Rewind: “The Cabinet – An 1829 Look at Lake George” – July 1, 2021
We recently came across a single page from what appears to be a magazine called THE CABINET of Instruction, Literature, and Amusement. The page is labeled Volume 2, number 5. What caught our eye was the ’cover story’ about Lake George. The article, dated August 8, 1829, provides an early, flowery description of Lake George. We have transcribed the article for your ease in reading. Enjoy!
Instruction, Literature, and Amusement.
VOL. II August 8, 1829 NO. 5
Lake George is 34 miles long (actually 32 miles), and its greatest breadth 4. At the south end it is only about one mile broad; and the greatest depth is 60 fathoms. The water is remarkable for its purity-a fish or a stone may be may be seen at the depth of 20 or 30 feet. It is undoubtedly supplied by springs from below, as the water is coldest near the bottom. It contains trout, bass, and perch. There are deer in the neighboring forest. The outlet which leads to Lake Champlain contains three large falls and rapids. The lake never rises more than two feet.
The three best points of view are at Fort George, a place north of Shelving Rock, 14 miles, and another at Sabbathday Point, 21 miles, for the head of the Lake. The last view is taken southward, the other two northward.
The beautiful basin with its pure crystal water is bounded by two ranges of mountains, which in some places rising with a bold and hasty ascent from the water, and in others descending with a graceful sweep from a great height to a broad and level margin, furnished with a charming variety of scenery, which every change of weather as well as every change of position presents in new and countless beauties. The intermixture of cultivation with the wild scenes of nature is extremely agreeable; and the undulating surface of the well tilled farm is often contrasted with the deep shade of the native forest, and the naked, weather beaten cliffs where no vegetation can dwell.
The islands are an important feature in the scenery of the Lakes. They are yet unnumbered, and as different in their size and varied in their appearance as countless for their multitude. Some are bare and rocky, others invested with verdure; some rise from the water with a green and gentle swell, others overhang it with a broken precipice. To a stranger who visits Lake George under a clear look, and sails upon its surface when the morning or evening sun throws over if a slanting light, the place seems one of the most mild and beautiful on earth; but if he should have an opportunity to witness the solemnity with which a storm approaches, and fury with which the elements often wage their war among these wild and desolate mountains, it will seem to have lost its original character, and to present only the sublime and the terrible aspects of nature.
The preceding print may afford some idea of the charming scenery; but no exertion of art can produce anything fit to be called a resemblance of such a noble exhibition of the grand and beautiful features of creation.
This beautiful Lake was first named Lake Sacrament by the French, as it is said, either because the water was used by the priests to supply their fonts, or because its purity rendered it peculiarly fit for that purpose. The transparency of the water seems to add a richness to the place.
There is hardly a region in the world where the din and bustle of military operations would seem more entirely opposed to the character and impression of the natural scenery that at Lake George. The lofty amphitheatre of mountain s which surround it, raise their heads to a sublime elevation, as if to seclude the place from the notice of the world, and to contain within its bounds the calm enjoyments of the few who tread its romantic shores. But even in this far and still retreat, War has often intruded with her thrilling trumpet and her flashing steel; and though the pure lake long since has lost the hue of her crimson currents, the traces of her iron footsteps will long remain upon the sloping margin.