DANIEL SMILEY OF MOHONK
A NATURALIST'S LIFE
by Larry E. Burgess
From Chapter 1--"Mohonk's Child":
"Dan Smiley was a complicated man and remains so to all who knew him, including his family. Everyone agrees on one issue: to understand him you have to understand Mohonk (his family's resort atop the Shawangunk ridge) and his deeply rooted relationship with it. Mohonk is the connecting vein that ran deeply through his whole life. Dan said to me on more than one occasion that the isolation of Mohonk, where he had little contact with boys his own age, led him as a child to become introspective. Mohonk caused him to develop two interests: a fascination with the outdoors and natural history, and an appreciation for the work of the Mohonk Mountain House operation. Toward the end of 1988, when he was beset and frustrated by physical difficulty, he turned to completing memorandums on Mohonk's history and assessing the transfer procedures regarding his scientific research. He decided to create a trust which would be the steward of his research material. All of this was because of his deep-seated appreciation of Mohonk. . . . In his early years at college and at Mohonk, Dan formed a sense of self-discipline, a penchant for very early morning work, and a record-keeping habit, all of which were to serve him well in his scientific research."
Daniel Smiley spent 60 years studying the Northern Shawangunks from his home base at Mohonk Lake, New York. In many ways ahead of his time and armed with conclusions that are today's environmental icons, Smiley's life demonstrates how observation, serendipity, and meticulous record-keeping can make for achievable accommodations between the natural and human environments.
Historian and archivist Larry E. Burgess is Director of the A. K. Smiley Public Library, Redlands, California. An author, professor, and lecturer, Burgess first went to Mohonk Lake in 1968. His relationship, friendship and collaboration with Dan Smiley began at that time. He is also the author of Mohonk: Its People and Spirit published by Purple Mountain Press.
130 pp, illustrated, 6 x 9, index, 1996
$14.50--A Purple Mountain Press original
Copyright © 1998 Purple Mountain Press. All rights reserved.