Tuesday, September 29, 2009
This NYS historic marker stands just in front of the First Lutheran Church on Western Avenue and notes that it was once the site of The Elms and home to a man who played a key role in the development of the Adirondack Park.
Verplanck Colvin (1847 - 1920) was the son of an Albany lawyer and raised just across the Hudson River in the village of Nassau. When he was eighteen, he received a book from a local poet, Alfred Billings Street. Street's works are largely forgotten today, but he was quite famous in Albany during the Civil War era for his enthusiastic and patriotic verses about the Union and for his numerous poems honoring the natural beauties of the region. The book that Street gave to young Colvin was his own Woods and Water, a memoir of a journey he'd made through New York's Adirondack Mountains.
The book obviously inspired Verplanck Colvin. He spent the next few summers exploring the Adirondacks and, by the time he was twenty-two, he had already conceived the idea of a formal geological survey of the mountain region.
By 1872, he received a $1000 stipend from New York State and was appointed Superintendent of the Adirondack Survey. At the head of a 100-man crew, he led expeditions to Mount Marcy and the source of the Hudson River (Lake Tear-of-The-Clouds), Seward Mountain, Panther Gorge and, in the process, became keenly aware of the need to protect the region from the ravages of industry.
He became an advocate for the creation of a state preserve to safeguard the Adirondacks for the sake of the environment and the economy. His work and numerous writings eventually led to the formation of the Adirondack Forest Preserve in 1885.