Ellwood M. Rabenold

When John Apperson first became active in political battles in Albany, Ellwood Rabenold was already serving as a New York State senator. The two men probably met during the Constitutional Convention, in 1915, and by 1917 they were working together to pass legislation setting aside $10,000 for use in repairing the shores of islands at Lake George. Soon after that they began working to try and bring the Tongue Mountain Peninsula under state ownership. 

By 1923, local people were sounding the alarm, fearing that that this effort would infringe on their rights to develop their property, and build more roads and other commercial enterprises.  Rabenold found out that politicians and state officials were planning to have a highway built around the rim of Tongue Mountain, so he sent an urgent telegram to Apperson. The New York State Park Association was scheduling a gathering at Lake George, and they were both members, so they took action, setting up a special boat trip for Governor Al Smith, to show him the beautiful scenery, and let him see for himself what sort of highway was planned. 

This incident has been often referred to as the “kidnapping” of Governor Al Smith, and it was a successful operation as far as Apperson and Rabenold were concerned. Robert Moses, however, the mastermind behind the Tongue Mountain  highway plan, was not pleased to be thwarted, or out-maneuvered. Apperson had to keep a vigilant eye on the route of the highway construction for the next 6-7 years, while Moses and the Conservation Commission staff proceeded to build the highway (connecting Bolton with the Hague) over land belonging to the Loines family. 

In 1924, the two allies were successful in asking the legislature to set aside $75,000 to be used by the state in purchasing land on Tongue Mountain, and to establish a Lake George Park. As late as 1941, there is a letter in the files from Rabenold to Apperson, mentioning the death of Mary Loines, and expressing his deep admiration for her.  

It appears that both men suffered from the propaganda and ugly tactics used by their opponents. In Robert Caro’s book about Robert Moses (The Power Broker, 1975), he tells of a scene on the Senate floor, when Jimmy Walker and Rabenold locked horns…saying: 

When Ellwood Rabenold, a reformer who had been elected to the Democratic ticket and whose independence was continuously imperiling the one-vote majority, not only refused Walker his vote on one critical measure but rose on the Senate floor to chastise the floor leader for “undue pressure,” Moses, kneeling beside Walker, heard the dapper little man snarl under his breath, “I’ll ruin him” – and he watched as, in succeeding months, Walker remorselessly drove Rabenold out of politics.”

  • December 16, 1924 – Harvard Alumni Bulletin
  • April 24, 1925 – Rabenold (Committee on Forest Policy for New York State) to JSA re: Conservation Fund bill (“appropriations should be carefully coordinated with the regional park program”)
  • January 2, 1929 – Rabenold to JSA re: regrets he “could not attend the meeting yesterday”
  • January 22, 1930 – JSA to Rabenold re: “finding your name in the January issue of the NY Conservationist…”Why amend our Constitution thirty years before the trees are ready to be cut?”; “It seems a long time ago since our last chat, and I am writing you…sympathies on the right side?”
  • January 25, 1930 – JSA to Rabenold re: annual meeting of the Adirondack Mountain Club; George Marshall suggestions of “Policy for the Club in relation to the purchase of land within the Blue Line. …the club being used to further the interest of individual projects.”
  • January 9, 1931 – JSA to Rabenold re: comments on Mr. Russell’s article… “valuable service you gave to the League at Corning”
  • January 29, 1931 – JSA to Rabenold re: Meeting of the Adirondack Mountain Club
  • February 12, 1931 – Rabenold to JSA re: text of Roosevelt’s speech at Cornell Union; thorough analysis of FDR’s speech (mentions Ethel Dreier)
  • February 19, 1931 – Rabenold to JSA re: examining material sent by Bill Howard; analysis of Hewitt and Baxter amendments
  • February 26, 1931 – Rabenold to JSA re: survey, sent by William Howard; 25 copies of brief submitted yesterday to the Senate Judiciary; Senator Fearon; cost of transcriptions from yesterday’s hearing
  • April 15, 1931 – Rabenold to JSA re: 
  • April 17, 1931 – Rabenold to JSA re: correspondence with Wemple and Houghton
  • September 10, 1931 – Rabenold to JSA re: Women’s City Club
  • September 10, 1931 – JSA to Rabenold re: a “debate” set for Monday the 19th before the Women’s City Club
  • October 9, 1931 – Rabenold to JSA – re: Interest in the debate set for Monday, October 19th; copies included of your Tree Cutting pamphlet; Mrs. Morgenthau notified her husband …and he stated that under the circumstances he could not possible permit his Chief of the Division of Forests, Mr. Howard, to appear before an organization that should have such prejudice.  …There will be a substitute ( Baker, Houghton or Ordway…)
  • April 3, 1941 – Rabenold to JSA re: Mary Loines’ death
  • April 14, 1941 – JSA to Rabenold re: Mary Loines
  • September 14, 1944 – Rabenold to JSA re: two methods of idea propulsion
Search the the Apperson Archives for more about Ellwood M. Rabenold