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In August, 2003 the first of several exciting events related to historic Crab Island took place.

The large bronze plaques that originally adorned the four faces of the 1908 monument were returned for display in Plattsburgh, New York.

The best way to see the Crab Island plaques is visit the Clinton County Historical Association Museum in Plattsburgh. You can view a larger image of them by clicking on their thumbnails in the photo above. Plaque inset photos courtesy of Philip Lamarche. Monument photo by the author.

Success in steps- small victories
Score one for Crab Island

By James P. Millard

Frequent visitors to America's Historic Lakes know we refer often to one Roger Harwood. It is true that Roger is a close, personal friend of this writer. Yet that is not why Roger so often graces the pages of this site. It is, quite frankly, because Crab Island's self-appointed caretaker gets things done. Usually, that's because Roger is willing to do them himself.

Roger decided a decade ago that Crab Island needed maintenance. Someone had to mow the grass, clear the poison ivy, repair the fence. When he couldn't get New York State officials to shoulder this responsibility, Roger began  regular trips to the island to do the work himself.

When Roger decided the island would benefit from public scrutiny, he contacted this writer and asked him to tell the story. The Secrets of Crab Island resulted. Today, Crab Island is the focal point of a series of hearings by New York officials to solicit public input for deciding how to properly maintain this historic place.

Roger Harwood at Crab Island
July 4, 2003

In the summer of 2003, Roger decided that the Crab Island plaques should come out of hiding in the state warehouse at Peebles Island. Crab Island is still not protected or maintained well enough for the plaques to be restored to the monument. Yet, these plaques tell a story that deserves to be made known. He contacted John Krueger; Executive Director of the Clinton County Historical Association and Museum and asked him to request the plaques be returned to Plattsburgh for display at the museum. The NY State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation agreed to loan the plaques. Finding a suitable means for showing the large, heavy, plaques posed quite a challenge.  A challenge, but not an insurmountable problem. Roger is a retired Industrial Arts teacher. He designed and built a display in the form of the monument. Today visitors to the North Country can  view these beautiful, historic objects in the lovely and appropriate setting of the CCHA Museum at Court Street in Plattsburgh.

It is this writer's hope that someday the plaques will be restored to their rightful place on the Crab Island Monument. That time is not yet. Even a cursory examination of the bronze markers will reveal scars from bullets, scratches and the inscribed names of assorted vandals. It would be foolhardy to return the plaques so they can be abused again. Today they are safe, they are visible, and they are attractively displayed in a wonderful facility that does a marvelous job of highlighting the region's rich history.

Someday, they'll be back on the island. I'd be willing to bet that Roger Harwood will be involved in their return.

Click here to go back  Click here to go back to the introduction. 

The Clinton County Historical Association and Museum is located at 48 Court Street in historic Plattsburgh, NY. Their phone number is (518) 561-0340. More information about CCHA is available at their web site or here.

On November 11, 2002, Crab Island was featured in a WPTZ/Lake Champlain Basin Program Champlain 2000 story. Unfortunately neither the video or the feature story are available online.


Visiting Crab Island...

Crab Island is publicly owned land- the property of the people of New York. It is also a very special, unique place that merits respect and consideration. Keep in mind the island is covered with Poison Ivy. It is also the home of protected fauna and flora. Look, but do not touch. Metal detectors and digging are strictly prohibited on the island.

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