Tag Archives: Tourism

The Immigrant Thomas Cole and NY State Tourism


By on

1 Comment

View of Fort Putnam (Thomas Cole)Thomas Cole (1801-1848) , English immigrant, is regarded as a father of the Hudson River School, the first national art expression of the American identity in the post-War of 1812 period. It was a time when we no longer had to look over our shoulder at what England was doing and could begin to think of ourselves as having a manifest destiny. Cole also was very much part of the birth of tourism which occurred in the Hudson Valley and points north and west. Continue reading

Study Estimates 2.2 Million NYS Trail Users


By on

1 Comment

Trail CountParks & Trails New York, the New York State Trails Council, and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation have announced the results of a New York State Trail User Count.  The study focused on 14 of the state’s greenway or multi-use trails where volunteers conducted user counts this past August.  Based on the results of these counts it is estimated that over 2.2 million cyclists and pedestrians are using these trails each year.

The greatest estimate was over 650,000 annual users at the Hudson Valley Rail Trail in Ulster County. Other popular trails include the Jones Beach Bikeway, the Bethpage Bikeway, the Harlem Valley Rail Trail, and the Robert Moses Trail near Niagara Falls. Continue reading

Celebrating Black History in New York State


By on

4 Comments

Underground Railroad in New YorkFebruary is Black History Month and New York State offers a special window into African American history and American culture as it was a center for 19th century anti-slavery organizations, and home to Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman and many other Abolitionist and Underground Railroad leaders. In the 20th century the National Association of Colored People (NAACP) has its roots in the Niagara Movement, whose first meeting in 1905 took place on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls because members were turned away from hotels on the U.S. side. Continue reading

Peter Feinman: A Fork In The Path Through History


By on

3 Comments

PathThroughHistoryOn January 25, I attended the Mid-Hudson regional meeting of the Path through History project. What follows is my report on the meeting which may, or may not, be the experience and take-away of others who attended (or what is happening in other regions). The Mid-Hudson Valley region includes the Hudson River counties of Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, Ulster, Orange, and Rockland, along with Sullivan County in the Catskills. Continue reading

Peter Feinman On New York’s ‘Ruin Porn’


By on

3 Comments

Ruin porn is in. Ruin porn is hot. Ruin porn is sexy. Ruin porn is the term coined by Jim Griffioen, who writes a blog about his life as a stay-at-home dad in Detroit.

As part of that effort he periodically posts photographs he has taken of the more than 70,000 abandoned buildings in his city. Such images included (as reported in the New York Times) “‘feral’ houses almost completely overgrown with vegetation; a decommissioned public-school book depository in which trees were growing out of the piles of rotting textbooks”. The term has become a familiar one in the city not without some misgivings by the locals as they watch tourists take souvenirs of their city back home. Continue reading

Public History and Debate of Public Issues


By on

4 Comments

How important is “public history?”

The essay on public history in the newly published second edition of the Encyclopedia of Local History, provides some fresh insights. The Encyclopedia, edited by Tompkins County Historian Carol Kammen, a long-time leader in the field, and Amy H. Wilson, an independent museum consultant and former director of the Chemung County Historical Society in Elmira, is  a rich source of fresh insights on all aspects of local history. Continue reading

Adirondack History: A Whiteface Mountain Cog Railroad?


By on

0 Comments

In 1935, after years of planning, debate, and construction, the Whiteface Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway was completed. It was named in honor of America’s veterans of the so-called “Great War” (World War I), and was expected to be a major tourist attraction. Automobiles were becoming commonplace in the North Country at that time, and travelers to the region now had a thrilling view available to them at the press of a gas pedal.

Seventy-five years later, it remains a spectacular drive and a great family excursion. But the macadam highway to the summit almost never came to be, and New Hampshire’s Mount Washington nearly had a New York counterpart.

Since the mid-1800s, men had planned various strategies to access the top of Whiteface Mountain. There were footpaths, horse trails, and designs drawn for a carriage road. But on a much more ambitious scale, railroad access was once planned to the summit. Had it been completed, it’s possible the present highway would never have been built.

The idea for a rail line to the top of Whiteface surfaced regularly in the early 1890s, when the famed hostelries of Lake Placid catered to a growing clientele. Attractions were needed to ensure that visitors would return, and an easy view from atop Whiteface would be a great amenity for the growing tourism industry.

The idea gained momentum in 1892 when a group of New York City financiers, led by Mirror Lake Hotel manager Charles Martin, purchased the summit of Whiteface. Martin’s plan included a carriage road to the top, and facilities providing for overnight stays. The carriage road, he said, would follow “French’s old route,” a reference to Samuel and Russell French, who operated a hotel at the village of “French’s,” later known as Forestdale, northwest of Whiteface.

In the following year, Albert Putnam, a member of the same syndicate, confirmed those plans, adding that a railroad would be built to the summit from the Lake Placid side. The goal was to match the success of Mount Washington’s cog railway, the only such line east of the Rockies. Construction was set for spring 1894, but an economic depression (the Panic of 1893) ended the ambitious, expensive venture.

The Panic was a terrible time, rated by many economists as second in severity only to the 1930s. While the Great Depression was linked to bank failures, the financial problems in the 1890s stemmed from massive railroad failures (which toppled many banks as well). It was not a great time to be looking for funding to create a tourism-related rail line.

In 1898, upper management of the Delaware & Hudson Company prepared a cost estimate for running a cog railway up the Lake Placid side of the mountain, a much steeper grade than the motor road that exists today. The plans called for a small hotel at the summit; terminal depots at the mountain’s base and at Lake Placid village five and a half miles away; and two steamers on the lake for carrying passengers from the village dock to the mountain-base terminal.

A cog railway is the only safe train option for steep ascents and descents. The motor drives a cog gear, and the gear’s teeth catch in a toothed rail that lies between the two outer rails, controlling the train’s movement and preventing wheel slippage on steep inclines. The total cost for the special line was estimated at $100,000 ($2.7 million in 2012). The scheme never got beyond the planning stage, however, and was subsequently abandoned.

In 1901, the resurgent economy brought renewed interest in the project, but with revisions. Instead of focusing solely on visitors already in the Wilmington area, the new idea was to develop a regional transportation system beginning on the shores of Lake Champlain. A trolley was planned from Port Kent to Lake Placid, with a second line leading to the top of Whiteface.

Leases were secured on the mountain, providing a circuitous four-mile route to the summit for the cog-wheel road. The cost was again estimated at $100,000. But problems arise with any project, and this one was no different. Not all of the mountain’s owners were enthusiastic about a rail line to Lake Champlain, instead favoring local connections between Lake Placid village and the mountain’s summit.

Those who conceived the original project saw steamboat and rail traffic along Lake Champlain as the keys to success, providing easy access for tourists. Successfully establishing leases for linking to the lake might convince the mountain owners to climb aboard for the entire project.

But the proposed trolley line ran into unforeseen difficulties. Electricity was needed to operate it, and planners were unable to secure waterpower rights through the Ausable Valley. After several efforts, that part of the plan was scrapped.

The mountain’s owners still envisioned a rail line up Whiteface, but the plan that was halted by financial conditions in the 1890s now fell victim to time and technology. Though the railroad idea was frequently revisited, the growing popularity of automobiles suggested an alternative plan better aligned with the future. Through the 1920s, the rail concept gradually morphed into a paved-highway initiative, culminating in the memorial highway to the summit.

Photos: Mount Washington’s cog railway; ferry dock at Port Kent (1907); cog railway across the ridges of Mount Washington.

Lawrence Gooley has authored 11 books and more than 100 articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 24 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.

Hudson Valley Greenway, Conservancy Joint Meeting


By on

0 Comments

The Boards of the Hudson River Valley Greenway Communities Council and Greenway Conservancy for the Hudson River Valley will meet on October 17, 2012 at the historic Cornell Boathouse at Marist College, Poughkeepsie, NY.

The meeting will feature a presentation by Mara Farrell, a Founder of the Friends of the Fishkill Supply Depot, the major staging area for Revolutionary War soldiers in the North, who also serves on the board of directors of Calvert Vaux Preservation Alliance. Ms. Farrell will speak on a preservation project in the Village of Fishkill.

The meeting will also feature Hudson River Valley Greenway and National Heritage Area business, as well as Greenway Conservancy, Greenway Compact and Greenway Communities grant awards. A meeting of the National Heritage Area Management Committee immediately to follow.

The meeting will begin with networking at 9:30 am (meeting starts at 10). Questions or concerns can be directed to the Greenway office at 518-473-3835 or hrvg@hudsongreenway.ny.gov.

Photos: Above, The Cornell Boathouse was once part of a Regatta Row; Below, the Boathouse today (courtesy Marist Collge)

Bridges And New York History


By on

3 Comments

New York State has approximately 17,000 highway bridges. They are essential for traveling around our state and connecting our communities. About 37% are “functionally obsolete” or “structurally deficient,” according to DOT, a reminder of the need for continuing investment to maintain valuable resources.

Bridges – old and new – are part of community and state history. The story of three historically significant bridges shows various connections to history. Continue reading

2012 Hudson River Valley Ramble Events Set


By on

0 Comments

The 2012 Hudson River Valley Ramble will be held on the weekends of September 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, and 29-30, 2012, with more than 165 events from the Capital District to New York City.

The Ramble aims to bring people outside to enjoy our distinct cultural heritage and the natural resources of the Hudson River Valley. It also serves as an economic boost for the regional economy. Nearly 150 environmental, land conservancy, trail and historic preservation organizations, New York State historic sites and parks, as well as the National Park Service participate by offering events, and many are free of charge and family friendly.

Guided hikes, cycling and kayaking tours, historic site walks, festivals and river explorations are examples of some of the types of events that will be available for every ability level. With all that the Ramble has to offer, you’ll have no problem finding a Ramble adventure near you. 
For a complete listing of events, visit www.hudsonrivervalleyramble.com. Copies of the program guide can be found in the August issue of Chronogram magazine or at various tourist destinations throughout the Hudson Valley. They may also be downloaded directly from the web site.

The Hudson River Valley Ramble is presented by the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area and Hudson River Valley Greenway, in partnership with the NYS DEC Hudson River Estuary Program, NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the NYS Office of Tourism, the National Park Service, and nearly 150 organizations hosting Ramble events throughout the Hudson River Valley.

Group to Study Economic Impact of Erie Canalway Trail


By on

0 Comments

Visitors to the Erie Canalway Trail this summer may encounter students wanting to know more about their visit as part of a an economic impact study being conducted by the statewide not-for-profit advocacy group, Parks & Trails New York (PTNY). Paul Scipione, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Business and Director of the Survey/Research Center at SUNY Geneseo is leading the eight-month effort.

Throughout July and August, Dr. Scipione and his team will survey 600-800 current trail users to gather data on demographics, trail usage and spending patterns, and overall trail experience. Approximately 30 SUNY Geneseo undergraduates who live within the Canalway Trail corridor will administer the survey to persons selected randomly at multiple points along the trail. In addition, students will be noting the number and nature of trail users as part of an expansion of the annual Erie Canalway Trail count.

Students will also survey local business owners and government, economic development and tourism officials. The information obtained from the surveys will be used to ascertain current and potential economic impacts of the Erie Canalway Trail on New York’s economy, in terms of dollars as well as jobs generated and sustained. Study results will be published in early 2013.

“We are certain the Erie Canalway Trail has a positive effect on the economy of hundreds of local communities, but we don’t presently have statistically valid data to back that up. We look forward to receiving the survey results and sharing them with business owners, elected officials, and community residents,” said PTNY Executive Director Robin Dropkin.

Dr. Scipione has directed more than 1,000 research studies, a number of which have dealt with travel and tourism, recreational venues and the measurement of quality-of-life issues.

Parks & Trails New York is the leading nonprofit organization, working since 1985, to expand, protect and promote a network of parks, trails and open space throughout New York State through advocacy, outreach, technical assistance to communities, and promotion of bicycle tourism. For more than a decade, PTNY has actively promoted the Canalway Trail through its annual Cycling the Erie Canal tours; popular guidebook, Cycling the Erie Canal: A guide to 400 miles of adventure and history along the Erie Canalway Trail; and interactive on line version of its guidebook. PTNY has also worked with local business people and elected officials to attract and meet the needs of bicycle tourists in their communities through its Bicyclists Bring Business workshops and guidebook, Bicyclists Bring Business: A Guide for Attracting Bicyclists to New York’s Canal Communities. For more information, go to www.ptny.org.

The study is funded in part by the New York State Canal Corporation and the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor.

Bike Tour: Champlain Canal and Rev War Road to Saratoga


By on

Comments Off

On Sunday August 12, enjoy a free 20-mile guided bicycle tour along the Champlain Canalway Trail between Hudson Crossing Park in Northumberland and Saratoga Battlefield in Stillwater.

This tour will take bikers past historic sites of interest related to the Revolutionary War and the Champlain Canal. Sites include Hudson Crossing Park, Champlain Canal Lock 5, the Schuyler House, the Champlain Canalway Towpath Trail and Saratoga National Historic Park. Continue reading

Hudson River Greenway Offers Trail Grant Program


By on

0 Comments

Applications are now available for the 2012 Greenway Conservancy Small Grant Program from the The Hudson River Valley Greenway. A total of $50,000 is available for matching grants in this year’s program.

The Greenway Conservancy Small Grant Program is an annual competitive grant funding opportunity available to communities and not-for-profit organizations within the designated Hudson River Valley Greenway area, which extends from Saratoga and Washington counties to Battery Park, Manhattan.
The program offers funding for trail planning and design, construction and rehabilitation, and education and interpretation. Emphasis is placed on trail projects that seek to implement the goals of the Greenway Trail Vision Plan, fill in identified gaps in the Greenway Trail System, and make improvements to designated Greenway Trails. Copies of the Hudson River Valley Greenway Trail Vision Plan may be downloaded online
This annual program has offered technical and financial assistance to municipalities and not-for-profit organizations since 1995.

Projects that will be considered for funding through this year’s grant program include:

· Education and Interpretation projects, including trail signs, kiosks, guides, maps, brochures, one-day conferences or workshop series. 

· Projects to construct, design or plan trail segments or trail links that further the goals of the Greenway Trail Program.

· Rehabilitation projects to improve trails/trail segments that further the goals of the Greenway Trail Program.

Applications can be requested by calling (518) 473-3835, by emailing the Greenway at hrvg@hudsongreenway.ny.gov, or by download from the Greenway website. All applications must be postmarked by 5:00 pm, August 17, 2012. Late, incomplete, faxed or emailed applications will not be accepted.

New Leadership for Great Lakes Seaway Trail


By on

0 Comments

Seaway Trail, Inc. has named Michael “Mike” Bristol as its new President and CEO. The Great Lakes Seaway Trail is a 518-mile, two-state National Scenic Byway, a New York State Scenic Byway, and a state-designated Bicycle Route in New York and Pennsylvania. Bristol becomes only the second President and CEO in the Great Lakes Seaway Trail’s 34-year history.

The Seaway Trail scenic driving route was designated in 1978. The Seaway Trail, Inc. nonprofit organization formed in 1986 with Teresa Mitchell as its first director. Mitchell passed away in January and Charles “Chuck” Krupke served as Interim Executive Director.

Mike Bristol began his new leadership role July 2, 2012. He brings nearly 30 years’ experience in tourism, athletics and nonprofit management to the tourism and economic development organization based in Sackets Harbor, NY.

A Florida State University graduate, Bristol was the Associate Director of his alma mater’s Seminole Boosters, Inc., a national-level fundraising corporation. He served as President and CEO of the Tallahassee Area Convention and Visitors Bureau from 2002 to 2005.

Upon returning to his native northern New York, Bristol served as Director of Marketing and Outreach for The Antique Boat Museum on the Great Lakes Seaway Trail in Clayton, NY. Bristol is a member of the Clayton Local Development Corporation Redevelopment Committee that is overseeing a new dock and hotel development.

The Great Lakes Seaway Trail organization is known for diverse travel theme marketing, a “Best of the Byways” guidebooks series, Great Lakes Seaway Trail “Outdoor Storyteller” signage, and innovative programming that includes a American Volkssport Association-approved series of War of 1812-theme walks.

Popular travel themes include scenic driving road trips, maritime and military history, four seasons’ outdoor recreation, birdwatching, lighthouses and shipwrecks, bicycling, quilting and cultural heritage.

To learn more about the Great Lakes Seaway Trail byway that runs alongside the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, Niagara River and Lake Erie in New York and Pennsylvania, go online to www.seawaytrail.com.

Photo provided.

Peter Feinman: Cuomo’s ‘Path Through History’ Project


By on

1 Comment

Our Governor’s father, also a Governor, was a great admirer of Abraham Lincoln. The son wants to make history as the first President of Ellis Island origin. He has gained a reputation as a passion advocate for the restoration of the Capitol, so much so that he was said that he seemed “at times more like its chief historian—or at other moments, its chief architect, interior decorator and custodian” (New York Times). Continue reading

New Seaway Guide: Sailors, Keepers, Shipwrecks, and the Maid


By on

0 Comments

As Nik Wallenda prepares to walk over Niagara Falls, the newest book in the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Guidebook Series – Sailors, Keepers, Shipwrecks, and The Maid – tells the stories of the Falls’ first tightrope walkers and other daredevils, the famous, and fascinating everyday people who have lived, worked, played and traveled along the Lake Erie, Niagara River, Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River shorelines in New York and Pennsylvania.

Readers will discover interesting details about American Presidents, pirates, pioneers, chefs, lighthouse keepers, artists, and adventurers in the collection of vignettes enhanced by historic photographs, art, illustrations and maps.


The Maid in the new book’s title is the Maid of the Mist tour boat, a Niagara Falls tradition since 1846 and co-sponsor of the book project.

The guide’s introduction encourages driving the full 518 miles of the National Scenic Byway and stopping at a series of Great Lakes Seaway Trail “Outdoor Storyteller” signs to learn more facts about local architecture, agriculture, maritime, military and natural history.

The new book is written by Steve Benson and published by the nonprofit tourism promoter Seaway Trail, Inc., Sackets Harbor, NY. Benson is also co-author of Great Lakes Seaway Trail’s French and Indian War guidebook Waterways of Way: The Struggle for Empire 1754-1763.

Learn more about the Great Lakes Seaway Trail series of travel guides voted “Best of the Byways” by the American Recreation Coalition online at www.seawaytrail.com  or call 315-646-1000 x200.

Lake Erie region stories in Sailors, Keepers, Shipwrecks, and the Maid include: tales of fish wars and Lake Erie’s fury, the Erie Triangle, Dan Rice and Daniel Dobbins, War of 1812 combatants, grape growers, Celeron’s many legacies, the Dunkirk Lighthouse and notable shipwrecks.

Buffalo/Niagara Falls region stories include: Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural masterpieces, a tale of pistols at 12 paces, shipwrecks and pirates, Underground Railroad heroes, the ghost of the French Castle, and the “Cat-of-the-Mist.”

Rochester/Central Lake Ontario region stories include: War of 1812 heroine Bathshua Sheffield Brown (her ancestors operate Brown’s Berry Patch, Waterport, NY); Sam Patch, the Yankee Leaper; photography pioneer George Eastman, the Underground Railroad on Sodus Bay.

Eastern Lake Ontario region stories include: Harriet Tubman and other Underground Railroad heroes, “The Big Cheese,” the War of 1812 Battle of Big Sandy, a female Commandant at Sackets Harbor, a tale of two wrecks, and The Whittlesey Woman.

Thousand Islands/St. Lawrence River region stories include: skiffs, steamships, and yachts; pirate Bill Johnston; a Maple Island murder mystery; two castles; artist Frederic Remington, Fort de La Presentation, and the 1760 Battle of the 1000 Islands.