Trip G: Mohawk Valley
A scenic road trip following
the Mohawk River and the
uplands to the south.
make a mistake in the Empire State!
The Mohawk Valley and the high country
adjacent to it gives the visitor a nearly complete flavor of Upstate New
York. You have the river itself, which is part of the Erie Canal System.
There are factory towns along the Mohawk River, as well as many historic
sites dating back to the 18th century. You pass through the only near sea
level route that breaches the Appalachian barrier. When you turn to the south
and then mainly follow US Route 20, you see rolling countryside carved by
glacial erosion. This is the home of abolitionism, underground caverns, and,
most importantly, baseball.
There is something in this road trip for everyone, but especially for that
geographer hiding deep inside you!
Description of the
|There are two main sections
to the Mohawk Route. One section follows the river, and the other takes
the "high road" to the south. The trip begins near Amsterdam, a river
factory town easily accessible from the Thruway. Take Route 5S that follows
the Mohawk on the south shore.
The first stop is in Fort Hunter at the Schoharie Crossing
State Historic Park. The modern Erie Canal uses the river itselft, but
the original "Clinton's Ditch" paralleled it. Here you see the remains of
old locks (photo at the right), and the Schoharie Aqueduct that took the
canal of Schoharie Creek.
As you continue westward, you pass through a very narrow part of the valley.
Two towering cliffs - The Noses - frame the view. You pass through
interesting old villages, like Canajoharie and Fort Plain.
As you approach Little Falls, stop at the canal park on Moss Island.
Here the canal has two very large locks, and the island itself has weird
rock formations that are fun to explore.
Cannons still guard Fort Stanwix, a critical place
during the American Revolution.
|Little Falls is on the
north side of the river. Follow Route 5 westward to Herkimer. For
an unusual side trip, take Rte. 28 about eight miles north to mine for Herkimer
Diamonds. (They're actually very clear quartz crystals.) Further travel
on Route 5 takes you to the largest Mohawk city, Utica. One stop you
might enjoy is a visit to the F.X. Matt Brewery, makers of Saranac
beer. If you have a designated driver, then proceed on Route 49 to the historic
city of Rome, home to the Revolutionary War Fort Stanwix and the Erie
Canal Village on Rte. 46. Here you can get out of the car and enjoy a
leisurely boat ride on the original canal.
Backtrack to Rome and pick up Route 365, an expressway leading southwest.
|Where this road meets the Thruway
is the very successful Turning Stone Casino, owned by the Oneida Indians.
Continue on to the City of Oneida, where the Oneida Community was
established. You can still visit the Mansion House. Now you pick up
Route 46 and you climb out of the lowlands to the high country to the south.
You reach US Route 20 near Madison. Turn left.
The road has a gentle kind of beauty. You go up and down into valleys created
by glaciation thousands of years ago.
After passing Richfield Springs, look for Route 80. Turn right and
you will follow Otsego Lake ("The Glimmerglass") right into Cooperstown.
Of course, all baseball fans should visit the
National Baseball Hall of Fame and nearby
Doubleday Field. But don't neglect Cooperstown's
other major cultural gem, the Farmers' Museum, right on Rte. 80.
When you leave Cooperstown, pick up Rte. 167 north, which takes you through
very nice farm country toward the old colonial frontier town of Cherry
Valley. This little village was attacked twice during 18th century conflicts.
North of the village you pick up US Route 20 again. When you get to Sharon,
take Routes 147 and 10 through the college town of Cobleskill.
You are in "Cave Country." The most popular stop is Howes Caverns,
but Secret Caverns is worth exploring also. You can't miss them. There
are signs everywhere.
To return to Amsterdam, take Route 30 north, following Schoharie Creek.
This historic baseball stadium is named in honor of Abner Doubleday, who
may have invented the National Pastime.
to go to see New York Geography
up close and personal.
on the links below!