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FROM SARATOGA TO THE SOURCE
THE Hudson above tidewater is a lovable pastoral stream, still having considerable breadth and volume of water. In places it is deep and placid, and again flows in swift, shallow rifts, filling the air with clamor as it hurries along over the stones. Up here where the river is not given to loitering and playing see-saw with the tides, its youthful vigor is put to work. Every now and then there is a dam, and the stream turns many a mill-wheel, and in some instances generates electric power for varied uses. Along shore, on either side, is much pleasant, thrifty-looking farming country, until the out-lying foothills of the Adirondacks are reached.
This was a favorite hunting ground of the Indians in the old days, and when they gathered about their evening campfires, they liked to tell stories of adventure in the district, some of which were founded on fact, and others wholly mythical. One of the most interesting of the legends that have been preserved is the following:
“Late one autumn, when the leaves had nearly all fallen and the snowflakes were beginning to whiten the brown grass of the wild meadows, a young Mohawk brave lost his way somewhere in the vicinity of the modern Saratoga. In vain he wandered day after day, and he recalled with dread the belief of his tribe that a lost person is led by some evil spirit round and round in an ever-narrowing circle at whose center is death. Finally, when almost starved, and in despair, a large gray owl, seemingly emboldened by the gathering shades of the night which was near, flew across his path on noiseless wings and alighted on a low limb of a storm-blasted hemlock. Then, turning its big staring eyes on the sufferer it said derisively, ‘To whoo! to whoo! It is I who have bound thee in my spell. It is I who have wound thee round and round the charmed circle. It is I who, with my wife and children in yonder hollow tree, will fatten off thy flesh. To whoo! To whoo! It is time for thee to die! To whoo! To whoo!’
“But the youthful Mohawk, summoning his remaining strength raised his bow with trembling arm and let fly an arrow which brought the monster fluttering lifeless to the ground. While the Indian, exhausted by his effort, leaned against a tree looking at the dead bird there flew forth from its body a beautiful white dove. Immediately the lowering clouds which had covered the sky broke away and the full round moon rose serenely in the east. The dove hovered before the young hunter as if inviting him to follow it. He heeded its apparent intentions and it fluttered along before him till it led him to safety.”
Saratoga was a resort of the Indians long before the whites came to this country, and the peculiar virtues of its springs were celebrated far and wide. One spring, as it originally existed, had built for itself a curb about four feet high, and was spoken of by the Indians as the “High Rock” or “Great Medicine Spring.” In 1767, as a mark of special friendship, they revealed the spring to Sir William Johnson of the Mohawk Valley. He had been wounded at the battle of Lake George, twelve years before, and was subject to recurring attacks of illness, due to that injury. The Mohawks, who held him in greater esteem than they ever felt for any other white man, carried him through the forest to the “High Rock Spring,” and laid him in the healing pool with solemn ceremonies. “The water has almost effected my cure,” he wrote afterward. Indeed, he came to the spring on a litter carried by his Mohawk friends, but was so far restored that he accomplished part of his return journey to Schenectady on foot.
In 1783 General Schuyler made a road through the woods to the spring from his home on the Hudson a few miles to the east, and with his family camped beside the medicinal waters for several weeks. That same year, General Washington, while making a tour through the northern part of the state visited the spring in company with Alexander Hamilton. The efficacy of the water soon became “much celebrated as well as the curious round and hollow rock from which it flowed.” The country between the Hudson and Saratoga, as described by a member of a party that visited the springs in 1789, “was very uninviting and almost uninhabited. The road lay through a forest and was formed of logs. We travelled till the last light had disappeared. At length we heard the barking of a dog and found our way to a log house, containing but one room and destitute of everything except hospitable inhabitants. There was no lamp or candles, light being supplied by pine knots stuck in crevices in the walls. The conversation of the family proved that wild beasts were very numerous and bold in the surrounding forests, and that they sometimes, when hungry, approached the house.
“On reaching the springs at Saratoga we found but three habitations, and those poor log houses near the Round Rock. This was the only spring then visited. The log cabins were full of strangers and we found it almost impossible to obtain accomodations even for two nights. The neighborhood of the spring, like all the country we had seen for many miles, was a perfect forest.”
Yet within a few decades Saratoga Springs became one of the greatest watering places on earth, having all the charm that wealth and fashion could confer added to its natural attractions. Those who have lodged in its great hostelries and drank of its waters, no doubt include a very large proportion of the famous people of the last century. In antebellum days Saratoga was the favorite resort of rich Southerners, and this fact accounts for some of its peculiar customs and attractions. The permanent population of the town is about twelve thousand, but at the height of the summer season there are often in the place two or three times that number. About thirty different springs exist, none of them, however, in a state of nature, but each sheltered by a more or less elaborate building. They are all strongly impregnated with carbonic acid gas, but present considerable variation otherwise. Most of them are declared to be pleasant to drink, though this claim is not made for those having the greatest medicinal reputation; for a nauseous taste is very apt to inspire faith in such matters. The waters are considered especially beneficial to the stomach and liver, and in cases of rheumatism, calculus and similar disorders.
In 1871 while drilling in the solid rock a vein of limestone was struck at a depth of one hundred and forty feet from which the water immediately spouted to the surface and thirty feet into the air from an inch nozzle. Many of the other springs were very vigorous in their flow, but in recent years they have dwindled, the spouters have ceased to spout and some have stopped flowing altogether. This is due to operations on the outskirts of the town where the carbonic gas has of late been pumped from the earth for commercial purposes. The pumping stations, each with lines of pipe running to several scattered wells all worked by the same engine, remind one of the oil regions. They have hurt Saratoga as a health resort, but the state is about to buy them out and the springs are to be restored to their pristine virtue.
At one of the springs I made the acquaintance of a man in charge who had both the leisure and the inclination to talk. I had wandered into the building to try the water and for five cents was furnished with an unlimited quantity, but I did not relish it enough to want to absorb very much. The caretaker urged me to imbibe more freely, and when I voiced a preference for ordinary water that was pure and tasteless, he affirmed that he liked this as well as any water. But his nose had a bloom which seemingly indicated that his experience as a water drinker was limited, and that a more fiery liquid was his favorite beverage. According to him the famous springs were not the chief source of Saratoga’s past prosperity. The great attraction was gambling at its race track. Gambling in the state had, however, recently been outlawed, largely through the efforts of Governor Hughes, “and now,” said my acquaintance, “this town is on the bum. We shall have races just as in the past, but people don’t want to see a horse race. They come here for the betting. I don’t gamble myself; but it is gambling on horse races that have made Saratoga. We want the sporting element, and that went elsewhere when the Governor shut off betting. We used to make enough in five weeks to carry us through the rest of the year; but last season was a bad one. I had to draw on my savings, and trade was so poor the merchants were all hard up. There wasn’t half of them in such shape they could go to the banks and borrow any money. The farmers are hit, too. They come in with their vegetables and things, and the people they usually sell to say, ‘No, we don’t want any. We haven’t got the money to pay for ‘em.’ It’s a shame. I don’t care what the ministers say. I’m a Christian, but they can talk religion all they blame please; they can’t dictate to me in a matter that touches my pocket. I ain’t got no use for the Governor either. I’ve always been a Republican, but Hughes don’t get my vote. Since he signed that anti-gambling bill there’s lots of us in this county who belong to his party and yet are doing all we can to kill him when it comes to an election. He may be all right, but he ain’t all right for Saratoga.”
It did not seem to me that my informant was very much of an ornament to the Christianity he professed, or that he was an asset the Republican party would be likely to boast of very loudly. If the town has fattened on the vices of its visitors, the sooner it seeks, either of its own free will or by compulsion, some new basis of prosperity, the better.
The place has a distinct individuality and its principal street, shaded by fine elms for a distance of three miles, and kept in perfect order, is one of the most beautiful in the United States. This thoroughfare retains its vernal character in the business as well as the residence section. Hotels abound in the town, and many of these are very large and were palatial in their day, but look tawdry now in their ornate type of architecture. Still, in spite of their pretentions, they have a flavor of the past that is not un-pleasing.
The region is historically one of the most notable in America, and the battle of Saratoga, which led to the surrender of Burgoyne, is numbered among the “fifteen decisive battles of the world.” Burgoyne started from Canada with the expectation of uniting his forces with an army that was to ascend the Hudson from New York; but in 1777 the roads of northern and central New York were few and bad. Except in the immediate vicinity of Albany and Saratoga, the country was covered with the primeval forest, through which only the trapper and the Indian could make their way with speed. Here it was that Burgoyne came to grief. His advance from Canada up Lake Champlain and his capture of Fort Ticonderoga had been easily accomplished, and there was rejoicing in England and consternation in America. The patriot army was at Fort Edward, only twenty miles from the head of the lake, and it would apparently be an easy prey to the victorious British; but Schuyler, its commander, had been industriously at work with axe and crowbar, and the pioneer roads, bad at their best, were obstructed every few steps by the huge trunks and tangled branches of trees that had been felled across them. The bridges, too, were all destroyed, and Burgoyne could only push forward about a mile a day.
When he at last arrived at Fort Edward, the Americans had fallen back to Stillwater on the west bank of the river and were about as far away as they had been before. Meanwhile the militia of New York and New England were beating to arms and Schuyler’s force was constantly growing by motley additions from every direction, each soldier having on the clothes he wore in the fields, the church or the tavern.
Burgoyne was expecting much help from the loyalist inhabitants of the region he was invading; but in this he was disappointed. The people withdrew as he advanced driving their cattle before them. The support that he might possibly have had under other circumstances was largely alienated by his employment of Indian auxiliaries. To be sure, he had explained to his savage allies that the slaughter of aged men, and of women and children and unresisting prisoners was absolutely forbidden, and that on no account were scalps to be taken from wounded or dying men; but these injunctions had slight effect. One sad tragedy for which the Indians were responsible and which was long treasured in song and story roused the public wrath against the invaders, far and wide. Jane McCrea, the beautiful daughter of a New Jersey clergyman, was at Fort Edward visiting her friend, Mrs. McNeil. One morning a party of Indians burst into the house and carried away the two ladies. Some American soldiers pursued the savages who scattered and escaped. They presently came into the British camp with only Mrs. McNeil, but the next day a famous sachem, known as the Wyandot Panther, appeared with a scalp of long, silky, black tresses. It was Jane McCrea’s. A search was made, and the body of the girl was found near a spring in the forest pierced by three bullet wounds. How she came to her death was never known, but a version of the story, widely accepted at the time ran in this wise:
She was betrothed to David Jones, a loyalist, who was serving as lieutenant in Burgoyne’s army. Her lover sent a letter to her by a party of Indians entreating her to come to the British camp where they would be married. Before these Indians reached the McNeil house another company of savages under the Wyandot Panther raided it and carried off Jane and Mrs. McNeil. Soon afterward the two parties met near the spring, and the emissaries of David Jones insisted on taking Jane with them. High words ensued until the Panther, in a rage, drew his pistol and shot the girl dead.
Burgoyne was a man of quick and tender sympathy, and the fate of the young lady grieved him greatly. He made the rule that thereafter no party of Indians should be allowed to go marauding save under the lead of some British officer, who might watch and restrain them. The savages showed their disaffection at once. They grunted and growled for two or three days, and then with hoarse yells and hoots, the whole five hundred scampered off to the Adirondack wilderness. This desertion deprived the invaders of valuable scouts and guides, and by no means effaced the desire for vengeance which their deeds had aroused among the American yeomanry for a hundred miles round about.
At length Burgoyne’s army began to suffer for lack of food, and there were not horses enough to drag their cannon and carry the provision bags. Something must be done, and Burgoyne got his force over to the west side of the Hudson on a bridge of boats. Then he moved forward to attack the Americans who had taken up a strong position on Bemis Heights. General Gates was now the patriot commander, having superseded the far abler Schuyler. American scouts concealed in the upper foliage of the tall trees that grew on the hillsides were early aware of the British movements, and the fiery Arnold begged to be allowed to go forth and assail the enemy. When Gates gave reluctant consent, Arnold with three thousand men fell on Burgoyne’s advance at Freeman’s Farm. He was outnumbered and sent for reinforcements, but these were refused. Nevertheless he held his own in a desperate fight for two hours until darkness put an end to the struggle; and all this while the incompetent Gates kept idle on Bemis Heights eleven thousand men, nor did he on the next day follow up the advantage Arnold had gained. Nothing more was done for nearly three weeks, and Gates in the despatches sent to Congress took to himself all the credit of this preliminary encounter, and did not even mention Arnold’s name.
Meanwhile Burgoyne was hoping for relief from Sir Henry Clinton who was to bring an army up the Hudson. But conditions were fast becoming desperate, and he again attempted to sweep aside his foes. An advance column failed in its attack, lost its cannon, and became disordered. At this moment Arnold, who had been watching from the heights, sprang on his horse and galloped to the scene of action. Gates sent Major Armstrong to stop him, exclaiming, “Call back that fellow, or he will be doing something rash!”
But Arnold was too swift for the pursuing messenger. The men greeted their beloved commander with deafening hurrahs and he directed them against the retreating column of the enemy, and when that column had been crushed they assailed other vulnerable points of the invader’s army. The American victory, complete and decisive, had been practically won when a wounded German soldier lying on the ground took aim at Arnold. The bullet passed through the general’s left leg and slew his horse. As he fell, one of his men rushed toward the wounded soldier, and would have bayonetted him had not Arnold hastily ordered his would-be avenger to desist. So the poor soldier was saved, and it has been well said that “this was the hour when Benedict Arnold should have died.”
On the morrow Burgoyne retreated northward a few miles with his wrecked army, and Gates, who now outnumbered him three to one, closed in on him. A brisk cannonade was opened on the beaten invaders, and they were harassed with the galling fire of the sharpshooters. Drinking water became scant, and every man that started with a bucket for the river was shot dead. So the wife of a soldier courageously volunteered to go; and she brought water again and again, for the Americans would not fire at a woman.
The end came on October seventeenth, when Burgoyne surrendered. It was agreed that the captured army should be sent home, but Congress, with inexcusable lack of honor, did not keep the pledge, and the main body of the troops were after a time transferred to Virginia. They were not guarded very rigorously, and some were allowed to escape, and the rest scattered and for the most part eventually became American citizens.
The place of Burgoyne’s surrender is marked by a tall granite shaft. It is on a hillcrest that overlooks a long steep slope, descending to the river in the hollow. Beyond the stream are lines of undulating hills that melt gradually into ridges of hazy blue on the horizon. The river here is very modest and mild. You can toss a stone across it, and it slumbers between banks where the great trees with their wide-spreading branches lean caressingly over it.
For many miles above it has as a rule the same lazy tree-embowered character. At length we come to Fort Edward. The fort, which was of considerable importance in the French and Indian wars, has long ago disappeared. Within the confines of the present village Jane McCrea met her lamented death, and Fort Edward was the scene of the well-known exploit of Israel Putnam, who stood on the roof of the powder magazine and saved it after a strenuous single-handed fight with the fire that consumed the structure next to it.
A few miles more and we arrive at Glen’s Falls. Here is a thriving modern manufacturing town. The center of interest for the stranger is not, however, the substantial business section, or the great mills, but a rocky islet in the middle of the river just below where the stream begins a chaotic tumble of seventy-two feet down a tangle of steep ledges. On this spot occurred some of the most thrilling incidents in one of the world-famous romances of J. Fenimore Cooper — “The Last of the Mohicans.” Unfortunately an ugly iron bridge runs directly across the island, which supports one of the bridge piers.
It would seem that this disfigurement might have been avoided. Even if the attraction of the island is largely one of sentiment, the interest it arouses has a real value to the town and to the country at large. The island is merely a bare rock swept by the floods, but on its higher portion are some clumps of bushes and a little grass. At one point is a small cave opening back into the rock, and this is the supposed retreat of Hawkeye and his companions when pursued by the savages.
The name of the falls is altogether lacking in inspiration. By the Indians this leap of the Hudson over the rugged rocks was called Che-pon-tuc — “a hard place to get around.” When the whites began to settle in the region the falls became the property of a man named Wing and were known at Wing’s Falls. That they have not come down to posterity so designated is due to the fact that he sold the right to the name to a Mr. Glen for the price of a dinner at the tavern. The latter, after he had paid for the repast, posted all the roads around with handbills announcing the change in name.
At Glen’s Falls it is natural to turn aside from the river to visit Lake George. The lake is a beautiful, irregular sheet of water, comparatively narrow, but more than thirty miles long, with many a wooded guardian height rising from its borders. Its attractiveness is much increased by its numerous islands. These are said to be the same in number as the days of the year, and on leap years an extra one can be found to match the extra day. At the southern end the old embankments of Fort William Henry can still be traced, and other forts of the Colonial period in the region survive in similar half-effaced hillocks.
The most notable battle fought on its shores dates back to 1755. An expedition under General Johnson, afterward Sir William Johnson, on its way to attack the French on Lake Champlain had encamped at its southern extremity among the stumps of newly-felled trees. The troops were from the farms and brought their own guns. They had no bayonets, but carried hatchets in their belts, and by their sides were slung powder-horns on which, in their leisure they carved quaint devices with the points of their jack-knives. There were twenty-two hundred effective men and they were presently joined by three hundred Mohawks. As to the manners and morals of the army one of the officers wrote that nothing was to be heard “among a great part of them but the language of hell;” yet it was said that not a chicken had been stolen on their march, and they now had sermons twice a week, daily prayers and frequent psalm-singing.
The French commander, Baron Dieskau, did not wait for them to assail him, but made a circuit and gained their rear with a force of fifteen hundred, most of whom were Canadians and Indians. Late on the night of September seventh tidings of this movement reached Johnson, and at sunrise a thousand men were detailed to reconnoitre, and two hundred Mohawk warriors went with them. An hour elapsed, when from the distance was heard a sudden explosion of musketry. In the thick woods bordering the narrow, newly-cut road which led southward from Lake George, the French had concealed themselves, and the English were first apprised of their danger, by an appalling shout which rose from both sides of them and was followed by a storm of bullets. The road was soon strewn with dead and wounded soldiers, and the English gave way. Every man was a woodsman and a hunter, and the greater part of them spread through the forest fighting stubbornly as they retreated, and shooting from behind every tree or bush that could afford a cover. The Canadians and Indians and French regulars pressed them closely, and far and wide through the forest rang shout and shriek and the deadly rattle of guns.
Warned by the approaching sound of the conflict, the soldiers in the camp made a sort of barricade along its front, partly of wagons, and partly of inverted bateaux, but chiefly of the trunks of trees hastily hewn down in the neighboring forest and laid end to end in a single row. The defeated party began to come in; first scared fugitives, then gangs of men bringing the wounded, and at last the main detachment.
A portion of the troops were detailed to guard the flanks of the camp and the rest stood just back of the wagons or lay flat behind the logs and bateaux. They were hardly at their posts when they saw ranks of soldiers moving down the road, and heard a terrific burst of war-whoops. Some of the men grew uneasy; but the chief officers, sword in hand, threatened instant death to any who should stir from their posts. If Dieskau could have made an assault then there would have been little doubt of his success. But, except for the regulars, the members of his force were beyond his control and had scattered through the woods and swamps, shouting and firing from behind trees. The fight continued from noon until after four o’clock, when the French showed signs of wavering. At this, with a general shout, the English broke from their camp and rushed on their enemies, striking them down or putting them to frightened flight through the woods.
Some time previous, several hundred of the Canadians and Indians had left the field and returned to the scene of the morning fight to plunder and scalp the dead. They were resting themselves, and night had begun to gloom the forest, when a scouting party from Fort Edward sent a volley of bullets among them. The assailants were greatly outnumbered, but they soon had totally routed and dispersed the enemy. Near where this combat occurred is a pond half overgrown by weeds and water lilies and darkened by the surrounding forest, beneath whose stagnant waters the bodies of those slain are said to lie buried deep in mud and slime.
Baron Dieskau had been wounded and taken prisoner. He was carried to the tent of General Johnson, and scarcely had his wounds been dressed when several of the Mohawks came in, furious at their losses. There was a long and angry dispute between them and Johnson in their own language, after which they went out very sullenly. Dieskau asked what they wanted.
“They wanted to burn you, eat you, and smoke you in their pipes, in revenge for three or four of their chiefs that were killed,” replied Johnson. “But never fear. You shall be safe with me, or else they shall kill us both.”
As soon as his wounds would permit Dieskau was carried on a litter, strongly escorted, to Fort Edward, and from there went on to New York, and later was sent to England.
Around Lake George the fighting continued for years, and the vicinity was the scene of ceaseless ambuscades and forest skirmishing. Fort William Henry had been built at the southern end of Lake George close to the edge of the water, and in August, 1757, Montcalm, with a force of eight thousand men, about one-fourth of whom were Indians, laid siege to it. The fort was formed by embankments of gravel surmounted by a rampart of heavy logs, and east of it, on a low rocky hill, beyond a marsh, was an entrenched camp. All around and far up the slopes of the western mountain, the forest had been cut down and burned and the ground was cumbered with blackened stumps and charred trunks and branches of fallen trees. The garrison, which numbered a little more than two thousand, made a brave defence, but in a few days their position became deplorable. More than three hundred of them had been killed and wounded, and small-pox was raging in the fort. There was nothing to do but capitulate and it was agreed that they should march out with the honors of war and be escorted the day following by a guard of French troops to Fort Edward. No sooner did the garrison leave the fort than a crowd of Indians clambered through the embrasures in search of rum and plunder; and all the sick men unable to leave their beds were instantly butchered.
The English had collected in the entrenched camp which had been included in the surrender. Presently the Indians resorted thither, and their intrusive insolence made the women and children half crazy with fright. There was much disorder, and Montcalm hurried to the camp and did his utmost to restore tranquility. At last night came, and in the morning the English, in their haste to be gone, got together at daybreak. The Indians had been prowling about the outskirts of the camp since midnight, and they were now all on the alert, and began plundering. They demanded rum, and some of the soldiers, afraid to refuse, gave it to them from their canteens. After much difficulty the column at last got out of the camp and began to move along the road toward the forest. Then the Indians abandoned all restraint, and snatched caps, coats and weapons from the men, tomahawking those who resisted, and dragged off shrieking women and children, or murdered them on the spot. Into the midst of this frightful tumult came Montcalm and other French officers, and by promises and threats tried to allay the frenzy of the savages. “Kill me, but spare the English who are under my protection!” Montcalm exclaimed.
The English had muskets, but no ammunition, and any effective resistance was impossible. Many were killed and many more were carried away by the Indians, who, the morning after the massacre set out for Canada. The rest were guarded in the entrenched camp for a number of days and then escorted to Fort Edward. Meanwhile Fort William Henry had been demolished, and the barracks torn down. The huge pine logs of the rampart were now thrown into a heap and set on fire. Then the army reëmbarked, and no living thing was left amid the desolation, except the wolves that gathered from the mountains to feast on the dead.
In continuing up the Hudson from Glens Falls one finds the stream largely utilized as a highway for floating down logs. These come from the mountains in immense numbers every spring, and after the main drive is past the shores are strewn with numberless stragglers, and many more are lodged on rocks in midstream. The country grows increasingly rustic, and the villages usually consist of a hotel, a few wooden stores, and a group of houses where taking summer boarders is the main business. The railroad ends at North Creek, and if you would go farther and explore the woods and mountains, the lakes and wild streams of the Adirondacks, you must continue by stage or on foot. There are numerous teams on the road and their occupants are a friendly people, always with a nod and often a companionable greeting for you, even though you are a total stranger. Most of the houses outside of the villages are small and barren, and there is an occasional one of logs with a genuine pioneer aspect.
They are often in the midst of a landscape that has great charm in its mighty hills and river vistas, but the buildings themselves are usually unprepossessing, and uncaressed by Nature’s greenery.
The Hudson rises in the recesses of the mountains where the source of its chief branch is a little lake poetically called “The Tear of the Clouds,” over four thousand feet above the tide. This is the loftiest body of water in the state from which a stream flows continuously. It is eighty yards long by about thirty wide, very shallow, with a bottom of soft black mud that makes its clear water look like ink. Dwarfed spruces abound along the shores, and here and there rounded boulders lift themselves above the surface. A climb of one thousand feet more takes one to the summit of the proudest height in the Adirondacks, Mount Marcy, which the Indians called Jahawnus — the cloud-piercer. From the Tear of the Clouds flows Feldspar Brook through a narrow mountain gorge. This, after gathering volume from tributary streams, takes the name of Opalescent River, and still later becomes the East Branch of the Hudson.
Nature has covered the high places at the headwaters of the river with a dense growth of evergreens, whose roots hold the forest mold where it has slowly gathered in the passing centuries. This forest mold, composed largely of decayed leaves and cones, branches and fallen tree trunks, is generally called “spruce-duff,” because among the spruces the deposit is deepest. Together with the rank moss that grows so abundantly in the shade, it is equal to a sponge for absorbing water and is an almost perfect medium for regulating the flow of precipitated moisture. Cut away the trees and expose the mold to the sun, and it soon dies and becomes fit food for fire. Only a careless spark is needed, and then the fire sweeps the surface and smoulders in the fibrous mold until it is entirely consumed. After that the first storm carries away the ashes, leaving only the naked rock, and the work of a thousand years has been undone.
Just how much harm this sort of devastation does to the watershed of the Hudson as a whole is uncertain, but any damage at the headwaters affects to some degree all the rest of the valley. It is greatly to be hoped that the annual fires which sweep over such vast tracts of northern woodland will be better curbed in the future and that the Hudson will remain for unnumbered centuries the same beautiful stream it has been in the past.