National Geographic : 1948 Jul
The National Geographic Magazine of America's railways followed its banks, that the Erie Canal was built between Albany and Buffalo, and that from earliest times trade and population have followed this natural course from the Atlantic coast to the Great Lakes and the interior. River Begins as a Mountain Stream But in the first half of its journey the Hud son is anything but a mighty commercial high way. For a long distance it is just a typical small, narrow mountain stream, following an irregular southward course from its source in the wildest portion of the Adirondack peaks, with many branches any one of which might be considered the main stream. Now it brawls and dashes over high falls; now it trickles and winds in and out of a series of ponds, or small lakes, all in a most casual fashion, wholly disconcerting to any one bent upon pinning down its precise geo graphical source. Although its first sizable gatherings are in the series of small lakes, the Hudson's ulti mate source is Lake Tear of the Clouds, a peaceful, shallow pond which lies between Mounts Marcy and Skylight, at an elevation of some 4,320 feet. Lake Tear of the Clouds itself is beyond the reach of highways, but the motorist can easily penetrate far into the upper country of the Hudson's pond sources. If you step a few feet off the highway, even though only a few hours' ride from great cities and industries, you are in as much of a wilder ness as when the Indians lived here. There is almost immediate healing in these quiet, unspoiled, solitary spaces, and a sudden but welcome sense of both dignity and peace as one enters the Adirondack Forest Preserve, since no billboards disfigure the highway. Near Newcomb, close to the lake sources of the Hudson, is a boulder along the road bearing this inscription: "Near this spot, while driving hastily from Tahawus Club to North Creek at 2:15 a. m. Sept. 14, 1901, Theodore Roosevelt became President of the United States as William McKinley expired in Buffalo." Roosevelt had been climbing a mountain: he was ten miles from the clubhouse where he was staying when he received the news to come at once to Buffalo. It was then almost dark, and a long time was consumed in get ting a horse and buckboard. The drive over rough mountain roads to North Creek took until dawn, and no one dared tell the nervous Vice President, until he reached his train, that the President had died.* The Hudson finally comes out of its moun- tain fastnesses into broad, open lowland. Passing the prosperous little city of Glens Falls, local insurance and paper-making cap ital (Plate XIII) and birthplace of Charles Evans Hughes, it flows almost directly south until it enters the sea at New York Bay. At Schuylerville there stands high on a bluff a granite shaft in memory of the Battle of Saratoga, one of the most decisive military events in world history. Shrines of Famous Men and Battles Adorning three sides of the monument are statues of Generals Horatio Gates and Philip Schuyler and Col. Daniel Morgan. A vacant niche on the fourth side symbolizes the later treason of Benedict Arnold, although he, fully as much as any other general, won the Battle of Saratoga. It had been planned that General Burgoyne, coming south across Lake Champlain from Canada, should join Lord Howe, coming up the Hudson, at Albany. Thus the Colonies would be cut in two. But Howe failed to proceed up the Hudson, and Burgoyne's progress was slowed by an excess of heavy artillery and camp impedi menta. His opponent, General Schuyler, had 1,000 axmen fell huge virgin forest trees across the roads and also make an almost impene trable morass by diverting streams. This delay gave time for a great army of militia to join the American regulars and com pletely surround Burgoyne. France turned the tide still further in favor of the Colonials by joining them soon after getting the news of their victory. In and near Fort Edward, not far from Schuylerville, the motorist will see several monuments to Jane McCrea. This young woman, on her way to Burgoyne's camp to marry a British officer, was murdered by her ignorant and quarrelsome Indian escorts, al though they were employed by the British to bring her in safely. Burgoyne deplored the act, and British Par liamentary opponents to the war with the Colonies made a violent attack upon the Min istry for its employment of Indians. But the colonists used it to even greater effect, as propaganda against the British among the New York and New England farmers; and this was one reason why the militiamen of those Colonies turned out in such numbers to crush Burgoyne. A few miles west of Schuylerville is Sara toga Springs, long one of the most famous * See "New York State's Air-conditioned Roof," by Frederick G. Vosburgh, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIIC MAGA ZINE, June, 1938.