Lake George, Lake Champlain, and Their Importance Today

Memorial Day Weekend typically kicks-off the summer season in the Lake George/Lake Champlain region. This past Memorial Day Weekend was more winter-like for many of us, with a cold rain and day-time temperatures in the low to mid-forties. Up north, Whiteface Mountain received nearly three feet of snow over the weekend. Such miserable late May weather put a damper on the number of tourists coming to the region for the weekend, which in turn had an economic impact on businesses throughout the region.

A cold, rainy Memorial Day Weekend serves as a reminder of how dependent the region is on tourists and how important Lake George and Lake Champlain are as economic generators.

This August, Fort Ticonderoga hosts the Second Conference on Lake George and Lake Champlain. On August 10 & 11, nine speakers give presentations related to the history, geography, culture, ecology, and current issues of these two lakes so important to both our history and our present-day life. The target audience for this conference is anyone with a general interest in the history and culture of the two lakes and their continued well-being.

The conference presents three strands: history, arts & culture, and ecology and current issues. Presenters come from as far away as Virginia and as close as our own backyard.

The history presentations include Dr. Bruce Venter on “Hulled Between Wind and Water”: The Attack on Diamond Island, Lake George’s only Naval Battle. Bruce is president of America’s History and summers on Lake George where his home faces Diamond Island. Morris Glenn, from the Board of the Essex County Historical Society, will provide A Short History of the Lake Champlain Bluestone Quarry (1823-1894). Stone from this quarry was especially suitable for public works projects including the footings for the Brooklyn Bridge. Keith Herkalo, president of the Battle of Plattsburgh Association shares In Search of Pike’s Cantonment: A Case Study of Historic Archaeological Research.

Presentations related to arts and culture in the region focus on Seneca Ray Stoddard’s focus on Fort Ticonderoga, the early 20th-century summers spent on Lake George by Alfred Steiglitz and Georgia O’Keeffe, and the history and restoration of Sound Inter Club sailboats on Lake George.

Ecology and Current Issues topics include a report on the State of Lake Champlain, sustainable forestry in the Champlain Basin, and the long-term impact of the historic floods of 2011 on Lake Champlain. Rebecca Pelchar, an Instructor of Art History at SUNY Adirondack, will discuss Farmhouse Summers—O’Keeffe and Stieglitz on Lake George. Wooden boatbuilder Reuben Smith tells the story of the painstaking, careful restoration of the Sound Inter Club sailboats in Re-making History: The Sound Inter Club Restorations and Reintroduction to Lake George.

Presentation related to the ecology and current issues include The State of Lake Champlain: Current Science, Human Challenges, and Future Possibilities by Colleen Hickey, Education Outreach Coordinator with the Lake Champlain Basin Program. Greg Mayes, Fiber Supply Manager at International Paper’s Ticonderoga Mill discusses Sustainable Forestry…Managing Today for the Future. Mike Winslow, Staff Scientist for the Lake Champlain Committee, looks back at The Floods of 2011: Impacts and Long-Term Implications for Lake Champlain.

We are grateful to the South Lake Champlain Fund of the Vermont Community Foundation and the Ticonderoga Federal Credit Union for their generous support of this conference. Their support, along with the support of conference patrons, enables us to offer two teacher scholarships for the conference. The scholarships include covering the registration fee and provide teachers with an opportunity to mingle with the speakers at a dinner Saturday evening of the conference. The deadline for applications is July 1st. Applications can be downloaded here.

Registration for the Second Conference on Lake George and Lake Champlain is now open [download the conference brochure here] and I encourage you to participate in this weekend exploring the lakes in an interdisciplinary, holistic approach. Whether your primary interest in the lakes is historical, cultural, or ecological, there’s something for you in this unique conference.

I look forward to seeing you at Fort Ticonderoga this August at the Second Conference on Lake George and Lake Champlain!

Rich Strum
Director of Education

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