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Slain civil rights worker Andrew Goodman spent summers in Tupper Lake. Photo: public domain
Slain civil rights worker Andrew Goodman spent summers in Tupper Lake. Photo: public domain

Goodman Mountain a northern monument to civil rights hero

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Last weekend marked the fiftieth anniversary of the murder of Andrew Goodman in Mississippi.

The young man with long ties to Tupper Lake had traveled south to take part in the "Freedom Summer." His goal was to help African-Americans register to vote. He was killed along with two other activists.

In the days before their deaths in Mississippi, in 1964, two civil rights activists from New York State visited the Adirondacks.

Michael Schwerner, who was 24 years old, vacationed with friends on Great Sacandaga Lake. Andrew Goodman, who was twenty, visited his family's retreat, Shelter Cove Camp, on Tupper Lake.

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Reported by

Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

Goodman grew up spending his summers at the lake. People there have worked to make sure that the Goodman name is remembered in the community. In 2002, they petitioned the Federal government to name a mountain in Andrew Goodman's honor.

Last week, the Adirondack Park Agency voted to approve naming a trail on the mountain in Goodman's honor. Agency commissioners voted Friday to approve the change in the Horseshoe Lake Wild Forest. Reporter Chris Knight descibes the mountain and trail:

Formerly Litchfield Mountain, the 2,100-foot peak was renamed for Andrew Goodman, who was murdered in Mississippi in 1964 while working to register African-Americans to vote. The Goodmans have been seasonal residents since the 1930s. APA planner Cathy Regan told agency commissioners the trail up Goodman Mountain starts at a dirt parking area on State Route 30, about seven miles south of the village of Tupper Lake. Intended as an easy hike, the trail winds up the mountain at a gradual grade.

Here's Regan: "This is what the start of the proposed trail looks like. We've been out on it now. It's the old Route 3 to Tupper Lake, so there's still some pavement on parts of it. And then when you get into some topography we've actually been out with several people and marked a trail and DEC has gone back and modified it, so we have a trail that has been defined and is a really wonderful family trail."

In addition to the trail, the state plans to build a six-car trailhead parking area where an information kiosk and trail register would be located. Regan said trail work would begin as soon as DEC commissioner Joe Martens signs off on the plan. A ceremony will be held later this summer to formally dedicate the Goodman mountain trail.

"It was a shock."

In 2004, Brian Mann hiked Goodman mountain with Bill Frenette, the Tupper Lake historian who led the campaign to rename the summit, and who passed away in 2007. He spoke with Frenette about Goodman for a story that first aired in 2004. That story is excerpted here.

In the summer of 1964 when Andrew Goodman was just 20 years old, he made one last visit to his family’s mountain retreat here in Tupper Lake. Bill Frenette, a friend of the family and a local historian, says that Andrew was eager to go and do something really good. "He knew that he was born into wealth, and he felt compelled to go down there and help these people register so that they would have a say."

Frenette, who has lived here all his life, is 78 years old. He ran a local bottling company and still remembers hearing the news that Andrew had vanished. "It was a shock. It was a shock to everyone in the community that knew the family. It was big news here in our local papers, for one thing. Oh yes. There are many people, you know, from the people who did the laundry to the electrician that knew the Goodmans."

Goodman’s murder became one of the turning points of the civil rights era, a moment described in the film “Mississippi Burning.” On the very day that the jury reached its verdict in Mississippi, the anniversary of the day Andrew Goodman vanished, Frenette follows the trail that the Goodman brothers used to hike every week in summer. And they rambled through these fields of fern and witch hobble, playing and exploring.

Bill Frenette led to the effort to officially name this place Goodman Mountain. He said locals supported the idea and still remember Andrew as a hero. "This guy left here and went out there to Mississippi in 90, 106 degree temperatures to spend the summer to register people to vote, absolutely. Every one of the government boards I went to were 100 percent, getting a resolution out."

Frenette has black and white photographs of Goodman. He looks painfully young, but also thoughtful and intense, a little like Jack Kerouac. Up on the summit, the sky is shimmering blue. Frenette points out a slab of rock where the Goodman boys painted their names. The letters are faded now, nearly erased by forty years of sun and snow. But the official name, “Goodman Mountain,” will remain, reminding people of Andrew Goodman’s sacrifice. 

Fifty years ago, local news in Tupper Lake

Mt. Zion Church state history marker near Philadelphia, Mississippi.  Photo:  Robfergusonjr via Wikipedia Commons
Mt. Zion Church state history marker near Philadelphia, Mississippi. Photo: Robfergusonjr via Wikipedia Commons
The murder of those three civil rights workers 50 years ago has become an important chapter in American history.  Their sacrifice helped roll back the brutal Jim Crow segregation laws that marred the South.

But in 1964 in Tupper Lake, the murders were also front page local news, a tragedy affecting a family well known in the community.

"It was shock, it was a shock to everyone in the community who knew the family," recalled Frenette.

That summer, the Tupper Lake "Free Press" newspaper reported that the "apparently tragic circumstances" of Goodman's disappearanace had brought the civil rights struggle home to the North Country.

"The family has summered here for more than thirty years," the newspaper reported:

The civil rights struggle waged with increasing bitterness in recent months, and observed with detached interest by most of us as something largely outside our experience took on reality earlier this week with a disappearance under apparently tragic circumstances of a volunteer in that cause who spent much of his young life here in Tupper Lake.

Andrew Goodman, 20, one of three civil right workers who disappeared Sunday, is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Goodman and the grandson of the late Charles Goodman who erected the palatial Shelter Cove Camp a short distance from Bog River Falls on Big Tupper Lake in 1933.

The family has summered here for more than 30 years, and Robert Goodman, father of the missing youth, heads [a] construction company, prime contractor on Tupper’s newly constructed water pollution control system.

TV, radio and newspaper coverage of the search indicates that little in the way of clues and the fate of the three civil rights workers has been uncovered since their fire-charred automobile was found in a swamp area on late Tuesday.

The vehicle is being subjected to intensive examination and tests by FBI agents who are also pressing a foot-by-foot search of the area. But the word today was that hope of finding either Andrew Goodman, or his companions Mickey Schwarner, 24, New York City and James Cheney, 22, of Meridian, Mississippi alive are fading.

"Freedom Summer" remembered in new PBS documentary

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