Lake Luzerne Regional Chamber of Commerce, P.O. Box 222, Lake Luzerne, NY 12846. Phone 696-3500. www.lakelu
Recently, I talked to the writing class at Plattsburgh State taught by colleague Dennis Aprill; one student asked how I learn about a new place.
When I arrive at an unfamiliar destination, I roam around and try to get a sense of why a village or city grew up in that particular location. I look for historic markers, seek out libraries and small museums, and try to meet a few people on the street. More often than not, I easily find enough material for a column.
Let's use Lake Luzerne as an example.
The location is beautiful, sandwiched between the Hudson River, close to its confluence with the Sacandaga on one side, and its eponymous lake on the other.
We began our explorations by the river. One first hears the roaring waters of Rockwell Falls then sees the scenic cascade tumble over the narrowest gorge of the entire Hudson.
Historic markers aren't needed to tell us the local economy must have originally centered around water power. However, these do fill in important details.
By the bridge over the Hudson, we learned that the Rockwell Falls Fiber Company built its first mill in 1878. Union Bag and Paper bought the operation in 1892, followed by the New Era Paper Company, which continued until bought out and leveled by New York Power in 1923.
A PRETTY PARK
From the bridge, we looked downstream where swimmers sunbathed on large, flat rocks. Upstream, a few jet skis and kayaks challenged the broad waters above the falls.
We strolled past the Church of Rockwell Falls and the First United Methodist Church, both handsome buildings dating to the 1850s. A beautiful row of homes, several of which are Gothic Revival in style, make an impression along Main Street. Soon we learned about the Wayside Inn and Rockwell House, once major hotels in the town. Both are long gone, though some of their associated cottages remain intact.