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Caroline Welsh to help with new heritage trail walk in Tupper Lake

July 6, 2018
By AARON CERBONE - For the News ( , Lake Placid News

TUPPER LAKE - A new project from the nonprofit group Adirondack Residents Intent on Saving their Economy will introduce a heritage walk to the town in the fall of 2019, focusing on the industries that built the town and the immigrant communities that built those industries.

ARISE board member Jim LaValley said the organization, known for operating the Big Tupper Ski Area for several years after it had been shut down for a decade, is branching out to new projects as developer Tom Lawson makes progress on the ski mountain.

The board settled on an "outdoor museum" featuring a walking path that visits some of the most interesting historic buildings and sites in the 128-year-old town. LaValley said eight or so locations would be perfect for telling Tupper Lake's story; the former Ginsberg's department store building, the Junction train depot or the shore of Raquette Pond, where numerous mills turned millions of logs into boards, are all possible locations.

LaValley said the signs and plaques would give information on how the importance of the logging, train and convenience store industries, as well as how immigrants from Canada and the Middle East made those industries possible.

"The community has kind of a really neat ethnic mix when you look at it," LaValley said. "What drew the Lebanese to Tupper Lake? The French-Canadians?"

LaValley is a French-Canadian name, and when Jim's great-grandparents moved in the early 1900s from Canada to Faust, now known as the Junction neighborhood, they owned the Arlington Hotel across from where Larkin's Deli is now.

He said many of the Lebanese came from Carthage, and many ran neighborhood convenience stores, markets and delis, supporting an industry that was important in a time when household cars were uncommon and shipping was done close to home.

LaValley said the ARISE board has discussed collaborating with the Tupper Lake Heritage Museum on Pine Street, which houses the town's largest collection of historic artifacts, logging equipment and photos.

"Because they're right on one of the walking trails, we could tie it in really nice. It absolutely is a key part of what we're trying to do," LaValley said.

LaValley said the ARISE board tends to be "long on ideas and short on implementation," so the project needed someone to take idea and run with it. That person was Caroline Welsh.

Welsh spent 24 years at the Adirondack Museum (now Adirondack Experience, the Museum on Blue Mountain Lake), directing staff, curating artifacts and designing exhibits before retiring in 2010. She said she is excited to start identifying the stories of Tupper Lake to display and talking with the people who can get her the information, pictures and history she needs.

"I think it's always important to recognize where we come from," Welsh said. "I'd like to have it as people oriented as possible, so I want to talk to as many people as I can."

Welsh said she found the concept of labor and laborers interesting, adding that both topics are common discussion points, locally and nationally.

"The ethnic diversity of our nation is on a lot of people's minds now, and the Adirondacks have benefited enormously by many different groups of people coming from all over the world," Welsh said. "Tupper Lake is in some ways sort of a poster child for that diversity because Tupper's historic origins have all been about work."

LaValley said the project should be fully funded through a Adirondack Foundation fund set up by Lebanese Tupper Laker Alfred Moneer Aseel. Aseel was a veteran, defense contractor and school teacher who died in April 2017 and left a fund to honor his parents, who emigrated from Lebanon.

"The intent of the Aseel Legacy Fund is twofold," Aseel's sister Ellen Maroun writes in the Adirondack Foundation's 2017 report. "First, to support nontraditional students from the Tupper Lake area who wish to reinvent their lives through education, as [Aseel] did after two stints in the U.S. Army ... also to promote sustainable projects that will enhance and improve the Tupper Lake community and lifestyle of its residents."



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