Not Pleistocene, but …

To the editor:

This ran two years ago when I submitted it. It’s ancient Adirondack history, “just a few years” before the Ice Ages so still relevant to this year’s Winter Carnival in my opinion.


I recently paid my taxes in Harrietstown Town Hall. While waiting for someone to meet me afterward, I looked down at the steps that lead to the bowels of the building. To my surprise I saw the fossilized remains of Nautilidae. These are precursors of octopuses, cuttlefish, squids, modern nautilus and others. They lived in the late Cambrian Period, long before any dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Like cockroaches, the common house fly, dragonflies and sharks, the nautilus that lives today in our warm, shallow seas is a living fossil.

I think it may be an interesting project for some of our school kids to learn a bit about these odd sea creatures that live today, perhaps see some videos of them on YouTube. Then a trip to Town Hall to research when and where the steps were quarried from. What was it like to work in a quarry generations ago? Are there any other fossils to be found where ever these stone steps came from? What else lived n the ancient oceans? Why were so many of these solitary creatures together at once in the rock you see (when they died)? And so on.

A nice way to tie Saranac Lake history, geology and biology together.

Next time you go to Town Hall, look at those steps and try to make out the numerous spiraling shapes etched in the half-billion-year-old rock.

Ira Weinberg

Saranac Lake