A pleasant tour awaits the traveler who continues his journey north from Albany, where the Delaware and Hudson train for Saratoga is ready at the landing on the arrival of the steamer. A half hour’s run along the west bank gives us a glimpse of Troy across the river with the classical named hills Mount Ida and Mount Olympus. Two streams, the Poestenkill and the Wynant’s Kill, approach the river on the east bank through narrow ravines, and furnish excellent water power. In the year 1786 it was called Ferryhook. In 1787, Rensselaerwyck. In the fall of 1787 the settlers began to use the name of Vanderheyden, after the family who owned a great part of the ground where the city now stands. January 9, 1789 the freeholders of the town met and gave it the name of Troy. The “Hudson,” the “Erie,” and the “Champlain” Canals have contributed to its growth. The city, with many busy towns, which have sprung up around itCohoes, Lansingburg, Waterford, etc., is central to a population of at least 100,000 people. The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the oldest engineering school in America, has a national reputation.
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Cohoes, where the Mohawk joins
Cohoes, comes from an Indian origin and signifies “the island at the falls.” This was the division line between the Mahicans and the Mohawks, and when the water is in full force it suggests in graceful curve and sweep a miniature Niagara. The view from the double-truss iron bridge (960 feet in length), looking up or down the Mohawk, is impressive.
Passing through Waterford, and Mechanicville which lies partly in the township of Stillwater, with its historic records of Bemis Heights and burial place of Ellsworth, the first martyr of the Civil war, we come to
Round Lake, nineteen miles north of Troy, and thirteen south of Saratoga, near a beautiful sheet of water, three miles in circumference, called by the Indians Ta-nen-da-ho-wa, which interpreted, signifies Round Lake. The camp-meeting and assembly grounds consist of 200 acres. The air is pure and invigorating and the grove and cottages inviting. The drives in the vicinity are delightful to Saratoga Lake, to the Hudson River, to the historic battlefields of Bemis Heights and Stillwater.
Ballston Spa, thirty-one miles from Albany, is the county seat of Saratoga. Here are several well-known mineral springs, with chemical properties similar to the springs of Saratoga. Over ninety years ago Benjamin Douglas, father of Hon. Stephen A. Douglas, built a log house, near the “Old Spring,” for the accommodation of invalids and travelers, and at one time it looked as if Saratoga would have a vigorous rival at her very doors; but its hotel glory has departed and the old “Sans Souci” of the days of Washington Irving is a thing of the past.
Saratoga, thirty-eight miles north of Albany, one hundred and eighty-two miles from New York, is the greatest watering place of the continent. Its development has been wonderful, and puts, as it were, in large italics, the prosperity of our country. The first white man to visit the place was Sir William Johnson, who, in 1767, was conveyed there by his Mohawk friends, in the hope that the waters might afford relief from the serious effects of a gunshot wound in the thigh, received eight years before in the battle of Lake George, at which time his army defeated the French legions under Baron Dieskau. It was not until the year 1773, six years after Sir William Johnson’s initial visit, that the first clearing was made and the first cabin erected by Derick Scowten. Owing, however, to misunderstandings with his red neighbors, he shortly afterwards left. A year later, George Arnold, from Rhode Island, took possession of the vacated Scowten House, and conducted it with some degree of success for about two years. Arnold was in turn followed by Samuel Norton, who failed to make the venture successful, owing to the outbreak of the Revolution. Norton was succeeded in 1783 by his son, who sold out in 1787 to Gideon Morgan, who, in the same year, made the property over to Alexander Bryan. Bryan became the first permanent settler after the close of the war. The prosperity of the village began in 1789, with the advent of Gideon Putnam, but the wooden inns and hotels of 1830, which seemed palatial in those days, would get lost even in one of the parlors of the mammoth hotels which now line the main street of the village. Chief among these hotels, we mention the
“United States,” a grand and princely building of noble frontage with a bright and spacious interior court, completed in June, 1874. It constitutes one continuous line of buildings, six stories high, over fifteen hundred feet in length, containing nine hundred and seventeen rooms for guests, and is the largest hotel in the world.
The American-Adelphi near at hand, also fronting Broadway, always cheery and delightful under the management of its popular owner and proprietor, Mr. George A. Farnham, has one of the finest locations in Saratoga, combining comfort, good attention, a fine table, and every convenience of a first-class house. One thing is sure, those who go to the “American” return again and again.
The Speedway, the Race Track, and Driveways
Saratoga can justly feel proud of her material growth and progress in many directions during the last decade, and prominent among her varied attractions are the Speedway and Race Track. Mr. W. C. Whitney and many other prominent men have contributed liberally in this direction. The Electric Line to Saratoga Lake is also one of the features of the village, and furnishes a delightful forenoon or afternoon’s outing.
The most prominent springs in and about Saratoga are the Hathorn, the Patterson and the Congress. The popularity of the Hathorn is attested by the universal sale of its bottled waters throughout the United States. The Patterson has won a wide reputation which its excellence deserves.
But in the midst of this throbbing, gay and delightful Saratoga, we must not forget that it was here the fathers of the Republic achieved their most decisive victory. The battle was fought in the town of Stillwater, at Bemis Heights, two and a half miles from the Hudson. The defeat of St. Leger and the triumph of Stark at Bennington filled the American army with hope. Burgoyne’s army advanced September 19, 1777. The battle was sharply contested. At night the Americans retired into their camp, and the British held the field. From September 20th to October 7th the armies looked each other in the face, each side satisfied from the first day’s struggle that their opponents were worthy foemen. The Americans had retaken Ticonderoga and Lake George. Burgoyne had no place to retreat, and the lines were slowly but surely closing in around him. October 7th Burgoyne commenced the battle, but in half an hour his line was broken. He attempted to rally his troops in person, but they could not stand before the impetuous charge of the Americans. He was compelled to order a full retreat, and fell back on the heights above Schuylerville. The Americans surrounded him, and he surrendered. It was a decisive victory, and cheered the friends of freedom, not only in America, but in the English House of Commons.
Mount McGregor, where General Grant died, associates the Saratoga of the Revolution with the story of our Civil War. Near the monument to the old heroes at Schuylerville, where Burgoyne surrendered, a monument to the Boys in Blue was dedicated in 1904. It was the privilege of the writer to be the poet of the occasion, and in his lines “The Flag They Bore,” to bind the noble memorials of those who made and those who saved the Republic.
Two monuments in triumph stand
To catch with joy the morning sun,
One chorus joins them hand in hand
Heroes of Grant and Washington.
And wider yet the chorus leaps!
Two famous hills the song unites,
As Mount MacGregor’s anthem sweeps
Across the plains to Bemis Heights.
In Nathaniel Bartlett Sylvester’s book, entitled “Historical Sketches of Northern New York and the Adirondack Wilderness,” we learn that the earliest date in which the word Saratoga appears in history is 1684, and was then the name of an old hunting ground on both sides of the Hudson. Its interpretations have been various. Some say “The Hillside Country of the Great River;” others, the place of swift waters, while Morgan, in his “League of the Iroquois,” says the signification of Saratoga is lost.
Whatever the origin of the name whether from the old High Rock spring or a “reach of the river,” one thing is sure: Saratoga is the most attractive point in the country as a gathering place for conventions and large meetings, and, in response to the growing demand for adequate facilities, a splendid convention hall, with a seating capacity for five thousand people, has been erected by the town authorities. It is a striking architectural addition to Saratoga’s attractions.
In 1907 over fifty thousand “Knights” gathered here and were hospitably entertained.
Saratoga to the Adirondacks
The Adirondack Railway division of the Delaware and Hudson furnishes one of the pleasantest excursions to the north woods. The traveler passes along the romantic and picturesque valley of the upper Hudsonthrough King’s, South Corinth, Jessup’s Landing to Hadley (the railroad station for Luzerne, a charming village at the junction of the Hudson and the Sacandaga); then through Stony Creek, Thurman, thirty-six miles from Saratoga Springs, at the junction of the Schroon and the Hudson; the Glen, forty-four miles; Riverside, fifty miles (for Schroon Lake), pleasurable throughout, to North Creek, where “Concord coaches” and patent-covered spring buck-boards are in waiting for Blue Mountain Lakedistance about thirty miles, through a beautiful romantic country.
The water route from this point is as follows: Through Blue Mountain Lake and Utowana to the outlet, a distance of seven miles, where a “Railway Carry,” something less than a mile, brings the traveler to a fairy-like steamer on Marion River. The river trip is twelve miles to Forked Lake.
Arriving at “Forked Lake Carry,” one-half mile brings us to Forked Lake, where the traveler gets his first real mountain bill of fare. From this point we took a guide to Long Lake. There is a short cut from this point over to the Tupper Lakes, which we can commend in every particular, and the tourist can either return to Long Lake and continue his route to the Saranacs, or go to the Saranacs direct from Lake Tupper.
From this point we visit Keene Flats, a charming and healthful spot, only five miles from the “Lower Ausable Pond.” These ponds, the “Lower” and “Upper,” are unrivaled in beauty and grandeur. They lie at the foot of Mount Marcy, Haystack, the Gothics, and Mount Bartlett.
Saratoga to Lake George
The traveler will find trains and excursions to suit his convenience from Saratoga to our fairest lake. His route takes him through Gansevoort and Fort Edward to Glens Falls with the narrowing and bright-flowing Hudson for a companion. About one mile beyond Fort Edward Station, near the railway on the right, stood, until recently, the tree where Jane McCrea was murdered by Indians during the Revolution. From Glens Falls the tourist proceeds over the well-conducted Lake George division of the Delaware and Hudson, and soon finds himself in the midst of a historic and romantic region. About half way to the lake stands a monument to Col. Ephraim Williams, killed at the battle of Lake George in 1755, erected by the graduates of Williams College, which he founded. Bloody Pond, a little farther on, sleeps calm and blue in the sunlight in spite of its tragic name and associations, and soon Lake George, girt-round by mountains, greets our vision, stretching away in beauty to the north.
Near the railway station on the ninth of September, 1903, a monument was unveiled commemorating the battle of Lake George one hundred and forty-eight years before. The monument embodies the heroic figures of Sir William Johnson and King Hendrick the Indian chief. It represents the Indian chief demonstrating to General Johnson the futility of dividing his forces. Governor Odell of New York, Governor Guild of Massachusetts, Governor Chamberlain of Connecticut, and Governor McCulloch of Vermont and others delivered appropriate addresses.
The Trossachs of America
Capt. Wm. R. Lord, author of “Reminiscences of a Sailor,” in a recent article contributed to a Scottish paper, has happily called Lake George and its surroundings “The Trossachs of America.” In writing of the autumn season he says: “Its similarity to the Trossachs of Scotland impresses one most vividly as seen at this season; the mountains are clothed in a garb, the prevailing color of which is purple, reminding me of a previous visit through the Scottish Highlands when the heather was in full bloom. I at that time felt it to be impossible that any other place on the face of the globe could equal the magnificently imposing grandeur of the ‘Trossachs.’ I must, however, freely admit that in its power of changing beauty this region of America fully equals, if it does not surpass it. Deeds of ‘derring-do,’ enacted in these mountain fastnesses in days gone by, still add to make the comparison more close. Our path at times seemed to be literally strewn with roses, for the different colored leaves that carpeted our way conveyed that thought. The depth and variegated beauty of coloring that marks this season of decaying foliage, would enrapture the heart of an artist. In my vocation I have had occasion to visit the four quarters of the globe, but never have I seen tints so strikingly beautiful.”
Lake George, called by the French “Lac St. Sacrament,” was discovered by Father Jacques, who passed through it in 1646, on his way to the Iroquois, by whom he was afterward tortured and burned. It is thirty-six miles long by three miles broad. Its elevation is two hundred and forty-three feet above the sea. The waters are of remarkable transparency; romantic islands dot its surface, and elegant villas line its shores. Fort William Henry and Ticonderoga, situated at either end of the lake, were the salients respectively of the two most powerful nations upon the globe. France and England sent great armies, which crossed each other’s track upon the ocean, the one entering the St. Lawrence, the other the harbor of New York. Their respective colonies sent their thousands to swell the number of trained troops, while tribes of red men from the south and the north were marshalled by civilized genius to meet in hostile array upon these waters, around the walls of the forts, and at the base of the hills. In 1755, General Johnston reached Lake St. Sacrament, to which he gave the name of Lake George, “not only in honor of his Majesty, but to assert his undoubted dominion here.”
The village of Lake George is situated at the head of the lake. It contains two churches, a court house, and a number of pretty residences. Just behind the court house is the bay where Montcalm landed his cannon, and where his entrenchments began. It ran across the street to the rising ground beyond the Episcopal church.
Fort William Henry Hotel is the largest and best appointed hotel on Lake George. It has a most beautiful and commanding location, and the view from its great piazza is one long to be remembered. The piazza is twenty-four feet in width and supported by a row of Corinthian columns thirty feet high. The outlook from it at all times is enchanting, commanding as it does the level reaches of the lake for miles, with picturesque islands and promontories.
About twelve miles from the hotel is Fourteen-mile Island which, with a number of others, form “The Narrows.” The lake here is 400 feet deep, much fishing is done, and in the right season hunting parties start out. Black Mountain, the monarch of the lake, rises over two thousand feet above its waters (being 2,661 feet above tide), and from the summit a magnificent view is obtained of Lake Champlain, the Green Mountains, the Adirondacks, and the distant course of the Hudson.
A carriage drive to Schroon Lake and conveyance from Schroon Village to Adirondack resorts can be made from Lake George.
Those who have only a day can make a delightful excursion from Saratoga to Caldwell by rail, then through the lake to Baldwin, and thence by rail to Saratoga, or via Baldwin and up the lake to Caldwell, and so to Saratoga. But, to get the full beauty of this unrivaled lake, the trip should be made with less haste, for there is no more delightful place in the world to spend a week, a month, or an entire summer. Its immediate surroundings present much to interest the student of history and legend; and to lovers of the beautiful it acknowledges no rivals. The elevation and absolute purity of air make it a desirable place for the tourist. It is 346 feet above the level of the sea, 247 feet above Lake Champlain, and is now brought within six hours of New York City by the enterprise of the Delaware &Hudson Co. It is a great question, and we talk it over every time we see the genial Passenger Traffic Manager of this enterprising line, whether Lake George or Lake Luzerne, in Switzerland, is the more beautiful. We were just deciding last summer, on the steamer “Horicon,” that Lake George was more beautiful, but not so wild, when, as if the spirit of the lake were roused, a great black squall suddenly came over the mountains, and, the “crystal lake” for a few minutes, was as wild as any one might desire. We all were glad to see her smile again as she did half an hour afterward in the bright sunlight.
“At its widest point Lake George measures about four miles, but at other places it is less than one mile in width. It is dotted with islands; how many we do not know exactlynobody does; but tradition, which passes among the people of the district for history and truth, says there is exactly one island for every day in the year, or 365 in all. Whatever their real number they all are beautiful, although some of them are barely large enough to support a flagstaff, and they all seem to fit into the scene so thoroughly that each one seems necessary to complete the charm. On either side are high hills, in some places rising gently from the shores, and in others beetling up from the surface of the water with a rugged cliff, or time-worn mass of rocks, which reminds one of the wild bits of rocky scenery that make up the savage beauty of the Isle of Skye.
“Its clearness is something extraordinary. From a small boat, in many places, the bottom can be seen. Indeed, so mysteriously beautiful is the water that many visitors spend a day in a rowboat gazing into it at different points.”
Charles Dudley Warner says: “Bolton, among a host of attractive spots on the lake, holds, in my opinion, a rank among the two or three most interesting points. There is no point of Lake George where the views are so varied or more satisfactory, excepting the one from Sabbath-day Point. At Bolton the islets which dot the surface of the lake whose waters are blue as the sea in the tropics, carry the eye to the rosy-tinted range which includes Pilot, Buck and Erebus Mountains, and culminates in the stateliness of Black Mountain. Or, looking northwest, the superb masses of verdure on Green Island are seen mirrored on the burnished surface of the lake. Behind rises the mighty dividing wall called Tongue Mountain, which seems to separate the lake in twain, for Ganouskie, or Northwest Bay, five miles long, is in effect a lake by itself, with its own peculiar features.” The Champlain Transportation Company runs a regular line of steamboats the entire length of the lake, making three round trips daily, except Sunday. The “Horicon” is a fine side-wheel steamer, 203 feet long and 52 feet wide, and will accommodate, comfortably, 1,000 people.
At Fort Ti the tourist can continue his northern route via the Delaware &Hudson to Hotel Champlain, Plattsburgh, Rouse’s Point, or Montreal, or through Lake Champlain by steamer. The ruins of Fort Ti, like old Fort Putnam at West Point, are picturesque, and will well repay a visit.
Lake George to the Adirondacks
The reader who does not visit Lake George may feel that he is switched off on a side-track at Fort Edward; so, coming to his rescue, we return and resume our northern journey via the main line, through Dunham’s Basin, Smith’s Basin, Fort Ann, and Comstock’s Landing, to
Whitehall, at the head of Lake Champlain. From this point north the Delaware & Hudson crosses all thresholds for the Adirondacks, and shortens the journey to the mountain districts. It passes through five mountain ranges, the most southerly, the Black Mountain range, terminating in Mt. Defiance, with scattering spurs coming down to the very shore of the lake. The second range is known as the Kayaderosseras, culminating in Bulwagga Mountain. The third range passes through the western part of Schroon, the northern part of Moriah and centre of Westport, ending in Split Rock Mountain. The fourth range, the Bouquet range, ends in high bluffs on Willsboro Bay. Here the famous Red-Hook Cut is located, and the longest tunnel on the line.
The fifth range, known as the Adirondack Range, as it includes the most lofty of the Adirondack Mountains, viz.: McIntyre, Colden and Tahawas, ends in a rocky promontory known as Tremblau Point, at Port Kent.
No wonder, with these mountain ranges to get through, that the subject was agitated year after year, and it was only when the Delaware and Hudson Company placed their powerful shoulder to the wheel, that the work began to go forward. For these mountains meant tunnels, and rock cuts, and bridges, and cash. Leaving Whitehall, we enter a tunnel near the old steamboat landing, cross a marsh, which must have suggested the beginning of the Pilgrim’s Progress, for it seemed almost bottomless, and pass along the narrow end of the lake, still marked by light-houses, where steamers once struggled and panted “like fish out of water,” fulfilling the Yankee’s ambition of running a boat on a heavy dew. Then winding in and out along the shore, we proceed to
Ticonderoga, 23 miles from Whitehall. Here terminates the first range of the Adirondacks, to which we have already referred, viz.: Mount Defiance. Steamers connect with the train at this point on Lake Champlain, also with a railroad for Lake George. Near the station we get a view of old Fort Ticonderoga, where Ethan Allen breakfasted early one morning, and said grace in a brief and emphatic manner. The lake now widens into a noble sheet of water; we cross the Lake George outlet, enter a deep rock-cut, which extends a distance of about 500 feet, and reach Crown Point thirty-four miles north of Whitehall. Passing along the shore of Bulwagga Bay we come to
Port Henry, 40 miles from Whitehall. A few miles further the railroad leaves the lake at Mullen Brook, the first departure since we left Whitehall, and we are greeted with cultivated fields and a charming landscape.
Westport, 51 miles from Whitehall, is the railroad station for
Elizabethtown, the county seat of Essex. It is about eight miles from the station, nestled among the mountains. A county consisting mostly of mountain scenery could have no happier location for a head-centre. Elizabethtown forms a most delightful gateway to the Adirondacks either by stage route or pedestrian tour.
A short distance north of Westport we enter the well-cultivated Bouquet Valley, and after a pleasant run come to Wellsboro Falls, where we enter seven miles of rock cutting. The road is about 90 feet above the lake, and the cuts in many places from 90 to 100 feet high. After leaving Red-Rock cut, we pass through a tunnel 600 feet long. Crossing Higby’s Gorge and rounding Tremblau Mountain, we reach
Port Kent, the connecting point for the progressive village of Keeseville.
Ausable Chasm, is only three miles from the station of Port Kent. It is many years since we visited the Chasm, but its pictures are still stamped upon our mind clearly and definitelythe ledge at Birmingham Falls, the Flume, the Devil’s Pulpit, and the boat ride on the swift current. Indeed, the entire rock-rift, almost two miles in length, left an impression never to be effaced. The one thing especially peculiar, on account of the trend of the rock-layers was the illusion that we were floating up stream, and that the river compressed in these narrow limits, had “got tired” of finding its way out, until it thought that the easiest way was to run up hill and get out at the top.
On a commanding site 200 feet above the lake some three miles south of Plattsburgh, stands the superb “Hotel Champlain” commanding a view far-reaching and magnificent, from the Green Mountains on the east to the Adirondacks on the west. The hotel grounds comprise the same number of acres as the islands of Lake George, 365. The hotel is 400 feet long. We condense the following description from the “Delaware and Hudson Guide-book,” which we can heartily endorse from many personal visits:
“Resolute has been the struggle here with nature, where rocks, tangled forest and matted roots crowned the chosen spot; but upon the broad, smooth plateau finally created the Hotel Champlain has been placed, and all the surrounding forest, its solitudes still untamed, has been converted into a superb park, threaded with drives and bridle paths. At the foot of the gradual western slope of the ridge the handsome station of Bluff Point has been located beside the main line of the Delaware & Hudson Railroad, the chief highway of pleasure and commercial travel between New York, Saratoga, Lake George, the Adirondacks and Canada.
“From the station where the coaches of the hotel await expected guests, a winding pike, the very perfection of a road, leads up the hill. From the carriage, as it rises to the crest, a wondrous outlook to the westward is opened to view. Nearly a thousand square miles of valley, lake and mountain are within range of the eye or included in the area encircled by visible peaks. As the porch of the hotel is reached, the view, enhanced by the fine foreground, is indeed beautiful, but still finer is the grandeur of the scene from the arches of the tall central dome of the house.
“To the southward we see Whiteface, showing, late in spring and early in autumn, its coronet of almost perpetual snow; and in a grand circle still more southward we see in succession McIntyre, Marcy (both over 5,000 feet high), Haystack, Dix, the Gothic peaks, Hurricane and the Giant. This noble sisterhood of mountains rises from the very heart of the wilderness, and yet the guests at the Hotel Champlain may reach any portion of their environment within a few hours.”
The fine equipment and frequent train service of the Delaware &Hudson between New York and Bluff Point without change, by daylight or at night, and the direct connection of the same line with the Hudson River steamboats, places this resort high upon the list of available summering points in the dry and healthful north for families from the metropolis. Travel from the west, coming down the St. Lawrence River, or through Canada via Montreal, will find Bluff Point easy to reach; while from the White Mountains and New England seashore resorts it is accessible by through trains via St. Albans or Burlington.
The western shore of Lake Champlain forms the margin of the most varied and altogether delightful wilderness to be found anywhere upon this continent east of the Rocky Mountains. The serried peaks to the westward are in plain view from its shores, their foot-hills ending in lofty and often abrupt ridges where they meet the lake. Three impetuous rivers, the Saranac, the Salmon and the Ausable, flow down from the cool, clear lakes, hidden away in the wildwood, and, breaking through this barrier at and in the vicinity of Plattsburgh, contribute not only to the lucid waters of Lake Champlain but greatly to the picturesque variety of the region.
Plattsburgh and the Saranacs
Plattsburgh, 168 miles from Albany, at the mouth of the Saranac, is a delightful threshold to the Adirondacks. The northern part of Lake Champlain offers special attractions to camping parties. The shores and islands abound in excellent sites. Lake Champlain is also replete with interest to the historian. The ruins of Fort St. Anne are still seen on the north end of the Isle La Mott, built by the French in 1660. Valcour Strait, where one of the battles of ’76 was fought; Valcour’s Island, where lovers came from far and near, built air castles, wandered through these shady groves for a season or two, and then vanished from sight, bankrupt in everything but mutual affection; Cumberland Bay, with its victory, September, 1814, when the British were driven back to Canada; and many other points which can be visited by steamer or yacht.
It is thirty years since I made my first trip to the Saranacs and I remember well the long journey of those early days, but now we can step aboard a well equipped train at Plattsburgh and in five or six hours stand by the bright waters of the Lower Saranac, which might to-day be called the centre and starting point for all resorts and camping grounds in the eastern lake district of the Adirondacks. Floating about the Saranac Islands of a summer evening, roaming among forest trees, strolling over to the little village one mile distant, and absorbing the rich exhilaration of a life of untrammeled freedom, with a perfect hotel, and blazing fire-places if the weather happens to be unpleasant, form a grand combination, alike for tourists or seekers after rest.