Saratoga Springs offers a variety of experiences for its summer visitors, but should you grow a little weary of the horses at the race track and the crowd of people downtown, then Schuylerville is a great way to get away from it all.
About 12 miles east of Saratoga Springs on Route 29, the village of Schuylerville offers plenty of fun for history buffs and art lovers, while those looking to enjoy the riverfront have the option to drop their own boat in the Hudson River or take a ride on a tour boat, the Caldwell Belle, disembarking from Lock 5 of the Champlain Canal.
“There is an awful lot to do in Schuylerville,” said John J. Sherman, mayor of the village. “We have art galleries, antique shops and plenty of history to enjoy. We also have the canal towpath that people can take a nice walk on, either from the Schuyler House to the village, or the village north to Lock 5.”
There is also the Saratoga National Historic Park and Battlefield in the town of Stillwater, eight miles south of Schuylerville, and the Gerald B. Solomon National Cemetery even closer in the town of Saratoga. But those places might be day trips in themselves.
In the immediate vicinity of the village of Schuylerville, there is the Schuyler House and the Saratoga Monument, both maintained and operated by the park service, while other places to see include Fort Hardy, where British Gen. Johnny Burgoyne surrendered his army during the American Revolution, and Stark’s Knob just north of the village in the town of Northumberland where Gen. John Stark and his men from New Hampshire and Vermont kept Burgoyne and his men from escaping.
The monument, 155 feet high and 188 steps long (there is no elevator), is actually located in the village of Victory, which is adjacent tothe village of Schuylerville.
“We like to say that between the villages of Schuylerville and Victory, and the towns of Northumberland and Saratoga, there are no borders,” said Sherman. “We have no boundaries between us. You can’t tell when you’re out of Schuylerville and into Victory. We’re all like one community.”
A visitor center at Fort Hardy provides an extensive history of the Saratoga Campaign during 1777. There is little left of the fort, and the site now has three baseball fields and provides parking for those wishing to stroll down the towpath.
To get to the top of Stark’s Knob requires a short walk, but the site is probably more interesting to geologists than historians. For more history go to the Schuyler House, where General Philip Schuyler and his family spent their summers getting away from Albany, or the Saratoga Monument, which along with its history documenting the summer of 1777, also provides a great view of the Adirondacks, the Green Mountains in Vermont and the Berkshires in Massachusetts.
“Some of the children comment in our guest book that the founding fathers should have built an elevator,” said park ranger Danielle Hiss, a Burnt Hills native and a junior at Gettysburg College. “But it is a great view, and we do get a lot of people in the summer months. Some of them come from the track. You can tell by the way they’re dressed.”
Back in the village of Schuylerville, people like Maggie Chiperno, owner of Moongate Antiques on Ferry Street, Michael Dudley of Riverfront Studios and Dan Jagareski of Old Saratoga Books, both on Broad Street, would like to lure more Saratoga tourists to their quaint little village.
“We see a little bump in the summertime, maybe because of the track, but we’d like to see more people,” said Dudley, a Skidmore grad who opened Riverfront Studios with his wife in December of 2004. “I’d really like to see more art galleries. The more the merrier. There aren’t enough galleries for all the artists we have in the area, and if there were more galleries we would become more of a destination.”
Among the artists with work on display and for sale in Dudley’s studio is Rita Dee of Kingston, who specializes in Hudson River driftwood horses, and Celeste Susany, a world-renowned equine painter. Heading north up Broad Street to Ivy Associates Antiques and Discoveries, paintings by Skidmore graduate Mark David Walp are among the items to be viewed or purchased.
Like Dudley, Chiperno would welcome more businesses to Schuylerville.
“I’d like to see more art galleries, more book stores and more antique shops,” she said. “We do a pretty good business, but we’re only open Friday, Saturday and Sunday. If there were more antique shops, we would be able to attract more tourists to Schuylerville. But things are getting better. The village is trying.”
Jagareski’s book store is open Wednesday through Sunday, and he says his business isn’t that affected by tourists from Saratoga.
“We don’t shift our hours for Saratoga,” said Jagareski, an Albany native who opened his book store in 1996. “In fact we’re closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. If people are going to come here it’s because they’re in Saratoga for the whole season.”
Jagareski feels that Schuylerville does have a lot to offer visitors.
“Along with our store and the galleries, Schuylerville actually does have a nice waterfront,” he said. “It’s nothing fancy, but there’s a nice place to drop off your boat and go picnicking. We also have the tour boat at the Champlain Canal as well as some nice farms and hiking trails. There is plenty to do.”
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