TOWN OF NEWCOMB, NY — The Open Space Institute (OSI) today announced a plan to make $1 million in capital improvements at its historic 212-acre Tahawus property in the Adirondacks. With the plan, OSI seeks to improve overall public access to the Tahawus property, Henderson Lake, and the Adirondack High Peaks; preserve and improve its historic structures; and deepen visitor engagement.
“With this Tahawus improvement plan, we are looking to better accommodate the growing number of people coming to explore the High Peaks — and in doing so improve the hiking experience,” said OSI’s president and CEO, Kim Elliman, who noted that OSI’s Tahawus property serves as a southern entrance to many popular High Peaks destinations. “By providing an alternative point of entry to the High Peaks, we are hoping to better disperse visitors to the area and protect the region’s hiking trails and precious natural resources.”
In addition to providing alternative access to the High Peaks, OSI is seeking additional solutions to improve recreational access, while protecting the park and preserving its culture and natural resources. Ongoing projects include the Adirondack Gateway project at the former Frontier Town location; and securing additional acreage for public access at Tub Mill Pond, Trembleau Mountain in Essex County, and Huckleberry Mountain in Warren County.
OSI’s Tahawus improvement plan includes:
- Working to redesign and expand the Upper Works parking area with the Town of Newcomb, which is providing an in-kind contribution toward the parking lot work, to allow greater southern access to the High Peaks. The upgrades include improved trailhead entrance amenities, new kiosk signage, and bathroom facilities.
- Renovation of the MacNaughton Cottage and creation of space for a private outdoor outfitter for equipment rentals and guidance. Built in 1845, MacNaughton Cottage is the site from which Teddy Roosevelt began his midnight ride to the presidency in 1901.
- Installation of interpretive signage that tells the story of the site and region’s history, offering historical insight into the nearly 193,000-acre High Peaks Wilderness Area and providing a way for visitors to deepen their knowledge of and engagement with the land.
- With the initial stabilization of the Blast Furnace already completed, OSI may take additional measures to ensure this historic structure is around for generations to come.
Elliman indicated that OSI would be pursuing private funds, grants and partnerships to fully achieve the plan. One such partnership that has already been established is with the Town of Newcomb, which is partnering with OSI on paving the newly expanded parking area.
“As long-time members of the Newcomb community, we are proud of the relationship we enjoy with our local neighbors and leaders, and would like to give a special thanks to the Supervisor of Newcomb for strengthening this partnership,” said Elliman.
“Over the years, our partnership with OSI has proven to be an effective and fruitful way to improve our community. OSI is to be commended for its efforts to protect the forested Tahawus property, preserve and interpret the site’s important Adirondack history, and for adding much needed visitor amenities which will serve Adirondack residents and visitors — while spurring economic activity in our region,” said Robin DeLoria, Supervisor of the Town of Newcomb.
“The wealth of breathtaking, natural resources, wilderness and small, friendly communities within the Adirondack Park are attracting record numbers of outdoor recreation enthusiasts and helping to drive an expanding tourism economy that benefits our towns,” said William C. Janeway, Executive Director of the Adirondack Council. “We applaud OSI for working with the State Department of Environmental Conservation and Town of Newcomb at Tahawus and elsewhere, to help to support, accommodate, educate and manage the increasing number of explorers that flock to the Adirondacks year-round.”
Recognizing the historic and environmental importance of this spectacular landscape located in the heart of the Adirondack Park, OSI acquired the 10,000-acre Tahawus tract in 2003. OSI then transferred most of the property to DEC, but retained 212 acres for educational, historic and recreational purposes.
Since then, OSI, with support from the Overhills Foundation, Prospect Hill Foundation, Walbridge Foundation, and New York State Council of the Arts, has invested nearly $900,000 in improvements at Tahawus, including site planning, the initial stabilization of the blast furnace, structural preservation of MacNaughton Cottage, and the creation of an interpretative trail with educational panels that guides visitors from the northern parking area, through the Village of Adirondac, to the 1856 Blast Furnace.
Attracting 10 million visitors annually, the High Peaks Wilderness Area is the best known, most heavily used, and largest wilderness in the Adirondack Park. Increased visitorship to the High Peaks over the past few years is providing a boon in certain Adirondack communities.