In April of 1914, John Apperson became the first person to ski down Mt. Washington’s legendary Tuckerman Ravine. It was just one of many challenges the longtime General Electric employee met head on during a lifetime of passionate environmental activism.
A Virginia native who never finished his college education, Apperson showed up in Schenectady at the turn of the century and spent nearly a half-century working at GE, trained by the company as an engineer in the Power and Mining Department. He retired in 1947, but by that time was known more as a preservationist and conservation activist, his life-long love for the outdoors having shaped him into an ardent defender of all things natural, particularly Lake George and the Adirondacks.
“You could say he was high maintenance, but I would say, more than anyone around at that time, he was passionate and committed to the issues that interested him,” said Ellen Brown, a grandniece of Apperson who has produced a book about him entitled “John Apperson’s Lake George,” released earlier this year by Arcadia Publishing. “He would spare no expense and was completely dedicated to the cause. He was very clever, understood human nature, and worked his way around issues in ways that some people might have regarded as devious or underhanded.”
To some, Apperson’s “devious or underhanded” tactics were sometimes outright illegal. But according to Dave Gibson of the non-profit group, Adirondack Wild: Friend of the Forest Preserve, Apperson is the individual most responsible for preserving Lake George and it’s beauty for generations to come.
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