The Revolutionary Trail runs through the Southern Adirondack North Country Region, between the state capital of Albany and the shores of Lake Ontario in Port Ontario. This 158-mile jaunt features a variety of historic cities, scenic valleys, and woodlands.
Albany to Utica
Begin the tour in Albany, on Route 5. The Revolutionary Trail heads west through the industrial centers of Schenectady and Scotia, where you can access the Colonial Trail on route 50, or continue on to Amsterdam. The trail runs along the Mohawk River through the communities of Fort Johnson, Fort Hunter, and finally, Fonda, where you can access the Adirondack Trail on Route 30a.
The Revolutionary Trail continues on to Palatine Bridge. In the years before the French and Indian War and the American Revolution, waves of immigrants, including Swiss, Dutch, and German immigrants, moved into the valley. The Palatines moved west along the river, with many settling in what became known as the German Flatts. When the hostilities between England and France reached the boiling point, farmers and Mohawks in the valley were forced to choose sides between the warring factions. After defeating France at Montreal in 1760, England tightened her grip on the American Colonies. The Patriots declared they would fight for independence. As you travel the valley, imagine the region, as it was when it was under attack by British troops for six years during the Revolution.
Past Palatine Bridge, the byway continues toward Herkimer, where you can hunt for Herkimer diamonds or visit the natural potholes at Moss Island Pothole. Learn more about colonial crafts at the Herkimer Home. The trail continues on Route 5 to Utica, with its many beautiful old houses and museums. The ethnic heritage of Utica is alive at the Italian Cultural Center and Museum, and the Polish Center and Museum. Art lovers will enjoy the Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, which is famous for its collections of 18th, 19th, and 20th century American and European arts. Not to be missed is the Stanley Performing arts Center, a restored 1927 movie palace. The center is home to the Utica Symphony, professional dance, theatre, and concerts. The Utica Children's Museum is a must-visit with its interactive exhibits in science and a natural and man-made history. Take time for a tour of the F.X. Matt Brewery, home of the famous Saranac line of beers. Shoppers will enjoy outlets featuring Oneida silver, Corning-Revere Ware, clothing, and cheese.
Continuing on Route 49, you will soon arrive in Oriskany. In 1777, British Loyalists and Iroquois warriors ambushed General Herkimer's 800-man militia here. The ambush led to a full-scale battle that was to become the turning point in the American Revolution. The American Patriots won the battle, but Herkimer died from a leg wound shortly thereafter. Revolution buffs should plan to tour the Oriskany battle site, then continue on to another historic location: Fort Stanwix in Rome. Under the command of General Peter Gansevoort, the American forces at Fort Stanwix held off a three-day assault by the British in 1777. In addition to the fort, which is maintained by the National Park Service, Rome has a long list of historic places, including the Fort Stanwix Museum and military graves.
Rome to Port Ontario
Rome has a rich industrial past. In 1851, native Jessie Williams invented the first machine that could produce cheese in large quantities. While in Rome, visit the Erie Canal Village, which highlights the development of New York's canal system. Tour the reconstructed cheese factory, the old hotel, or the New York Central Train Station. Rome's proximity to the barge canal bolstered the area's industrial growth during the 1800s. New canals, dams, and locks were used to build upon the system of waterways that would make New York the shipping capital of the East. Today's New York State Barge Canal System is comprised of the Erie, the Champlain, the Oswego, the Cayuga-Seneca,