Ebeneezer Emmons is a man who very few would recognize by name. Even fewer would recognize him by picture… perhaps because he’s been dead for over a century and a half. But Ebeneezer is actually a very important man in the Adirondack region’s history.
He is known for two things:
-Giving the Adirondacks its name.
-Recording the first climb of Mount Marcy, the highest peak in the Adirondacks.
In short, he was a Massachusetts native, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute alumni, and geological surveyor for the State of New York. In 1837 he recorded the first climb of Mount Marcy. In 1838 he named the mountains the “Adirondacks”, which derives from the Mohawk word “ratirontaks,” referring to the Algonquins in the area who ate bark from trees when they were going hungry. Ratirontaks’ literal translation is “They eat trees.” I swear to you, I am not making this up. The jury is still out on whether Emmons chose this name as an insult towards the natives of the region, or to simply acknowledge the area’s inhabitants in a Native American first-language…we’d like to assume the latter.