CHAPTER VI. TROY TO PHILADELPHIA.
The same historian (Dr. Lossing) says: "The most remote source of the extreme western branch of our noble river is Hendricks Spring, so named in honor of Hendricks Hudson. We found Hendricks Spring in the edge of a swamp, cold, shallow, about five feet in diameter, shaded by trees, shrubbery, and vines, and fringed with the delicate brake and fern. Its waters, rising within half a mile of Long Lake, and upon the same summit-level, flow southward to the Atlantic more than three hundred miles; while those of the latter flow to the St. Lawrence, and reach the same Atlantic a thousand miles away to the far northeast."
Since Dr. Lossing visited the western head of the Hudson River, the true and highest source of the stream has probably been settled by a gentleman possessing scientific acquirements and inflexible purpose. On the plateau south of Mount Marcy, State-Surveyor Colvin found the little Lake Tear-of-the-Clouds to be the loftiest sheet of water in the state, - four thousand three hundred and twenty-six feet above the sea, - and proved it to be the lake-head of the great river Hudson. A second little pond in a marsh on a high plateau, at the foot of Mount Redfield, was also discovered, - "margined and embanked with luxuriant and deep sphagnous moss," - which was named by the party Moss Lake. It was found to flow into the Hudson. A beautiful little bivalve shell, three-sixteenths of an inch in diameter, of an undescribed species, was found in the pellucid water, and thus a new shell was handed over to conchology, and a new river source to geography, in the same hour. This pool is four thousand three hundred and twelve feet above tide-water, and only a few feet lower than its sister, Tear-of-the-Clouds - the highest source of the Hudson.
Should the state of New York adopt Mr. Colvin's suggestion, to reserve six hundred square miles of the Adirondack region for a public park, the pool Tear-of-the-Clouds will be within the reservation. The waters of these baby fountains are swollen by contributions from the streams, ponds, and lakes of the Adirondack wilderness, until along the banks of Fishing Brook, a tributary of the Hudson, the water is utilized at the first saw-mill. A few miles lower down the forests are vexed by the axe of the lumbermen, and logs are floated down the river one hundred miles to Glens Falls, where the State Dam and Great Boom are located. Half a million logs have been gathered there in a single spring.
It was upon the Hudson that the first successful steamboat, built by Robert Fulton, made its voyage to Albany, the engine having been built by Watt Bolton, in England.
From Mr. Lossing we obtain the following.
"The Clermont was one hundred feet long, twelve feet wide, and seven feet deep. The following advertisement appeared in the Albany Gazette on the 1st of September, 1807:
"The North River steamboat will leave Paulus Hook (Jersey City) on Friday, the 4th of September, at 9 in the morning, and arrive at Albany on Saturday at 9 in the afternoon. Provisions, good berths, and accommodations are provided. The charge to each passenger is as follows:
To Newburgh, . . . . 3 Dollars. . . Time, 14 hours. " Poughkeepsie, . . 4 " . . . . " 17 " " Esopus, . . . . 5 " . . . . " 20 " " Hudson, . . . . 5-1/2" . . . . " 30 " " Albany, . . . . 7 " . . . . " 36 " ."
The trip, which was made against a strong head wind, was entirely successful. The large steamers can now make the trip from New York to Albany in about ten hours.
As I pulled easily along the banks of the river, my eyes feasted upon the gorgeous coloring of the autumnal foliage, which formed a scene of beauty never to be forgotten. The rapid absorption of oxygen by the leaves in the fall months produces, in northern America, these vivid tints which give to the country the appearance of a land covered with a varied and brilliant garment, "a coat of many colors." A soft hazy light pervaded the atmosphere, while at the same time the October air was gently exhilarating to the nervous system. At six o'clock P. M. the canoe arrived at Hudson City, which is on the east bank of the river, and I completed a row of thirty-eight statute miles, according to local authority; but in reality forty-nine miles by the correct charts of the United States Coast Survey. After storing the Maria Theresa in a shed, I repaired to a dismal hotel for the night.
At seven o'clock the next morning the river was mantled in a dense fog, but I pushed off and guided myself by the sounds of the running trains on the Hudson River Railroad. This corporation does such an immense amount of freighting that, if their freight trains were connected, a continuous line of eighty miles would be constructed, of which sixteen miles are always in transit day and night. Steamboats and tugs with canal-boats in tow were groping about the river in the misty darkness, blowing whistles every few minutes to let people know that the pilot was not sleeping at the wheel. There was a grand clearing up at noon; and as the sun broke through the mist, the beautiful shores came into view like a vivid flame of scarlet, yellow, brown, and green. It was the death-song of summer, and her dying notes the tinted leaves, each one giving to the wind a sad strain as it softly dropped to the earth, or was quickly hurled into space.
A few miles south of Hudson City, on the west bank, the Catskill stream enters the river. From this point the traveller may penetrate the picturesque country of the Appalachian range, where its wild elevations were called Onti Ora, or "mountains of the sky," by the aborigines.