Charles B Knox Gelatine Co. Inc.
Edition of
The Old Mohawk-Turnpike Book

Store and Dwelling, St. Johnsville.
A quaint century-old combination store and dwelling which is a
familiar landmark of the Old Mohawk Turnpike.

   

ST. JOHNSVILLE.

(Montgomery County)

(Over N.Y. Central R.R., N.Y., 206 m.; Buff., 233 m. Sea Elevation, 322 ft ; population, 1920, 2,469).

Turnpike Mileage Distances.

East: Palatine Church 3 m., Fort Plain-Nelliston 6 m., (by detour from Nelliston) Stone Arabia churches 10 m., Canajoharie-Palatine Bridge 9 m., Sprakers 12 m., Yosts (the Noses) 15 m., Fonda-Fultonville 21 m., (by detour north from Fonda) Johnstown 25 m., Gloversville 29 m., (by detour to Fultonville) Auriesville 25 m., Tribes Hill-Fort Hunter 26 m., Fort Johnson 28 m., Amsterdam 31 m., Schenectady 47 m., Albany 62 m., New York 211 m.

West: East Creek 3 m., Fink's Bridge (Fall Hill) 9 m., (by detour east over Fink's bridge) Gen. Herkimer home 10 m., Little Falls 10 m., Herkimer 17 m., Mohawk 19 m., (by detour east from Herkimer) Fort Herkimer Church 19 m., Ilion 21 m., Frankfort 23 m., Utica 33 m., Whitesboro 37 m., Oriskany 40 m., Oriskany Battlefield Monument 42 m., Rome 48 m., Syracuse 83 m., Buffalo 237 m.

 

The next important point west is Little Falls, 10 m., east, Fort Plain-Nelliston, 6 m.

St. Johnsville is picturesquely situated along the base of a steep hill and on the Mohawk Turnpike, the New York Central railroad and the Mohawk river (Erie section Barge canal). The West Shore R.R. station, on the south river shore, is known as South St. Johnsville, here connected by river bridge. Barge canal terminal dock is located at St. Johnsville. The highest nearby elevation is Kring's Bush hill, one mile northeast of the village and one-half mile north of the Turnpike, with a sea elevation of 1,000 feet and 698 feet above the Mohawk river, being the highest river hill point between the Noses and Fall Hill.

Picturesque Zimmerman creek here enters the Mohawk, its water power being the cause of the original settlement made here by Jacob Zimmerman, who located a mill on its banks. It rises 11 miles northeast (airline distance) at the foot of Royal hill (sea el., 1,880 ft.) and a mile west of the Garoga.

The outcrop of surface rock at St. Johnsville is of Trenton limestone. There are stone quarries here as well as available building sand and clay deposits, suitable for brick making.

At St. Johnsville is one of the great geological "faults" of the Mohawk valley running southeastward along a range of high hills to Garoga creek, at Garoga.

St. Johnsville's principal manufactures are (1924) knit goods and felt shoes, agricultural and textile machinery, silk dyeing and weighting, auto motor trucks.

It is a trading and shipping center for a rich farming and dairying section. The village has sewers, electric power and lighting service and municipal water works. Electric power is derived from the East Creek plants. In 1912 St. Johnsville had 20 factories with 990 operatives. Later figures are (1924) not available.

St. Johnsville has the Margaret Reaney Memorial Library.

  

SOLDIERS AND SAILORS MEMORIAL PARK.
This Stone Gateway, on the Mohawk Turnpike, was a gift of 
the St. Johnsville Chapter, Daughters of the American 
Revolution. The park is a memorial to the soldiers and sailors 
who went out from St. Johnsville to fight in America's wars, 
from the Revolution to the World War.

Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial Park.

In 1921 the village dedicated a handsome Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial park, created as a memorial to the village military heroes of all American wars.

It has a swimming pool, playgrounds, athletic field, baseball grounds and other features of public interest. It lies to the south of the westward bound tourist just before entering the business center of St. Johnsville and reflects a great credit upon the village.

The heroic cobblestone approach, so greatly admired by all who drive past, was the gift of the St. Johnsville Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution.

The village of St. Johnsville and the park authorities invite motorists to visit and rest in this park which adjoins the Turnpike in the eastern part of the town. A free parking space is also available to motorists and a hearty welcome is extended to all tourists along the Old Mohawk Turnpike.

The Mohawk Turnpike forms St. Johnsville's Main street . In the Turnpike's six mile course through St. Johnsville village and township it is paved with several different kinds of road materials, with the object of testing their respective merits. Asphalt, brick and wood blocks are used.

Roads northward run to Dolgeville and into the Adirondacks. An upland road from Johnstown here reaches the Turnpike. If the motorist contemplates using any of the side roads mentioned in this book he is advised to first consult local garages along the Turnpike.

 

St. Johnsville, Historical.

The St. Johnsville section was settled by Palatine German families about 1725. A Reformed Dutch church of logs was built about a mile east (near Fort Klock) before 1756.

Jacob Zimmerman, a Revolutionary soldier, was the founder of St. Johnsville. In 1776 he built a grist mill on Zimmerman creek near the old Smith woolen mill. The original Zimmerman, Veeling and Klock farms comprise the present village of St. Johnsville. The original settlers of present St. Johnsville township, along the Turnpike (Palatine Church to East Creek), were families by the name of Fox, Helmer, Klock, Zimmerman (also spelled Timmerman), Veeling, Woolrat (Walrath), Johnson - all Palatines but the last named.

In 1783 Christopher Nellis here opened a tavern and later, in 1801, opened a store. The improvement of the Mohawk Turnpike in 1800 boomed the growth of the little hamlet.

In 1804 Jacob Zimmerman induced the congregation of St. John's Reformed Dutch church (organized 1770) to remove to its present site in St. Johnsville, and from this church the village takes its name. In 1811 half the sermons in St. John's church were preached in English and half in German, but English soon thereafter supplanted the German of the pioneers.

Stores, mills, houses and a school were built and a small village was here, and when the Albany & Schenectady railroad was opened in 1836, St. Johnsville became an important station on the line, with coal trestles and a famous railroad restaurant. A ford and a later ferry furnished river crossing until 1852 when a bridge was built. In 1857 St. Johnsville was incorporated as a village. The manufacture of agricultural machinery was begun here about 1870; player pianos and piano actions in 1889; knit goods in 1892.

St. Johnsville is a pioneer in hydro-electric development. It was here that the first electric house and street lighting was installed from the pioneer development at East Creek, three miles west of St. Johnsville. Guy R. Beardslee (born May, 1859), a young army engineer, became interested in hydro-electric power. He resigned from the army and devoted his energies to harnessing the water power on his property at East Creek. The first power was turned on March 17, 1898. St. Johnsville village was the first customer. From this small beginning comes the present giant development on this creek and tributaries amounting, when present (1924) developments are completed, to 46,000 horsepower. This from a modest 2,000 horsepower at the beginning. Mr. Beardslee devoted his entire lifetime to this development. In 1912 he retired in favor of the East Creek Electric Light and Power Company, which was in 1921 taken over by the Adirondack Power and Light Corporation, and the power development carried on to a greater extent by reason of increased capitalization, but in all essential detail the development has followed the lines originally planned by Capt. Beardslee and his clear vision has been amply justified.

In 1840 St. Johnsville is thus described: "The village is situated on the north side of the Mohawk river, and contains 1 church, 2 stores, 2 grist mills, 2 saw mills, 1 tannery, 1 sash factory, 1 forge and furnace, 1 carding machine, 1 fulling mill, 35 dwellings and about 350 inhabitants."

St. Johnsville's estimated population in 1924 was 3,000.

From St. Johnsville the westward bound tourist can detour to the south shore highway (across river bridge) to Indian Castle, 5 m., and the General Herkimer Home, 8 m. west. Inquire as to road conditions. The preferred (1925) detour to Gen. Herkimer Home is over fink's Bridge, 9 m. w. of St. Johnsville on the Mohawk Turnpike.

Beyond the western limits of St. Johnsville lies its suburb of Upper St. Johnsville, on Timmerman creek.

MINDENVILLE.

(Montgomery County)

(By West Shore R.R., N.Y., 202 m.; Buff., 231 m.; sea elevation, 302 ft.)

Mindenville is a station on the West Shore R.R. and is located on the south shore turnpike. Here are about 20 houses. Mail is delivered via St. Johnsville. Fort Windecker of the Revolutionary war, was located near here. The place is so called because it lies in the township of Minden, which takes its name from a German city.

 

Lock No. 16, Dam No. 12.

At Mindenville, you pass Barge Canal Lock No. 16, with a 20 ft. rise from 302 ft. water level sea elevation below, to 322 ft. above, the Mindenville lock. This level runs 8 miles west to the big lock at Little Falls and its first reach constitutes the first land channel in the Mohawk river section of the Barge canal, westward from its beginning at Waterford, on the Hudson. Here the Mohawk, in its original undammed channel, shows small "rifts" and other characteristic features.

Three miles west of St. Johnsville the west-bound tourist crosses East Canada creek and reaches the New York Central station of

EAST CREEK.

(Herkimer County)

(Over N.Y.C.R.R., N.Y., 210 m.; Buff., 229 m.; sea elevation, 322 ft.)

An Old Mohawk Turnpike tollgate was located at the end of the picturesque covered bridge (built 1793), which the present one replaced about 1900. A famous Turnpike tavern was also here as part of a small hamlet which has (1924) virtually disappeared, the buildings having been burned or torn down.

Just west of the station a road leads north to the thriving felt-manufacturing village of Dolgeville, on East creek.

 

East Canada Creek -- Pioneer Mohawk Valley Hydro-Electric Development.

The East Canada creek was the first Mohawk Valley stream to be electrically developed (1898), antedating, by three years, the first (1901) power plant on the West Canada. The development here at Beardslee Falls was made by Capt. Guy R. Beardslee. In 1925 East Creek hydro-electric plants will produce 46,000 hp. as follows: Beardslee Falls, 30,000 hp.; Inghams Mills, 8,000 hp.; Dolgeville, 2,000 hp.; Sprite Creek, 6,000 hp. Sprite Creek is an automatic plant, operated by switches from Ingham Mills. The Beardslee Falls dam set the East Creek waters back in a lake to Inghams Mills, the dam of which makes a narrow lake extending four miles to Dolgeville. In 1924 work was begun by the Adirondack Power and Light Corporation to market some of its East Creek power in the Pennsylvania coal mines and also to furnish the current, for electrical operation, required by the Mohawk division of the New York Central between Albany and Oneida.

1925 hydro-electric power production in the Mohawk Valley amounts to a total of about 165,000 hp., the main sources of which are: West Canada Creek, 34,500., Little Falls, 1,600 hp.; East Canada Creek, 46,000 hp.; Garoga creek, 15,500 hp.; Visscher Ferry (Barge canal), 8,000 hp.; Crescent Dam (Barge canal), 8,000 hp.; Cohoes Falls, 50,000 hp.

The Mohawk Valley electric transmission trunk line runs from Utica to Little Falls, Inghams Mills, Johnstown, Tribes Hill, Amsterdam, Schenectady.

The East Canada creek, an important Mohawk tributary, is so called in distinction from the West Canada creek at Herkimer. Both streams rise in what was considered Canada in the Colonial period, and hence their names. East creek was called Ci-o-ha-na by the Mohawks, meaning "large creek." This is one of the world's ancient watercourses, draining as it does the southern Adirondack slopes. When the Mohawk valley was formed, at the end of the coal period, Fall Hill at Little Falls formed the divide between the Great Lakes basin and the Atlantic seaboard, and then East creek formed the headwater stream of the Mohawk. This continued until Fall Hill was cut through by the glacier.

Morehouse lake, in the Adirondacks, 27 miles airline north of the outlet, forms the source of East creek. In its valley at Salisbury, is an iron mine which was worked for years but which is now abandoned. There have been frequent rumors of finds of gold, silver and lead along East creek, non of which has materialized.

The East Creek valley has an iron mine at Salisbury Center, which was worked for many years but which is now (1924) abandoned. The presence of gold on the Adirondacks is announced periodically, without results.

Fall Hill ridge and plateau divide the East and West Canada creek valleys.

The widest parts of the Mohawk watershed are in the East-West Canada creek section, (74 deg. 40 min. west longitude) from Richmondville, Schoharie county, north to the source of West Canada lake, 70 miles; and the Cayadutta creek-Schoharie river section from Gloversville, south to the West Kill of the Schoharie river (74 deg. 20 min. west longitude), 60 miles. See map Mohawk watershed in forward.

Aus-ker-a-da, meaning "the stream of many fishes," is one of several Mohawk Indian names for the East Canada Creek.

 

Fort Canajoharie, 1756-1760.

A river ford was located here and Fort Canajoharie was built to guard it, in 1756, during the French-Indian war. It was called Fort Canajoharie because the entire river section, from the Noses westward to Fall Hill was called Canajoharie in Indian and Colonial days. Fort Canajoharie was located on the south river shore, about opposite the mouth of East creek. Fort Canajoharie has often been confused in history with Fort Hendrick, at Indian Castle.

   

DETOUR TO DOLGEVILLE.

East Creek Connection With Upland Highway (Johnstown to Middleville) at Dolgeville, 7 m.

Just west of the East Canada creek bridge an upland road to Dolgeville reaches the Mohawk Turnpike. Going north on this road the motorist passes Ingham's Mills, 4 m., and, at Dolgeville, 7 m., reaches the upland highway which parallels the Mohawk Turnpike (from 8 to 15 m. north of the river) from Saratoga Springs, through Johnstown and Dolgeville to Middleville and Barneveld, on the Black river road. Many motorists coming south from the Thousand Islands, northwestern Adirondacks and Canada take this road south to East Creek to avoid the heavy traffic on the upper Mohawk Turnpike. The village of Dolgeville is a Mohawk valley town, lying seven miles airline north of the Mohawk at East Creek. It is reached by highway from St. Johnsville, East Creek and Little Falls and by railroad and bus from Little Falls. Dolgeville is one of the country's great felt manufacturing centers and is here briefly described.

  

  

  

      

Return To Main Index

 

Fulton County NYGenWeb Herkimer/Montgomery NYGenWeb

   

Copyright 2002
Fulton County NYGenWeb
Herkimer/Montgomery Counties NYGenWeb
All Rights Reserved.