LAKE PLACID Although Mary MacKenzie passed away in 2003, her work has been gathered to create the most comprehensive history of the town of North Elba and the village of Lake Placid ever published.
The Plains of Abraham: A History of North Elba and Lake Placid contains more than 70 individual essays on most of the key people, periods and events that made up the community. MacKenzie was historian of the town of North Elba beginning in 1964.
The book was edited by Lee Manchester. From 2000 through 2006, Manchester was a staff writer for the Lake Placid News. In that capacity, he got to know MacKenzie and became familiar with the extensive research she had done on the history of Lake Placid and the surrounding township of North Elba.
When she died in 2003, I was afraid that most people would never know of the body of work she had developed, because most of it existed only as letters, papers for her public addresses, or monographs written for individuals, said Manchester.
With a background in editing and compiling the work of others as an editor for an international nonprofit organization, Manchester asked Marys family and the Lake Placid Public Library (where her files are housed) if he could create a collected works that might eventually be published for the benefit of the community.
What surprised me the most about the material I worked with was Mary MacKenzies absolute, relentless, unflagging commitment to the truth, said Manchester.
MacKenzie had earned a reputation as one tough cookie, sharply criticizing the work of other historians when they made unfounded assumptions, did shoddy research or trusted too much in old timers tales without verifying their accounts with hard documentary evidence.
She held herself to the same standards she applied to others, often spending years tracking down the answer to a single historical question. Indeed, it was her love of that kind of historical detective work that probably kept her from compiling her own collected works she simply enjoyed the research process too much to lock herself up in a room for a year or two and devote herself to writing it all up, said Manchester.