Sunday we leave Sampson State Park on Seneca Lake for the 22 mile drive to Cayuga Lake State Park on Cayuga Lake near Seneca Falls, New York. We’re just hopping from one Finger Lake to the next and staying in their state parks or the ones I could get reservations in.
New York state parks are VERY POPULAR especially on week-ends during the summer. Even though I made my reservations months in advance, here at Cayuga I could not get 2 weeks in one site. I could get six days, from Sunday through Friday for the first week and then I could get 7 days, from the next Sunday through Saturday for the second week, but I had a hole on the Saturday between the two weeks. I checked and checked and checked for a cancellation. Nope! And then I finally discovered the problem. Cayuga has 36 sites in one very small campground near the lake and 251 sites in a very large campground on the other side of Route 89. Of course the small campground has electricity and the bigger one has none. Neither has water or sewer. In fact there is only one dump station for all 287 sites. Can you believe that??
So I take a boondocking site for Saturday. No problem boondocking EXCEPT that temperatures keep going into the mid and low 90’s several days a week which for me means Air Conditioning. But solar won’t support that.
When we arrive at Cayuga Lake to check in, what do we see in the parking lot but Winnona’s great aunt Brave. Not sure what year she is. I’m thinking about 1974 but as you can see in the first picture, she’s much smaller than Winnona. I guess we all shrink with age.
We pull into site #15 in the east side campground electric loop. Sites are pretty close together with no buffer between though there is a large common area in the back if you want to play ladderball or croquet or other games.
There is no distance at all between us and US Route 89 which is fairly busy all day and night. It’s not possible for us to leave our windows open at night even though it cools down enough to do so. There is just too much auto, truck and motorcycle noise. It doesn’t feel like “camping” to me. But then I knew this was going to be an “urban” summer.
After we set up, we take a walk down to the lake and over to the other campground to look around. This is the trail that leads out of the east campground if you want to walk to the west campground. Or you can walk back down the paved road you drove up the hill into the east campground on and then turn up another to head west.
The dirt path connects to a short piece of paved road leading to a large rentable picnic shelter. I walk straight down and see the bath house on the lake before turning left to walk back up another road, through the tunnel under Route 89 and over to the west campground.
Other than driving over to the sandy beach on the lake, this is the only way for west side campers to get to the water. From the size of the tunnel, you can see cars won’t fit. Nothing larger than a golf cart.
After I get out of the tunnel I look back over route 89 and see Winnona. Boy it looks really crowded from here.
Haven’t seen any birds in the East Campground where we are but this fella serenades me on the west side.
I check out our boondocking site for next Saturday night and it is huge. A very nice space. I sure wish the temperatures would stay in the 70’s and low 80’s, I’d be happy to spend my two weeks here.
Or here in site 226. There are 8 loops in the west campground and many sites that are quiet and isolated.
Rain starts spitting so I hustle back through the tunnel to the east side but it only rains gently for about 15 minutes. Not even enough to wet the ground much. This is our crew’s rainy view out the front window.
On Monday we go “into town” to check out Seneca Falls which is less than 3 miles away. It’s really a village and one I’ve heard about forever as the birthplace of Women’s Rights and the home of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. They have a very nice visitor center on their main street which is called Fall Street. I love the old commercial buildings from the turn of the 20th century. As I’ve said many times before, few commercial structures we construct now are as lovely as many constructed at that time. But where are the falls?
We have to go into the visitor center to find out about the falls. We learn that originally the Seneca River dropped forty feet in a mile and a half long stretch of rapids and small waterfalls where the Village is located today. Lawrence Van Cleef, the first permanent white settler in the area, operated a portage for river travelers trying to get around the rapids. The village grew and the rapids were dammed to create higher waterfalls to power mills. In the 20th century the falls were leveled during the construction of the New York State Barge Canal which is still upstream from the Village. The Barge Canal cost millions of dollars to build and was used seriously for about 15 years. I guess if you want everyone to be able to go everywhere with any mode of transportation then the canal is necessary but I’d sure rather see those falls.
The visitor center here is on 3 floors and has not only all kinds of tourist information on what to do and where to go and where to eat in the area, but they also have excellent displays of the history of the town, particularly its connection to the Abolitionist and Women’s Rights movements of the mid 19th century. Later in the century, riding the wave of both the Industrial Revolution and the settlement of the western states Seneca Falls became noted for its machinery. The visitor center has this display of laundry equipment, notably cast irons for heating on the stove and ironing clothing. I’ve never seen so many in one place. We had several at the farm that we used as doorstops. Wish I knew if they’d come from Seneca Falls.
The iron works also produced other household necessities such as pumps.
The Visitor Center overlooks the Seneca River where along the waterfront they provide slips with power and water for boats to tie up for up to 48 hours or longer with permit. In the center’s basement there are restrooms, showers and laundry facilities.;
In addition to pumps and machinery and irons, one company produced most of the wooden rules used throughout the country.
Not sure how they got it but the last ruler made was on display. Did you have rulers like this in grade school?
Started in 1872, the company closed its doors in 1995. Like many former industrial towns, Seneca Falls depends a great deal on it’s museums and tourism now.
Another company in Seneca Falls that seems related to Wescott is American Globe School Supply. I actually sat in a desk like this in my early elementary years.
We examine some of what were considered kitchen appliances like these two washing machines.
Pretty sure my Aunt Carrie used one of these in the 1930’s and was still using it in the 1970’s when I visited her in Ocala Florida.
These kitchen pumps were quite common in the South well into the mid 20th Century. Not sure they were this flashy red.
Love this, an electric lawn mower made right here in Seneca Falls.
One of the largest employers in Seneca Falls was the Seneca Knitting Mill which produced wool socks from 1844 to 1999 when it finally closed. AS you can see from this picture, most of the machine operators were women at the turn of the century. Not sure if that was true by the time it closed.
Back outside we enjoy more of Seneca Falls historic downtown buildings. The Village Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic places in 1990, not only for its notable architecture but also for its contribution to the historic struggle for Women’s rights. Along with information on the National Park, the Women’s Hall of Fame and other museums we found pamphlets for 4 different walking tours of the area and hope to find some afternoons with cool temperatures to do them.
The Partridge Building built in 1894 looks much the same as it did then with businesses on the ground floor and apartments above them.
Tomorrow we plan to get out of town a whole 5 miles to spend some time at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge for a natural rather than cultural history experience.