STARK'S KNOB: THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
"We in Upstate New York are very much disturbed over the fact that in the very near future our historically famous Stark's Knob, now State property, is very apt to be sold by New York State to individuals, which would mean but one thing; it would be torn down and ground up for road materials..."
- From a letter to President Dwight Eisenhower by Grace VanDerwerker Leddick, Saratoga County Historian (December 14, 1953)
Although it was not acquired by the State of New York until 1916, interest in protecting Stark's Knob as a scientific reservation, with both geologic and historic values, was evident at the State Museum as early as 1913, when the Director reported on its significance, and wrote: "...there is a hope, perhaps not too remote, that the place may eventually become the property of the State under the custodianship of the State Museum." This was viewed as a realization of the vision of another Museum Director years earlier, who wanted the State to work toward "...the preservation of objects of unique or noteworthy natural interest."
This concern was made all the more urgent here, at Stark's Knob. The site had recently been actively mined for rock to be used in paving of local roads, and a significant portion of the original hill had already disappeared by the year the above picture was taken, circa 1912.
Apparently there was growing interest on the part of the public in this feature, and its historical associations, for in this year a large plaque was erected by the Saratoga Historical Society, attached to a concrete mount and flagpole at the very summit of the hill. This cast metal plaque replaced an earlier wooden sign which bore exactly the same text:
On this volcanic knoll, Oct. 13, 1777, General John Stark mounted his battery and effectively obstructed the effort of Burgoyne to withdraw his defeated army northward through the narrow valley of the Hudson. Opposite this knob on the east side of the Hudson were Fellows' batteries while in the woods to the left were Morgan's sharp shooters.
Starks' Knob is a dead volcano and the only one in the State. The igneous plug or rock core alone remains, projecting above the sedimentry strata.
This placed it in the same status it had in 1916, and again it was under the management of the State Museum.
This air photograph taken in 1948 shows
clearly the old aligmment of Route 32 at
Stark's Knob Road as well as archaic field
boundaries and fencelines.
This air photograph taken in 1968 shows the
realignment of Route 32 at Stark's Knob Road,
which produced the elongated triangular area of
state lands along the west side of the highway.
This renewed and expanded local public interest in the site prompted the State Historian and State Museum staff to make a field inspection and to begin to consult closely with Town and local officials about the future of the site. The Town offered to have a fence installed to define the limits of the public areas and to keep cattle from wanderng into the site.
By this time, the site was the center of controversy about its maintenance and public access. Since the site was not officilly the responsibility of the Education Department, no resources had been appropriated to provide support. It was a public site on a ad hoc basis only.
The County Historian drew up a plan to "...assume the responsibility for the State owned lot in that township known as Stark's Knob.", with the intent of making it a headquarters for a Boy Scout project, a picnic area and a point of archeological interest.
It was noted that it would be necssary to:
First, was the site owned by the Board of Regents (The University of the State of New York), the State Education Department, or the State Museum?
Since no original deed and no clear map of the boundaries of the property could be produced, the Town withdrew its offer.
Coordinated by the Geological Survey of the State Museum, a project was initiated to accomplish the rehabilitation of the site during the coming years, once the deed and survey were filed and the boundaries were marked and fenced.