Mule Boy

Trip I: The Central
New York Loop

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Geography is not an indoor sport! Get out and explore New York State!


Physical Geography

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Regions of NYS

Jerry Rescue

Clinton Square in downtown Syracuse is near the site of the Jerry Rescue where abolitionist, black and white, forcibly freed William "Jerry" Henry from slave catchers.


Heids of Liverpool is a Central NY institution. It is the home of the "coney," a white hot dog very popular in upstate.

Camillus Canal Park

The old Erie Canal of the mid-1800s lives on in Camillus. On display here is the wooden gate of the Geer Lock, pictured on the right.

Tubman Home

Auburn boats both the homes of William Seward and Harriet Tubman, the fearless conductor of the underground railroad. Her home is now a museum about her amazing life after her escape from bondage.

Tully Valley

The drive along US Route 20 takes you up steep hill and down into troughs, glaciated valleys. This is the Tully Valley south of Syracuse.

Smithfield CC

The historic Smithfield Community Center in Peterboro is the future home of the National Abolition Hall of Fame.

Chittenango Falls

Chittenango Falls is formed by the creek of the same name tumbling over a limestone cliff. Nearby is the village of Chittenango, home of Frank Baum, author of the Wizard of Oz. Yes, there is a yellow brick sidewalk in the village.

Trip I: The Central New York Loop

A scenic road trip through the valleys and hills of Central New York State.

You can't make a mistake in the Empire State!

The Central New York Region has a quiet beauty that takes time to experience. There are hills and steep glacial valleys. It is the land of the eastern Finger Lakes. It experienced some very important history in the 19th century, especially in the fight against slavery. Running down the middle is the Erie Canal of old (the modern canal uses Oneida Lake and the Seneca River  north of this trail). The hub of Central New York is the city of Syracuse, the Salt City, home to the 2003 NCAA Champions of Men's Basketball, the Orange of Syracuse University. Surrounding the city are small towns with Victorian charm - Cazenovia, Chittenango, Skaneatlas.
There is so much to see; we should get started.

Trip I Map

Description of the Route:

The road trip begins in ends in the "Salt City" of Syracuse. The Erie Canal once went through the middle of town. It is now paved over as Erie Blvd. Just east of downtown is the Erie Canal Museum (Weighlock Building). This is a good place to visit to learn about Syracuse's early history. Also on Erie Blvd. is Clinton Square and the monument to the Jerry Rescue, where a fugitive slave was freed from his captors by the citizens of Syracuse.
Pick up I-81 North and get off at the Onondaga Parkway exit. Stop at the St. Marie Among the Iroquois Living History Center. This is a reconstructed fort built by the French in the 17th century. Learn how Europeans and Onondaga Indians interacted in colonial times. Nearby is the classic diner, Heids, home to the Coney. Stop there for lunch.
Hop back on I-81 south, follow signs for I-690 west and then the Rte. 5 expressway. Exit at Camillus. Near the exit is the Erie Canal Park, featuring a old general store from the 1800s.

  Geer Lock
The Geer Lock in the Erie Canal Park in Camillus. It is unusual to see the wooden frames of the lock gates still intact after all these years.

   Seward House
Seward Mansion in downtown Auburn.
Follow Rte. 5 all the way to the city of Auburn. Visit the home of William Seward, Secretary of State under Lincoln, and the man responsible for the purchase of Alaska ("Seward's Folly"). Also in Auburn about a mile south is the home of Seward's friend, the legendary Harriet Tubman, conductor on the Underground Railroad.
Head back eastward following US Rte. 20. This historic road takes up and down into glacial valleys ("troughs"). You also pass through some very picturesque villages, like Skaneatlas. When you reach the Tully Valley, take a short detour on Tully Farms Road. Here you pass over a glacial hill ("moraine") and little ponds called kettles.
Return to US Route 20 east. After further spectacular driving through this glacial landscape, you arrive in Cazenovia. This is a town that should be explored on foot. Browse the shops and little restaurants along Main Street.
Drive east on Route 20 through the hamlet of Nelson. About two miles later turn left on Pleasant Valley Road. This country byway takes you over rolling hills into the little community of Peterboro, home to Gerrit Smith, a major leader in the abolitionist movement. Soon the Smithfield Community Center will host the National Abolition Hall of Fame, honoring those who fought against slavery.
Return to Cazenovia using Cody and Fenner Roads. Immediately turn right on to Rte. 13 north. A few miles later, stop at Chittenango Falls State Park, a scenic gem in Central NY.
Continue north to the village of Chittenango, where the downtown streets are paved yellow in honor of their native son, Frank Baum, author of the Wizard of Oz. Just north of the village is another historic site from the old Erie Canal, Chittenango Boat Museum.
Take Rte. 173 west through the villages of Manlius and Jamesville. Just west of Jamesville is Clark Reservation, a beautiful park centered around Green Lake that sits in the plungepool of a glacial waterfall.
Route 173 takes you back to Syracuse. You might want to visit the campus of Syracuse University and the Carrier Dome. Both the football and the 2003 basketball champions play there.

Clark Reservation
Magnificent Green Lake in Clark Reservation near Jamestown, relic of the Ice Age.

Great places to go to see New York Geography up close and personal. 

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Road Trips
Scenic Viewpoints
Historic Places
Cultural Gems
Short Walks
Living Museums
Road Trips
Scenic Views
Historic Places
Cultural Gems
Short Walks
Living Museums

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