Tag Archive | New York

Circus Trip 2018: Horse Racing Museum and Hall of Fame

Day 47, Friday, August 31, 2018

National Museum of Horse Racing and Hall of Fame, Saratoga Springs, New York

I have long been interested in horse racing.  I suppose it is a natural offshoot of my love of horses.  So when I saw that there was a horse racing museum nearby, I was in!

The museum was founded in 1951, and celebrates the achievements of Thoroughbred horse racing in the United States.  Each year, 8-10 horses are inducted into the racing hall of fame, and are recognized as the best of the best.  Horses like Man O’ War, Secretariat, Whirlaway, Native Dancer, Cigar, Seabiscuit and War Admiral.  If you follow horses and Thoroughbred racing, these names are surely familiar to you!

The museum was an interesting venture into the history of horse racing, which traces its roots in America back to 1665!  I enjoyed wandering around learning about the various Hall of Famers, and learning more about the history of the sport.  They had a lot of memorabilia!

After the museum, I found the Spring Street Deli a few blocks away and had the Funny Cide – a sandwich with steak, provolone, portbello mushroom and a horseradish sauce.  It was delicious!  If you are wondering why there is a sandwich called the Funny Cide, he was a New York bred Thoroughbred who is a favorite among the locals!  He was foaled in 2000 and currently lives out his retirement at the Kentucky Horse Park, at their Hall of Champions.

What an interesting dive into horse racing history!

Circus Trip 2018: Fort Stanwix NM

Day 46, Thursday, August 30, 2018

Fort Stanwix National Monument, Rome, New York

Construction of Fort Stanwix was begun in 1758 and completed in 1762.  This star-shaped fort was built to protect the British interests at a well-used portage known as the Oneida Carry during the French and Indian War.  What’s a portage you ask?  When goods are being transported by water (especially rivers) there are times when the goods have to be hauled overland in order to get around some sort of obstacle (often a waterfall) along the water route.  It’s along these portages that the goods being transported and the people transporting them are most vulnerable to attack, so that’s where Fort Stanwix came in.

In 1768, the British and the Iroquois signed a peace treaty, to establish boundary lines between the tribal lands and white settlements.  However, the two sides did not include the other area tribes in the negotiations, so it actually inflamed hostilities, which would make things more challenging for both the British and the colonists later on.

In 1776, at the beginning of the Revolutionary War, the colonists occupied the fort, and set about rebuilding it.  They also renamed it Fort Schuyler.  Of course, the British weren’t ready to let the colonists go quite so easily, and began a siege of the fort.  Fortunately for the colonists, the British siege was not successful!

In 1781, the fort burned down and was not rebuilt.  The site was designated as a National Monument on August 21, 1935, but it wasn’t until 1974 that construction began on a replica fort.  In 1978, it was completed, and now about 85,000 people visit each year.

There is a dry moat around the fort and it was interesting to enter and see inside the star-shaped fort.  There is an informative movie about the history of the fort and the engagements that occurred there, and then you have a chance to wander and see the different areas of the fort.

There is a parade ground, living quarters, a magazine, and more!  I enjoyed checking it out!

After Fort Stanwix, I had a beer and a snack at the Copper City Brewing Company.  The Pete’s Pale Gansevoort Ale was a great way to relax a bit before I set off to find my next home for the night!

Home was a campground in Saratoga Springs that was hands down the weirdest campground of my trip.  It was a marina, with a very rough section of dilapidated trailers and other detritus, with some boats in the small marina.  Clearly this was home for many of these campers.  The campground for temporary campers was a field – drive through and pick your spot.  There were picnic tables randomly scattered throughout, with seemingly no rhyme or reason as to their placement.  And the bathroom – that’s another story!  This was the only shower that I said no to during my entire trip!  Not with my flip flops would I step in there!  Hard Pass!  EWWW!!!  But it was cheap, and I did have a nice chat with a woman who traveled a lot in her RV with her dogs…  It’s not a road trip without some good stories right?




Circus Trip 2018: Finger Lakes Wineries

Day 45, Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Finger Lakes Wine Trail, Geneva, New York

Seneca Falls, New York is right on the Finger Lakes Wine Trail, so of course I wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to check out some of the wineries in the area!

I don’t remember how I decided which wineries to visit, but I ended up first at Ventosa Vineyards.  It was lunch time, so I started out with a glass of wine and pizza for lunch; of course I had a Riesling, as that is what the Finger Lakes region is known for!  It was delicious and lovely sitting on their patio overlooking the lake, although it was breezy!

After lunch, I went back inside to have a tasting, and Marissa guided me through some wonderful wines! In addition to Rieslings, Ventosa focuses on the Italian/Tuscan varietals, and grows all of their grapes on their estate.  I really enjoyed their Tocai Fruilano, which is unique and not often found in the United States!

After I left Ventosa, I headed a little way down the road to find Zugibe Vineyards, which was recommended by my server at Ventosa.  My visit there is best described as efficient.  My server was polite and… well… it felt rushed… And not a little unlike I was overstaying my welcome.  I did really enjoy the Dry Riesling though, so I hope she was just having a bad day…

All in all, it was a great day spent visiting the Finger Lakes Region; I would love to go back and see more of the area!

Circus Trip 2018: Women’s Rights NHP

Day 45, Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Women’s Rights National Historical Park, Seneca Falls, New York

White women gained the right to vote in the United States 100 years ago, in 1920.  But have you ever thought about when the movement for women’s suffrage began?  1848… That’s right – women had been fighting for the right to vote for more than 70 years before the 19th amendment was ratified by the states.  Prior to 1848, there were scattered movements around the nation, but 1848 is considered the beginning of the movement that we know today as the Women’s Suffrage Movement.  So what happened in 1848?

On Sunday July 9, 1848, Lucretia Coffin Mott, Mary Ann M’Clintock, Martha Coffin Wright, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Jane Hunt met and organized a Women’s Rights Convention, to occur in Seneca Falls on July 19 and 20th. They were all Quakers with the exception of Stanton, and they were fed up and wanted change.  During their planning meetings, they drafted 10 resolutions demanding that women should have equality in the family, education, jobs, religion, and morals.  They restricted the first day of the Convention to women, but allowed men on the second day and invited a number of influential men, including Frederick Douglass.

Interestingly, women’s suffrage was not one of the original demands drafted by the organizers, and the women were actually split on whether or not they wanted it included.  It was heavily debated during the convention, with many attendees believing that its inclusion would cause a loss of support for other resolutions considered to be more “reasonable.”  In the end, it was included, and the Declaration of Sentiments was signed by 100 of the 300 attendees; 68 women and 32 men.

If you are interested, you can read the Declaration of Sentiments, which is modeled after the US Declaration of Independence…

The Declaration of Sentiments

The Historical Park has several sites you can visit.  The Visitor’s Center has a lot of information about the convention, the women’s suffrage movement, and these powerful women who were instrumentation in getting it off the ground.

The Wesleyan Chapel where the convention was held was built in 1843 and extensively altered in the years after the convention.  When the National Park Service acquired the site, it was a shell of a building with some original portions of the wall left standing.  They have rebuilt it, showing where the construction is original and what is reconstruction.  It is interesting to see!

I also visited the homes of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Jane Hunt and Mary Ann M’Clintock.  The Stanton and M’Clintock houses are open to the public on tours, but only on select days (not when I was there).  The Hunt house was acquired by the Park Service in 2000 and they are working on restoring it.  It is not currently open to the public, but one day it will be neat to see!

It was amazing to see these sites and experience where five women started on a course that would eventually change history.  It makes me sad that the cause for women’s suffrage took so long that none of these women were alive to see the culmination of what they set in motion.  We still have a lot of work to do, but it is inspiring to see what these women achieved with their voices!


Circus Trip 2018: Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural NHS

Day 44, Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site, Buffalo, New York

Most of you probably know that President William McKinley was shot by anarchist Leon Czolgosz while he was attending the Pan American Exposition on September 6, 1901.  That’s my birthday! Well, it is long before my actual birthday, but you get my point.

McKinley hung on for 8 days, and Vice President Theodore Roosevelt rushed to get to Buffalo to be by the President’s side.  He originally arrived on September 7, and McKinley’s prognosis was good; in fact it was so good that on September 10 doctors determined he was out of danger, and Roosevelt left to return to a family vacation in the Adirondacks.

Of course, the President soon worsened, and a telegram was sent to summon Roosevelt back to Buffalo.  He arrived shortly after McKinley died on September 14, 1901, having learned the news on his journey back.  A suitable location for the inauguration was sought and determined to be the home of Ansley Wilcox, a prominent attorney and friend of Theodore Roosevelt.  It also happened to be where Roosevelt was staying while he was in Buffalo.

The home itself was built beginning in 1840; it was the Officer’s Quarters of the Buffalo Barracks Compound, built because of concerns about a minor insurrection to the north in Canada at the time.  It was eventually sold and became a private residence, and the Wilcox family purchased the home and built an addition that doubled its size in 1896.  It is built in the Greek Revival style, with huge columns adorning its front porch.  That is how the home looked in 1901, when Roosevelt’s inauguration was held.

Roosevelt was inaugurated in the library of the Wilcox home, a small room that ended up being packed with several cabinet members, dignitaries, and the judge administering the oath.  Theodore Roosevelt was now the President of the United States.  No photos were taken of the inauguration, but several were taken of the room afterwards.

Here is where Roosevelt stood during his inauguration

The Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site is set up with exhibits on the exposition, McKinley’s assassination, and Roosevelt’s Presidency.  There is an interesting film detailing the political climate at the time, and the events that happened surrounding the assassination.  Upstairs, the rooms on the main floor of the home have been restored to what they looked like when Roosevelt was inaugurated here.  The docent led tour takes visitors to the library when Roosevelt took the oath of office, and photos taken after the inauguration are displayed.

Upstairs you can see additional exhibits and sit at a mock President’s desk!  It was certainly worth a visit and it wasn’t crowded, only averaging about 13,000 visits per year.  It is a must if you are interested in Presidential history!  If you aren’t able to visit, they have a virtual tour!


Circus Trip 2018: Fort Niagara Light

Day 44, Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Fort Niagara State Historic Park, Youngstown, New York

The current Fort Niagara Light was completed in 1872.

Of course, it was not the first lighthouse on this site; the first was built on a pedestal on top of the French Castle in 1782.  It was lit with whale oil and reflectors.  It was removed by 1806.

It was challenging for ships to navigate this route through Lake Ontario without a light, and a light was once again erected on the roof of the French Castle in 1823.  And there it rotated for years.  A tornado damaged the fort and the light in 1855, and historical records from the period show the light was in a poor state of repair.  Advancing technologies meant that a fourth order Fresnel lens was sent to Fort Niagara in 1857, and mounted on the rooftop light.

The light structure continued to deteriorate and a fire burned the roof of the light.  In 1868, recommendations were made to built a completely new lighthouse, with a keeper’s quarters; up to this point the keeper lived in a separate building and had to travel through the officer’s quarters several times a night to get to the light.  The new Fort Niagara Light was constructed between 1871 and 1872, and the fourth order Fresnel lens was moved over to the new lighthouse.

You can visit the lighthouse and climb to the top for free; you just have to sign a waiver, and be at least four feet tall.  The lighthouse is 61 feet tall, and there are 72 steps to the top!  Keep in mind that the winding staircase is very narrow and some of the steps are quite tall and not very deep.  You want to be careful!  It is worth it though, for such a pretty view!


Circus Trip 2018: Fort Niagara

Day 44, Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Fort Niagara State Historic Park, Youngstown, New York

Fort Niagara has a history of white colonial settlement that spans over 300 years.

The first fort on this site was established by the French in 1679; they named it Fort Conti, and it wasn’t occupied for long.  The French returned again to establish Fort Denonville between 1687 and 1688.  It wasn’t until 1726 that the first permanent structure was built; a stone building known as the French Castle that still stands on site today!  Additional structures were built between 1756 and 1758.  In 1759 the British gained control of the fort during the French and Indian War, and it was British until the Revolutionary War was won, and the Americans were the proud new owners of Fort Niagara.

Of course, the British weren’t known for giving up so easily and they briefly reconquered Fort Niagara between 1813 and 1815, during the perhaps not-so-aptly named War of 1812.  The Americans got it back at the end of the War of 1812, and Fort Niagara never saw combat again.


The Fort did continue operating as a peaceful border post, and American troops were stationed here during the Civil War.  It was common during the early years of the Civil War to parole enemy troops, with the condition that they not return to fighting for a year.  The parolees at Fort Niagara were put to work building stuff.  Troops were trained here during both World Wars as well, and the last troops were finally withdrawn in 1963.  Since then, the Coast Guard is the only military branch that is on site.


Of course, Native Americans from the Seneca tribe were in the area long before the Europeans came along.  The Seneca was using the area around Fort Niagara as a seasonal hunting and fishing camp through the 1600s.

While I was there, I got to explore the buildings, and I also got to see both a cannon firing and a musket firing demonstration!  Apparently they used to lob tennis balls into the water when they did the cannon firing demonstrations, but the Canadian government asked them to stop, so now the demonstration does not include a projectile.  That’s better for the environment!


This was such a cool place to visit!


Circus Trip: Niagara Falls

Day 42 & 43, Sunday & Monday, August 26 & 27, 2018

Niagara Falls, New York

Sunday was a drive day, from where I had been hanging out in southwest Pennsylvania to New York.  A new state!  I had been to New York before – I took a trip to visit a friend after I graduated from graduate school with my MBA.  She was living on Long Island and working as a nanny, so we checked out Long Island, and took some trips into the city as well.  Of course, that was a few weeks before 9/11, so that gives you an idea of how long it had been since I was in New York!  17 years!

Anyway, on this trip I drove north through Pittsburgh, where the traffic was a nightmare, even on a Sunday…  It was one of the longest drives of my entire trip, spanning about 6 hours of driving. I was excited to arrive in Niagara Falls and get set up at a KOA Kampground to relax a bit.

Monday morning, I got up and was ready to visit the falls!  I had never been, but had heard so much about Niagara Falls and seen so many photos, videos and movies of them over the years!

Niagara Falls is located on the Niagara River, which empties Lake Erie into Lake Ontario.  It is actually made up of three different waterfalls; American Falls, Bridalveil Falls and Horseshoe Falls, on the Canadian side of the river.  Horseshoe Falls is technically the tallest, because it plunges 188 feet to the river below.  American Falls ranges from 70 to 110 feet.  Why the difference when they fall from the same river at the same spot?  Well, they measure the plunge, and American Falls has giant boulders at the bottom of the waterfall that mark where the measurement ends.  Horseshoe falls is also wider, at 2,200 feet wide compared to American Falls 850 feet.  Bridalveil Falls is the narrow little waterfall in between the two, that doesn’t get much of a mention.

Niagara Falls isn’t the world’s tallest waterfall by a long shot; there are over 500 falls that are taller.  It’s the flow of water over the falls that puts it into the record books.  This force and volume of water creates the roaring sound and the mist that makes Niagara Falls so impressive!  Niagara Falls was formed about 12,500 years ago at the end of the last ice age, and this force is quickly (in terms of geological events anyway) eroding the bedrock beneath the waterfall.  Since official measurements began, Niagara Falls has eroded an average of 3 feet per year, but flow control in recent years has lowered that to about 1 foot per year.  Scientists estimate that the falls have moved back along the river almost 7 miles in the last 11,000 years!

The day I visited I wandered in awe of the beauty and force of this amazing natural feature.  It was stunning, and peaceful, and yes, the volume of tourists were a bit of a distraction.  Of course I was one of them!  I wasn’t feeling well that day, so I didn’t do the boat tour, or a tour where you can walk out on a viewing platform to get covered in mist. One day I would like to go back and do those.  On my return I’ll cross over to the Canadian side and see it from that angle too.

What an incredible scenic wonder!

On my drive back to camp, I found this chimney, so I stopped to check it out.  It was built in 1750 by the French, and reused in several successive buildings after each one was burned down.  The remaining chimney was finally moved to this spot in 1898 by the Niagara Falls Power Company, to commemorate the history of the area.  It’s nice to see that they saved it!