Off the Northway: Council acts to mark last war on N.Y. soil

New York may have been a key state during the Civil War, and Elmira may have had the North’s most no

New York may have been a key state during the Civil War, and Elmira may have had the North’s most notorious prison camp, but the battle never reached our borders.

The last time armies actually clashed on New York soil was decades earlier.

The bicentennial of the War of 1812 starts next year, but don’t expect any state-funded activities marking the Battle of Plattsburgh, the Burning of Buffalo or the Battle of Sacket’s Harbor.

Gov. David Paterson in 2009 vetoed plans for an 1812 bicentennial commission, citing the state’s fiscal crisis and an estimated $2.25 million cost.

The Champlain-Hudson 400th anniversary commission that year was plagued by little funding and high staff turnover. Perhaps that influenced the former governor’s thinking.

So there’s no coordinated celebration.

But the New York Council for the Humanities can at least offer speakers with some interesting perspectives on the poorly understood war that lasted from 1812 to 1815.

The council has speakers available to community and school groups covering topics involving the War of 1812, the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, and the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“In the absence of an official state commission overseeing the War of 1812 bicentennial, the council has stepped up to play a key part in supporting lectures that examine New York State’s central role in the conflict,” the council said in an announcement this week.

Local speakers on the War of 1812 include Tom Shanahan on “Uncle Sam’s First War,” Harvey Strum of The Sage Colleges on how the war divided residents and archeologist Matthew Kirk of Hartgen Associates on the Battle of Sackett’s Harbor.

The Battle of Plattsburgh, in which invading British forces were repulsed in 1814, is marked by a local organization on its anniversary every September. This year’s activities will run Sept. 3-11.

Mountain lion

The Adirondacks hosted a mountain lion last winter, even if the species is otherwise extinct in New York state.

State officials have confirmed the mountain lion killed on a highway near New Haven, Conn., in June was in Lake George last winter.

A retired Department of Environmental Conservation colonel photographed the tracks and found hairs that laboratories were able to analyze, after his wife saw the animal.

The young male traveled from Minnesota or further, officials believe, traveling through Michigan, Ontario and New York to reach Connecticut.

DEC biologist Kevin Hynes said the case may offer proof there isn’t an indigenous mountain lion population in the deep Adirondacks, as many people believe.

That one lone lion could be detected and tracked “is good evidence that if a population of mountain lions lived in the northeastern U.S., they would likely be detected,” Hynes wrote in a report for the DEC pathology unit.

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