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NYS Writers Institute, February 11, 2010
8:00 p.m. Discussion | Assembly Hall, Campus Center



Fred LeBrun, “Times Union” journalist, will speak about his exploration of the Hudson River on Thursday, February 11, 2010 at 8:00 p.m. in the Assembly Hall, Campus Center, on the University at Albany’s uptown campus. The event, which is free and open to the public, is cosponsored by the New York State Writers Institute and the Women’s Press Club of New York State.

Fred LeBrun, journalist, will speak about about his travels on and coverage of the Hudson River over the course of his long career as a reporter and columnist. Note: This event was originally scheduled to take place in Fall 2009.

One of the defining voices of the Albany “Times Union” for more than forty years, Lebrun has served the newspaper as suburban beat reporter, city editor, arts editor, restaurant critic and foremost columnist on state politics. LeBrun is also famous in the Capital Region for his “Hudson River Chronicles,” recounting an 18-day adventure downriver from Mount Marcy to New York Harbor in September 1998— an event still commemorated by a richly documented website: www.timesunion.com/SPECIALREPORTS/hudsonriver/main.asp. On the trip, LeBrun was joined by “Times Union” features editor Michael Virtanen and photographer Paul Buckowski.

The website features a day-by-day account of the journey. Highlights include a visit on Day 1 to the purported source of the river at Lake Tear of the Clouds (“a bog filling in so rapidly that in a century or two it will be just another mass of spongy vegetation and no lake at all”); the ghost town of Adirondac on Day 2; being tossed from his canoe by rapids (and badly wrenching his knee) near Newcomb, NY on Day 4; the peril of dams on the upper river beginning with the Niagara Mohawk
hydro dam at Queensbury on Day 10; the Thompson Island Pool, the river’s worst PCB hotspot, on Day 11; passing through Champlain Canal locks in his canoe on Day 12; sailing on a replica 19th century sloop through the Catskills on Days 14-16; and the crew’s arrival “the waterly equivalent of 42nd Street” on Day 18.

The website also features an introduction by Paul Grondahl, a photo gallery, and profiles of various river personalities by Michael Virtanen, including river boat captains, sports enthusiasts, environmentalists, community activists, and lifelong residents.

LeBrun participated in a partial reprise of the trip this past September, paddling a 150-mile stretch of “true river” from Mount Marcy to the replica of Henry Hudson’s ship, the Half Moon, docked at the City of Albany’s Erastus Corning Preserve, where he received a one-cannon salute. The second trip was also chronicled in a series of articles in the “Times Union.”

In the new series of articles, LeBrun makes special note of the changes that have occurred in the 11 years since his first excursion. These include the rapid collapse of the paper products industry and the establishment of vast new nature preserves; the partial restoration of the “ghost town” of Adirondac; burgeoning eagle populations; the explosion of tourism devoted to whitewater rafting; the creation of several new town parks next to hydro facilities; improved portages at dams for canoeists; the rising popularity of kayaking; and the dredging of PCB contaminated sediment by General Electric under the supervision of the EPA.

The event, which is free and open to the public, is cosponsored by the Women’s Press Club of New York State.

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.