The Vaughan Survey
Without doubt the most brilliant light cast on this vanished
nineteenth century hamlet, originating at the late eighteenth century
river landing at Hudson's, is a map of the proposed enlargement of
the Erie Canal, executed in a highly illustrative style by David
Vaughan in 1851 (MAP 1851)55K. This map, the most critical link between
the eighteenth century and the present at this locale, was brought to
my attention by canal historian Craig Williams. The large format and
scale of this map, combined with the graphic style of its author,
permit us to see in three-dimensional detail the scope and complexity
of this emerging settlement.
The old river road ("road to Little Falls") is shown dropping off the
elevated lands from the southwest (the map is drawn with south at the
top), with a direct south-to-north road ("Rd") forming an intersection
. This intersecting road, which since has completely vanished from
the immediate landscape, was built along the line that separated Lots
20 and 21 on Cockburn's 1789 survey, and would, therefore, have
bisected the ruins of Fort Hendrick.
The purpose of this road appears to be to connect traffic from the
south, through the intersection, with a lane to the ferry landing
shown on the map. The ferry lane cuts across part of an escarpment of
"Lime Rock" on its way down to the river.
Immediately southwest of the ferry lane, and on an adjacent elevation,
Vaughan indicates a plantation of trees bearing the label "Orchard."
Its location is consistent with the orchard cited on the 1789
Cockburn survey and fits well the 1796 account of an orchard close
by Hudson's. This tavern is assumed to be one of the houses shown
on the Vaughan map.
By fortunate coincidence, one of the Barge Canal construction
photographs, now in the collections of the State Archives, captured
this since vanished settlement as it looked in the first decade of
the twentieth century. No doubt one of the older, dilapidated houses
that appear as ghostly shadows along the river road represents the
remains of Hudson's Tavern.
Although the impacts of canal, rail, and highway construction since
1851 have altered the landscape here dramatically, it was relatively
easy to locate and traverse the remnant of this ferry lane, after
first seeing its shadow on aerial photographs. Its passage across the
eastern end of the limestone escarpment is still discernable. This
limestone outcrop, illustrated by Vaughan as a low cliff labeled "Lime
Rock", is of interest in itself, as on Wright's map of 1803 an
"Excellent Lime Stone Quarry" is indicated in this same location.
Good building stone, and especially limestone, was a commodity as
rare as gold, and infinitely more useful for the canal builders of
the 1793-1803 period, and potentially for those to follow.
William Weston, the British engineer assisting Schuyler's canals and
navigation company, advised use of such quarries as early as 1795:
The dam, guard, and river locks may be built with stone, to be
obtained on the south side of the Mohawk, at the little falls - the
land carriage will not exceed one mile, and it may then be conveyed
in boats to the desired spot - the quality is well adapted for these
or other works, where strength and duration are required - the stones
rising in lamina, of different thickness - the beds perfectly parallel
, and the dimensions as large as may be required... (Weston 1795:15)
It was to such deposits of laminated limestone and shale that these
builders, with their primitive mining technologies, were drawn. One
can readily see why if one looks at the exposed cuts through this
type of deposit along the Thruway near Little Falls. Relatively flat
limestone of a variety of useful thicknesses can easily be broken
out of such an exposure by merely prying apart the laminae, which are
separated with very friable shale layers. If you are quick enough to
note the location as you pass along the New York State Thruway just
east of Indian Castle, you can see the laminated limestone deposits
of this very hill, bisected and exposed in 1953.
Given ready access to exposures of this stone, it may be wondered why
the early canal engineers built initially in timber. DeWitt Clinton,
touring the inland waterways in 1810, cited the later (1803) use of
stone in rebuilding these timber locks, but continued to be dismayed
at the failure to use it in the first instance: "There is a fine
stone quarry a mile and a half from the Little Falls, of which the
locks were made; and they were first built of wood from ignorance
that the country contained the stone. This quarry is no less curious
than valuable. The stones divide naturally as if done by tools."
The position mapped for the "Orchard" in 1851 relative to this
outcrop and ferry lane is identical to the location on which a few
remnant apple trees were observed during field survey early in 1994.
It is cautiously suggested, therefore, that there is evidence of an
orchard here stretching back from the present to 1851, from 1851 to
1796, and from 1796 to 1789. We have no earlier reference to this
orchard, either in text or on maps. But, if we accept Belnap's
estimation in 1796 of an evident age for this planting in excess of
50 years, we may safely assume in situ continuity of use approaching
The significance of the orchard site location, in concert with the
newly confirmed position of Fort Hendrick, underscores the need to
re-evaluate traditional ideas about the location of the Upper Castle
settlement associated with "King Hendrick" in the mid-eighteenth
century. There is a need to moderate our prevailing focus on Indian
Castle as the core area for the Upper Mohawk occupation in this
period, and to look to this location opposite East Canada Creek with
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