The Hudson River was an important transportation corridor in 1777 and it still is today. On Sunday, I drove from Vermont to New York to pick up a student, and we visited Saratoga NHP and Erie Canalway NHC.
Saratoga NHP preserves the site of this important Revolutionary War battle of 1777. The British were moving down the Hudson River, hoping to divide New England from the other states. The Americans fortified a high location with cannons, and forced the British to leave the river and engage in battle.
Eventually, the Americans surrounded the British and forced them to surrender, a significant victory that rallied the Americans to support the war effort and the French to join in support of the Americans.
Thaddeus Kosciuszko, a Polish colonel, was the military engineer that chose the site and designed the fortifications. I had heard of this famous Pole (there is a National Memorial in Philadelphia and a bridge in Brooklyn named for him), but did not know his role in the war, or that he was an engineer.
One of the most famous generals in this battle is remembered with a monument that recognizes the wounding of his leg. The monument does not have his name on either the front or the back. The park brochure says “Had he died there, posterity would have known few brighter names.” Do you know who this general is? The answer is in one of the pictures.
A few miles north is the Saratoga Monument at the site where the British were encamped when they surrendered. The effort to build a monument started in the mid-1800s, as we approached the centennial. The Civil War delayed the plans. The monument has bronze bas relief depictions of historic scenes, beautiful ceramic tiles, and life-sized statues of the heroes. When you climb the 188 steps, you are treated to a great view of the Hudson Valley.
We also visited a canal lock in the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor. Unlike the Delaware & Lehigh Canal or the Erie & Ohio Canal, the Erie Canal through New York is still an active waterway. We arrived at a good time to see two boats lock through.
Transportation from the east coast cities to the developing Midwest and West has long been seen as a key to our development as a great nation. George Washington sought the National Road and the Potomac River navigation in Virginia and Pennsylvania. The Allegheny Portage was built to cross the divide in Pennsylvania. Later, Abraham Lincoln supported the building of the transcontinental railroads. President Eisenhower promoted the Interstate Highway System. Transportation has been important in the development of our nation and is preserved and remembered in our National Parks.
Saratoga NHP was number 71 and Erie Canalway NHC was number 72. Thanks to Colsen for coming with me on a day of adventure.