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Climate change in Saranac Lake?

November 27, 2010

James J. Griebsch, film producer and well known photographer (and I hasten to add, a native), has put together an amazing movie and still photo history of Saranac Lake. He has spent countless hours in the Adirondack Room of the Saranac Lake Free Library splicing movies and photos to produce an incredible historic motion picture of this village's past.

The first in the Library Lunch Series was Nov. 4, when we were lucky enough, with about 100 other people, to view Mr. Griebsch's work of art. When it is shown again, dear reader, do yourself a favor and get to the viewing, it will give you a whole new perspective on our history.

Many of the people who saw the film were struck by the amount of snowfall that was shown on the streets of Saranac Lake. I often tell my family of how much snowfall there was here in the 1940's when I was a newsboy trying to deliver the Enterprise to some houses where the streets would not be cleared by late afternoon.

Article Photos


Thanksgiving 1896

My copy of The Adirondack, a weekly newspaper dated Nov. 27, 1896, tells a little bit about the weather back then. Before Thanksgiving there had been a major snowstorm. Residents were skating on Pontiac Bay (where ice is cut for the ice palace) and then a note on page one revealed that on Thanksgiving Day the temperature reached 70 degrees.

Before we leave 1896 to tell you of other weather stories, here are some odd page one news items; odd because they seem to infer that each reader must already know what they are talking about for instance:

"Mr. G. T. Hebler received quite a surprise this week. Quite a number of his friends and neighbors come in with birthday presents and told him that he was thirty-nine years old at one o'clock. A pleasant time they had and all wished him better luck in Albany than he had in Malone."


"Albert Hathaway and wife went down to see Harvey Mulligan made happy."


"Marshall Brown has moved his barn across the railroad, could not go around it."


"Eddie Labounty and family have gone to St. Regis Lake for the winter." (Not quite the same as going south.)


"Michael Brennan, one of the most popular bartenders in the Adirondacks has resigned his position in Pasho's Cafe, having received an appointment on the New York City police force."


"J. Warren Pond, Chief Fish and Game Protector, was in Saranac Lake this week." (A fitting name for a Conservation officer in charge of fish but still not as fitting as the former Saranac Lake Conservation official, Greenleaf Chase.)


Heaviest snow ever

Let's jump ahead to Jan. 30, 1925. Here are the headlines on the two lead stories on page one of the Enterprise:

"Village Isolated in Heaviest Snow Fall of Two Feet during Night Cuts Saranac Lake from Railroad and Highway Communications; Train Service Being Resumed with Difficulty through Deep Drifts; Streets Being Cleared Slowly with Wind Continuing to Pile up Blockade"

"Snowbound for the first time in five years, Saranac Lake today grappled with the results of the deepest continuous snowfall the village ever had.

"Starting at about 9 o'clock last night the snowstorm was continuous until the middle of the morning, and conservative estimates average the depths between 24 and 30 inches.

"Although the village has in the past been under snow deeper than today's, old residents are apparently agreed that last night's fall was the heaviest to come all at one time.

"Harrietstown's five-ton tractor snowplow, which happened to be at Saranac Inn last night (now Craig Donaldson, what was our big plow doing out in Santa Clara?) was successfully boring its way back to Saranac Lake today, clearing the road in that direction. The new ten-ton plow of the town of Franklin, however, is tied up in a snowdrift near Franklin Falls."


Old timers weigh in

"Charles J. Greenough, who has lived here since 1872, said it is the largest snowfall he can remember. In 1873 when he was driving the stage from AuSable Forks to Saranac Lake he recalls a 16-inch snowfall early in the winter."

"Frank E. Sheldon, chief of police, who is a lifelong resident of Saranac Lake, considers the snowfall of February, 1898, the year of the first winter carnival, equal to if not heavier than that of the past 24 hours. John R. Hogan agrees with Mr. Sheldon that the 1898 snowfall was a deeper one than today's."


Snow buries Syracuse

"Snow Buries East; Shipping in Danger Syracuse Four Feet Under Snow, Albany Crippled as Storm Sweeps New York State; Vessels Endangered All Along Coast; Five Lives Are Lost"

"Syracuse, Jan. 30 (United Press) - This city is paralyzed today by the worst storm in the history of the city. The state-wide snow squall apparently centered on this locality.

"No street car, motor bus or auto has moved since last night, and the railroads are tied up completely.

"Up to eight o'clock this morning four feet of snow had fallen, and fire companies are unable to answer a single call.

"The roof of a motion picture theater collapsed last night ten minutes after the last audience had left."


Page 1 - Plattsburgh

"Plattsburgh experienced the coldest morning of recent years Wednesday when the mercury registered from thirty to thirty-six below in various sections of the city."


Crisis in nome

"Anchorage, Alaska, Jan. 30 (United Press) - Speed records are being shattered along the frozen mail trails today as men and dogs mushed their hearts out to save the lives of diphtheria ravaged Nome.

"Three-hundred thousand units of anti-toxin packed in special bundles and lashed to dog sledges (sic) are being carried by the fastest teams in the snow country day and night while the mercury hangs at 50 degrees below zero."

Is climate change for real?



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