Tuesday, December 30, 2014
It might seem pretty easy to forget the wonderful adventures that can be had along the canal once the cold and snow has arrived. Then again, it seems like a really good time to think about ways you can still enjoy it – such as visiting the museums that are open all year – or planning your spring, summer or autumn trip now!
An invaluable resource is the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor website. By clicking on that link, you can explore a myriad of options that the corridor has available for you. The site gives a lot of information not only about great heritage sites, but the canal communities along the way.
Another great online resource is the Mohawk Valley Region Path Through History website. The blog has covered information on this before, but the MVPath site does a great job of providing information on historical destinations throughout the valley and is part of a larger I Love NY initiative.
If your thing is the trails and parks along the Erie Canal or all over New York State then Parks & Trails New York is an online mega-source of information and advocacy. Schoharie Crossing has a great section of the Canalway Bicycle Path that travels through the site, and every year there are hundreds of cyclists that come through on it – PTNY is a huge advocate and promoter of the path and parks.
The New York State Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation website is a great way to check out what is happening in NYS Parks and particularly Schoharie Crossing. Keep up on changing Park opportunities, hours of operation, suggested destinations, directions and contact information. Also, check out the events page for upcoming programs and more.
Another super great way to keep up on what is going on at the site is by “Liking” their official Facebook page. Honestly, finding Schoharie Crossing on Facebook can be a challenge. There is the “Official” page that the site operates and updates - providing valuable information about programs, events and history. Then there is an automatically generated “destination” profile that people can access to indicate they have “been there.” Sure fire way to ensure you have “liked” the official page is by using a link provided and seeing the Visitor Center as the profile image.
Sunday, December 14, 2014
The Friends of Schoharie Crossing Blog has only been online since June 2014.
In that time the information posted, images shared and program details for this great historic site in New York have been viewed and shared around the globe. Below is the Top Five list of the most viewed posts:
This is a great testament to the interest in Schoharie Crossing. By reaching out through the internet and increasing our social media reach, we are connecting to not only larger numbers of people but a more diverse field of interests, backgrounds and visitor base.
To make it even more exciting is the increasing buzz about the Erie Canal due to the modern “Barge Canal” obtaining a place on the National Register of Historic Places. While the “old” canal has held that distinction since the 1960’s, the recognition that the canal system in New York is still vital today is something to be proud of.
Taking a tiny leap forward toward 2017, there is also a lot of discussions happening in the canal community all over the state as development of programs, exhibits and outreach are underway to celebrate the bicentennial of the first shovel full of earth moved to create the artificial river that would go on to define an era and build a nation. Began in 1817, the digging of the canal has been recognized as an engineering marvel and New York State has a lot of rich history that surrounds it.
Look forward to more information from Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site on how it is planning to recognize and celebrate the anniversary!
*Please consider being a part of the great things that happen at Schoharie Crossing, where history is celebrated and created!
|Print, complete and send along to us.|
Your generous contribution funds events, programs and development at Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site. As a supporter of this heritage site your efforts are appreciated and recognized. To learn more, please contact: Schoharie Crossing - (518) 829-7516 for more information about the Friends Group.
Friday, December 5, 2014
In part one of Keep
Your Powder Dry we briefly explored the artistic aspects of powder horns
and how they portrayed the Fort Hunter area in the colonial era. A small disclaimer at the bottom of that
article mentions that horns were used to store bulk powder. This article will take a quick look at that
concept of bulk powder as it translates to ammunition cartridges and use.
Recently another blog – Journal of the American Revolution covered severe supply shortages in powder the army needed to be an effective fighting force; especially early in the war before heavy foreign support. Commentary on that post by scholars and authors does a great job in demonstrating bulk powder stored in barrels and how that translates into rounds of ammunition per pound and per soldier. For each round the dry weight measurement of grains is used, and the number of approximate grains per pound averages at seven thousand. There is some uncertainty as to the number of pounds per barrel but the common accepted number of rounds that could be produced from it is around 3,500. That roughly indicates an average of 40 rounds per pound, assuming that the barrel contains about 90lbs of powder. Each round would contain somewhere over 160gr to 220gr that was typically to be used to propel a .69cal ball from a .75cal musket.
The math can seem overwhelmingly insecure – especially when we are working with rough ideas and the adjustment of measurement scales that may skew figures. But that all seems a bit beside the point here.
How was this powder keep secure and dry – or at least as much as possible given circumstances? The answer to that has some variations as well, however we will take a short journey through common practices.
|Image sourced: NPA.gov|
Most notably is the standardization of rounds into cartridges that could be created with a treated paper. These cartridges served the purpose of powder protection, and almost more importantly consistency for each shot and reduction of loading time. As show in the image, a paper cartridge would be rolled around a dowel and ball. With the ball end folded and securely affixed to keep the end tight and now allow loose grain powder to spill out, the dowel was then removed and the paper tube would be filled with a measured amount of powder. The open end would be folded and secured leaving a “flap” that would be used to open the cartridge for loading.
|Image sourced: NWTA.com|
Paper cartridges were often coated in beeswax, lard, or tallow, which served a number of purposes. It provided some degree of water resistance, it lubricated the paper-wrapped bullet as it was pushed down the bore, and it melted upon firing to mix with the powder residue and make the resulting fouling easier to remove.
So now what? The cartridges would further be protected after being made or distributed to individual soldiers by use of a cartridge box. More on that in the next segment...
As always, your comments and or questions are encouraged!
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Upon arriving at the Visitor Center this morning, there was a pleasant surprise that the water level was low enough to give a peak at the remains of several dam efforts built across the Schoharie Creek for purposes of the Erie Canal.
|West bank view - 12/02/14|
The Schoharie Creek is the watershed for an area of nearly a thousand square miles and is notably the principle southern tributary of the Mohawk River. During the planning of the original Erie Canal, a survey by Engineer Charles C. Broadhead, noted the creek surface would be low and a dam would be required to raise the water surface approximately ten feet. This was in order to avoid the cost at the time of constructing an aqueduct, but it would also allow the use of the creek to feed water into that portion of the canal without additional works.
The first dam was built in 1821-1822 and was a timber structure filled with stone and anchored in masonry. At eight-feet in height and spanning six-hundred fifty feet across the creek the original dam allowed for a rise in water level two feet less than Broadhead’s calculation due to the use of Lock #19 (with a six foot lift) on the western bank and the additional “Voorhees” Lock #18 (with a seven foot lift) near Caughnawaga. On the east bank of the Schoharie Creek a guard lock was constructed to regulate the water and was only closed at times of high creek levels or fast moving current.
While the creek could still prove treacherous, the practice of open crossing continued until the erection of the Schoharie Creek Aqueduct in the early 1840’s.* Even after the canal rose above the creek instead of through it, the dams were vital to the operation of the system. Though the maintaining of those dams proved to be difficult, costly and frequent, they nonetheless were required for decades to come.
This first dam lasted about ten years and was rebuilt in sections after severe flooding in March and April of 1832. After the Schoharie Creek Aqueduct became operational in 1845, the waters of the creek continued to be fed to the canal by use of the 1820’s “Clinton’s Ditch” and a nearly ten-foot high dam. This version of the dam was of constant complaint and required continual patching and securing at a growing expense until 1849. Devastating flooding in 1850 completely destroyed the dam works in the Schoharie Creek. Use was then made for over a decade of a repaired version of the original 1820’s dam.
The last dam constructed across the creek for the Erie Canal was completed in 1864. This time at eleven feet in height and over four hundred thirty feet in length, the dam was built from timber secured by large bolts into five layers between two stone abutments. More than fourteen hundred trees at lengths between seventy to ninety feet and butt diameters between eighteen to twenty-two inches were used. Gravel and stone fill was used to secure the structure further. This dam cost well over twice that of the original, due in part to inflation but mostly because of scarce labor and rise in material prices due to the Civil War. The final bill was $44,502.27.
|Engineer & Officials atop 1864 Schoharie Creek dam|
This dam also saw a great deal of structural damage from flooding and ice. The rains of 1869 and 1879 caused flooding that broke the banks of the creek and injured the feeder canal as well – sweeping out portions of the walls. While the dam was repaired, lengthened and permanently docked to the embankments, it required annual maintenance for leaking and structural breaches. Another section washed out in 1894 and repairs were made yet again to the entire structure. Although the dam needed constant repairs it effectively lasted until a new canal was ready to take over. With the opening of the Barge Canal in the early twentieth-century, the dam and the aqueduct were no longer necessary to the system.
|A view from the west bank looking east. Circa 1890s.|
|Similar vantage points from 1998 & 2014|
*More information to come on the original crossings of the Schoharie Creek
Sunday, November 30, 2014
November saw a lot of great events, programs and celebrations around New York State in honor of NYS History Month.
While Schoharie Crossing did not have any onsite programs during the month, they operated several functions such as letter writing, press releases and social media campaigning to bring attention to the state’s history during the month. Additionally, the Friends had the ability to support the site by sponsoring the attendance of the Education Coordinator to the Researching New York Conference at the University of Albany on the 20th & 21st.
The Mohawk Valley regional portion of the Path Through History program has some great event listings as well as options to help plan your visit to or through the valley! Visitor’s to their website can use their handy MyPath or Itinerary features to see what great historical sites await them.
If you would like to keep up to date with events, information and programming at Schoharie Crossing – as well as engage with their weekly interesting posts – please “like” them on Facebook and share with friends and family. Let’s get the word out as we move toward the New Year, of the great asset to the community and preservation of history that Schoharie Crossing is!
A fantastic way to contribute to the support and success of Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site is by joining the FRIENDS!
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Researching NY Conference Notes & Thank You!
First, I would like to express my most sincere gratitude to the Friends of Schoharie Crossing for covering the cost of my attendance to the 2014 Researching New York Conference this past week. Not only were the conference sessions extremely interesting but brought a greater understanding to the central theme of the event -Identities in New York: Imagining, Constructing, Exploring and how much of that perspective could be applied to programs or events at Schoharie Crossing.
The opportunity to be a part of one of the larger New York History conferences was amazing and allowed me the chance to not only gain knowledge but network with NY state historians, academics, historical societies, museum curators and more. I only feel that it is right and proper to produce some notes on the relevancy of the conference to what is conducted here at the site, and further propose the use of such events as a terrific way to increase awareness across the state of what Schoharie Crossing has to offer.
(L-R) Christopher Minty - NY Hist. Soc., Christopher Leahy
- Keuka College, & Eric Morser - Skidmore College
- Keuka College, & Eric Morser - Skidmore College
Session I – Opposing Loyalties: Forging Political Identities
This session applied a greater understanding of NYC politics just prior to the American Revolution as well as State vs. Federal authority during mid-19th century. Whiles these two things may seem to have a disconnect, the theme tied them together regarding the political identity of core groups and the formulation of the questions What is America? and Who decides what that is?
While the first portion delineated political groups in the colony of NY by the mercantile working class loyalist factions against the more elitist landowning lawyer driven patriot factions, the second pitted then Governor Wm. Seward and President Tyler over the right of the State in the 1840’s to try and hang a Canadian named McLeod who was charged with murder. Both have fine nuances of international intrigue with regional and even local touches. What the commentary did to pull them together was describe the ways that these two seemingly unrelated topics can be drawn to show a view of NY history as defining how American identity was formed through a developing means – not strictly at a singular unchanging moment – and that ultimately, what defines identity is centrally human perspective.
Applying this to SXSHS is background overall regarding not only the political climate leading up the Revolution as would affect the Mohawk Valley/Ft. Hunter, but the ongoing political debate over State/Federal authority and power during the early canal years and first enlargement era. Economics play heavy into that discussion as well and perhaps the NYS economic hardships of the mid-1800’s provoked a more heated debate between the State, the Federal government as well as Canada and Great Britain regarding the incident. Again, this provides evidence that the early American republic was still “working out” rights of authority as well as its identity globally.
Session II – Making History Work - Discussion Panel
This session was presented by a diverse panel of historians, curators and preservationists. Primarily the discussion pertained to the concept of re-approaching collections and partnerships in order to tell a historical narrative from a different perspective. The focus often lead to commentary on collaboration with organizations, schools, colleges and the community in order to achieve this broad concept.
|(L-R) Ivan Steen - SUNY, John Bonafide - NYS Preservation |
Bureau, Michael Lucas - NYS Museum, Kathleen Johnson -
HistoryConsulting.com, & John Scherer - Clifton Park Historian
Discussion was also had on public consumption of history and it needing to remain relevant to a broad base as well as to current topics. With the public history field being driven by exhibits, collections and information geared toward the interest of the community and the academic history field detailing greater depth of historical facts but without the reach to the public. Since several of the panelists where on either side of this “line” there was also discussion on how to bring them together either by linking to public interest, tourism, or other fashion and narrowing the gap or perceived gap between them.
There was also much conversation on doing the above as a way to gain attendance, attention and funding. As many are aware, funding for historical societies, sites and other organizations is sparse and the overall consensus is utilizing public interest to draw support of the institutions/organizations. Additionally, the idea of engaging and gaining public interest could be directing that into the supporting role of advocacy – to donors and government officials.
Session III – Hodinohso:ni’ in Post WWII New York
This session provided stirring background and information regarding the Iroquois in the years after the American Revolution in New York State. Much of the presentation was based from the 1940’s until today, but rooted by issues going back to the colonial era and especially post-colonial conditions.
The first of the presentations was about Ernest Benedict and provided a great deal of information about his editorial success as a newspaper man and bringing together the larger complex global issues into a regional and local context of the Akwesasne Mohawk Reserve that is situation between the borders of Canada and the state of New York. This was great context for the rise in the American Indian Movement on the heels of civil rights and American social changes.
The other presentations outlined the conditions – socially, economically, but most relevantly politically – of the Mohawk Nation in its dealings with the “absentee” Federal/National government and the tense “non-trusting” relations with the government of New York State. Much of the panelists’ comments regarded an emphasis on the rights of the modern day indigenous peoples and the effects of fractioning within their own communities regarding lands, resources and political sovereignty and governance.
Applicable to SXSHS is the notion often expressed by visitors that there is no longer a current, mobile and viable Iroquois or Mohawk peoples when discussing the village and Fort Hunter. Not only does this give an increasing knowledge base to share, but the link to the over 100,000 Iroquois that live in the U.S. and Canada currently can be found in New York History that is even occurring to this day. The worldview can also be shared more directly, as information was given about the Hiawatha Institute for Indigenous Knowledge’s new location going in at Waterford, NY. This provides partnership opportunities to share Six Nations knowledge.
Day Two: Nov. 21st
Session IV – Eleanor Roosevelt: Working Woman
This session was extremely helpful not only in providing information about one of NY’s great leaders, but of the approach taken to interpret her legacy to the public. The panelists from SUNY and the National Parks Agency (who oversee several Roosevelt sites), discussed the process of this in as much detail as the events of her life.
Their stated relentless position is that interpretation should outline the predominate identity of the individual as well as presenting information on how or why that identity or perception was formed – all while maintaining relevancy within the exhibit or collection to the public interest. Thus, challenging the understanding of who we are as a people and generating not only interest but direction to think differently about the past as well as “how history is constructed.”
|(L-R) Franceska Macsali Urbin & Frank Futral of the|
Roosevelt Vanderbilt National Historic Site (NPS)
As a way to apply this to SXSHS going forward – more complicated profiles of the important figures of the canal, Fort Hunter and perhaps even the development of the Schoharie Crossing as an historic site may be explored.
During the lunch hours of the conference an address by professor and author Lisa Tetrault outlined the origin of the Seneca Falls Convention and the US Women’s Rights and Suffrage movement. From the vantage of the myth created regarding the importance of Seneca Falls and detailing the factions within the women’s rights movement, Tetrault discussed the “origin of an origin” when its importance is historically relevant.
The greater lesson used by way of the information presented in her book and outlined by her address is one that those looking to explore history should be well aware of - perspective. Who is communicating the history and to what ends? As she mentioned the creation of the myth and insertion of false details to encourage or foster the belief or importance, we can all ask ourselves about historical events or people those same basic questions. Stopping short of stating great skepticism is needed, the broad idea is that everyone should be understanding of history as a matter of perspective and seek out deeper understanding whenever possible.
Session V – Beyond Seneca Falls – Integrating Women into NYS History- Discussion Panel
This panel session of the conference looked to ask the question more than answer it, as to how NYS History can integrate more female narrative and thereby represent greater diversity of women within it? The answer would seek to go further than placing women into just supporting roles or as “token” mentions in the overall story.
|(L-R) Karen Pastorello - Tomkins Cortland Community College,|
Susan Goodier - SUNY Polytechnic
Inst. & Hamilton College, & Susan Lewis - SUNY New Paltz
It seemed that one obvious method would be placing events into greater context while using larger themes illustrating women’s importance as essential. Through this broadened curriculum, human rights and struggles can present realism by use of relevant details.
Applying this to programs for SXSHS there is a way to deepen the understanding of the impact and roles played by women from across the eras – from Mohawk Clan mothers to women on the canal and locally in Fort Hunter. Instead of casting only into supportive roles, they may be integrated –not just highlighted- into the narrative and presented to the public.
Session VI – Public History: Variations on a Theme - Discussion Panel
This session held a discussion outlining approaches to get students and students interested in NYS history through diverse themes viewed differently. One such way was fostering individual exploration and research in line with significant interests that promote identity within NY Heritage. The highlight then was doing so within cultural institutions and collaboration with community groups, school, etc.
By use of portals to collections and resources to educate what is available and therefore encourage greater use of them, this can additionally generate a more community based identity where materials create an investment in the historical site, society or organization. A retired librarian turned archivist brought great information about digital collections online that can be used to advocate use of the site and showcase collections.
|Bruce Dearstyne, Independent Scholar|
These methods are all great ways to reduce or eliminate the “disconnect from history” that seems to exist overall in the population. According to the panelist Bruce Dearstyne, it should be apparent to most in the field that there is a need to “bring about historical context to current events and champion NY history.” The entire panel seemed to agree with that sentiment – as did the audience – and that an approach that is people centered with solid examples that are relevant can build on larger themes in the community.
This supports the interest of SXSHS to bring awareness of the site to the community as a resource for many varied options. The benefit of the site is even greater than the history and by fostering the use of it we can generate a further investment of the public to maintenance, interpretation and preservation.
The Workers of the Erie Canal – Capital Repertory Theater presentation
The final event of the conference was a performance of part of the Capital Repertory Theater Educational Program The Workers of the Erie Canal: They Built America. Conference attendees and the general public were treated to the first 25 minutes of the hour long program, followed by a question and answer session. The group will be presenting this program as part of their 2014-2015 Education Season ON-THE-GO! Tour in the spring.
Offered to schools and other organizations as a way to bring life to the story with the use of period music and acting out of characters, the program creates a tale using historical documentation to generate composite main characters alongside actual historical figures like DeWitt Clinton and Canvass White. This program makes great use of the main character and realizes that through the fact that she is an orphan girl. The performance covers the canal from the political to the social aspects of policy, building, use and widespread effect on the people and state of New York, America and globally.
As information regarding this program is released to school districts, there will also be accompanying educational information and documents for teachers and districts to make use of when covering the Erie Canal. Part of the materials that will be distributed will include information about the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor as well as the sites along the way. This could increase some awareness of SXSHS to districts that may otherwise not know how we can be accessed and that we are a resource for their curriculum. While there is a cost for the performance to reach a school, there are several grants and scholarships available, much like a field trip to our site.
The sessions provided additional background and information to approach programming, events and everyday interpretation here at Schoharie Crossing. By networking and adding new elements from various other sites and their perspectives, I am in hopes of bringing something from the conference to the site that will support the mission and allow for a greater reach to the community.
Seminars and conferences like this one keep those of us with vested interest into the site on up to date and renew or give fresh ideas.
Thank you once again for your dedication to Schoharie Crossing.
Sunday, November 23, 2014
|Click logo for MVPath Events|
Mohawk Valley Events and More!
Discover great things around the area by visiting the local historic sites, participating in their events and becoming a part of the energy that flows through this terrific valley.
These are just a few of the ways to spend time supporting local historic sites and having a great time as well:
129 Schoharie St., Fort Hunter 12069
Free - Donations Accepted | None
For more information please contact:
David | 518-829-7516
Christmas at the Fort
December 06, 2014 10:00am - 6:00pm
389 Canal Street, Fort Plain 13339
Free, donations are very much appreciated!
For more information please contact:
Brian Mack | 518-774-5669
Christmas at the Fort On Saturday December 6, 2014 from 10 am to 6 pm, the Fort Plain Museum will hold its annual holiday program. This year’s event will mark the Grand Opening of “The Children’s Attic” toy exhibit sponsored by Stewart’s Shops. Stewart’s Shops provided the museum with two grants totaling $2,000 which went towards rehabilitating the room (paint, electrical, shelves, etc.) and exhibit material. We greatly appreciate the generosity of Stewart’s Shops. This year’s event will feature book signings with AJ (Joyce) Berry and James F. Morrison. This year the duo brings 3 new books; The Colonels of Tryon County; Marinus Willett, Saviour of the Mohawk Valley; and Gitty, the Little Slave Girl. Also, the Town of Minden Historian, Robert Carter and AJ Berry will be signing copies of Memories of Fort Plain and the Town of Minden, which is a photo book featuring the history of Fort Plain and Minden. There are several photos from all periods of history included in this treasure. In addition to the above mentioned book signings, we will also have colonial holiday music played by members of the Liaisons Plaisantes! Further, we will have several crafters, items for sale in the gift shop, refreshments, and holiday fun! Christmas at the Forts is part of the Heritage Holidays events in conjunction with other historical sites in the Mohawk Valley. This event is free, however donations are greatly appreciated!
4th Annual Holiday Tea and Craft Fair
December 07, 2014 11:00am - December 07, 2014 4:00pm
42 Moyer Street, Canajoharie, NY 13317
$15.00 for non-members / $10.00 for members | $15.00 for non-members / $10.00 for members
For more information please contact:
Mark Brody | (518) 673-4186
Join us for the 4th Annual Holiday Tea and Craft Fair on Sunday, December 7th, 2014, at the Van Alstyne Homestead Society and Museum (The Fort Rensselaer Club), 42 Moyer Street, Canajoharie, NY 13317. Come and attend one of the three seating’s beginning at 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., and 3:00 p.m. Seating is limited, so be sure to get your tickets early (tickets for members are $10.00 and tickets for non-members are $15.00). Prepare for the Holiday Season by purchasing some amazing gifts at the craft fair, enjoy some delicious finger sandwiches (sweet and savory), scones, and of course there will be a large assortment of teas. You will also be able to enjoy live holiday music performed by a string quartet. Come out and support your local community with your friends and neighbors - ‘Tis’ the Season! Please contact the Plain Food Coop in Fort Plain, NY 13339 for tickets (518) 993-4194 and at The Tourist Center in Canajoharie, NY 13317 (be sure to state which seating time is preferred - 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., or 3:00 p.m.).
OLD FORT JOHNSON - http://www.oldfortjohnson.org/events
Join us for what has become a holiday tradition for many. This year there are two Saturdays to choose from and two seatings each day. The cost is $20.00 per person and includes tea, savory tea sandwiches, assorted sweets, and fresh fruit. Seating is limited and places are filling quickly.
Reservations are required by calling 518-843-0300.
Saturday, November 29
11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. OR
2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Saturday, December 6
11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. SOLD OUT
2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Don't forget November is New York State History Month!
Celebrate the rich culture and heritage of NY !
Friday, November 21, 2014
From the Friends of Schoharie Crossing Summer 2014 Newsletter
This is a short piece about Tippet Pipes. Some fragments of Tippet manufactured pipes have been discovered during archeological excavations at Schoharie Crossing – the site of the British colonial Fort Hunter.Enjoy.
|Click on image to enlarge|
Keep up to date on all the info, programs & events at Schoharie Crossing
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Monday, November 17, 2014
The first known use of the term Woodchuck, according to the Meriam-Webster Dictionary, was in 1674. While no definitive evidence has been presented, the folk etymology (or origin) of woodchuck has nothing to do with wood or chucking. Instead, it is thought to be derived from an Algonquian word: wuchak; akin to the Narragansett ockqutchaun.
Any ground burrowing critter posed a concern for operators on the Erie Canal. Persons with a job such as Pathmaster keep vigilant watch over sections of the towpath and remedied potentially unsafe conditions. A section of the original “Clinton’s Ditch” 1820’s Erie Canal towpath at Schoharie Crossing is affectionately called the “Woodchuck Walk,” and with good reason. Several of these small furry mammals call the site home.
Just what is a woodchuck though?
Marmota monax (Linnaeus): otherwise known as a woodchuck, ground-hog or by several other regional terms. They are broad stocky rodents that create living space under-ground and have a coarse yellowish-brown fur, blunt nose and medium to small tail.
Their habitat is generally borders of forested land adjoining open field or meadow space. Woodchucks use their burrows to spend the night, to escape from predators and inclement conditions, to raise young, and to hibernate over winter. They are known in the wild to live up to five or six years and typically can produce three to five offspring per year.
Though mainly solitary creatures, when food resources and safe habitat are plentiful, there may be many in a given area.
While the ‘chucks at Schoharie Crossing have fattened up and are leery eying the grounds, knowing hibernation is at hand and thinking about their re-emergence in the spring, it is fun to remember the creatures you can come across while walking the towpath trails.