware River Valley through education, outreach, and fundraising. Also speaking were U.S. Representative Chris Gibson and NYS Legislator Aileen Gunther. The audience consisted of various county and local officials, municipal historians, historic organizations, and at least one teacher, a true sampling of the history community in the region. Read more

New Online Resources For New York History

Apple ComputerHere’s a quick look at some of the latest New York History resources to hit the web:

  • The Syracuse University Archives has completed the processing of the George Fisk Comfort Family Collection, dating from 1822 to 1956, which contains a significant amount of material from George Fisk Comfort (1833-1910), the first dean of the (now defunct) College of Fine Arts at Syracuse University, and was involved in the establishment the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as what is now the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse. The collection also includes material associated with Silas Comfort, a Methodist minister and Anna Manning Comfort. Various items, such as letters and family photographs, were digitized and are available in the online finding aid. Read more

Getting Played: Andrew Cuomos 400 Special History Events

Path Through historyFrom a press release issued on May 31, 2013:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that more than 400 special (emphasis added) events are planned for New York State’s Path Through History Weekends and Museum Week at venues throughout the state&#8230-. &#8220Last year, we launched Path Through History to highlight the rich cultural history of New York and to boost tourism in our state,&#8221 Governor Cuomo said. &#8220This weekend is the start of the Path Through History Weekends as well as Museum Week, which will offer some of the best opportunities for families, history buffs, and students to explore over 500 historic institutions and sites in communities all across the state. I encourage New Yorkers to take advantage of these events this summer.&#8221

Aren’t you excited to know that more than 400 special events were planned for these two weekends and the following week in June? Aren’t you eager to see the results of the all the regional planning sessions and state leadership that has gone into creating the special events? Read more

A Unique North Country Civil War Connection

Plaque 77th Reg NYS Vol NYH1It’s guaranteed that you’re going to enjoy this, another unique North Country link to the Civil War. It sounds like something culled from the pages of Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, and begs the question: what the heck are the odds of that happening?

Though I can’t answer the question, I do recall that in my former employment, it was notable when three men all having the same first name worked in the same department. So what can you say about “The One-Legged Jims,” a group of three Civil War veterans? Read more

This Weeks New York History Web Highlights

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Musician Blind Tom: Black Pianist and Entertainer

3b30858rIn June 1874, music lovers in Northern New York were excited. For the second time in three years, Blind Tom, the world-renowned black pianist and entertainer and arguably the first black superstar to perform in the U.S., was coming to Malone. For years after the Civil War, he had been wowing audiences throughout the U.S., Great Britain, Canada, continental Europe, and South America with his one-man show which was part vaudeville and part classical piano music.

Tom had many talents including the ability to: play the piano, coronet, French horn and flute- sing and recite speeches of well-known politicians in Greek, Latin, German and French- mimic any music a member of the audience might offer for him to hear- and use his voice to make the sounds of locomotives, bagpipes, banjos and music boxes. While singing one song, he could play a second with his right hand, and a third with the left. Read more

New York History Community: A Time for Action?

New York State CountiesThis seems like a very opportune time for an initiative to strengthen state and local history here in New York.

Carol Kammen’s response to Peter’s Feinman’s post on the “Path Through History” initiative suggests creation of an advisory board and the use of electronic communications to stay in touch and inform New Yorkers about history. That is an excellent proposal and the timing is right for a new push in the public history era for several reasons: Read more