Tuesday, November 26, 2013


    As you travel around New York State you will encounter historical markers that were erected through a program of the State Education Department in the years 1926 to 1966.   After the program ceased in 1966 there was an effort to maintain a data base of the markers and some associations and organizations continue to erect new markers.  During the days of slower traffic it was possible to even read some of the signs.  However, to read the signs now you have to stop.   In many cases it is a dangerous action because often there is no road shoulder or pull off.   With the appearance of interstate highways, New York State instituted a program of erecting larger regional historical markers at highway rest stops where travelers could safely absorb history of a given region.
   I have become intrigued with reading historical markers wherever I encounter them when I travel.  During our across the USA journey this past July I often exasperated my wife with my commitment to reading and photographing them in the various states we visited.   And I didn't even stop for all of them I saw!!  It is a good thing we kept moving.
Mayo Clinic Historic Marker - Near Rochester, MN
   In the last few months I have had the urge to share the location and information about the New York State Historical Markers with others who might be interested in local history.   So I somewhat rashly decided to photograph all the historical markers in Cortland County.   My first cut was to search the data base for these markers and print off a list of the Cortland County markers.   With list in hand I began the trek to the location of each of the markers to make a photograph and to record the GPS coordinates.  My intent was to create a new data base with pictures and GPS coordinates.    Here is the irony of this endeavor.   By some random chance I Googled Cortland County Historical Markers and discovered that Google Maps had already created a data base of Cortland Country Historical markers with photos and GPS coordinates!   My enthusiasm for this new project hit a low point.   There are two ironies here.
   1.  Of all the counties in the whole United States one might select, Cortland County New York is the only county Google Maps has created a data base for.
   2.   I always warned my graduate students to do a thorough research of the literature before they embarked on a project.   Often someone has done the very thing you are proposing to do.
    Upon further research I also discovered the book, Sure Signs: Stories Behind The Historical Markers of Central New York by Howard S. Ford of  Skaneateles, New York.  There are no pictures nor are there GPS coordinates given by the author.  However, he has provided a narrative  history behind hundreds of sites.  While these narratives are valuable, there seems to be no coherent organization of the information.
   Now that I have gotten over my disappointment about pursuing the Cortland County historical marker data base I realize that there are many other counties in New York State that I can visit to create a pictorial data base of  their markers.   Blog readers, I welcome your nominations of a New York county to work on.   At the moment I am considering, Tompkins, Cayuga and Wayne counties.
   As I complete this blog, I see a whole lot of snow flakes coming down outside.   Needless to say this tough old geezer skier is likely to shelve any historical marker project until after the ski season.
    Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah to all!
Lat. 42.598714, Long. -76.159264
City of Cortland

Virgil - Lat. 42.508767, Long. -76.199519
Lat. 42.628083, Long. -76.152306
Route 13 North of Homer, NY


Friday, November 15, 2013

To Sow, To Reap

   Another growing season is complete and the harvest is underway.  There is a time to sow and there is a time to reap.  During my morning commutes for the last few weeks the fields corn show signs of the harvest.   Many fields have already been harvested and several others are still awaiting the combine.  The photos below shows the same fields I pictured in my May 31, 2013 blog Another Growing Season.  Another cycle of sowing and reaping is nearing a finish.   Our nation is indeed blessed with an abundance of fertile and productive land.  In addition we have a cadre of dedicated agriculturalists who effectively use the land and even preserve its productivity.  Recent changes in incentives for conservation and "factory" farms has introduced some areas to farming that simply mines the soil with little thought of maintaining the land in perpetuity. However, I hope that there will always be a majority or farmers dedicated to sustaining productivity for a hungry world.
Harvest Complete
Ready for the Combine
   In my commute I also pass by an industrial park situated on some of the most productive agricultural land of  Cortland County, New York.   In t he theme of sustainability and continued attention to quality food supply I am disturbed about the use of prime agricultural land for industrial development.  There is a finite amount of quality agricultural land so I fear that some day when it is too late we will recognize that we squandered some of that resource because of the convenience of lower cost construction and simpler infrastructure on level land.   However, back to the theme of sowing and reaping.   The photo below depicts the construction of a major yogurt manufacturing plant.   Perhaps one could call this a sowing of a structure that will demand more milk and thus dairy farmers will reap the harvest of expanded dairy operations and greater profits.  Trade offs?  Who knows?   One can only hope  there is a limit to expansion of industrial and commercial sites onto prime agricultural land.
   The corn will be harvested and the land will lie fallow until the next growing season.   Thankfully there are still miles of land in my commute that will bring forth the green shoots of corn and soybeans this spring.
   My closing thoughts turn to skiing.  With the great new snow makers at Greek Peak, I hope they will be sowing an abundance of new snow on the slopes.   The geezers are looking forward to reaping scores of wonderful days of skiing for this coming season.

More Construction Entertainment?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Swap Day - Open House - Greek Peak

   Greek Peak welcomed skiers and friends to an open house today during the annual Greek Peak Ski Club swap sale.  I spent the morning and into the afternoon chatting with old friends and Greek Peak personnel.  In addition it was a time to get my Season Pass, scope out the area improvements and see if there was any additional ski gear I should add to my collection.
   First of all it was a special pleasure to visit with Nita and Pret Goslee who are my heroes of senior skiing.   They are looking great and I look forward to seeing them on the slopes.   Pret says the we'll know if it is a great winter only after the season is over.   No predictions from the veteran.  The Goslee's as well as my other geezer friends all had a piece of gear in their hands as they left.  I regret that I was not able to score a hit for a suitable helmet to replace the old one.  I guess it will mean another squirt of Febreeze for this season.
My Happy Heroes - Pret and Nita
   Greek Peak personnel all seemed enthusiastic about the new management and the prospects of increased skier days.   The season pass printer was a bit balky but with patience by both the operator and me, a new pass was created.  I hope that the lift attendants will accept the ghostly image on my pass.
    The new groomer was prominently displayed alongside the smaller and older groomer.  Quite a contrast.  From an engineer's point of view it is a magnificent piece of machinery.   The new snow makers were lined up like a row of gigantic praying mantises!   Another red fan type snow maker flanked this array.   My visit to the new repair shop netted a personal tour and explanation of the operation of the new tuning equipment.   The latest high tech automated equipment along with the skilled personnel should produce great results.   I am looking forward to using their services this year.
Mark - Handiwork of the New Machines

Super Groomer!

New Snow Makers Awaiting Cold Weather

    As I was exiting the area I had a chance to observe progress on the new quad chair,  pump house and dam.   Towers are in place and a reel of tow cable is awaiting stringing.   Lots to do before the season commences.   Let's hope that the remaining work is done without significant glitches.
Towers Marching up the Hill - Cable is Ready
   It is thrilling to see the amount of effort going on to make the ski hill a welcoming, effective and rewarding experience.  One can only hope that the hill management during the season is as high in quality as the physical improvements that are being completed.