As locals, we often accept the way things are and assume them to be normal. I'm sure you do the same with your hometown - simply assume that someone visiting the area for the first time will be able to navigate through town and understand it as you do. But when I pause and think about it, I realize there really is some clarifying that we should do for Tupper Lake. This is not because I feel that visitors might misunderstand us (most days I really wouldn't care), but rather that I would simply hate to have them miss the extraordinary in the ordinary (or sometimes not so ordinary).
8 Random things you didn't think you needed to know...
The Tale of Two Downtowns
Downtown, Uptown, the Junction, Main Street, Park Street… wait a minute, where the heck am I? Tupper Lake is both blessed and plagued by having two downtowns. Locals can navigate it, but will often disagree where the real downtown is. People often refer to Park Street as Main Street and will then be quickly corrected.
By definition, a downtown relates to the main commercial or business district of a town or city. So why is it that Tupper Lake has such a hard time determining where it is? It’s because there are truly two downtowns.
What causes a town to have two downtowns? Well, that is the easier part to answer… it was once two separate villages. In 1940, what is now the Village of Tupper Lake was formed as a combination of the original Village to Tupper Lake (Uptown or the Park Street Business District) and the Village of Faust (Downtown, the Main Street Business District, or the Junction). So, however you slice it, Tupper Lake has two downtowns… or as the locals refer to it a “Downtown” and “Uptown.” Yes, we know, still confusing. But if you are in Tupper Lake, we recommend that you check them both out then please tell us where you think the true downtown is, or is this really the tale of two downtowns?
The Horse of a Different Color
Okay, maybe it is two horses of the same color hovering over a one-of-a-kind, one-stop-shop. But in reality, where else can you do your laundry, grab some of the freshest old-fashioned cake donuts, and shop for gifts and souvenirs all without leaving one building? No, this isn't a strip mall or shopping plaza, it is none other than the Washboard Laundromat, Donut Shop and Shenandoah Gift Shop. Check this place out next time you are in town... it's definitely worth the stop.
They Were Here to Break Records
Tupper Lake has a proud heritage as a logging community. At the beginning of the 19th Century, the logging industry was booming and Tupper Lake was center stage as they were shattering world records. A few of these records included that of Hurd Mill (or the "Big Mill") which held the record at the time for sawing over one-million board feet of lumber in one day. In addition, at the same time out at Horseshoe Lake, The Horse Shoe Forestry Company was breaking the world record for the largest producing sugar bush in the world. Quite the accomplishment for one small town. Today, both of these locations are no longer in operation, but rather serve as beautiful recreation areas.
What Famous Mutant Reptiles Once Skied at Big Tupper?
TMNT, that's who! Okay, so maybe Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael, and Donatello didn't ski, but they fought out an epic battle chase down the slopes of our hometown ski area. The infamous snow chase scene in Michael Bay's 2014 Blockbuster Hit, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was actually filmed at Big Tupper.
Third Try's the Charm!
Did you know that Big Tupper wasn't the first ski area in Tupper Lake? In fact, it was the third. The first ski hill was on Lake Simond Drive and was known as Manning's Hill. It only operated for the 1939-40 ski season and quickly proved to be too small. After that, they upgraded and moved up to Sugar Loaf. Sugar Loaf was located adjacent to the Tupper Lake Golf Course, just below the base of Big Tupper. It operated from 1941-1949 and then again after WWII from 1957-1960. Once again they outgrew the slopes and were looking to upgrade their vertical drop. Mount Morris is where they turned and in 1962 Big Tupper Ski Area fired up its lifts for the first time.
If This Tree Could Talk...
In this area, we are blessed with so much green you sometimes forget to stop and look at any particular tree on its own. As a result, few realize that this tree on Park Street has traveled over 5,500 miles to get here. The Locus Tree on Park Street was, "Brought from the Holy Land by Joseph A. Thissell, M.D. in 1926." A plaque on this beautiful and often overlooked tree was placed there by the Business and Professional Women's Club in 1969.
The Oldest in the Adirondacks
Did you know that Tupper Lake is home to the oldest Synagogue in the Adirondack Park? It sure is! Originally opened in 1905 and listed on the National Historic Registry, the Beth Joseph Synagogue still holds Sabbath services at 7 p.m. during the summer months, as well as Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur Services. During the months of July and August, the Synagogue welcomes visitors for guided tours through the landmark which also houses an art gallery and a museum highlighting Jewish life in the Adirondacks.
Community Minded People
In recent years Tupper Lake has become well-known for its community-minded spirit due to the grassroots volunteer effort that has been operating Big Tupper Ski Area. But this wasn't the first time that residents of Tupper Lake have come together to make something big happen. It is this single fact that I think makes Tupper Lake so special. Many other big projects were successfully executed over the years after a little brainstorming over a cup of coffee at the local diner, or a cold beer at the corner tavern. Did you know that it was a grassroots effort that started the state-of-the-art Wild Center in Tupper Lake, as well as the new and growing Adirondack Public Observatory? It goes back even further though. In the 1920s with an amazing amount of forethought and spirit, the community raised $20,000 to purchase a 160-acre tract of land known as Hosley Farm. They purchased land to sell it to the Federal Government for $1 so that they would build Sunmount Veterans Hospital. Today, Sunmount operates as a development center and is still a major part of Tupper Lake's economy.
Come Learn For Yourself...
I don't stand alone when I say Tupper Lake is a unique and special place. Sometimes, you might ask yourself "why?" when you are trying to navigate around two downtowns, or you smell the lovely scent of fresh donuts coming from the laundromat. Rest assured, you are doing something right, you are experiencing first-hand what an authentic Adirondack Community is all about: the people!
Plan a trip, book a room, and come see for yourself why we feel so lucky to call it home!
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1 author, 1 cottage, 1 cool town
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