MOHAWK - Discovering the Valley of the Crystals   Copyright 2002

Chapter 23
Along The Way

This chapter includes information and incidents that occurred during the process of creating this book-in-progress, and features a variety of items and photographs that may or may not be included in the final version.

Additions are provided in chronological order.

Links to specific items are listed below.
How to Make Book and Why it Takes So Long
Aren't You Giving The Book Away?
Sometimes It Doesn't Ring True
The Two Headed Cow
Goodbye Old Friend
Heads Up Notices
Mohawk Valley Maps For the Taking
Book Title Selected
T-Bear to the Rescue
Stupid Is What Stupid Does
T-Bear Magic
The Demise of the New York Sportsman Magazine
Bits and Pieces 3/23/02
Major Milestone - Exploration of Mohawk River Completed
Not Her Day to Die
New Erie Canal Is Not Canoe and Kayak Friendly
Making Book Is Not An Exact Science
Take a Tour of the River
Delta Lake Map in the Works
Relief Maps of the Mohawk Valley in the Works
Wildlife Chapter Added to Book-In-Progress.
Blasted by the Worm
Pushing Snow
I'm Working on IT

How to Make Book and Why it Takes So Long
There are almost as many ways to create a book as there are authors and publishers. Sometimes the process is altered as it passes from one to the other. I wear both pair of shoes, so the process and the results --- good and not so good --- are all mine.
    Until Kuyahoora, I wrote and published books (and magazines) about such outdoor activities as fishing, hunting, hiking, canoeing, camping and the like. These were how-to, where-to books with some history mixed in. Kuyahoora changed all that. It's a book about West Canada Valley and includes a great deal of information about the history of the area with some how-to, where-to mixed in.
    Creating how-to, where-to books (and magazine articles) required getting out and about. For instance I traveled throughout New York State to gather information and photographs for Canoe-Fishing New York Rivers and Streams. In today's vernacular that meant walking the walk before talking the talk. I carried that avenue of  research to the extreme in the creation of  Kuyahoora. I literally walked hundreds of miles on roads, trails and tributaries. I also canoed, drove and flew up and down the valley. Each of those trips were adventures that led to new discoveries. Many of those discovery trips are featured in Kuyahoora.
     Researching history is another matter. It requires hours and hours of reading books, old newspapers, documents and maps. I was used to wading two miles of stream to catch a single trout. I was not used to reading thousands of words or spending hours interviewing "old timers" to discover a historical gem. At first this new kind of research was laborious, but when I found that gem --- that historical fact that almost no one knew --- I became as excited . . . no . . . more excited than I did when I landed a trout. I was, in fact, hooked on history.
    I learned that when you open one door to history, you usually find two more doors. Each book leads to additional sources of information. Each interview inspires more questions and answers. I also learned that what happens today is tomorrow's history. So, my research and interviews spanned many generations to include information about recent events and activities.
    Another feature of  my books comes from years of  publishing a magazine.  Photographs. Magazines don't work without them. And my kind of  book won't work without them.

What's The Process?
Believe it or not, I have a plan for gathering information and photographs for this book. It is not rigid, however. For example, I started exploring the valley from the source of  its river, and have for the most part explored the tributaries in geographical order down the valley. Yet, when inspired by some historical research, I've traveled further down the valley to explore a stream, natural wonder or historic site. Likewise, I plan to concentrate interviews near the end of the process, however, as the opportunity presents itself, I will interview on a moments notice.

Get People Involved
I get people involved. Family, friends and acquaintances join me on discovery trips. Community historians and "people in the know" accompany me on walks through historic sites, villages and cities. Geologists, archaeologists and biologists guide me through the complexities of nature and the development of humankind. Farmers, loggers, fishermen, hunters, historians, railroaders, construction workers, educators, shopowners and waitresses, all provide information and inspiration.

Books, Books and More Books
As noted earlier, I read books, lots of books. Of course, excellent sources of  books on the Mohawk Valley are public libraries and historical societies. Unfortunately, in most historical societies and some libraries these books are for reference only and cannot be taken home. If  I can't borrow a book, I check to see if a nearby library has the same book available for loan. As a last resort, I read the book and take notes in the library reference room.
    After studying a book to determine if it's important to my research, I'll try to buy a copy so it will be available throughout the process. (Occasionally, someone will loan me a book for the duration of my research.) Finding books to buy is not always easy. Recently, I've turned more and more to the Internet to locate books for sale. Of course some of  these books cost an arm and a leg when purchased from a rare book dealer. I learned the hard way that there are less expensive sources. I paid $30.00 for a book that I later found for $16.00. Right now I'm looking for a reasonably priced copy of  Beetle's 1947 book, Along the Oriskany and Diefendorf's 1910 book, The Historic Mohawk.
    An excellent source of information about the history of  the valley are books published by  villages, towns and counties. Many of them are available for purchase at historical societies and public libraries. As I progress down the Mohawk Valley, I'll purchase more and more of these locally published books. (Many of the books I've read are listed at the end of this section.)
    The first time through a book, I list pages and items of special interest on "bookmarks" (folded blank sheets of paper). The second time through I take notes and collect quotes.
    In addition to the notes taken during book and document research, I write extensive notes during interviews and on discovery trips. I seldom use a recorder because it often distracts the people I interview and I'd drop it in the drink on a discovery trip.
    Once I have the information and begin to understand what it all means, I start writing; referring frequently to notes, books, maps, photographs and other sources of information.
    Although I enjoy writing, this is not always the fun part of creating a book. I prefer to write "when in the mood", but sometimes creating a deadline is the only way to get me going. Hence, one of the reasons for creating this Web Page. My goal is to add something new each week. Five years from now --- "God willing and the creeks don't rise" --- when the book is completed,  I will have published at least half the book on the Web.
    Of course there is much more to making a book. All that information and photographs have to be put together in book form and delivered to a printer. I do that with a  desktop publishing program which I have to relearn every time I use it.
    So there you have it. Explore, read, take notes, photograph, write and create . . . a book about a 148-mile long valley that's rich in history and natural wonders, and offers countless opportunities for recreational enjoyment.

Aren't You Giving The Book Away?
Friends, relatives and even strangers have asked why I was creating this book on a Web Site. They argue that no one will buy a book that's already been published on the Web. For starters, not all of it will be published on this Web Site. Quite frankly, I can't afford to pay for a Web Site hosting service that would provide enough disk space to hold a  book with so many pages and photographs.  Besides the quality of the photos as presented here leave much to be desired. If scanned at the desired resolution, they would eat up disk space and take forever to load.  Nope. I'm not giving the book away on the Web. The printed book will be complete and of a much higher quality. What I'm giving away is the continuing adventure of a Book-In-Progress.

Sometimes It Doesn't Ring True
Every once in awhile, accepted history doesn't ring true.

Where's The Flint?  Or is it Crystal?
Since I started researching the history of the Mohawk Indians, I questioned the long accepted historical fact that the Mohawks lived in "the place of the flint" and were sometimes referred to as the "people of  the place of the flint."  Flint is a form of quartz that was used by early man to make cutting edge tools and weapons.
    I asked a number of students of the Mohawks where the flint was in the Mohawk Valley that was so plentiful and so unique. No one could answer that simple question. The fact is, there is no rock face or quarry in the Mohawk Valley where flint is abundant or unique.
    As I discovered while researching Kuyahoora-Discovering West Canada Valley there are, however, a number of dolostone rock faces and quarries in the Mohawk Valley where a form of clear quartz crystal is abundant and unique. So unique that people from around the world come here to mine it.
    `Then I read Mohawk Valley Archaeology: The Sites by Dean R. Snow and In Mohawk Country by Snow, Gehring and Starna. In both books it's noted that the "the place of the flint" was more likely "the place of the crystal", referring to quartz crystals that are now called Herkimer Diamonds.
    `I contacted Charles Gehring and he referred me to Dean Snow. Dean is one of  North America's leading historical anthropologists and is currently Professor and Head of Anthropology at Pennsylvania State University. He was extremely helpful and suggested I read his book The Iroquois.
    In that book, Snow writes: "They were known to themselves and to the other Iroquois nations as the Kanyenkehaka, the people of Kanyenke (also spelled Ganienkeh). This has usually been translated "Place of the Flint," but the flint (or more properly chert) sources in Mohawk country were not particularly sought after. More important were the clear quartz crystals now called Herkimer diamonds, which could be quarried in a few local mines and abound on Mohawk village sites. These were highly valued by Iroquois and other nations. Kanyenke was more likely "Place of the Crystals."  Crystals were symbolically important as amulets of success, health, and long life, artifacts more likely to inspire a name than a second-rate chert.  The Mohawks were the main suppliers of quartz crystals up to 1614. After that they became primary middlemen for the Dutch glass beads that replaced them."

    A reference "Note" explains:
"Hale (1883: 72) translated Kanyenke as "Place of the Flint", but Hewitt (1903: 309) argued that reference to flint were really references to ice or crystal. Hamell (1983) has shown that crystals had considerably more symbolic significance that chert."

    Snow is convinced the Mohawk Valley was called the "Place of the Crystals." That rings true.

It's Dark in the Forest at Midnight
Harmen Meyndertsz van den Bogaert traveled through the Mohawk Valley in the winter of 1634-1635, and he kept a journal. It was the first recorded visit by a European. The Journal was discovered in 1895, and translated to English. A seemingly insignificant item in early translations has always bugged me. That was that they arrived at a Mohawk village an hour after midnight. I've spent some time hiking in the woods at night, and I know that is not the way to travel, no matter how good the trail.  I was elated to learn by reading A Journey Into Mohawk and Oneida Country 1634-1635, a Gehring, Starna & Michelson's translation, that the correct translation was an hour after dark. That rings true.

Sap Runs All Year Long. Or Does it?
When I was researching the settlement of Barneveld, the accepted local history was that in 1793 Gerritt Boone, the founder of Barneveld (and Boonville) thought that maple syrup ran all year long, so he invested thousands of dollars (millions in today's money) in a wooden-trough gravity feed system. The system failed because the wooden troughs warped and leaked,  but considering how long maple sugaring had gone on in the northeast and Boone's apparent intelligence, it seemed impossible that he actually believed that maple sap ran all year long.
    In Paul Demund Evan's book The Holland Land Company, I discovered this reference to Boone's maple sugar enterprise.
    "Eventually 10,000 acres would be utilized for the purpose, with the expectation it would produce a million and a half pounds of sugar per season."
     Per season. That rings true.

The Two Headed Cow

Last week (April 17, 2001) Ron Gugnacki and I were scouting the locations of  archaeological sites on the north side of the lower valley. Just east of St, Johnsville on Route 5, we saw some cattle resting on a hillside. From the car window using a telephoto lens, Ron took this photo.Incidentally, the photo was not altered.


Goodbye Old Friend
This past Monday (May 14, 2001) I said goodbye to one of my best friends. We were pals for more than 13 years. We explored woods and fields; discovered deer, bear, turkey, grouse . . . and an occasional porcupine.
    I first met Doolie on Christmas Eve 1987, just a month after my first wife died. Our son and daughter thought he would help me through some tough times. And help me he did. Every morning we walked the old road from Prospect to Hinckley. Every morning I cried all the way up and played with him all the way back.
    In 1991 when I remarried and moved to Newport, Doolie and I hiked the hills near our home. I didn't cry as often, but when I did he stopped whatever he was doing and walked at my side. When I was recovering from a heart attack and open-heart surgery in '93, Doolie was by my side every "step" of the way. Ditto in '98 while I was recovering from throat cancer.
    He helped me write dozens of magazine articles and three books by joining my adventures or leaning his head against my leg while I sat at the computer.
    Doolie and I aged together; he learning not to chase deer or turkeys; me learning to be more patient and tolerant. I learned early on that he had a mind of his own. Sure he would come, heel, lie down, roll over and dance. But he never retrieved a stick or a dummy more than five times. That was his limit, unless he was retrieving from water, then he'd go as high as ten.
    For a long time he didn't like children. He wasn't mean, just avoided them. That all changed about three years ago when our oldest grandson showed him that a pet from a youngster was just as good as a pet from an adult.
    He loved his kennel; an inside-outside arrangement in our barn that provided a comfortable cedar-chip bed on the inside and concrete run on the outside. When he wasn't in the house or nothing interesting was going on in the yard, he went to his kennel. In the winter that meant snuggling into cedar chips; in the summer he stretched out on the concrete run, soaking up the sun or cooling off in the shade.
    He knew my moods and I his. His eyes, face and the way he held his head, told all. He could look regal as a lion, guilty or excited as a pup, confused, disappointed or bored. He hardly ever looked angry.
    Until this past March Doolie and I walked three to five miles each day. Then one day after walking about two miles, Doolie stopped, lay down, and had difficulty breathing. I went home, got a toboggan and went back for him. He had progressed along the trail about a quarter mile, but was lying down again. I put him on the toboggan, but he'd have none of that. I tied him on the toboggan, but he wiggled out of the ropes. We continued his stop and go travel until we got home. An hour later he seemed fine. A visit to the veterinarian the next day was inconclusive, but I decided to give Doolie a rest. After all, in people years he was 95, in dog years 13 1/2; old by any standard, especially for a golden retriever.
    A week later he was breathing hard just walking from the kennel to the house. Subsequent visits to veterinarians that included  Xrays, electrocardiogram and blood tests revealed he had an enlarged heart. Medication was prescribed. As long as he didn't have to walk far, the medication worked reasonably well for a couple of months
    Last week, after several episodes of watching him lying on the floor, forcing each breath, foaming at the mouth . . . and looking up at me with those pleading eyes, I called the vet near my home and told him I was bringing Doolie in to end his suffering. A half-hour later I was driving home crying like a baby.
    I buried my pal next to the kennel he loved so much. With the last shovel of  dirt, I blubbered, "Goodbye old friend. I'll miss you."

Heads Up Notices
Each week I email many readers of Mohawk Valley Book-In-Progress a heads up noticeand direct links to the newest information and photographs.
If you don't already receive these emails and would like to, just 

Please pass this information on to friends.

Mohawk Valley Maps For the Taking
For a number of years I've used a computer program to generate on-screen and printable topographical maps. I used this CD packaged program during my research for Kuyahoora-Discovering West Canada Valley, and I'm using it now to research and create this Mohawk Valley - Book-In-Progress.
    Martin Fox of  MAPTECH advises that I can link their on-line topo maps to my book-in-progress articles free of charge. I'm a novice when it comes to the capabilities of the internet, so I'm still trying to figure out how to create these direct links. However, you can go to and obtain
maps for the areas I've already discussed.
    For instance, type in "West Leyden" for a place name, select New York and click on GO!  Select either West Leyden Cemetery or West Leyden and you'll receive a map of the area discussed in Discovery: Final Leg of  a 22-Mile Adventure. Click on the arrows at the edges of the map to move to adjacent sections.

NOTICE: These are topographical maps originally published by the U.S. Geological Survey. Some of them are quite old, so some information is outdated. For instance on the map noted above the Mohawk River is labeled  the East Branch Mohawk River. For the record, this is the main branch of the river. The West Branch is a rather short tributary.
    Let me know how you make out with this. In the meantime I'll keep trying to establish direct links for future articles.

Book Title Selected
It's not easy to select a book title. It must encompass the contents of the book, attract attention on the bookshelf and, if possible, reveal something intriguing about the subject. I think I have all that in the title:


Now if I could just select a cover photo.

T-Bear to the Rescue
I received so many kind words when I lost my buddy, Doolie, I want you to know I have a new partner to help me discover the Mohawk Valley. His name is T-Bear. At 13 weeks he can hike five miles and still has the energy to play with our other golden, Cedar. Cedar by the way thinks Theodore Bear is her puppy.

See: Goodbye Old Friend

Stupid Is What Stupid Does
During our travels throughout the Mohawk Valley, Gert and I are always on the lookout for unusual or beautiful scenes to photograph. Never can tell when such "pictures" might be useful in books, classes, slide presentations or on this website.
    This past Tuesday (Oct. 15, 2001), Gert,  her sister, Lorraine and husband, Denny and I were driving over to Little Falls. It was a combination shopping, fishing and out to lunch trip. While we were traveling along Route 169 from Middleville to the Falls, Gert said,  "Stop the car! Look at that picture!"
    A herd of dairy cows grazed placidly in a green meadow, back dropped by hills covered with an array of reds, yellows and gold. Fall colors at their peak.
    I stopped the car and walked a hundred yards across the meadow to take some closeup photos. After I took several photographs, a cow separated from the herd and walked toward the electric fence that separated us.
    Ah, a fence post on which to rest my camera for a steady shot of the approaching beast. The camera slips from the post onto the fence.
    AHHHHHHHH!  How stupid can you get, I admonish myself from my now prone position.
    Head hanging, I return to the Jeep. Wondering what the hell was I thinking . . . or not thinking.

T-Bear Magic
I've been asked time and time again how our Golden Retriever puppy T-Bear is doing. Well, as you can see from this photograph he is no longer of puppy size. However, he is of puppy mentality; getting into trouble all the time. Sometimes his "accomplishments" border on magic. For instance, a couple of days ago he pulled the lace out of one of my good shoes without damaging the shoe. He ate the lace of course, but as far as we can tell his stomach didn't get tied up in knots.

The Demise of the New York Sportsman Magazine
Thirty years ago the New York Sportsman magazine was born as the Mid-York Sportsman right here in the Mohawk Valley. The name and scope of the magazine changed in 1975. It spread from its birth place to every corner of New York State. In 1989 I leased the magazine to Northwoods Publications. In 1997 I sold the magazine to Northwoods so they could sell it and their two magazines to Petersen Publishing Company. Petersen sold it to Emap Corporation. This past Fall, Emap sold the New York Sportsman to Primedia. Primedia terminated publication of the New York Sportsmanbecause they already publish New York Game & Fish magazine.
(Kuyahoora - Discovering West Canada Valley features a 25-year history of the New York Sportsman magazine.)

Bits and Pieces 3/23/02
The following bits and pieces had a direct impact on "making book" in the past few months.
New Webpages - Plantation Island and the German Flatts Canal of 1798
As promised, Phil Lord has completed his webpages on the 1798 German Flatts Canal and Lock 18 (Plantation) Island. They are excellent. Take a look at:

New Book - Herkimer County Valley Towns
Historian, Jane Dieffenbacher has compiled photographs and captions in a new book that highlights the history of  Mohawk Valley towns in Herkimer County. I've already made some major discoveries in this book Copies of Herkimer County Valley Towns can be purchased for $20.00 at the Historical Society at the Historical Four Corners in Herkimer, NY or by going on line at: Select New Book.

EZ-PASS - No Stop - No Hassle
This past year I've traveled the New York State Thruway quite a bit.  It was a pain getting my wallet out to pay the toll or to wait in line at a busy exit. That my friends is a thing of the past. I am now the proud member of the EZ-Pass crowd and I couldn't be happier.
    Take a look at

Great Medicine From a Grand Kid
Sometimes it's difficult to maintain a positive attitude, especially when life-threatening illness raises its ugly head. Speaking from experience I can tell you that encouraging words are great medicine. Quite often adults don't know what to say, so they say "good luck", "hope everything works out" and my least favorite . . .  "hopefully."

    Last Fall 9-year old grandson, Jack took me aside and offered the following:

    "Grandpa you are strong. You had a heart operation and you got better. Then you had a throat cancer operation and radiation and you got better. Now you had a kidney cancer operation and you will get better. I know you will get better Grandpa because I know you are strong.”

    Medicine doesn’t get any better than that.

Major Milestone
Exploration of Mohawk River Completed.

    October 3, 2002 was a major milestone for the Mohawk Valley Book-In-Progress. It marked the completion of the exploration of the entire 161 miles of the Mohawk River.

Ron Gugnacki and Dave Hamilton fish the waters near the old Erie Canal Aqueduct that once crossed the Mohawk River in the Town of  Niskayuna.

    When I started researching this book on the Mohawk Valley I didn't plan to explore the entire river, but after discovering the source on Mohawk Hill, exploring the gorge near Ava, canoeing the Lost River section near Rome and visiting Little Falls and Cohoes, I had to see it all.
Discovering the Mohawk Valley began on April 26, 2000 with the first attempt to locate the source of the river. Since then, accompanied by friends and relatives, I've walked the river to Delta Lake and then explored most of the remainder by canoe. We canoed around 130 miles of the river. The headwaters are too shallow to canoe and the stretches through Little Falls and Cohoes are too dangerous during high water periods, so we waited until the water levels were low and explored on foot.

Bob McNitt caught this smallmouth bass on Little Cleo spoon from the waters near a limestone and shale cliff.

     I tried to limit on-foot explorations to 2-3 miles and the canoe runs to around six miles to provide plenty of time for exploring, fishing and photography. Because of time limitations and varying conditions of the river, these discovery trips were not always in geographical or chronological order.
    Last week all that remained was the 17 miles from Lock 8 near Scotia to the I-87 Bridge near Dunsbach Ferry. After studying maps and driving along the river a couple of times to locate launch and takeout sites, and a place to stop for an extended lunch break, I asked Dave Hamilton, Ron Gugnacki and Bob McNitt to join me on a two-day outing. The first day would cover seven miles. If that went well, we would make the 10-mile run on the second day. If not, we would make it a 4-mile run, and return on a later date to complete the remaining six miles. Dave suggested we spend the night at his camp on Saratoga Lake. From there it would be only a half-hour drive to and from the river.
    When we completed the first day, all agreed that the second day was all or nothing. Despite frequent showers, we completed the entire river at 3 p.m. on October 3, 2002. I'll save the details for a future BIP article, but we saw some beautiful scenery, spectacular rock formations, historic sites, acres of wetlands, hundreds of mallards . . . and caught some big bass.
    My research indicates that no one has ever explored the entire river, so it appears I am the first person to do so. I'm not sure what that indicates, but I'm excited about it. I'm also grateful to Gary Eychner, Mark Eychner, Jim DeRuby, Denny Gillen, Ron Gugnacki, Dave Hamilton, Dale Janes, Bridget Keesler, Paul A. Keesler, Bob McNitt and John Pitarresi, for making it possible.
    Exploring the river is only part of the research for this book, but it's certainly a major part. I'm also exploring Mohawk Valley tributaries, wonders of nature, historic sites, old roads, canals and trails. In the coming months I'll continue with these discovery trips and begin the research and interview phase of creating the book.
    Although the Mohawk Valley book won't be published until to 2004, I plan to produce a CD on Exploring the Mohawk River in 2003.

Give a click for a direct link to The River

Not Her Day to Die
I was driving west on Route 169 into Middleville on the way back from a discovery trip a month or so ago.  As I came down the hill into the village, I saw a young girl riding a bicycle on the sidewalk. She was turning the handlebar to and fro, so I slowed down. When I saw her using her feet to slow down the bike, I kept my foot on the brake. When she ran into another bicycle lying on the sidewalk, I stopped. She fell into the road and disappeared from view in the front of my vehicle. She scrambled back to the sidewalk with her bicycle and looked embarassed. I thanked God I wasn't watching the traffic at the intersection. It was not her day to die. Or mine to grieve.

New Erie Canal Is Not Canoe and Kayak Friendly
One thing I've learned while canoeing the Mohawk River is that the New Erie Canal is not canoe and kayak friendly. Although it is now officially a recreational waterway, and communities along the canal are developing marinas, boat docks and canal-side attractions, the New York State Canal Corporation seems to be ignoring canoes and kayaks. Except for a few town and organizatioin parks there are practically no convenient areas to launch a canoe or kayak. The most difficult obstructions to get around are the Locks. Very few canoeists or kayakers need or want to pass through a lock, so they seek convenient and safe places to land and launch their craft. With a few exceptions, shallow-water access at each end of Canal Lock property is either non-existent, inconvenient or dangerous.

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