We all associate the Adirondack Park with being a pristine wilderness area full of endless opportunities for outdoor recreation. But, like all places, there is more to these small towns and villages in Upstate New York than simply what fits on a postcard. From "The Boob" to conspiracy theories, the Adirondacks has its share of oddities. Don't believe me? Then, check out this list of weird things that are sure to leave you wondering.
7 Weird Sites in the Adirondacks
1. Hoss's Country Corner
If you have ever been to Long Lake, NY than you probably recognize this iconic Adirondack store. From first glance everything seems normal about Hoss's County Corner... but then you do a double take.
From this angle it is easier to see what's a "little off" about this store. On the left hand side of the building do you notice the tree coming out of the roof? This is not an illusion... it is in fact a live tree growing up through this entire portion of the store. I know that this area of the Adirondacks is the birth of the Great Camp style of architecture, a style of architecture that is known to be the first to co-exist with nature; but this is really taking it to a whole new extreme!
According to Jules Pierce, who manages the family business, "The tree is actually a live tree. There is a false building built around the tree so that the tree lives in the ground. It is just one of the many things my father has done over the 43 years that they have owned the business to put a little bit of the Adirondacks into the store."
2. Pig Rock
When you are driving north along NYS Route 30 from Speculator to Indian Lake you might suddenly think you are in the middle of a giant game of Angry Birds. Don't be alarmed, the elevation is not making you hallucinate! You are also not about to be hit by wingless birds being catapulted in your direction via a giant slingshot... you simply just passed Pig Rock!
This big piggy came to life sometime in the 1960s after the daughters of a Whitaker Lake resident painted the giant boulder that was created by NYS DOT during a road construction project that took place in 1955. For years to follow the rock has been cared for & maintained by camp residents of nearby Deerfoot Lodge, a boys Christian summer camp on the lake. A 1991 article in The Gazette stated that DOT wanted to demolish the Pig in order to widen the shoulder of the road. Protesters gathered at this iconic roadside landmark to "support Pig Rock." Today, thanks to their efforts, visitors are still able to enjoy this Adirondack oddity.
3. Cardboard Isn't Just for Recycling
In the Adirondacks, we never get too old to play with a cardboard box.
Nothing screams "good old-fashioned fun" more than an action packed competition using non-other than a trusty cardboard box and some duct tape. From Speculator and Indian Lake to Inlet and Long Lake, each community in Hamilton County seems to find some way to bring more fun to the Adirondacks with a simple cardboard box. In the winter they are used for sled races and in the summer cardboard turns into floating water vessels. Oak Mountain even takes them to the extreme with their annual Dummy Big Air Competition.
So, if you are looking for an fun activity that is "inside the box," be sure to keep an eye on the events calendar because an activity using cardboard is sure to pop up soon in the 'dacks.
4.The Indian Lake Project
This next weird thing has left some of my colleagues (and I am not going to name names) unable to sleep at night. Conspiracy theory buffs will be happy to know that even the Adirondacks has its own creepy conspiracy theory.
In October of 2005, a mysterious blog appeared online discussing the eerie contents found inside a weathered metal box. John (or what the blogger claims his name to be), stated that in 1997 his uncle was out for a hike in the woods near Indian Lake, NY when he stumbled upon the half buried metal box. Within the box he found a bunch of weathered photos, three reels of 8mm video and a few documents that all reveal the existence of the Indian Lake Project. John set out on a mission to uncover the truth behind the Indian Lake Project (also known as I.L.P.) and kept readers updated on his adventures by using the blog that he created.
From the evidence John uncovered, he reveals that in the 1950s Indian Lake was home to a military research facility called The Indian Lake Project, which performed mind control experiments on children. His research indicates that I.L.P. was a branch of the CIA's project ARTICHOKE which was later renamed MKULTRA (both real CIA projects). As John begins to piece together information from the assortment of items found in the box, he begins to receive photographs in the mail which contain some of the same people as those found in his images. The people sending these photos to him claim to be the relatives of the people in the images from the mysterious box. Meanwhile, John is spending a considerable amount of time exploring the wooded area around where the box was found and uncovers some even more unusual finds...
John continued to research the Indian Lake Project and update readers on his findings on and off until February of 2013. During the time of his active investigation, he reported to have been followed, received haunting phone calls, and even had his house broken into in a haphazard attempt to recover the items from the metal box. One of his last blog entries stated that he was starting a new Twitter account to keep followers updated, but soon thereafter all activity on his behalf ended. Did John just lose interested in investigating the Indian Lake Project, or did he come too close to uncovering a piece of history that was meant to remain buried for eternity and something or someone came after him?
Real, or simply internet fiction? That is not the only question that this weird Adirondack "thing" leaves me wondering about. What I also want to know is how no one seems to know who is behind this mysterious blog that seemed to appear out of nowhere.
5. Kunjamuk Cave
Hidden just out of eyesight from an old logging road in Speculator, New York, you will find Kunjamuk Cave.
The cave is not large, it is about 15-20 feet deep and about 8 feet wide. At the top of the cave is an approximately 1-2 foot diameter circle that seems to create a natural chimney. It certainly makes a nice shelter from the elements. Folklore states that the famous hermit, French Louie was known to stay in Kunjamuk Cave.
So what is so weird about this cave? The fact that no one can agree on whether it is natural or man-made. Was it formed from water run off coming down the cliff wall that is built into? Was it carved by Native Americans or a lone miner? These are just some questions that arise about this cave. Half of the fun of this Adirondack site is getting there and determining for yourself. The other half of the fun is how you choose to get there, in the summer you can hike, mountain bike and even kayak pretty close to the cave. In the winter the trail is a haven for snowmobilers and cross-country skiers.
6. THE BOOB
With so much water, the Adirondacks is home to a countless number of beautiful beaches and cool, unique, swimming holes. Each hamlet has their own favorite swimming spot and these locations take on the identity of being a time-honored tradition that you "must do" each and every summer. But I challenge you to find a swimming hole with as weird a name as the one in Long Lake. Seriously, where else do you go swimming off of "The Boob?" Really, you can't make this up... ask a local where their favorite swimming spot is and odds are you will hear them say "The Boob." The only question left here is: "Is it the right boob or the left?"
7. In The Middle of Nowhere...
One of my favorite things about the Adirondack Park is that you never know what you will find around the next corner. You can be hiking through Cathedral Pines in Inlet, NY, which is a beautiful wildness area where you are surrounded by gigantic virgin pines and then suddenly you stumble into a touching monument for a WWII soldier.
You can be at a boat launch in a seemingly remote area and suddenly you find a phone booth! Yes, I said phone booth, remember they were contraptions that you put a coin into a slot and then dial a number (from memory, not off a contact list) and place a call. Speaking of phone booths, you will actually find quite a few them sprinkled throughout the Adirondacks, I think that per-capita Hamilton County might have the highest number of phone booths still in operation in New York State. This is just one of the reasons our crime rate is so low, unlike the rest of the world, Superman still has a place to change!
But seriously, one of the cool, wonderful and weird things about the Adirondacks is that you never know what you might find next. There are 6 million acres of fascinating places to explore and even locals are still amazed by what we can find.
Plan a Wacky Adirondacky Vacation!
So there you have it... a whole lot of weird things that simply don't fit on an Adirondack postcard. But what is weird to us might be different than what is weird to you. So we in invite you to plan your next trip to the Adirondacks and discover what is weird and wonderful about our 6 million acre playground. You might find that it is weird that the night sky is so dark that you never realized how many stars there are. You might think that it's weird that it can be so quiet and peaceful that you can actually hear yourself think. Who knows, it might be weird to you that when you meet someone at the diner over a cup of coffee and a stack of flap-jacks that they will look you in the eye and sincerely ask you how you are doing or how they can help. In the Adirondacks the pace is slower, the people are wonderful, and the trail to adventure never ends! So start planning your trip today and soon you can learn for yourself what you just might find around the next corner.