- December 28, 1929 – JSA to Peabody –
Dear Mr. Peabody:
Your telegraphic message to Virginia to relieve my anxiety during the holidays concerning the Conservation Commissioner, was very much appreciated. I do hope that Osborne’s participation in the prison controversy does not embarrass his opportunities to reform conservation.
I was sorry to learn from your letter of the 20th, just received, that you do not feel free to join our new organization, even in an inactive capacity. I also regret to find that my point of view expressed to the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks, is so at variance with yours I respect to Article &, Section 7 of the Constitution.
The old problem of reaching the various parts of the Adirondacks has been changed to one of determining a place to go out of hearing of artificial noises and unsightly structures. As far back as 1915 one could read the New York morning newspaper standing on a cement sidewalk in from of a moving picture show, in the very center of our Adirondacks, and my investigation at that time, extending over many weeks and supported by week-end trips for several years, showed that virtually every place in the Adirondacks including the mountains, could be visited without spending a single night out of doors. The so-called wilderness, referred to by writers to impress the public when they wish special privileges, has not existed for half a century. The ever increasing highways, roads, villages, towns, airports, and the problem of finding a place in its natural state, to stimulate efforts on the part of both youth and age to seek its environment, will be more difficult each year, and I am frank to say that I have not found Mr. Dewey very active in his efforts to preserve the constitutional protection, which after all, is the only real protection we have. His organization does much good in promoting winter sports, but much of this activity will be carried on in the Laurentians, where Dr. Langmuir and I went last year, requiring about the same railroad time and expense, with more certainty of good snow conditions.
I am writing to you at this length with the hope that you might better understand the reasons for my feeling that every possible effort should be made to support the Constitution which protects the Adirondacks; also to express to you my fear that the Governor will find himself in all good faith, lined up with the crowd who want to exploit the Adirondacks by amending the Constitution, The people very properly are jealous of their playgrounds, and the Governor’s willingness to sign the toboggan bill, which is very plainly at variance with the Constitution, and his apparent interest in amending the Constitution for the Whiteface road, which Colonel Greene now states necessitates a tunnel at the top, and a 200 foot shaft for an elevator, necessitating a power plant, with the addition of two comfort stations on top, turns out to be not only a road but an institution. It destroys the wild charm of this mountain. You might be interested in knowing that our engineers advise me that the rough estimate shows the cost of a shaft or elevator from the top to the bottom, underground, would not cost any more than a highway, would mar the beauty of the mountain less, and could be operated all the year round. The road is only considered usable for three months of the year, its maintenance would be very high, as compared with the elevator. This thought is based on the claim that the public must reach the summit. The view from any other part of the mountain is discounted. In my opinion we could better afford to lose this mountain than to lesson the strength of Article 7.
Hoping you will pardon me for writing you at such length, and with sincere best wishes for the New Year, and many more of them, I remain