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Lewis County Historical Society posts old films on YouTube

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LOWVILLE — The Lewis County Historical Society is using YouTube to share part of its film collection with the world.

“Some of them are very historic in nature,” said society board member Christopher J. Dryja, who undertook the project earlier this year.

Those include old footage of a smokestack in Glenfield falling, along with films dating back to the 1930s on the construction of the Adirondack Waterworks reservoir in Soft Maple and home movies taken by the Fisher family of Lyons Falls.

Other videos include footage of recent happenings, such as restoration of the Civil War monument in Lowville, as well as taped sessions of local historical presentations and old interviews.

Mr. Dryja, a former high school educational television director at South Jefferson Central School, Adams, said the Fisher films are particularly interesting since they were taken at a time when movie cameras were not exactly prevalent, especially in Lewis County. “It’s the Depression,” he said. “People couldn’t afford that.”

“These were well-to-do people,” said fellow society board member Hamish Davey.

Some of the films were taken at “The Pines,” the Fisher family’s residence just across the Black River from Lyons Falls on a knoll overlooking the falls.

The family patriarch at the time was Clarence Lyon Fisher, a member of the state Assembly, conservationist and president of Fisher Forestry and Realty Corp.

He also was a great-grandson of Caleb Lyon Sr., who settled in the community in 1823 and for whom the village and the surrounding town of Lyonsdale were named.

The 16mm films were donated to the Lewis County Historical Society by the late George R. Davis, who served as Lewis County judge for 20 years and Lowville town historian for 18 years. At some point, they were converted to VHS format, Mr. Dryja said. He then converted the videos to digital format, copied them to DVDs and posted them to YouTube.

While the films show Fisher land holdings on Beaver Lake and throughout the Adirondacks, they also feature scenes from outside the area, including footage of the 1932 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, a Caribbean cruise, a biplane flying and motorcycle and auto races in unspecified locations.

Mr. Dryja took specific interest in footage of a hunting trip in Quebec and initiated an Internet search to determine whether the camp was still there today.

“Not knowing any French, that was hard to do,” he said.

However, he eventually found out that the same family owns the property and was able to get in contact with them and direct them to the YouTube postings. “They were able to see the film,” Mr. Dryja said.

Anyone who notices familiar people, places or items in the old footage or has historic films from Lewis County that they would like reviewed can contact the society at 376-8957 or by email at lewiscountyhistoricalsociety@gmail.com.

“We would be interested in giving our opinion on any old film or pictures,” Mr. Davey said.

The Lewis County Historical Society YouTube page is accessible at www.youtube.com/user/lewishistory13367.

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