More than 200 years ago, the St. Lawrence County town of Lisbon was actually the whole county. The first township there encompassed all the land. It would later be broken up into 30 towns, forming St. Lawrence County as we now know it. And although the hamlet of Lisbon Center has shrunk over the years, it still celebrates its large history on the railways and two of its larger than life residents. In this edition of your hometown, our Brian Dwyer and photojournalist RD White take us up near the St. Lawrence River and into Lisbon.
LISBON, N.Y. -- "When the railroad was built, things shifted from the St. Lawrence River into this part of town which was later named Lisbon Center. It grew around the railroad and that eventually became the Hamlet of Lisbon and it's still a Hamlet today. The railroad was built and completed here in Lisbon in 1850 to four or five years later. It had several other names before it became the Rutland. The Rutland is really what most people here in Lisbon remember. It went from Rutland, Vermont to Ogdensburg. There were different spurs off of it, but that was the main. We've had houses brought in by the railroad, as well as farm equipment, cars,” said Town of Lisbon Historian Nancy LaFaver. "There were several people in town who made a living raising turkeys and on poultry day they would walk them down the streets of town and put them on the train and ship them to New York City, live, to be butchered there for Thanksgiving."
"It was an important part of it becoming the Hamlet that it was. At the time when it was the biggest, it was 6,000 people in just Lisbon Center," LaFaver said.
Now the railroad closed for good in 1961 after employees went on strike and the company went broke. But a big piece of that still remains in Lisbon today and in fact, it's still in use.
"The Lisbon Depot Museum. It's kind of a nice little gem that we have hidden here in Lisbon. We don't get a lot of traffic here, but I don't know that a lot of people know we are here. A lot of people in Lisbon know we're here,” LaFaver said. "In 2000, 1999 or 2000, some people said, 'You know, we'd really like to do something with it..' It has a perfect structure and it's not falling apart. They decided they would create a museum honoring Lisbon and its people and agriculture and different parts of its history."
And a huge part of that history is this man. E.J. Dailey. As an author and inventor of all things trapping, he's simply known as the dean of American trappers.
"He had a trapper's shop. He was pretty well know for writing for Fur-Fish-Game. He wrote a lot of magazine articles. He was well known in the world of trapping for his lures and different scents and his ways of building traps, how to trap and his style of trapping," said LaFaver.
Now E.J. Dailey isn't the only Lisbon man celebrated across the nation. Rick Carlisle, head coach of the NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks grew up and played his high school ball as a member of the Lisbon Knights.
"It's been a long time. It's been 40 years since I really got interested in playing. A lot of that was spending time tagging along with my dad. Fighting my way into pick-up games and just getting a real interest for the game that way," Carlisle said.
Carlisle, who played his college ball at Virginia and then in the NBA with Larry Bird in Boston, was honored last summer in his hometown and it's inspiring a new generation of players.
"He's taught me a lot about basketball so now I have to set my future goals for myself," one person said.
"Yeah, because he's from Upstate New York and many people didn't think he'd be able to make it. He's like a role model to me," said another.
Carlisle's team is back in the playoffs again this season. Lisbon is hoping he'll bring back another.