Joseph Cook.

Home sketches of Essex county. First number online

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J 20 WHAT TICON'UEROGA ENJOVP.

lies; yet, over these same lulls roamed Rogers, Stark, ant! Putnam m
another age ; over these same waters and vallies echoed nnirtial musie,
boom of musketry and cannon, sliouts of combat, groans of infuriated
hosts, in days long gone by. War's stern traces only become sublimo
by contrast with the scenes of peace.

That broad spreading elm, between you and the lake, stands in a
lengthened sinking of the pasture which they tell us was the under-
ground passage to the lake. It has never been explored, yet you may
mark distinctly what secras to be the place where it entered the walls.
It is the shortest cut to the water's edge, and no doubt was used as a
protecting though not probably as a secret passage.

One tradition before you rise. This bastion has a story, reported in
some rare books and apparently well-authenticated. Au Indian girl, of
remarkable beauty, taken during the French wars, was confined in this
fortress. Iler attractions cost her the coarse and dogged attentions of
a French officer, whom all her scorn and vehemence coald not cast
off. Completely in his power her life become a continual torture. —
AValking by compulsion with him one night upon tbc walls, she saved
her virtue by leaping from this giddy parapet upcc the rocks below. —
The Very limestone of ibis wall is ennobled, the very ruins among which
she fell, are glorified, by the touch of feet up-bear^ag such a spi'rit and
soul as hers. You Will never forget the spot where, distracted, mfiaglcd,
and dying, that Indian girl fell, nor regret the savage veDgeance wMch
pursued lier murderer and his garrison.

As you rise now and follow the outer wall to the north, you' sooil come
to a break with an inleading path, which marks the old spot of the en-
trance, and sally port. It is well to stop and think how many comman-
ders and soldiers have here gone in and out, sometimes with hearts
trembling before battles, sometimes exulting in victory — Montcalm,
Amherst, Allen, Gates, St. Clair, Broyman, Haldibrand. The whole
fort is in the form of a star, with nine sharp spaaglos. You notice al-
so that the entire north side of the fortress, as you walk around it,
keeping on the counterscarp (15 to 30 ft. wide) close to the outer wall,
was protected by a deep trench or covered way, W feet wide by 10 deep,^
flowing \n two places, one near the entrance and the other opposite the
northern barracks, around high bastions. This side was the most ex-
posed, the height of the parapet not being increased here as on the op-
posite by the precipitousnesa of the ground, and this being the side
next the lines, from which an enemy would naturally approach. No
trench was needed on the south side, the height of the walls forming a
sufficient defence against any attacks possible from that quarter. Sharp
angles in the counterscarp are matched by curves in the trench, which,
leading in and out, and standing so firmly after more than a century,
must have been a splendid piece of masonry. Twining up the sides of
the bastioris, and weaving across the wide trench, the ivy covers the
nests of birds in the straggling slu-ubs, and adds its strength and pro-
tection to the mortar in the walls. In crossing to where you entered,
you go down to the bottom of the trench near its cast end. A soft carpet
of green grass now mantled the place where the old floor lay. Instead
of the tramp of feet the jay wings sharply out to you from the solitary
i'Mcn plue tliut overshadowed the rampailL-. Sombre is your walk: thtrt



WHAT TICONDEHOC.A ENJOYS. 121

are the marks of the old blasting iron, held and dri?en by hands long
since cold.

Bufc you climb a steep ascent out of the trench and stand, perhaps
uucousciously, above one of the best preserved portions of the ruins. —
It is the Oven, entered by a p;iasage way through the cellar in the north
end of the ruins of the east line of barracks, directly in the corner of
the parade ground toward the Pavillion. It is visited by scores daily
in the season of travel, as the countless names on the walls testify.
,, A squirrel chirps and runs into his hole as you stoop through a low
square door and enter an arched underground apartment, twelve feet
wide and thirty in length, perfectly bomb proof. It is some ten fceb
high, and the bottom covered with stone and earth fallen in. As the
iris expands in the darkness, you notice two ovens in the further end,
ten feet deep, eight broad, and nearly six in height. There is a tradi-
tion that a passage runs from these underground to the lake, but ii has
never been explored, and from the distance to the lake in this direction,
it is exceedingly uncertain. A substantial and safe kitchen is this room
however. Shot or shell could hardly reach here, that is, with the old
guns, for with our modern artillery Ticonderoga's walls could doubtless
be battered down. But thf? mortar is thick and strong yet; the old
engineers were not chary of the lime stone on which and with which the
fort is built. A sky-light five feet by three, opens on one side of this
arched roof, through which provisions were probably let down into the
store room. You look up to see the frown of no armed watch, no
steady pace sober sentinel; but, instead of these, the white flowers of
the daisy or the yellow of the golden rod, a bush of alder, and far above
the blue depths of" the sky.

As you come out of the oven and find yourself in one of the old cel-
lars of the barracks, you notice that some of the old beams and posts
are standing. A knife applied to their heavy gray corners will show that
they are of oak from the magnificent hard-wood forests of the old
times. ,

Standing again on the grassy mound above the underground room just
left, there remains but one more look to take, and the farewell.

An extended landscape is around you, rarely surpassed in natural
beauty or in richness of historical associations. The lake and the clear
outlet of Horicon circle and defend the promontory on every side but
one. In the woods on the fourth side to the north are the old French
lines.* Mts. Independence and Defiance are close at hand, while high
in the distance to the east rise the Green Mountains, clothed in softest
blue seen through a crystal atmosphere. It is said by travelers that
nothing iu America is so much like Italy, as the view of the Green
Mountains from the New York shore ot Lake Charaplain. That point
on the Vermont shore nearly over the Pavillion is that from which
Ethan Allen debarked, and the shore opposite clothed in alders, where
he landed. Call up now, all the history connected with the spot, all
the fierce struggles of the past for the possession of those grey walls, as
you may, and their grim quiet and desolation, their solemn mournful
smile in the sunlight as you say farewell, is sufiiciently impressive. —

*Tlic.-io, the most iut'^rosHng portion of the fortress for iinmon^f loss of life, can be .scrn from
tho stage la passing to or from the village. The breastworks can be tracerl for a thousand pace*
ilirougi) tUo wools, full of angles and fronted by a ditch. The bloody battle field wa.-< ju-st ia frout
of theai.



'122 WHAT TICONBEROGA EN JO VS.

Over the grounds inf-tead of gleaming steel or cannon ball, the soft
thistle downs float in the risiue wind. Instead of the cross of St.
(reorge. the tri-color, or the stripes, the ivy leaves rustle on the ram-
parts, and in and out at the broken windows go undisturbed the sing-
ing birds, with nests within the walls. At times, as you stand still in '
reverie listening to your thoughts, — perhaps in a sumiiier evening, when
the ruins are most impressive — the scarce heard plash of waves around
the promonotory, and the sighing of the lake wind among the leaves
and broken angi'^s of the ramparts, seem transformed to a still myste-
rious voice, as of a spirit in the air. ' It is gone — gone — gone,' saith
the pulsating sound, keeping harmony with your thoughts. ' Mont-
calm, Abercrombie, Howe, Amherst, Allen, St. Clair, ]^urgoyne — In-
dian, French, English, Colonist — burning torch — savage cry — pouring
blood — booming gun — nevermore — nevermore, nevermore.' And the
waves, irregular, beginning low and growing louder with glad emphasia
along the shore, seem to answer: ' Evermore, evermore — peace, peace,
peace.' These are among the lessons of all military ruins, especially
of Fort Ticonderoga. No visitor should leave the scene of the first
victory of American Liberty without heartier gratitude for the immense
results of the struggle here begun, and a profounder sense of duty in the
conflict of the present day, on which depends their enlargement and
transmission. The old ruins proclaim that for the freedom of America
the battles of military hosts are passed, those of mind with mind remain.
Peace, O Carillon, we leave with thee, and go forth thoughtfully, lesa
noble soldiers in nobler wars than thine.

Sect. XLIV. - -Jifatural Scenery.

Painters, city tourists, and professed students of nature usually ex-
press great admiration for the natural scenery of Ticonderoga. Those
bold mountain summits, rich varieties of landscape, and ever changing
beauties of the sky, which have made the vicinity of Lake Horicon the
resort of so many distinguished artists, anxious to study American
Scenery in its most beautiful and imposing forms, all belong to Ticon-
deroga. Indeed, not only the .^ame qualities of scenery which have
made the lake known throughout the world, belong to the town, but
others of a higher kind in addition. If Ticonderoga contains one of
the most beautiful portions of Lake Horicon at rest, it contains also
the superb cataract where the Silver Y\"ater becomes^the Sounding Water.
iA' the mountaios in Ticonderoga around the southern end of Lake Plor-
icon are among the boldest on the lake, those in the remaining portion
of its territory make it the most mountainous of all the towns bordering
on Champlain. If the landscape on the Silver Water is bounded by
gorgeous sides of wild and high-rising foliage, cutting oft' the white of
the lower sky and reaching far up into the pure blue with living green,
so also is the landscape in Trout Brook Valley, and in addition, the
Plateau has the wide and magnificent view across Champlain to the
Green IMountains.

Two kinds of landscape, one confined, the other extended, belong to
'Ticonderoga, the former in the Valley, the latter seen from the north-
east of the town, andbith po.ssessing peoUiar claims to admiration.
^ In the study of nature, we too often limit our search for beauty at
the mountain tops without going above into the ever present, ever glo-



WHAT TICONDF.ROGA F.X.IOVf!, \\>^

Hous sky. The heavons by day and by nigbt, at raorning, midday and
cveuiag, ever with ns, vast, changeable, and yet pormancct, do n.ore
than aught else we can look upon show forth the glories of the Creator.
In this peculiar beauty of the sky Trout Brook ^'alley is especi.-illy pre-
eminent. In few places is the line forming the limit of the horizon on
all sides so near and high, so varied and so bold. Hence the ?ky next
the horizon has a purer blue, a richer, deeper cerulean tint, than is of-
ten seen. The . sun, and moon, and ea.stern stars all rise within six
hundred feet of some dwellings nestling in the foliage close under the
mountain on the east. It is not twenty, forty, or five hundred miles
away to the sunrise, as oo the prairie or the ocean ; but only, in appear-
ance, as many yards. The Valley i.s a huge high bird's nest, and wheia
the glowing clouds of summer, the black masses of thunder beads, or
the howling storms of winter rise and hang over its bold rim, they
seem nearer than were tbe horizon more distant and hence are inves-
ted with a more rare and exceeding beauty, and a grandeur more im-
pending and sublime. The glory of rich foliage, sun-lit, wind-stirred or
autumn-colored, is not far away as in wider landscapes, but near and
lience more impressive. At times, when the valley is full of sunlight,
to look upon its groves and mountain sides so near through crystal air
and so rich in gorgeous light and shade, ten thousand timos ten thou-
sand boughs close enough to be counted and to hear their breathing, all
the host flooded, glad and glancing in the limitless radiance; or, the
same mountain sides in winter when icy drops congealed on every twig
give acres of forest with a foliage of crystals, glowing as no brilliants of
the caves ever glowed at a royal festival,-— wakes an admiration in the
dullest hearts that cannot repress espression, and an enthusiasm of de-
light in those who fully appreciate nature as though in some unearthly
vision. The farmers usually say: ' It's a splendid morning,' and when
continued for weeks, ' It is fine weather.' Indeed, they ought to know
that the boldness and nearness of the mountain ranges about their homes,
bringing ev'ery beauty of earth and sky close at hand, are fitted to give
them of all men impressions of the glories of the visible earth, pecu-
liarly clear, distinct and vivid.*

A wide magnificent expanse towards the east, of cultivated lands and
groves, with boldness of rugged heightB in the distance, is the peculiar
charm of the view from the Plateau of Ticonderoga, and indeed from
all the western shore of Champlain. Hundreds along the eastern towns
of Essex County know and admire tbe beauty of the Grjeen Moun-
tains. We have heard old men speak of it, especially of the risings of
the sun, shooting level early rays across the wide undulating valley,

* The following extract from a hasty letter of tbe writer to a frieud among the level lands of
Ohio, will picture further a part of the scenery of Ticonderoga. It would be much for the hap-'
piness and profit of our citizens to cultivale a more appreciative admiraticin of Xaturc:

'' Nest, you wish to see the fields, the groves, the hills, Iho valleys, the pleasant places, where
you lived. Now to preserve these and carry them away with you " is a great study. You should
make drawings of the several localities' il" you desire the freshest: remembrancers. But I have not
had time for that. I have carefully painted the scenes in this valley on my memory. For this
purpose I have watched it intently through all the changes of the seasons. I know just how it
lookti when the mountains are robed in gold and crimson, in purple and orange, in mingled green,
and gray, as no dyer on earth ever cctorod royal tapestry. I know how it looks when the hills
are whitod with .snow .as no fuller on earth could while them I have fi.\-ed in my ears the sound
of the rushing wind in the mountain pine, the drifting of the, sifting snow through the maple groves ,
the roaring of the storm along the bed of the valley. All my most vivid ideas of natural scener\-
a.re connected with the. outlook about my home. Oflen have t been out in winter by starlight, or
driven my sleigh slowly whilv. returning home from some evening meefinsr. to notice the draperv
of the valley, the wood. - , the hills, and the solemn sky overarching the nwuDU\;u tops. I havo



124 WIl/VT TICO>DEROGA ENJOY.*.

Hgbted up at that time with peculiar loveliness, r?)rely seen, however,
by the late risers of the present generatiuu. Travelers ypeuk of ii,
and compare the soft bine of the distant heights to the azure summits ui
the landscapes ol Italy. Even among the records left by rough milita-
ry leaders in the days when the f^hores of the lake, though but an un-
explored and howling wilderness, were yet fiercely disputed terrifory,
we find frequent allusions to the surpassing beauty of the natural scenery.
Ethan Allen, Thacher, Burgoyne are among the recorded admirers of
(Jhamplaia 'N'^alley. If, as is often asserted, the natural scenery among
which one is born and bred, exerts an influence in moulding the charac-
ter and the intellect, the inhabitants of the lake towns of Essex Coun-
ty ought to take wide, bold and cheerful views of life, for these are the
characteristics of the landscape ever before them to the east. The
changes of the atmosphere in this wide area produce some of the most
varied and striking objects of admiration. To see Champlain Valley
covered v/ith a sun-lit fog from the lake, lying low so that pine tops and
liills jut through it like islands ; to see the same fog rise under the morn-
ing sun and float oif in cubic miles northward and -upward = to watch
the storms that rise in the distance, spread, and fill the wide panorama
with pattering rain or light falling snow; to think how many homes
are standing, how many hands are laboring, how many hearts beating,
in the region within view; to mark the clouds that float about the sum-
mits of the Green Mountains, now barely touching, now hiding entirely,
and now rolling up from the forest-clad heights as though a giant were
raising massive locks of hair from his mighty forehead, are scenes fitted
to impart to every appreciative mind both a pleasure and a blessing.

But we do not claim for TiooTideroga superiority over other portions
of the handiwork of the Great King.

"Beautiful, most beautifulJs all this visible earth,"
and our feeble sketch of this portion of it is only to attract greater ad-
miration to what our citizens have never held in sufficijent esteem. A
delight in every work of nature is a health giving sentiment, stirring the
blood and inspiring strength and joy, and if not worth cultivating for
these spiritual and physical blessings, it could bo justified lor its conse-
quent material advantages.

before my eyc-s the melting snow, the springing grass, the swollen hrooks, the wings of the clear
Yoiuocl robin, the maple trees dripping sap, the early plowing, the young lambs, the first swallow.s
under the eaves, the Urst^iightingak in the grove. It were a volume to catalogue the dehghts of
iUiy or June, or of fervent and rich July, llie summer in this valley I have been studying to-day .
The wide expanse of sky without cloud, and shimmering with iieat at summer noou; and then the
(lepth.s of shade in the woods, and the glow of sunshine upon Ihe sea of mountain green ! Or
anon, the storm growling behind the hills, rising dark, and close, and portentous, and lowering
low with thunder. Our house is where it can never be struck by lighting, being near a lofty ele-
vation that olfectually attracts the clouds. But the thunder echoes terribly at times between our
hills. While batliing the other day I .stood in the middle of the brook in the centre of our valley
in the rain and heard the explosions of sound bound and rebound from mountain to mountain,
while electricity s-ireaked the ripples about me with unearthly fire. I thought I had never seen or
heard aught more fearful and imposing. All these are paintings upon memory's page to carry
Hway with me, aad 1 think I should not loose them though I weul to the emis of the earth."



CaiAPTER IV.



WHAT TICONDEROGA KEEDS.— Material, Social, Moral, and
Intellectual Improvements.



Sect- XLV.-'More Progress Equal with Sister Towns.

Having now gathered, methodized and recorded the facts that show
•what Ticonderoga is, what it does, and what it enjoys, the writer is bet-
ter prepared to answer logically the last question concerning what Ti-
conderoga needs. Doubtless the town has faults and necessities, and
v?hy shall they not be reviewed kindly, fully, fearlessly? Best and man-
liest of friends is he who tells us frankly of our failings. It were im-
possible to carry out the main design of the Home Sketches, that of
benefitting the town, elevating its public sentiment, and suggesting gen-
eral and special reforms, without a bold exposition of its deficiencies. —
Sensible of the important, and also of the delicate nature of this task, the
writer, having consulted no one's opinions, oiFers his own with diffidence,
desiring that they be weighed with candor and taken only for what they
are worth. The data already collected will afford the reader the means
of forming his own judgment. Figures, however, are the authorities.
Many of the deficiencies pointed out are unanimously confessed, the
larger portion are matters of personal observation,, and all are inferred
more or less directly from various official records.

As a basis of the entire chapter we introduce the following table,
constructed from the Census, and Supervisor's Statements, in which Ti-
conderoga is compared with four of her sister lake towns. Essex and
Willsborough are omitted, having a somewhat smaller territory, and the
other towns are not selected for criticism as the tabic contains nothing
to their discredit as far as this comparison extends. The record con-
tains many iatercstiug particulars to which earnest attention is invited:



1 26



WHAT tl'C6XDI:;i{0GA NELDS.



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Population by Census;
of 1850. ;


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rec'd for schools, 1850




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Libraries, 1850.


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school, 1850.


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taught in 1850.







Sect. XL VI. —More Improvement of Natural Advantages.

From the central columns of the above table it will be seen that other
towns, far less favored by nature, have distanced Ticonderoga in mate-
rial progress at a rate to be accounted for not by greater numbers, or
advantages, but only by superior enterprise, industry, and development
of internal resources. The value of real estate at large, it will be no
ticed, has increased —

A little over three times, in thirty years, in Ticonderoga;

More than five times, in thirty years, in Crownpoint;

'i>rore than five times, in thirty years, in Chesterfield,

More than four times, in thirty years, in Wcstport;

More than six times iu thirty years, in Moriah.



WHiT TirONDF.ROOA NKK.I)S. 127

Men wlio weicfh these faots may well prononnno tlirm startling ior
Tif.onderon;;i, and ask how her backwardiu'ss can be explained?

ff 290,000 spindles, including looms and preparations, eould bo driven
by the outlet of Lake Iloricon at its upper tails,* as much more power
ooivid be exerted between that point and its mouth, so that it is safe to
say that force e({aal to the labor of ten thousand men has been wasted
in Ticonderoga and is yet, for want of enterprise and capital. Ten
thousand men are lying idle in Ticonderoga, and every one who crosses
the Sounding Waters may hear the babble of their voices. True, we
do not literally feed and clothe them in their indolence, yet they might
be at work to feed and clothe themselves, and thereby immensely en-
Innce the value of our soil, our merchandise, and our manufactures. — ■
This is the first great material evil in Ticonderoga, confessed and lamented
indeed but not reformed, — its uudevelopment, neglect, and abuse of its
natural advantages. Any citizen who shall remove but a part of this
evil will do much for the genera! welfare of the town.

Nor can all the injury done, be fathered upon the Ellice party, though
their conditions of sale long repelled purchasers. These were difEcul-


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Online LibraryJoseph CookHome sketches of Essex county. First number → online text (page 18 of 20)