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

The Arkell Home, Canajoharie.
Built by Senator James Arkell.



(Montgomery County)

(Over N.Y.C.R.R., N.Y., 197 m.; Buff., 242 m.; sea elevation, 294 ft. Population, 1920,
Canajoharie, 2,415; Palatine Bridge, 443; combined population, 2,858; 1910, Canajoharie, 2,273;
 Palatine Bridge, 392; combined, 2,665.)


Mileage Distances, Mohawk Turnpike, New York-Buffalo Highway.

Eastward: Sprakers, 3 m., Yosts (the Noses) 6 m., Fonda, 12 m., (by detour from Fonda) Johnstown 16 m., Gloversville 20 m., (by detour to south side from Fonda) Auriesville 16 m., Tribes Hill-Fort Hunter 18 m., Fort Johnson 21 m., Amsterdam 23 m., Schenectady 39 m., Albany 54 m., New York 203 m.

Northward: (by detour north) Stone Arabia churches 4m.

Westward: Fort Plain - Nelliston 3 m., Palatine Church 6 m., St. Johnsville 9 m., (by detour to south side going west) Gen. Herkimer Homestead 18 m., East Creek 12 m., Fink's Bridge (Fall Hill) 17 m., Little Falls 19 m., Herkimer 26 m., Mohawk 27 m., (by detour south from Mohawk) Fort Herkimer church 29 m., Ilion 29 m., Frankfort 31 m., Utica 41 m., Whitesboro 45 m., Oriskany 48 m., Oriskany Battlefield Monument 50 m., Rome 56 m., Syracuse 91 m., Buffalo 245 m.


The next important point west is Fort Plain -
Nelliston, 3 m.; east, Yosts (Big Nose), 6 m.; Fonda, 12 m.;
north, Stone Arabia Churches, 4 m.

Canajoharie and Palatine Bridge are separate villages but form one community, connected by a bridge over the Mohawk. Palatine Bridge lies on the north shore, on the New York Central railroad and the Mohawk Turnpike, which forms its main thoroughfare. Canajoharie is on the south shore, at the mouth of Canajoharie creek and on the West Shore railroad.

Canajoharie is the terminus of a bus line running through the valley from Little Falls (19 m. w.) over the Old Mohawk Turnpike, and the valley end of the Sharon Springs (11 m. s.) bus line.


Barge Canal Lock No. 14, Dam No. 10.

Here is a Barge canal lock and dam, with an 8-foot rise from a water sea level elevation of 286 feet below to 294 feet above the dam. This is Lock No. 14 and Dam No. 10, Erie division, Barge canal, known also as the Canajoharie lock and dam. This level runs westward over three miles to above Fort Plain. A terminal dock is located at Canajoharie.


Hotel Wagner and Clinton Monument.
Monument marking the start of Gen. Clinton's army in its overland 
portage to Otsego Lake in the Sullivan and Clinton Indian expedition
of 1779.  Hotel Wagner (built 1878) is on the site of Roof's tavern,
Clinton's Canajoharie headquarters.  The Hotel Wagner is now
owned and conducted by the Beech-Nut Packing Co.

The Beech-Nut Packing Co.

The packing of food products and the manufactures of paper and cotton bags are the chief industries of Canajoharie.

At Canajoharie en route from New York to Buffalo you enter a canned food belt which extends westward to Buffalo, furnishing a great part of the canned vegetables and milk supply of the country. A food packing establishment at Canajoharie is the second in size in the State. Its model factories produce a great variety of food products. This is the Beech-Nut Packing Co., established in 1891, with over 800 workers in 1923.

The Beech-Nut Packing Co. began operations here in 1890, under the name of the Imperial Packing Co., which was later changed to its present famous title. The Beech-Nut factories are open to the public and visitors are invited to inspect America's most hygienic and scientific foods products workrooms. Many of the employees here come daily back and forth from Canajoharie's sister village of Fort Plain, three miles westward.

The Beech-Nut Co. also owns and operates Hotel Wagner along modern metropolitan lines.

Arkell & Smith paper bag factory was founded by Ho. James Arkell in 1859. It is one of the finest bag making and printing works in the world.

At Palatine Bridge is a branch of a great silk manufacturing industry.

The village of Canajoharie in 1915 set a fine example in forestry to all the towns along the New York Central main line. In that year it set out 100,000 saplings to reforest the watershed of its water supply system. This example has since been followed by many Mohawk river towns.

Both Canajoharie and Palatine Bridge, located in the heart of the Mohawk valley, are picturesque, progressive American villages of the highest type. Palatine Bridge residents claim that their half-mile of elm-shaded Old Mohawk Turnpike, which forms its Grand street, makes their little village the prettiest place in the valley. Canajoharie is situated mainly on what are known as East hill and West hill, divided by Canajoharie creek. It is a handsome, clean, well-ordered town, showing the possibilities of a harmonious combination of beauty and utility in an up-to-date American industrial community.


South Central Mohawk Valley Plateau.

The highest point close to Canajoharie is the bench mark of the Geological Survey (800 ft. sea elevation and 514 ft. above the Mohawk), 1 m. sw., on the Seebers Lane road. The highest Palatine Bridge neighborhood point is the survey benchmark, 1 m. ne., 821 ft. sea elevation, and 535 ft. above the Mohawk.

A broad and fertile upland plateau covers the southern central Mohawk valley, extending from the hills bordering the west shore of the Schoharie river, westward to the Fall Hill ridge, at its first rise west of the Nowadaga at Indian Castle. It has a length of about 25 miles east and west and varies in width from about 12 miles (in the Canajoharie - Fort Plain - St. Johnsville section), southward to the Cherry Valley mountains, to about 18 miles ( in the Fonda - Fultonville neighborhood) south to the Schoharie mountains along the Cobleskill. A small section of this plateau lies north of the Mohawk from Canajoharie-Palatine Bridge and forms the Stone Arabia section (mainly in the township of Palatine, Montgomery county).

This plateau (on both shores) is reached after a climb up the river hills of from 400 to 500 feet. It is one of the best dairying, haying and general farming sections of New York State.

Canajoharie has always been a main market town and trading center for this plateau and is an important milk shipping point for the fine dairying country hereabouts.


Where Gay and Wyant Painted the Mohawk Valley Landscape.

From the edge of this plateau, southeast of Canajoharie, Mr. Edward Gay painted the picture, "Farm Slopes of the Mohawk," which forms the frontispiece of this book. It was nearby that A. H. Wyant made the studies from which he made his unusual painting showing the forest covered valley and the river of prehistoric days. This picture faces this book's foreward.

A number of farmers from the west have located on this plateau in recent years, a part of the remarkable immigration of western farmers to the fertile eastern lands near the great eastern population centers.


Roads to Cherry Valley and Otsego Lake and to
Sharon Springs and the Schoharie.

From Canajoharie, roads run southwest, south and southeast to Cherry Valley (19 m.), Otsego lake, Sharon Springs (11 m.), Cobleskill (23 m), the Schoharie river and thence through the Catskills to the Hudson river at Catskill.

The mineral waters and baths at Sharon Springs are not surpassed by any of a similar kind in the United States. In the early and middle nineteenth century this Mohawk Valley upland village was a fashionable watering place. On clear days, from Sharon Springs and vicinity, one may look eastward far into the Adirondacks.


Canajoharie Library, James Arkell Memorial Building.

In 1924, Mr. Bartlett Arkell was perfecting plans for the presentation of a building for the housing of the Canajoharie Library, the structure to stand about opposite the center of the Beech-Nut plant, on the west side of Church street. The new library is to utilize the stone of the fine old building which stood up to 1924 close to the Beech-Nut plant entrance. It was in this place that Hon. James Arkell made his first paper bags in 1859.

The James Arkell Memorial Building will contain an art gallery for the exhibition of paintings and drawings of Mohawk Valley subjects. Up to 1924 this was the first art gallery, present or projected, in the Valley.


Clinton's Road, or the Continental Road.

The road to Cherry Valley runs along and through the Cherry Valley mountains. The road to Otsego lake branches off at Sprout Brook and runs to Springfield and Otsego lake. This is one of the earliest valley roads, probably following an original Indian trail. It was the historic route followed, from Canajoharie, by Gen. Clinton's American army in its invasion of the Seneca country in 1779, and is often called "Clinton's Road" or "the Continental Road."


Cherry Valley Mountains, 2,301 Feet High.

From any of the middle valley river uplands, the Cherry Valley hills to the southward are a commanding feature of the landscape. These peaks and their foothills afford magnificent valley views. This group of curiously rounded summits has given its name of Cherry Valley hills to the central southern ridge of the Mohawk watershed. The western peak (about 1- 1/2 miles northeast of Cherry Valley) is 2,185 feet above the sea. The central peak is 2,301 feet high and the eastern summit is 2,273 feet, the latter height being located 3 miles southwest of Sharon Springs. The highest peak is 2,003 feet above the Mohawk at Canajoharie.

Cherry Valley mountains were called "Brimstone Hills" in Colonial days. The Cherry Valley hills form part of the Helderberg Escarpment (as it is known to geologists), which forms the southern divide of the Mohawk Valley, except in the Schoharie River region.


A Gateway to the Schoharie - Catskill Mountain Road to the Hudson at Catskill.

Canajoharie forms the western gateway to the Schoharie valley and the Catskill mountain road reaching the Hudson, 100 miles distant at Catskill. The eastern valley gateway to the Schoharie is at Schenectady. The Canajoharie - Catskill route runs to Sharon Springs, 11 m.; Cobleskill, 23 m.; Middleburg, 35 m.; Breakabeen, 43 m.; Prattsville, 62 m.; Catskill, 98 m. At Cobleskill is a New York State Agricultural college, and important hydraulic cement works, with Howe's Cave, a few miles distant. From Middleburg south the route is through the wild, forest mountain Catskill country. This route to Catskill is 10 miles longer than that by way of the Mohawk Turnpike, Albany and the Hudson west shore highway.

The Catskill Trail meets the Schenectady-Binghamton road at Cobleskill.

In 1840, the Catskill and Canajoharie railroad was projected and built some distance from Catskill but never completed. The Canajoharie - Sprakers route to the Catskill has been described under Sprakers.


Canajoharie Creek, Falls and Gorge.

The Canajoharie creek rises at the foot (1,680 feet elevation) of Shankley mountain, about 2 miles northwest of Cherry Valley, and about 11 miles airline distance (west by south) from its outlet into the Mohawk here. The Tekaharawa, a headwater stream, rises in a picturesque glen, 1 mile northeast of Cherry Valley, which village lies a fraction of a mile on the Susquehanna side of the Susquehanna - Mohawk divide. Cherry Valley creek (one of the headwaters of the Susquehanna) rises three-quarters of a mile southwest of the source of the Tekaharawa (meaning "little cascades," from its small falls in the wild ravine where it rises).

A mile from the source of the Canajoharie is Salt Springville, where is located the only salt spring in the Mohawk valley.

The east branch of the Canajoharie rises in Sharon Springs and runs as a tiny rivulet past the springs and bath houses.

The Canajoharie generally flows as an open brook over the moderately level plateau of Canajoharie township. About one and one-half miles south of its outlet into the Mohawk, the creek makes a 45-ft. drop into a deep pool, which forms the picturesque Canajoharie falls. The stream then flows for a mile through a narrow miniature canyon, with steep walls, 100 feet and more high. Canajoharie falls and gorge are picturesque but rather inaccessible except in midsummer. Simms, the historian, says the Mohawks here did their courting. However that may be, the modern Canajoharians certainly here do their picnicking, bathing and (some of) their courting.

Canajoharie gorge is the result of erosion, like all the deep gullies and ravines of the tributary streams of the Mohawk. At the outlet of the gorge is the Canajoharie "swimming hole," a fine pool in the solid rock bed of the creek stream.

A large painting of Canajoharie Falls, by Edward Gay, hangs in the lobby of the Hotel Wagner.

The Canajoharie shale which outcrops in the Gorge is most important geologically and has been extensively studied. The creek and the Gorge are much resorted to by geologists for the study of its geology and the collection of fossils.

At Panton, Vt., the stratum of Canajoharie shale reaches a thickness of 1,000 feet.

The most recent geological classification places the Canajoharie black shale above the Trenton limestone and shale and below the Utica shale, all of which are now classed in the Ordovicic geological period, below the Siluric.


On to Part II





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