A Presidential Destination
In the Lake George Region we celebrate our heritage. The natural beauty of this landscape has been the backdrop of varied historical events from bloody battles to post-war retreats.
The above portrait of Washington belongs to Fort Ticonderoga Museum Collections. It was painted by Charles Peale Polk at the height of Washington’s popularity in the late 1790’s, depicting him as the hero of the Battle of Princeton. (Copyright Fort Ticonderoga. Photo Credit Gavin Ashworth.)
When Washington was in the region, he was waiting on the official cessation of hostilities with Great Britain.
Here’s an excerpt from a letter Washington wrote to the President of Congress:
“In most disagreeable circumstances here, anxiously expecting the Definitive Treaty without command and with little else to do than to be teazed with troublesome Applications and fruitless demands…I have resolved to wear away a little time in Performing a Tour to the Northward as far north as Tyconderoga and Crown Point and perhaps as far up the Mohawk River as Fort Schuyler. I shall leave this place on Friday next and shall probably be gone about two weeks.”
Jefferson & Madison
In May of 1791 both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison went on a month-long Northern Tour visiting Upstate New York and New England.
Madison said the object of this trip was “health, recreation and curiosity.”
“Madison’s bilious attacks and Jefferson’s periodical headaches vanished in the days spent walking over Revolutionary War battlefields, scrutinizing botanical novelties, and fishing on Lake George. The whole, for Jefferson, was fortified by a scientific focus of national utility,” according to a post on Monticello.org.
Here are some of Jefferson’s observations about the plant and animal life and geological features of Lake George:
“Lake George. Honeysuckle [Lonicera] wild cherry with single fruit, the black gooseberry, Velvet Aspen, cotton Willow, paper birch or white birch, bass-wood wild rose, Spruce pine with single leaves all round the stem ⅓ I. long, with abundance of sugar maple pitch pine, white pine, silver fir, thuya, red cedar. The Thuya is much covered with a species of long moss of a foot long generally, but sometimes 4.f. Strawberries now in blossom and young fruit.
This lake is formed by a contour of mountains into a bason 36. miles long and from 1. to 4. miles wide, the hill sides shelving down to the water edge and only here and there leaving small intervals of low land, tolerably good. Now and then are precipices of rock forming the bank of the lake, as well as hanging over it in immence heights. One of these is famous &c. [famed by the name of Rogers’s rock, the celebrated partisan officer of that name having escaped the pursuit of Indns. by sliding down it when covered with snow, and escaping across the lake then frozen over. The neighborhood of this lake is healthy but there are few inhabitants on it.] It’s waters very clear, except just at the North end, abounding with salmon-trout of 7.℔ weight, speckled or red trout, Oswego bass of 6. or 7.℔ weight, rock bass, yellow perch. There are seagulls in abundance, loons and some wild-ducks. Rattle snakes abound on it’s borders.”
In a letter to his daughter, Jefferson wrote:
“Lake George is, without comparison, the most beautiful water I ever saw; formed by a contour of mountains into a basin thirty-five miles long, and from two to four miles broad, finely interspersed with islands, its water limpid as crystal and the mountain sides covered with rich groves of thuja, silver fir, white pine, aspen and paper birch down to the water edge, here and there precipices of rock to checker the scene and save it from monotony. An abundance of speckled trout, salmon trout, bass, and other fish with which it is stored, have added to our other amusements the sport of taking them …”
At the North Creek Depot Museum you can learn about Theodore Roosevelt’s midnight ride from our region to Buffalo where he was sworn in as the 26th President of the United States following President William Mckinley’s death.
Roosevelt was at a Vermont Fish and Game League luncheon near Lake Champlain when he was first told McKinley had been shot. He left there and went to Buffalo but was told the president would survive so he went ahead with a pre-planned hiking trip to Mount Marcy — the highest peak in the Adirondacks.
While there, he was notified McKinley was near death. He was then rushed to the North Creek train station where he was given a telegram that McKinley died and he would be the country’s next president. The swearing in ceremony took place in Buffalo.