Thursday, June 25, 2015

Erie Canal Class Superlatives

With the end of the school year upon us, it seems only right to pick out six of the more well-known figures of the early Erie Canal history and appoint them class superlatives.  

Here is our list:

Erie Canal Superlatives

DeWitt Clinton – Most likely to Succeed

Benjamin Wright – Most likely to Elevate Engineering in America

James Geddes – Most likely to Blaze a Path Through History

Jesse Hawley – Most likely to Convince the “Lets Nots” on a Good Idea

Canvass White – Most likely to Cement Successful Enterprises

Amos Eaton – Most likely to Rock

Feel free to nominate your own in the comments section below!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Path Through History Scavenger Hunt at Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site

New York State is holding their 

Path Through History Weekend 


June 20-21.  

This year come explore Schoharie Crossing! 

During the last almost two centuries, the Erie Canal has been the waterway that is the path for so many traveling through the wonderful Mohawk Valley and across New York State.  Schoharie Crossing is the only location where all three of the major phases of the that canal can be witnessed.  Create your own history and memories visiting us in Fort Hunter, Montgomery County, New York!

For 2015 the site will be holding a Schoharie Crossing Scavenger Hunt that will ask questions pertaining to all aspects of this great historic site.  Questions range from historical facts, to plant and animal spotting as well as getting you to really seek out things you may otherwise miss on your visit.  The challenge is worth it, and a whole lot of fun too!  

The site will be hosting Scavenger Hunt participants on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  The passport can be turned into Visitor Center staff during operating hours (Fri-Sat 10a-5p or Sun. 1p-5p) or sent to the site by no later than July 1st.  A winner will be selected at random and an announcement made.

To print a copy of the 2015 MVPath Schoharie Crossing Scavenger Hunt - 

CLICK HERE to download the Scavenger Hunt Passport

Or pick one up at the Visitor Center.  Discover fascinating facts about the Erie Canal and Fort Hunter as you answer questions for a chance to win a prize package.  Please – only one entry per person.  

Get out there, Explore and Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Lafayette Encounter at Fort Hunter

While not exciting as much attention as Alexander Hamilton as of late, there appears to be a resurgence of interest in a particular noble Frenchman – Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roche Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette.  Several recent or upcoming publications have revitalized enthusiasm for the study of this historic figure – for example:  The Marquis: Lafayette Reconsidered by Laura Auricchio and Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell.  This is all on the heels of the return of the Hermione (in and educationally replica form) to the shores of Virginia at Yorktown.  This is where the Marquis landed in 1780 upon returning from France with much needed military aid for the Patriot cause.  Several exhibits are planned at various museums and institutions – notably the New York Historical Society will present an instillation at Governors Island, NYC.
Marquis de Lafayette

An interesting anecdotal occurrence during the 1824-1825 grand tour that Lafayette took of the early American republic that he had a hand in securing was published as an account by an aged Colonel Simeon Sammons – locally noted as the commander of the 115th NYS Vol. Regiment in the American Civil War. 

Originally published in 1878, the F.W. Beers & Co. History of Montgomery & Fulton County* describes an encounter at the Schoharie Creek:

…The canal, accordingly, furnished the natural route of Lafayette in his grand tour through this part of the country in 1825.  In connection with this event occurred an interesting incident not hitherto published:  While the Marquis was at Johnstown, during the Revolution, he was entertained at Johnson Hall by Jacob Sammons, who, for about four years of the war, leased the Johnson farm from the Committee of Sequestration.  There Thomas Sammons repeatedly met the French nobleman.  In the early days of the canal, Thomas Sammons was engaged in boating on the great highway… Arriving on day at Schenectady with a boat from Albany, accompanied by his boy Simeon -… he was surprised to find the main street of the town streaming with flags, gay with flowers, and lined and carpeted with evergreens.  Mr. Sammons was not long in learning that the staid old place had put on this holiday attire for the fitting reception of Lafayette, who was expected to reach Schenectady that day in his journey through the grateful country which so well honored its illustrious visitor.  It nee hardly be said that Mr. Sammons resolved to await his coming, confident that he could obtain not only the sight of the great Frenchman that would be vouchsafed to the crowd, but audience with him.
Johnson Hall
Information arrived, however, that Lafayette would not reach Schenectady until the next day and the disappointed patriot resumed his voyage, consoling himself and his son with the assurance that they would see the Marquis at Fultonville.  Their opportunity was not long deferred.  The Sammons craft, in due time, came to the point of crossing the Schoharie Creek.  Where boats now sail high, if not dry above the stream, over a massive aqueduct, they then ran through it…the team crossing on a narrow towing bridge.  Mr. Sammons’ boat was at the crossing when the packet conveying the illustrious Frenchman bore down upon it, decked with streamers and evergreens, even the harness of the horses bristling with flags.  A jubilant crowd upon the tow-path, horseback and on foot, kept abreast of the coming boat.  Sammons was exhorted to hurry across the creek and out of the way, that there might be no unnecessary delay to the progress of nobility.  He, seeing his opportunity, hastened to comply, and landing with his son, came back to the towing bridge from which he was able to board the packet as it arrived.
Stepping to the door of the forward cabin they were met by the captain who sternly demanded their object.  Learning it, he stoutly forbade their entering, saying that the Marquis was resting…  Mr. Sammons, who was a resolute man and far too intent upon his errand to allow himself to be balked… promptly convinced the captain that he was going in…
Layafette 1825
Lafayette was reclining on a couch with his head upon his hand.  As his visitors stepped up to him, he looked Mr. Sammons in the face and for an instant, and then springing to his feet, grasped both his hands in his own, and with his eyes sparkling with animation, eagerly asked: “Where have I seen you before?  I have met you somewhere.”  “At Johnson Hall, “replied Mr. Sammons; and as the Marquis with the rapidity of thought recalled his sojourn at the old Johnstown mansion, his next question was: “Is your brother Jacob living?” and his next, when told that that much tried patriot had passed away:  “Is that good woman his wife, alive?”  Being told that she was, and was living in Onondaga country, the Marquis made a hasty note of the fact.
Here the captain had the pleasure of warning Mr. Sammons that if he did not leave the boat, he would not have another chance.  “Hold the boat!” cried Lafayette, and the packet was actually stopped until the interview was ended, when Mr. Sammons stepped ashore, as may well be supposed, a proud and happy man, and his son a proud and happy boy, no doubt, or he would never have told the story with such readiness and spirit when on the down hill side of life…”

Col. Simeon Sammons
This may be a touch of fancy, provided in the supply of a youthful memory of an elderly man reminiscing proudly upon his father and a father of the country he too had served – but as a tale of interesting local flavor it is worth reviewing for the simple pleasure of conveying an idea.  America was founded by the work of many hands, from farm boys etching out a living in hard scrabble hills, to laborers from vast majestic fertile valleys, to city dwellers, & merchants, peddlers, southern gentleman, homestead wives & daughters, aristocrats, former slaves and even European nobility.  That all of those and many more produced a new republic, and forged ahead into uncertainty, this story brings home that at times the world is small – even in all its grandeur – but the connections created both physically into the earth, or through innovations of technology are simply the extension of those connections made between people. 

*History of Montgomery & Fulton Counties, NY, with Illustrations, Descriptive of Scenery, Private Residences, Public Buildings, Fine Blocks & manufactories, from original sketches by Artists of the Highest Ability; and Portraits of Old Pioneers and Prominent Residents.   New York.  F.W. Beers & Co., 36 Vesey St. – 1878.


D. Brooks - Education Coordinator for Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site

Schoharie Crossing 
PO Box 140
129 Schoharie Street
Fort Hunter, NY 12069
(518) 829-7516

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Putman Porch Music Series - Opening Evening

What a wonderful evening along the Mohawk River last Tuesday, as Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site held the first Putman Porch Music event as part of a month long series where local musicians are invited to play on the porch of the historic canal store.  Located at Yankee Hill Lock #28 of the Enlarged Era Erie Canal, the Putman Canal Store operated from 1855-1916.  The setting is perfect for some great American Roots music and from folk to bluegrass. 

Hal captured some wonderful images of the musicians that came out and we are happy that The Recorder newspaper from Amsterdam covered the fun as well.  What better way to enjoy an evening in June than along the historic old canal with great music too!

It is exciting that such great musicians came out for the first event to play on the porch and below are some links to some of their projects, but the best way to experience their talent is in person. 

We hope to see you at any or all of the remaining Putman Porch Music evenings!



A wonderful evening!

If you would like to join us in supporting the wonderful events, educational and recreational programs at Schoharie Crossing, please drop us a line at for more information on how to become a member, make a donation or volunteer your time. 
Thank you for checking out our blog.  Please let us know what you think in the comment section.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Age of Discovery at Lock 12 Tribes Hill

The canal opened for the 2015 season on May 8th, and often since then on my way across the Tribes Hill Lock 12 dam gate bridge I have witnessed approaching or departing boats – a testament that they canal is alive.  Rarely though has the craft caused me to do what I did last evening on my way home.  I stopped.  I stopped into the Lock and watched as two vessels locked through, and found myself enthusiastically speaking with those aboard.  

Below are a few pictures and a short video clip that should explain why it was worth the stop.

Jordan, the on duty operator at the lock stated in his four seasons working there he had never seen vessels like them pass through.  The Nina and the Pinta are replicas of Columbus’s voyage ships.  These two boats are Caravel style ships that are replicas (the Nina an exact one) of those Columbus used in 1492.  The Columbus Foundation, of the British Virgin Islands, operates these two ships as moving museums!  You can learn more by following this link: The Columbus Foundation, British Virgin Islands

 A gentleman on board the Pinta explained that the boats travel the Great Loop - a voyage that takes them down the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico, then around Florida, up the eastern coast into NY Harbor and up the Hudson, then using the state's canal system to the Great Lakes.  He mentioned that it is a great way to see a lot of the country, as they stop along the way at ports and small towns - giving tours of the ships and taking in the sights, sounds and experiences of the places they visit.  

It was well worth stopping to see these ships lock through, and made even more so in talking with those aboard - in their excitement for such a journey themselves - discovering a great deal of America through its great waterways...
And teaching others a bit about them as well.