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HE Adirondac region lies in the northeastern corner of the State
of New York. Thirty years ago it was almost entirely unknown.
At the present time, although mainly a wilderness, it is a very popular summer resort. It is a vast plateau extending from the St. Lawrence River on the northwest nearly to the Mohawk River on the south, and to Lake George and Lake Champlain on the east, and lying about 2,000 feet above the level of the sea. It is crossed from southwest to northeast by five ranges of mountains. Several of the peaks are about 5,000 feet in height and Mount Marcy reaches an altitude of 5,370 feet. Though there are peaks in New Hampshire and in North Carolina which rise to a greater height, the general elevation of the Adirondacs is greater than that of any chain east of the Rocky Mountains.
These mountains form the watershed between the St. Lawrence River and the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers. Among them, at an elevation of about 3,000 feet, the Hudson has its rise. At only a short distance from this point, which is in the Indian Pass, one of the wildest portions of the region and to a great extent still unexplored, are the springs of the Ausable River, which flows into Lake Champlain. Though starting close together, the waters of these rivers are hundreds of miles apart when they reach the Atlantic Ocean. The most beautiful river in the region is the Raquette, rising in Raquette Lake and flowing a distance of 120 miles until it reaches the St. Lawrence.
In this region there are said to be more than 500 mountains. Only a small portion of them have yet been named. Except at the summits of those which rise above the timber line, these mountains are covered with heavy forests. On the lower lands there is also a dense growth of trees, largely evergreens, which at many points are almost impenetrable. In the woods, and especially upon the mountains, various kinds of game abound. There are some ferocious animals as well as deer and several fur-bearing animals.
The number of lakes and ponds in the Adirondacs which have received names and been definitely located exceeds 1,000. They vary in extent from an area of a few acres to a length of twenty miles. The general elevation of these lakes is some 1,500 feet above the sea level, but many of them are much higher, and at least one, Lake Perkins, lies at an altitude of over 4,000 feet. The shores of these lakes are covered with rank grass and aquatic plants and their waters are liberally stocked with fish of good size and fine varieties. The largest lakes are the Saranac, Raquette Schroon Lake, Blue Mountain Lake, Long Lake, Lake Placid, Tupper Lake, and the chain of Fulton Lakes.
Travelling throughout the region is largely done by means of small boats. The lakes are connected by rivers and small streams. A guide is needed for the double purpose of leading the way and carrying the boat where sailing is impracticable. Camps will be found at various points and in the most frequented sections hotels have been erected. Within a few years railroads have been constructed and stage lines established, and it is now comparatively easy to reach the most popular portions of the region. The Adirondac Railroad from Saratoga to North Creek leads directly into the district. The Chateaugay Railroad from Plattsburg, lying on Lake Champlain, reached from New York by the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company Railroad, runs to Saranac Lake. From Boston the tourist reaches Burlington by the Vermont Central Railroad and crosses the lake by a steamer to Plattsburg.
The general aspect of the Adirondac region is said to closely resemble that of the Highlands of Scotland and the more elevated regions of Switzerland before they were settled. There are areas of considerable extent which no white man has ever traversed and in which "untamed nature in all its purity" holds undisputed sway. Throughout the whole region the scenery is wild and romantic and we can easily believe the assertion of experienced travellers that it has "no parallel in the world."
THE REGION OF THE CATSKILLS.
HOUGH somewhat separated from the main line, the Catskills be
long to the great Appalachian range of mountains, which extend,
in a southwesterly direction some 1,300 miles from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the State of Alabama, and which throughout their entire course are but a comparatively short distance from the Atlantic coast. The Catskills lie principally in Greene County, N. Y., rising from a plain about ten miles wide on the west bank of the Hudson River.
One of the principal points, and for many years the only place of departure for the interior of the mountain region, is Catskill, 110 miles from New York City, and itself a famous summer resort. Situated on the west bank of
the river, at the mouth of Catskill Creek, it long ago became known as the “Gem of the Hudson," and although many new rivals have been brought to public notice it still maintains its popularity. The beautiful and varied scenery, the plains and cliffs, the forests interspersed with cultivated fields, the mountain-brooks and the quiet glens, combine to make it a place for rest and peace. In this town Thomas Cole, the famous painter, lived for many years, and here, in 1848, he died. It was while residing here that the two series of his celebrated allegorical pictures entitled “The Voyage of Life," and “The Course of Empire,” were painted. While Catskill is a most attractive place, and in some portions very quiet, the town is also quite a business centre, a fact which makes it a favorite resort of city people who desire to find rest and refreshment, but who also wish to remain in close connection with the active affairs of the world. It is a point from which either the mountains or the city can be very easily and quickly reached.
The opening of new railroads has made it easy to reach the resorts in the Catskills from Kingston, also on the west bank of the Hudson River. This city, eighty-eight miles from New York, is readily reached from that point by the West Shore Railroad on the west side of the river; by the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad on the east side, connecting at Rhinebeck with Rondout, a suburb of Kingston, by a steam ferry; or by steamer up the Hudson. Kingston was settled by the English in 1614. Here the State Constitution was adopted and the first Legislature of the State of New York was convened. The old house in which the Constitution was written is still standing. In 1872 the villages of Rondout and Wilbur were incorporated with Kingston as a city. Here the Delaware and Hudson Canal has its eastern terminus. Through this canal 1,500,000 tons of coal are brought every year. From this port enormous quantities of blue flagging stones for paving the sidewalks of New York City are annually shipped and here is located the largest cement manufactory in the United States. Rondout Creek, about a mile south of Kingston, is crossed by trains on the West Shore Railroad by means of a bridge a fourth of a mile long and 195 feet above the water. Just beyond the bridge the train passes through a tunnel 400 feet in length. From this point it is only a short distance to the fine Union Depot, built in the Queen Anne style, which is used by the West Shore, the Wallkill Valley, and the Ulster and Delaware railroads. It is at Kingston that the traveller passing up the Hudson by the West Shore Railroad gains his first clear view of the Catskills. Leaving this ancient town by the Ulster and Delaware Railroad he can pass to the very centre of the mountain region, where the breezes are fresh and cool, and the most beautiful scenery greets the eye in whatever direction it may be turned.
From time immemorial the Catskills have been famed for their beauty and grandeur. Before the advent of the white man the Indian rejoiced to gaze upon their massive forms and feast his eye upon their wondrous beauty. He imagined that in this glorious region was the home of the Great Spirit who ruled the Universe, and he looked with awe upon the peaks which to his untaught mind were the visible dwelling place of a Being who was clothed with the glory and mystery of a mighty power of which he saw many evidences, but which he could in no-wise comprehend. To him they were the “ blissful regions,” the land of rest and peace. The early Dutch settlers also had a certain degree of superstitious reverence for this locality. They imagined that from the beautiful heights the soul of Henry Hudson watched with joy and pride the ceaseless flow of the magnificent river which he discovered and which bears his honored name. And when Washington Irving, the first and foremost of the great American writers of fiction, wove the various legends of the section into his charming tales, he attracted the attention of the English-speaking world to the manifold beauties of the region and gave to the Catskills, as well as received for himself, a deserved and an enduring fame.
The proximity of the region to New York, and the ease with which it can be reached from the principal points in the Eastern and Central States, unite with its wonderful natural attractions to make it a favorite summer resort for multitudes of the residents of these sections. Yet, while close to the great centres of civilization and easily reached by parties who need rest as well as recreation, the Catskill region to a great extent maintains its primitive simplicity.
Large hotels are numerous, boarding houses abound, many beautiful private residences have been erected, and there are various centres of business life and activity. But close to these are quiet walks and silvery streams, the beautiful trees and the towering mountain peaks, and the peace and quiet of nature unchanged by man. The mountain roads pass through a wonderful variety of scenery and at many points seem to bring the traveller to a “ fairy land." Those who long for the life and gayety of fashion will find all they desire at the large hotels, while those in search of rest can readily find quiet and peaceful homes. There is room enough for all and nature spreads her beauties and her glories with a lavish hand for all who come.
Though none of the mountains rise to a great height, the views from many