This page conforms to the XHTML standard and uses style sheets. If your browser doesn't support these, you may not see the page as designed, but all the text is still accessible to you.


Bringing the heritage of Schenectady County, New York to the world since 1996

You are here: Home » Resources » MVGW Home » Chapter 110

History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Chapter 110: Schenectady a Touring Center.

[This information is from Vol. II, pp. 1566-1571 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. Some images have been relocated to the area in the text where they are discussed. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

Contents | Biographies | Illustrations | Maps | Portraits

Go back to: Chapter 109 | ahead to: Chapter 111

Schenectady, at the eastern gateway to the west through the Mohawk Valley and the crossing of two famous highways — Strategically located amidst eastern mountain ranges — Wonderfully equipped park camp used by 6,000 motorists last year.

By Charles M. Ripley, E. E.
General Electric Company, Schenectady.

Motor campers, or camping motorists, whether they live north, east, south or west, are very likely to drive through Schenectady, N. Y., and when they do so, a welcome awaits them in Central Park, where in 1923, 6,000 people camped and enjoyed the facilities provided by the Park Department.

If you drive from the Great Lakes to Boston you pass through Schenectady — the eastern Mohawk Valley, "Gateway to the West."

Canadians who tour from Toronto, Montreal or Ottawa to New York and the New Jersey coast resorts, pass through Schenectady.

Therefore, this "Electrical Capital of the World" is at the crossing of the two great highways: (1) New York to Montreal, and, (2) Boston to Buffalo, by way of the Old Mohawk Turnpike, to the west.

It makes no difference whether you are going to cross the Green Mountains, over the Mohawk Trail, or cross the Berkshires, over Jacob's Ladder — Schenectady is on your route.

And if you are driving from the Great North Woods to Asbury Park or Atlantic City, from mountain to seashore, you have the opportunity of enjoying the hospitality of Schenectady parks, without driving a single mile out of your way.

[Map: Schenectady, A Motor Touring Center]

Take, for instance, those who live in the middle west — say, Ohio (using air line distances), Columbus, Ohio, is 1,150 miles from Denver, Colorado, at the beginning of the Rocky Mountains, yet it is only 450 miles from Utica, N. Y. — lying on the southwest slope of the Adirondacks and Columbus, Ohio, is only 470 miles from the Catskills, and 530 miles from the Berkshires; while the Green Mountains of Vermont are only 550 miles away, and the White Mountains in northern New Hampshire, close to Maine and the Canadian border, are distant only 630 miles.

So five northeastern mountain ranges are comparatively close to the middle west and the motorist from the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys can reach these playgrounds of the east by an easy and pleasant ride of but three or four days.

And Schenectady is a good "base of operation" for the tourist, for it is practically the hub city. It lies at the crossroads of the great highways which thread through the passes and the notches in these eastern mountain ranges. And New York State's justly famous roads lead you to tempting trout streams, babbling brooks, waterfalls, huge dams, small sized cataracts and lakes by the thousand. In New York State alone there are twelve hundred lakes, among them being the famous Fulton chain on the southwestern slopes of the Adirondacks, the Finger Lakes amidst the grape growing district of New York State around Ithaca; and Watkins Glen, one of the greatest scenic spots in the east, is but a few miles from Ithaca, at the southern end of Cayuga Lake and the seat of Cornell University.

Au Sable Chasm, the little Yosemite of the east, lies on the eastern slope of the Adirondacks and Niagara Falls is but a few minutes spin from Buffalo.

Along the Hudson, the new Storm King Highway, West Point, lies on the eastern edge of the Catskills and Ashokan Dam and Reservoir which provide New York City with water, lie only nine miles inland from the Hudson River. On the eastern slope of the Catskills, the Rip Van Winkle Trail and the Mohican Trail are near Catskill, N. Y. Phoenicia lies in the heart of the Catskills, just south of the Kaaterskill Notch.

From Schenectady the road to Schoharie opens a beautiful old-time section set amidst the steep and wild foothills of the Catskills, along the Schoharie River. This famous route runs southward through the heart of the Catskills to Catskill on the Hudson and Kingston, while the road along the Cobleskill (a branch of the Schoharie) takes you to Oneonta and Binghamton.

Northward, from Schenectady, runs the famous old Indian trail to Ballston Spa, the birthplace of General Abner Doubleday, the inventor of the game of baseball; Saratoga, the place of the healing waters and of the site of one of America's famous race tracks; Lake George, most beautiful of America's lakes; to historic and picturesque Lake Champlain, and thence to the St. Lawrence, Montreal, Ottawa and Quebec.

[Photo: The Great Western Gateway Bridge]

Westward, from Schenectady, runs the greatest automobile touring trunk line in the United States — the Old Mohawk Turnpike section of the New York, Boston and Albany to Buffalo highway. Its ninety-five mile course through the Mohawk Valley affords a scenic tour of wonderful picturesque and historic interest. The history of Schenectady and the Mohawk Turnpike are closely interwoven and the tourist, running westward from the city over this route, covers much of the ground originally settled by the hardy Holland Dutch pioneers of Schenectady.

Schenectady offers unusual facilities to motorists over the famous touring routes which run north, south, east and west from the Electric City.

In 1923, 6,000 people from 43 different states of the United States camped in Central Park, Schenectady. The park itself covers several hundred acres and includes Iroquois Lake, eight acres in extent.

Campers are provided with police protection, eight iron army field stoves and eating tables and settees sufficient to accommodate 2,500 people. There are available nine water faucets, twelve shower baths with dressing rooms and lockers, free bathing beach with bathing suits to rent if desired. There are twenty-five canoes and twenty-five boats for rent at 25 cents per hour.

A trained registered Red Cross nurse and three swimming instructors are all on duty from 9 A. M. until 9 P. M. Besides the "shoot the chutes" and two spring boards, there is complete playground apparatus. In addition, there is a baseball diamond and ten tennis courts. Besides the lake, there is a lagoon about a quarter of a mile long and also a casting platform where anglers can show their skill with rod and line. Every Sunday afternoon, during July and August, there is a concert by one of the finest 28-piece orchestras in New York State.

Campers have available telephone and telegraph service. There is also a grocery store in the park selling eggs, butter, bread, beans, sugar, tea, coffee, fresh milk, evaporated milk, candy, peanuts and other articles needed by campers and visitors.

The camping ground is illuminated with 14 lights by night, and by day is protected from the hot sun by a beautiful grove of elm trees.

In 1924, a new $25,000 Casino was finished with roof garden equipped with picnic tables. Dressing rooms for those using the twelve shower baths, a baby welfare station in charge of a trained Red Cross nurse, and a playroom for the kiddies, and other facilities are offered by the Casino.

Last year a party of Canadians camped at Central Park on Christmas Eve and proceeded on south to Atlantic City.

Tourist campers in Central Park, Schenectady, N. Y., April 15th to October 1, 1923: State and number of campers: Maine, 41; Vermont, 23; New Hampshire, 54; Massachusetts, 512; Rhode Island, 98; Connecticut, 245; New York, 546; Pennsylvania, 201; New Jersey, 171; Delaware, 20; Virginia, 18; West Virginia, 16; Kentucky, 10; Florida, 49; Ohio, 424; California, 102; Wisconsin, 35; South Dakota, 1; Illinois, 302; Indiana, 127; Colorado, 25; Oklahoma, 3; Iowa, 84; Michigan, 245; Missouri, 29; Mississippi, 7; Texas, 35; Nebraska, 25; Alabama, 5; Arkansas, 17; Oregon, 6; North Carolina, 7; Maryland, 46; Louisiana, 4; Tennessee, 12; Minnesota, 70; Washington, 7; Wisconsin, 9; Kansas, 16; Georgia, 6; Washington, D. C., 57; total, for United States, 4,714. From outside United States: London, Ont., Canada, 10; Toronto, 69; Ottawa, 11; Montreal, Quebec, 11; Hamilton, 2; Dunham Inn, 2; Sidney, Nova Scotia, 9; Vancouver, B. C., 2; Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands, 3; Balboa Heights, Canal Zone, 2; Pretoria, Transvaal, South Africa, 2; Lavrik, Norway, 5; total 128. Grand total, 4,842.

The following table shows the air line distances of scenic spots and prominent cities from Schenectady: Place and air-line distance from Schenectady: Lake Placid, 110 miles; White Face Mountain, 115; Saranac Lake, 110; Mount Marcy, 90; Au Sable Chasm, 120; Lake George, 42; Bennington, Vt., 38; Manchester, Vt., 53; Rutland, Vt., 77; Indian Lake, 77; Speculator, 55; Keene, N. H., 87; White River Junction, N. H., 95; Mohican Trail, Catskill Mts., 40; Rip Van Winkle Trail, Catskill Mts., 41; Phoenicia, 55; Ashokan Dam, 59; Kingston, 62; Storm King Highway, 91; Watkins Glen, 150; Oneida Lake, 90; Boston, Mass., 155; Worcester, Mass., 120; Springfield, Mass., 87; Providence, R. I., 150; New London, Conn., 125; New Haven, Conn., 120; Bridgeport, Conn., 115; New York City, 150; Philadelphia, Pa., 215; Binghamton, N. Y., 120; Ithaca, N. Y., 132; Syracuse, N. Y., 125; Buffalo, N. Y., 262; Rochester, N. Y., 200; Montreal, Canada, 185; Mt. Washington, White Mountains. 170.

Go to top of page | back to: Chapter 109 | ahead to: Chapter 111

You are here: Home » Resources » MVGW Home » Chapter 110 updated March 30, 2015

Copyright 2015 Schenectady Digital History Archive — a service of the Schenectady County Public Library