Adirondack Memories and Campfire Stories
By William J. O'Hern
If you’ve spent any time rambling New York’s north country roads, you may have wondered how Lake of the Broken Heart got its name, or how little towns like Schroon Lake and Chateaugay and Redford came to be before the north became a tourist haven. Where was that narrow-gauge railroad your grandfather told you about? What about the steamboats? Maybe you’re still holding out for the possibility of a sea serpent in Lake Champlain, or hoping you’ll chance upon a legendary lost silver mine while you’re out enjoying a hike in the balsam wood. This is the sort of interesting and sometimes unusual information that readers of Adirondack Memories and Campfire Stories will find fascinating. O’Hern has compiled first-hand stories from an invaluable series of little quarterly magazines that native Adirondack archivist, historian, and folklorist George Glyndon Cole published from 1946-1974. Few complete collections now exist, in less than a handful of North Country libraries, but back then readers eagerly anticipated each new issue. Some readers will remember reading North Country Life, later called York State Tradition, from cover to cover. It was exciting indeed to read about one’s own rural region, especially when the articles came straight from the pens and hearts of one’s neighbors. Here you’ll find everything from fireside legends to tall tales to weird beliefs of early north-country folks. Amusing and sometimes electrifying reading, and if you pass some of these tales along at a future campfire, you’ll be part of a long and important tradition. Author William “Jay” O’Hern is to be admired for collecting the articles and stories that comprise Adirondack Memories and Campfire Stories, for they might otherwise be lost to time as more and more copies of Glyndon Cole’s magazines disappear. His book is an illuminating read and a valuable resource that belongs on the shelf of everyone who loves Adirondackana.