From Ithaca to New York City (via Scranton, PA)
AALP Class 14 woke up in Ithaca, NY to a much more comfortable ambient temperature than we experienced the previous day. With some clouds in the sky, we headed down the road to Cayuta where we met Tom Gerow at Wagner Hardwoods. Wagner's business focusses on oak, maple, ash, walnut and cherry woods for use in flooring, cabinets, and furniture. A large percentage of their product is sold to overseas markets, particularly South East Asia. Tom is Head of Procurement at Wagner and a graduate of NY LEAD Class 12. Tom provided a very detailed, and enthusiastic, explanation of the hardwood industry in New York state. AALP class members questioned Tom about supply and demand, marketing, sustainability, waste management, regulation and leadership in the lumber industry. The class toured the facility and saw all aspects of the mill from stacks of logs. to the debarker, planer, drying yard, and kilns (180 degrees, yikes!). The hardwood lumber industry in New York is thriving thanks to good cooperation and management between land owners, foresters and lumber companies such as Wagner's and good leadership and vision.
From Cayuta, the bus headed west to Scranton, Pennsylvania (yes, home of The Office). In Scranton, we continued the theme of primary industry with a tour of Lackawanna Coal Mine. Our tour guide Zack took us on a cable car ride down into the mine which has been abandoned since 1966. The ride down was slightly scary for some! We learned about how important anthracite mining was to the region since the late 1800's. Today however, only 20 anthracite mines are still in operation in Pennsylvania. The mines posed dangerous work for men and boys as young as five, with risks of explosions, falling rock, and gasses. Back in 1902, a standard work day was 10 hours, six days a week for a mere 21 cents per hour. The parents in the group shuttered at the thought of our children working in such harsh conditions and considered other parts of the world that today still profit from child labour. A theme that may be explored again when we visit India next winter.
After the mine tour, we picked up some necessities from a nearby Walmart and headed on our road trip to Jersey, our home for the next three nights. Some were looking forward to an exciting evening in Manhattan!
Will Heeman, Tammy Hickling, Stacey Smith - Class 14