"Cycling the Erie Canal: A Path Through History" is an audio tour of Montgomery County historic sites available through a free app that can be downloaded to smartphones. To download the app, called TravelStorys, visit Google Play or the Apple Store.
TravelStorys is a Wyoming-based company that produces GPS-triggered audio vignettes for travelers. Each narration will automatically play when you enter the story’s geographical area.
Listeners can hear 35 historical vignettes while traveling the recently completed Erie Canalway bike trail from St. Johnsville to Amsterdam.
The stories were compiled and edited by Montgomery County Historian Kelly Yacobucci Farquhar.
The Montgomery County tourism department of the Fulton-Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the county’s economic development office and the Department of History and Archives produced the audio project, which I narrated.
One of the stories is about National Historic Landmark Fort Klock, a stone structure in the town of St. Johnsville across the river from the bike trail. Johannes Klock built the fortified house for his family in 1750.
Fort Klock was important during both the French and Indian War and American Revolution. The Revolutionary War Battle of Klock's field, the last battle of a destructive 1780 Loyalist raid on the area, was fought just west of the fort. “Loyalist” was the term used to describe local residents who supported the British.
The structure today is owned and operated by Fort Klock Historic Restoration, a group of dedicated citizens working to preserve this historic site.
Fort Klock includes a blacksmith shop; a Dutch barn, built around 1790 and relocated to the Fort in 1989 and a little red schoolhouse from 1825.
Another vignette on the TravelStorys app is about The Noses between Sprakers and Fultonville, the only natural break in the Appalachian Mountain chain from Georgia to Maine. A rugged hill called Little Nose is on the south side of the Mohawk River and a hill called Big Nose is on the river’s north side.
In the prehistoric age, rock pushed up to form steep hills. During the Ice Age, glaciers and water cut through the hills, breaking the landscape and allowing water to flow.
Even during the Revolutionary War, Sir John Johnson referred to the area as The Noses in communication with the commander of British forces in Canada.
When reporting on his raid on the Mohawk Valley, Johnson wrote, “… from thence we marched on laying waste to everything before us on both sides of the river up to the nose where we arrived and encamped at twelve that night securing the narrow passes on both sides of the river.”
Another audio vignette describes the Putman Store and the remains of the Yankee Hill Lock near Amsterdam.
One of the features of daily life along the Erie Canal was the canal store. In the 14-mile section of canal around Amsterdam, there were more than 40 stores. Putman's Lock Grocery was at Yankee Hill Lock Number 28 -- the last double lock completed in New York during the canal’s enlargement in 1841.
The grocery was owned by the Garret Putman family from about 1855 to the early 1900s. The basement of the grocery contained a tavern while the Putman family maintained living quarters in part of the store. You can see a photograph of what it looked like during the canal era on an interpretive panel.
The variety of goods and services provided included food for animals and people, fresh water, lamp oil, rope, hardware, patent medicines and dime novels. Because of the many travelers passing through, the canal store was also a good place to get the latest news.