Change the date of Ironman, name of Chubb River

To the editor:

An obvious Ironman solution is to offer use of the Lake Placid venue for this race on the new Juneteenth Holiday come summer solstice, June 18-22, 2022. This would advantage this semi-low season holiday and likely give Ironman better weather than thundery July, plus the longer daylight would help late finishers.

As an inducement to Ironman per se, and as a long overdue local change, I propose the village and town engage New York state to change the name of the Chubb River to “Ironman River.” Joseph Chubb never owned land on this river. He owned about 400 acres atop Riki Hill circa 1801-1810, cleared perhaps 40 for farming, then disappeared from Elba. Why not two signs, to belatedly make former Lake Placid historian Mary MacKenzie happy, reading “Chubb’s Hill” both east and west of the crest still (privately) signed “Riki Hill.”

“Ironman River” would appropriately honor Archibald McIntyre. He opened Elba Iron Works circa 1801-1808 a bit upstream of the confluence of the Chubb and AuSable River sited at the dam of Power Pond (Lower Mill Pond). Elba was preceded here only by Bennett whose pond got itself renamed Mirror Lake (precedent). Elba Works made iron here for about a decade. It failed and folded up before 1820. Its rise and fall caused by Napoleon and his wars in Europe that seriously disrupted the world market for iron, causing a price bubble bursting post Waterloo.

Being the New York state comptroller, McIntyre was well-placed to know that this corner of the Adirondacks was iron rich. He brought in ores from Ray Brook and the Cascade Lakes. Built the first road from Elba to Wilmington to haul ore from Clintonville. Likely his charcoal operations cleared all the land that later became the Thompsons’s many farms and are now either Lake Placid Club golf courses or farm land on River Road.

Pure coincidence it seems, yet ironically fitting (pun intended), that Napoleon was imprisoned pre-Waterloo on Elba, an isle off Italy. The Romans among others picked up iron ores on Elba’s shores; hence McIntyre named his iron enterprise Elba. In that era of New York history classical names were nearly a must: Utica, Syracuse, Rome, Ithaca, Greece, Ilion, Troy, etc.

Peter Smith, New York’s largest land owner was one of Elba’s mortgage holders. Most likely on iron-bearing lots near Cascade Lakes, and these likely reverted to Smith in foreclosures against Elba Iron Works about 1820. Circa 1840, Peter’s son Gerrit Smith inherited these lands and began giving away 40-acre lots in Essex and Franklin counties (mostly) including the parcels that comprise Timbuctoo, the settlement which brought John Brown here in 1849. Smith targeted free landless New York residents; about 3,000 Black men and 1,000 white men. Women applicants got a cash equivalent gift sufficient to buy land from New York state if they wanted such.

So why not encourage Ironman to move its event to Juneteenth, flavor it a bit with John Brown, and change the Chubb to Ironman River? Consider It.


Dr. Anthony G. Lawrence

Lake Placid