Charlotte Agnes (Uhlein) Pitcher.

The golden era of Trenton Falls online

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Mr. H£u"t was with me. We descended three hundred
feet, and then on a shelf of rock, which art had lent her
aid to make continuous, we wended our way through
the rocks above and below us, sometimes sUghtly in-
clined, sometimes perpendicular. The torrent below
was foaming and maddening along, and the opposite
bank near us rising so as to make its outline, as we
looked up, above the mild heaven. While I stood
here my thoughts were those of solemn and heavenly
musing. Mr. Hart and I made some observations on
the sound of the cataract. We stood in one place
where we could make with our voices a musical sound
in perfect unison with the falling waters at other places.
It was a deeper, lower sound than any human voice
could make, but the different sounds appeared to be
either octaves, thirds, or fifths — in that all were har-
monious. Now, if this is so, and I believe it is, it is a



OF TRENTON FALLS 89

very curious fact, and shows how the sound of faUing
waters is so pleasant to a musical ear."

John Quincy Adams

In the summer of 1843 the venerable ex-President,
John Quincy Adams, honored the city of Utica by his
presence. Mrs. Samuel L. Gouverneur, wife of the
grandson of James Monroe, describes this visit in her
entertaining book "As I Remember; Recollections
of American Society during the Nineteenth Century":
"I spent several weeks as the guest of the financier
and author, Alexander R. Johnson, in Utica, New
York. Mrs. Johnson's maiden name was Abigail
Louisa Smith Adams, and she was the daughter of
Charles Adams, son of President John Adams. Dur-
ing my visit there her uncle, John Quincy Adams,
came to Utica to visit his relatives, and I had the pleas-
ure of being a guest of the family at the same time.
He was accompanied upon this trip by his daughter-
in-law, Mrs. Charles Francis Adams, a young grandson
whose name I do not recall, and the father of Mrs.
Adams, Peter C. Rrooks of Roston, another of whose
daughters was the wife of Edweird Everett. Upon
their arrival in Utica, the greatest enthusiasm pre-
vailed, and the elderly ex-President was welcomed by
an old-fashioned torchhght procession. In response
to urgent requests, Mr. Adams made an impromptu
speech from the steps of the Johnson house, and proved
himself to be indeed 'the old man eloquent.' After



90 THE GOLDEN ERA

the Adams party had rested for a few days, a pleasure
trip to Trenton Falls in Oneida County was proposed.
A few prominent citizens of Utica were invited by the
Johnsons to accompany the party, and among them
several well-known lawyers whose careers won for
them a national as well as local reputation. Among
these I may especially mention the handsome Horatio
Seymour, then in his prime, whose courteous manners
and manly bearing made him exceptionally attractive.
Mr. Adams bore the fatigue of the trip remarkably
well, and his strength seemed undiminished as the day
waned."

John Quincy Adams arrived in Utica Saturday even-
ing, July 29th, as he was about completing a tour which
included Quebec, Montreal and Niagara. The Utica
Daily Gazette states that on Sunday he attended Trin-
ity Church in the morning, the Reformed Dutch in the
afternoon, and the First Presbyterian in the evening.
On Monday he was waited upon by a committee of
citizens, and a pubHc reception was arranged for Tues-
day, August 1st, at ten in the morning, at which time
he met a large concourse of people in the drawing room
of the Bleecker House (which adjoined Bagg's Hotel
on the north), and in the evening the ladies paid their
respects to the ex-President at the home of Mr. John-
son.



OF TRENTON FALLS 91



Miss Amelia M. Murray

Governor and Mrs. Horatio Seymour brought an
enthusiastic geologist, botanist and artist to Trenton
Falls in July, 1855, the Honorable Amelia M. Murray,
one of Queen Victoria's maids of honor. During her
travels in this country her superior scientific knowl-
edge brought her in close contact with Prof. Asa Gray
and Prof. Louis Aggasiz. Naturally such a devoted
student of nature would be charmed with Trenton
and Miss Murray expresses her appreciation in her
published "Letters from the United States, Cuba and
Canada":

"Trenton Falls, July 8: This is the most charming
rural hotel I have seen in America; it is situated in
almost a dense hemlock spruce forest, and has a gar-
den quite English in style and neatness; and the rooms,
brightly clean and comfortable, are decorated with
prints and drawings chosen with eu'tistic taste. Every-
thing about it is in accordance with the beauty and
magnificence of its natural scenery; no forced orna-
ments or glaring paint jars upon the feelings or hurts
the eye. Here is a kind of mesmeric influence which
impresses the heart unconsciously: a sincere worship-
per of Nature is at once assured that one of her most
lovely shrines cannot be desecrated. Mr. Moore is
worthy of Trenton both by taste and education. The
name Trenton was formerly Olden Barneveld; one re-



92 THE GOLDEN ERA

grets it although originating from the Hollanders, for
the Indian appropriate appellation was 'Kauyahoora'
(leaping waters) and the river Kanata (Amber river)
was equally descriptive; for at some places the falls
resemble liquid amber, and occasionally the tumbling
stream seems to have an edging of gold. The Gov-
ernor and Mrs. Seymour first took me to see it from
the forest walk, where the chasm below resembled
that of the Tilt at Blair Athol, only filled by a wider,
larger river, and by a succession of higher falls.

"After dinner Mr. Moore took us for a long walk,
over wall and fence, to see a railroad in process of for-
mation. Upon our way back he was so obhging as to
accede to my wish and take me into a forest swamp to
see the moccasin flower growing ; as we had to go down
a steep woody hill, guided by a man living near, the
rest of the party, excepting one young man, deserted.
I was fully repaid for a rather difficult scramble by
finding numbers of the beautiful pink Cypripedium
spectabile (I should not call it purple) and Lillum
Canadense by its side. The latter I have occasionally
seen by the edge of railroads, but I never before gath-
ered it. The pretty little white anemone-like-looking
Dalibarda repens was also in flower all over the ad-
joining banks.

"The next morning Mr. Moore took charge of us
during a walk to aU the falls along the edge of the tor-
rent; without his experienced guidance I should have
been afraid to have undertaken this, but as the water
was high enough for beauty and not too high for safety,



OF TRENTON FALLS 93

it was very enjoyable. I sketched the three principal
cataracts. It will not do to compare Trenton with
Niagara, it is entirely different, but certainly after
Niagara I prefer Trenton to any other water scenery
in America."

Henry W. Longfellow

In the month of June, 1862, the poet, Longfellow,
joined a party of friends for a visit to Niagara Falls,
which he had never visited, taking his sons with him.
After resuming his Journal, following the long break
caused by the death of Mrs. Longfellow, among the
first records are these: "June 4th, 1862. A rainy
day to begin the Niagara journey. On, on, on, all
day long, reach Albany at five, to Utica on the 5th by
rail. There we took a carriage for Trenton Falls.
Dine and then go down the steep steps to the lovely
river, rushing, roaring, along its banks of stone, through
a deep, wooded ravine. We follow it up for miles; all
loveliness, and a httle spice of danger from a shp on
the narrow ledges. A nice hotel, and a good host,
fond of music and art, and possessing two parlor or-
gans and a piano, and rooms full of pictures. Go
down to the river at night. Black and fearful is it in
the deep ravine, with flashes of white foam, and the
waterfaUs caUing and beckoning. June 6th. Down
at the river before breakfast. In the afternoon an-
other ramble up the beautiful river. It is very lovely.''
Mr. Longfellow must have heard the praises of



94 THE GOLDEN ERA

Trenton sung by his brilliant brother-in-law, "Tom"
Appleton, the famous Boston wit who visited the falls
on his journey to Niagara in 1847.

Newman Hall

When on his way from Saratoga to Niagara in the
fall of 1867, the Reverend Newman Hall left the train
at Utica to visit Trenton Falls and writes in his
"Notes of Travel in America": "We engaged a cap-
ital 'waggon' with a pair of spanking trotters, for ten
dollars for the fourteen mile drive and had our first
experience of plank roads. Sometimes we rolled along
with delicious smoothness. Sometimes, where the
planks had become uneven, we enjoyed some delight-
ful tossings and bumpings. Our driver told us that
from December to April the whole country is covered
with snow, and that the 'waggons' are laid up, and
sleighs alone employed.

"The falls extend about two miles through a forest,
the trees overhanging the narrow gorge through which
the swift stream has cut its way. The water clear and
transparent, was of that rich brown tint which artists
love so well. I was reminded of the falls of the Clyde,
though Trenton is on a smaller scale. I shall never for-
get the beauty of the scene at sunset; the narrow gorge,
the various colored rocks, the waters rushing, pausing,
plunging, reposing, dreaming, awaking, sighing, mur-
muring, roaring — now sparkHng in the sun, now all
white with foam, now black beneath the overhanging






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iOO THE GOLDEN ERA

to me. In short, I was ignorant that the peasants of
the surrounding country, for whom the curiosity of
travellers is a source of much profit, had placed along
the way from stage to stage, some ladders on the falls.
Directed by the increasing murmur of the waters I
continued my path, now supporting myself by a jut-
ting rock, and now suspending myself by bending
branches. I descended intrepidly when suddenly a
shrub, by which I was supporting myself, was torn up
by the roots by my weight and rolled into the preci-
pice, dragging me with it. My destruction would
have been certain had not a second tree, solidly lodged,
fortunately presented itself and held me suspended
over the abyss. After being firmly lodged for some
seconds in my tree protector, and restored from my
fright, I let myself slide on to a large trunk or root, and
stopped just as my guide, drawn to me by my cries,
came to my rescue and assisted me to a place wholly
out of danger. My portfolio, which was lost at the
moment of my fall, was found at the foot of the de-
clivity.

"My guide directed me towards the ladders and we
arrived soon at a beautiful plateau formed of lime-
stone whose mass of great hardness included numer-
ous imprints of fossils, and where the stone was laid
up in such a way as to resemble a vast staircase con-
structed by Nature at the foot of one of its most beau-
tiful monuments. From this elevated position I
drew the lower falls whose waters, turbulent and fur-
ious from the moment of their leaping over the rocks,



OF TRENTON FALLS iOi

afterwards flow peacefully through a fertile country
and finally mingle with the waters of the Mohawk.
On the right bank of the picture I drew is the tree by
which I tried to support myself, and which almost
dragged me in its fall.

"I climbed up by means of the ladders to visit the
series of six cascades which form this stream. All de-
serve the fixed attention of travellers and lovers of
beautiful scenes, now by the pronounced form of the
rocks, and again by the abundant variety of vegeta-
tion which adorns them, and finally by the striking
effects, always new, of the mass of water breaking
forth into a thousand ways as it dashes over the open-
ings in the rocks. The left bank of Canada Creek
offers masses of rocks in strange form, which some-
times resemble long torsal columns and sometimes
turrets and bastions of the ruins of gothic edifices.
* * * * Birds are the only inhabitants of
these vast solitudes. I struck down a white heron
and I regret that I was unable to capture two large
white-headed eagles who, disturbed by the presence
of a human creature in the region where they had made
their home, were circling about over my head and ut-
tering sharp and piercing cries. * * * ]y|y guide
had provided food for the day and I was, therefore,
able to devote it entirely to my collections of
natural objects and to garnishing my portfolio of de-
signs. My researches of every kind were quite fruit-
ful, and I discovered in the rocks some of those curious
fossils named trilobites. After a day thus laboriously



102 THE GOLDEN ERA

employed I regained with pleasure the village of Tren-
ton and returned to Utica the next day, which was to
be my point of departure for a new journey."



A Final Tribute

I have purposely reserved for the final tribute to the
incomparable Mohawk Valley, and the shrine of sur-
passing natural beauty which has inspired this vol-
ume, a particularly pleasing appreciation written by
the clever Mrs. TroUope upon her return from Niagara.
I can easily forgive all her criticism of our new America
because she wrote the following, one June day in 1831:
"We reached Utica very late and very weary, but the
delights of a good hotel and perfect civility sent us in
good humor to bed, and we arose sufficiently refreshed
to enjoy a day's journey through some of the loveliest
scenery in the world.

"Who is it that says America is not picturesque.^ I
forget; but surely he never travelled from Utica to
Albany. I really cannot conceive that any country
can furnish a drive of ninety miles more varied in its
beauty. The road follows the Mohawk River which
flows through scenes waving with plenty, to rocks,
hills and woods. Around the Little Falls are scenes
of striking beauty. I never saw so sweetly wild a
spot! I confess my incapacity for description for
passing so dully through this matchless valley of



OF TRENTON FALLS i03

the Mohawk! I would that some British artist
would take my word for it and pass over for a sum-
mer pilgrimage through the state of New York.
He would do wisely, for I question if the world could
furnish within the same space, so many subjects for
his pencil; mountains, forests, rocks, lakes, rivers, cat-
aracts, all in perfection. But he must be bold as a
lion in coloring, or he will make nothing of it. He
must have courage to dip his pencil in shadows as black
as night, and light that might blind an eagle.

"As I presume my young artist to be an enthusiast,
he must first go to Niagara, or even in the Mohawk
Valley his pinioned wing may droop. If his fever run
very high he may slake his thirst at Trenton, and while
there he will not dream of anything beyond it."



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Online LibraryCharlotte Agnes (Uhlein) PitcherThe golden era of Trenton Falls → online text (page 6 of 6)