Potsdam Eagle Scout's project shows history of Raquette River
Thursday, October 14, 2010 - 9:23 am

POTSDAM -- Alexander Weil has developed six signs depicting the history of the Raquette River area and led a team of volunteers to install the signs along the riverbank as his final project to earn the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout.

Weil, the son of Amy and Michael Weil of Potsdam, was officially promoted to Eagle Scout Oct. 7, after a panel of six local citizens interviewed him and reviewed his scouting experience.

“It amazes me how much history there is along this river that we just take for granted,” said Weil.

There are six signs on the trail, two at Ives Park and one each at Garner Park, Fall Island Park, West Dam Hydro site, and Pine Street Arena. Each sign portrays a different aspect of life along the river, with historical pictures selected and provided by the Potsdam Museum.

Weil said the project idea was conceived about two years ago when he was working alongside SUNY-Potsdam Professor John Omohundro, doing maintenance on the Red Sandstone Trail. Weil told Omohundro he was looking for a Boy Scout community service project. Omohundro said he had been looking for years to find someone to turn his years of Raquette River research into a river history presentation.

After consulting with his scout advisors and getting permission to go ahead with the idea, Weil began to put together several teams of volunteers to execute different aspects of the project.

His history team included Omohundro and members of the Potsdam Museum staff. The construction team of Bob Queor, Dan Fritz, Mike Fritz, Blair Madore, Lisa Hanss, Mike Weil and Alex installed the signs in August. The sign design team included Jill Yanus and Shannon Robinson of Clarkson University.

Weil and his finance team raised $5,200 for the project, which had a final cost of more than $3,800. Weil said the leftover money will be turned over to the Village of Potsdam and placed in a fund to be used for sign upkeep.

Donors to the project included the Village and Town of Potsdam, JE Sheehan Construction Corp., Burns Design Studio, Canton-Potsdam Hospital, Dr. John Schwaller, Elena Weil, and the Reilly family.

“I was overcome with how generous and helpful the community was with the design, funding and installation of the signs,” Weil said. “My project became a personal project for all the wonderful people who were involved. Simply amazing.”

Weil, a member of Potsdam Troop 77, has been a Boy Scout since 2004.