Hiking alongside history at John Brown Farm State Historic Site

By Elena Barilla
January 1, 2021

Hikers enjoyed their first trek of the year at John Brown State Historic Site in Lake Placid, while taking in the land’s history.

The 270-acre property nestled in the Adirondacks is the former homestead to abolitionist John Brown.

It’s the first year the site is offering guided and unguided “First Day Hikes” on New Year’s Day, also on the same day President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.

“It’s a place of meaning and memory in America’s long and continuing fight for freedom and justice,” said Hadley Kruczek-Aaron, a board member of John Brown Lives.

The masked-up groups of hikers received maps of the property, exploring its wildlife and views.

“That’s one thing we’re celebrating today is that we have a wonderful trail system. You can cross country ski, you can snow ski, or just hike,” said site manager Brendan Mills.

“It’s special out here, in front of the mountains, the meadows , the ski jumps and the horizon. It’s just a beautiful place,” said Claire Thayer, who lives in Lake Placid.

“This place of course has a bit of special history here as well, which we like to share with the kids,” said Frank Teegelaar, who lives in Keene.

John Brown Farm saw almost double the amount of visitors in 2020 compared to 2019.

The executive director of John Brown Lives, Martha Swan, attributes that partly to the pandemic — more people looking to get outdoors.

“This has been a year of anguish and such violence against the black community in particular,” said Swan. “This is a place that is sort of a human rights destination, a place of deep meaning for people, Black and white, for all people who care deeply about racial justice in our country.”

Hiker Silvia Franco says she chose to spend the first day of the year at the farm because it presents “hope.”

“We want to be part of the movement. We want to be part of the change,” said Franco. “Gatherings like these will help spread the word and hopefully more people will join and educate themselves.”