Aug 27, 2019

Enjoying Herkimer, New York

Ok, the Herkimer Home, home of Gen. Nickolas Herkimer, is not in Herkimer but in Little Falls; however, it is where I started my day trip.  It has been on my list for years.  General Herkimer played a critical part in the American Revolution and was, in part, instrumental is thwarting the three-point British plan to win the war. When the British were marching on Fort
Stanwix in Rome; he, and the Tryon County militia, marched to reinforce the colonists in Fort Stanwix.  His force was ambushed in what is now called the Battle of Oriskany.  His side was losing.  His horse was shot, his leg injured, and, in spite of his injuries, he sat propped up against a tree, smoked his pipe, and directed his men.  He ordered them to fight in pairs so one could fire while the other
reloaded.  It worked so well that the attacking force retreated to Oswego.  The losses were so great that some families loss all their male members. Herkimer was taken to his house where his leg was amputated and he died shortly thereafter.  The British defeat at Oriskany meant the reinforcements never met up with the army of British Gen. Burgoyne. With only a third of the troops he counted on, Burgoyne ultimately surrendered at Saratoga considered a turning point in favor of the colonists who ultimately won the Revolutionary War. Today his home is a State Historical Site with a visitor center which is free and a tour of the house is available for a small fee.

Herkimer is only seven miles from Little Falls and there was another thing I have always wanted to do: diamond hunting at the Herkimer Diamond Mines. Of course, they are not really diamonds but naturally faceted quartz crystals that are diamond-like. Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, was spotted wearing a bracelet, earrings and rings made of Herkimer diamonds. I bet she didn’t mine them herself!  The price of admission includes a hammer and a plastic bag for all the diamonds
you can find.  There is also an informational video. Basically, the place has been professional mined out but there were a lot of people mining.  Some came prepared with big sledge hammers, some had tents set up as a work stations.  It was hot and hard work.  Needless to say
I didn’t find anything, nor did any of the people I asked.  The kids were happy with the “pretty” stones they found. There is also a sluice people can use to sort through the dirt for diamonds.  There were a lot of people there so I saw if more as a “gold mine” for the owners.  I can check that off my “gotta’ do” list.

The best part of the day was one of my favorite things: a ride on the Erie Canal. The Erie Canal is what made NYS the
Empire State.  The Canal was a global network for immigrants, the spread of religion, part of the Underground Railroad, and part of America’s Manifest Destiny. The cruise went through one of the oldest still operational locks on the canal system where the water level
changes 20 feet. It went past Plantation Island, a Nature Center, and one of the oldest surviving churches in NYS. In one place it is possible to see remnants of all three versions of the Canal. The original Erie Canal was such a success that it was immediately enlarged.  A great way to end a day trip to Herkimer.