More beef

In the comments of the previous post, Simon notes the big trucker rally in Albany today protesting Thruway tolls and gas prices (are they also protesting the Finger Lakes trash truck agreement?) Hate to say it, but I wonder if that honking sound you hear is the sound of dying dinosaurs. I was on the Thruway yesterday and it occurred to me that this might be the last generation to see so many trucks on the highways. Even if the Chinese raise the price of fuel for their own consumers, thus temporarily lowering global demand for oil, rail will probably be the future of freight.

I was at Letchworth State Park earlier in the week. If you are camping at Letchworth, and can’t hike 17 miles or more, an automobile is required to see all the sights (it takes a couple of minutes to drive even from the camping check-in to the actual campsites). As far as I could tell, the park has no shuttle service between its major attractions, which would seem like a no-brainer just in terms of being eco-friendly, not to mention kinder to visitors’ gas budgets. Letchworth has cute warning signs written in a vaguely 1950s-style Populuxe font; but the park still exists in a 1950s-style time warp where the personal automobile rules. Maybe it’s time to re-think that.

So, that’s my first beef. My second beef is with beef. I got mild food poisoning from a hamburger during my stay. Just enough to make me consider going a little more vegan on these trips.

6 Replies to “More beef”

  1. astute observations about gasoline aside, what’d you think of letchworth? in autumn, it’s absolutely incredible.

    the story is that the guy who owned the property was under big 19th century industrial pressure to sell the series of waterfalls for commercial use – and instead chose to turn the whole area into a park. imagine that. if somebody tried something like that now, we’d call him a whacko.

    or, to put it in contemporary terms: drill, dammit.


  2. Letchworth is very unusual scenery for New York and the park is definitely a place I’d like to return, hopefully in fall. I will write more. One debate on the trip was whether or not it would have been national park material if the state (or loggers) hadn’t gotten to it first.

  3. William Letchworth is certainly a shining example of success, but suggesting he was some kind of visionary proto-environmentalist is a bit of a stretch. He just wanted scenic views from the windows of his country estate.

    During the 18th and 19th centuries the park area was heavily developed, with logging operations, powerhouses, railroads, stone quarries, a furniture factory, a canal and aquaduct system, and a number of large family farms. Those industries were only shut down when Mr. Letchworth began purchasing property for his estate and, later, when the state began expanding the initial park beyond Letchworth’s holdings.

    Letchworth himself, of course, was one of the titans of “Big Iron”. He made his fortune producing hardware and iron stock at the massive Pratt & Letchworth ironworks in Buffalo. Ironically, it was that industry’s demand for potash and coke that stripped much of the park’s current environs of old growth.

  4. That said, the Adirondack Park wouldn’t be there were it not for millionaires wanting to protect their private lodges and views…

    Letchworth is unusual not only for the scenery (squint and it seems you’re out West), but the way the park represents a kind of Upstate opulence of a bygone age. Clearly this park was intentionally packed with the kind of amenities that Kodak and Xerox executives could (or still can) afford — Victorian hotel, pricey cabins, cottages and even a big stone house for rental, a couple of restaurants, all the campsites even have electric hookups (I wasn’t happy about paying extra for that – usually at state parks you have a choice), a big recreation complex, elaborate CCC-built picnic shelters, endless parkways to drive on. But step outside the park, in Mt Morris or Castile or, especially, Portageville — and the economic reality of today’s Upstate is very stark.

    Lovely place though (and pretty easy to reach).

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