Giving a Traitor the Boot

Thursday, May 03, 2012 Road Junkies 1 Comments

On the History Highway, Day 50:  Saratoga Springs, NY to Lake George, NY

Our day started with a visit to the Saratoga Monument in nearby Schuylerville.  One hundred years after the pivotal American victory in the Battle of Saratoga, fought eight miles south of the monument location, local citizens united to plan and build a 155-foot granite monument to honor the victory.  Unfortunately, the summer season, when visitors can climb the stairs to the top of the monument, doesn't begin until Memorial Day.

After locating three letterboxes in nearby cemeteries, we drove to the Saratoga National Historic Park in nearby Stillwell.  We fully expected to be met with another "Open Memorial Day to Labor Day" sign, so we were pleasantly surprised to learn that the historic park was open.  One of the friendly park rangers greeted us and eagerly shared some informed tips on how to make the most of the driving tour, even if we didn't have time to drive the entire route.  We continue to be impressed with how knowledgeable the park rangers are at the sites we have visited. 

From the visitors center we could see a group of middle schoolers getting a lesson on colonial battle styles, and the ranger advised us about when the student groups would be changing activities and the noise level to expect when that occurred.


Not that we wouldn't love to hang out with a group of adolescents, but we took off for the driving tour while they were still at the visitor center.  At stop 4 on the driving tour is a spot where Benedict Arnold was wounded in the leg.  A century after the event, John Watts de Peyster, a New York author and military critic who had wrangled a position in the Saratoga Monument Association, donated a memorial known as the Boot Monument to commemorate Arnold's wounding at the battle.

Boot Monument
As the man whose name has become synonymous with treachery and treason in American history, Arnold is not mentioned by name on the monument.  Rather, de Peyster offered this glowing anonymous tribute:

In Memory of
the "most brilliant soldier" of the
Continental Army
who was desperately wounded
on this spot, the sally port of
Burgoyne's Great Western Redoubt
7th October 1777
winning for his countrymen
the Decisive Battle of the
American Revolution
and for himself the rank of
Major General.

Returning to Saratoga Springs, we visited Saratoga Spa State Park, which we found to be quite a cut above the typical state park we have encountered.  With luxury facilities, two golf courses, two theaters, and at least two baths and museums, the park has been recognized as a National Historic Landmark.

Gideon Putnam Hotel at the state park
While at the park, we located a couple of letterboxes, one in a forest that was littered with tiny maple trees, about 2 inches in diameter and 15 to 20 feet tall.  The other was near a golf course and spring.  Close to the box location, we spied a groundhog, who scampered quickly away as we walked in his direction.  Returning to the car, we spied another groundhog, who ran to the edge of a grove of trees and stopped.  He watched us as I crept ever closer, taking photos of him.


Finally I reached his tipping point and he darted down into his tunnel, which, unbeknownst to us, was right in front of where he had stopped to stare us down. It certainly was humbling to be outwitted by a woodchuck.

After an excellent lunch at Wheatfield's and one last letterbox in Saratoga Springs, we headed north for Lake George where we'll spend the next couple of days.  Between the two towns lay the Grant Cottage, where Ulysses S. Grant spent his final days.  Following the signs to the Grant Cottage from the town of Wilton, we were scratching our heads when the signs pointed the way to the guardhouse for Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility.

 
When we told the guard we would like to visit the Grant Cottage, he barked that it wasn't open and when we asked, he replied that of course, we couldn't just drive by it, so we continued to Lake George.  After arriving at our hotel, we did our laundry, ate our dinner from the local grocery store salad bar, and rested up for some exploration of the Adirondacks tomorrow.

More Photos from Today

Saratoga Battlefield Park
Baby Maples all around
Loading up with spring water, Saratoga Spa State Park
Saratoga Battlefield Park
Stamping in to an unusual logbook
The adolescents are coming!  The adolescents are coming!