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Quirky, Nerdy (and Cheap) Adirondack Gifts

Detail, Geologic Map of Saranac Quadrangle, New York State Museum

Here’s a bargain. For just $2 you can get a framing-quality map of Saranac Lake that shows its underlying geology in watercolor hues. But that’s not all! You also get 100 perfect-bound pages describing the bedrock and sands, with more maps, charts and illustrations showing why things are where they are.

An example: clear, cold, hidden Owl Pond and Pine Pond are “the product of blocks of ice which during the waning of the ice cap were left buried in the sand.… Such lake basins are the slightly modified molds of former ice blocks.”

The package, “Geology of the Saranac Quadrangle, New York,” (New York State Museum Bulletin Number 346) was published in 1953. The slightly yellowed patina is of something grown more beautiful with age.

Some of the terminology (magmatic solutions, mafic gabbro, granoblastic) is technical, but much of it is accessible enough to be eye-opening: “The city of Saranac Lake has a unique geologic setting, for the rocks in the area within four miles and to only a little lesser extent within a mile of the post office show in their varied characters and structures an epitome of the geology of the Adirondacks as a whole.”

The booklet with a map tucked into a pocket makes an out-of-the-ordinary gift, one that I’ve given a few times and—unless they are just being polite—people really dig it.

If your holiday-giving list includes an Adirondack nerd—or a geology, nature or regional history geek—try shopping the New York State Museum’s little-known online publication store. It’s a treasure hunt to peruse the catalog of out-of-print bulletins, maps and books. Here are just a few things you might find:

Revised Checklist of New York State Plants (1997) $15.95 (hardcover)

Black Flies and Other Biting Flies of the Adirondacks (1931) $6.95

Postglacial Vegetational Changes Along an Elevational Gradient in the Adirondack Mountains (1989) $2.99

Kanien’ Keha’ Okara’ Shon: (Mohawk Stories) (1976) $10

The Champlain Valley in the American Revolution. (1975) $1.95

Some state museum bulletins, memoirs and handbooks can also be downloaded for free as a PDF file from the New York State Library.

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