Unique Squared

April 12, 2012
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Categories: General

        Hamilton County is the least populated county east of the Mississippi.
        That statement surprises a lot of people because we are in New York. New York is completely paved and has Wall Street, crime and towering buildings, right? Few people understand that upstate New York -- most of New York State by far -- is very rural. The Adirondack Park in the northern part of the state is larger than Vermont. Protected wilderness is interspersed with hamlets, and Hamco, what we call the Adirondack Wild, is smack in the middle of the park.
         Yes, you can live in a park with free access to thousands of ponds and lakes, miles of rivers and the largest hiking trail system in the nation. Can you make a living here? Not easily.
         People who relocate here bring their jobs with them for the privilege of feeling safe (there is almost no crime, although an ice auger went missing in 2010), because the student to teacher ratio is so low in our public schools and because they want their families to experience the natural world instead of the fabricated world contained in chip-powered boxes. Taxes are low compared to urban areas and winter recreation is as highly developed as summer recreation.
         I returned to the Adirondacks after living for three years in the Hudson Valley, which is a lovely area where my husband and I paid seven times the school taxes that we pay here. My kids have been out of school for six years, so I don't know whether or not their education would have been seven times better there than here, but classes were 3 to 5 times larger.
        It wasn't just the taxes that made me want to return. I wanted to ski out my back door into a woods sifted with snow. I wanted to know that there were five different canoe routes to paddle within a half hour drive, all featuring wildlife instead of power plants and barges. I craved hikes to vistas over lakes and mountains and swims in remote ponds where a bathing suit is optional.
        Hamilton County is unique in the northeast. It certainly isn't for everyone, but for some people, it is heaven.