10 things you should check out in this Mohawk Valley county
By Sandra Scott
1. Winter Fun
Snow time is fun time in Montgomery County. Hundreds of miles of snowmobile trails are maintained by local snowmobile clubs and private individuals. The trails are marked and well-maintained. Visitors can enjoy the hiking trails and the Erie Canal Trail which offer miles of hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. There is ice skating in Veterans’ Park in Amsterdam. Nearby there is ice fishing and ski resorts.
2. HISTORIC ROUTE 5:
The route also known as the Mohawk Turnpike and the King’s Highway has several historical sites along its route. Fort Knock is a homestead that was a fortified house creating a safe haven for the owner’s family and neighbors. The site also has a Dutch barn, blacksmith shop, and a schoolhouse. Nearby is Nellis Tavern, circa 1747, a farmhouse that later became a tavern. The Fort Plain Historical Society has displays that cover the history of the entire area.
Arkell Art Museum in Canajoharie was founded by Bartlett Arkell, the first president of the Beech- Nut Packing Company. What started with a few Winslow Homer art pieces grew to an extensive collection of American paintings. Arkell wanted “Art for the People.” The memorial walk has fascinating images and facts about the Beech-Nut Company. The company started out as a chewing gum manufacturer before branching out into baby food and other items. The Beech-Nut Girls gave out free chewing gum samples.
National Shrine of the North American Martyrs, also dedicated as the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs, is a Roman Catholic shrine in Auriesville, dedicated to the three Jesuit missionaries who were martyred at the Mohawk Indian village of Ossernenon in 1642 and 1646. Today the site is a serene place with an incredible view of the Mohawk Valley. There is a museum, a self-guided walking tour and a huge Coliseum church. In 1656, Kateri Tekekwitha was born in Ossernenon and in 2012 she was canonized. A shine in her honor is located in nearby Fonda.
The Mohawk River and then the Erie Canal made the area what it is today. The best place to see the Mohawk River is by walking across the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook Pedestrian Bridge in Amsterdam. It connects Riverlink Park to Bridge Street. It offers great views, attractive plantings and historical information. Riverlink Park offers a variety of activities including free summer concerts, festivals and other family-friendly events including a waterskiing show.
All the small towns have unique shops. In Canajoharie there are several antique stores. The Christmas Store also has antiques. There is a vintage clothing store in close proximity. The Blue Hen in Amsterdam specializes in Amish and locally made items. The Canal Street Studio in Fort Plain has a variety of handcrafted and fair-trade creations. Before entering take note of the quilt square on the façade. It is part of the Quilt Barn Trail.
Montgomery County joins with neighboring Fulton County creating the 44 Lakes Craft Beverage Trail. In Montgomery County the trail includes Erie Canal Distilleries in Fort Plain, which is the first legal distillery in the county since prohibition. Enjoy a glass of wine at Hummingbird Hills, a boutique husband and wife winery. For craft beers check out Eisenadler Bauhaus in Palatine Bridge.
Enjoy the beauty of Montgomery County by biking, hiking and snowmobiling. Yatesville Falls State Forest is home to a 30-foot waterfalls. Wintergreen Park in Canajoharie has a 40-foot waterfalls and spectacular views of the gorge. Green Hills Cemetery has a walking tour that highlights local people who were part of the Underground Railroad movement.
The Walter Elwood Museum in Amsterdam has collections that fall into several categories: multicultural, Victorian, natural history and Mohawk Valley history. It is in the same building as ALCO Historical and Technical Society’s Museum. The 1835 Ames Museum houses local artifacts from the area’s heyday when it was the capital of the hops growing in 19th century America. Exhibits at the visitor center at the Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site focus on the history of the Erie Canal and its impact on the growth of NYS and the nation.
Have you ever dreamed of sleeping in a castle? You can make your dream come true at Amsterdam Castle. The castle was built and designed by Isaac Perry in 1827. Perry is best known as the designer of the Capitol Building in Albany. The Great Hall is especially impressive. No need to go to Herkimer to find Herkimer diamonds; Crystal Grove has a diamond mine next to their campgrounds. Not only unique but unexpected is the Volkswagen Beetle perched precariously atop a brick smokestack advertising Dudkas Garage. It can be seen from many areas in the Amsterdam.