| A snug, unassuming
residential community, Little Falls is nestled in a deep gorge of the Mohawk
River Valley. From various vantage points, the view is compelling, if not
breathtaking; the coloration in the fall being striking.
Little Falls is home to approximately 5900 friendly and helpful people, with a wide and diverse background. In addition, the community is accented by a variety of stores and shops, restaurants, industry, churches and organizations, schools, an excellent hospital, along with a fine public library, area museums and other historical sites.
The contemporary Erie Canal is a significant feature of the City. This grand waterway, once the conduit for major commercial traffic, has become a clean, attractive destination for boating and other recreational activities. The Historic Erie Canal and Mohawk River system, along with the Western Inland Navigational Lock Canal, played an important role in the development of Western New York and the Great Lakes region, in the 18th and 19th centuries. A precursor to the historic Erie Canal, The Western Inland Canal, built in 1792, was in operation for less than 25 years. Although economically unsuccessful, the Western Inland Canal served to demonstrate the importance and possibilities of water transportation in the State. The 1825 Erie Canal, known as Clinton's Ditch and completed in 1825, was the "Internet" of its era; opening new vistas and changing the lives of those who adventured upon its waters.
Little Falls owes its very basis for existence to the falls or rapids. The Falls was described in contrast by the Iroquois, to the great falls at Cohoes, 75 miles to the East. Cohoes Falls is at the point where the Mohawk River enters the Hudson River.
The earliest settlers of the area who appeared in the first decades of the 18th century, were involved in river trade and the commerce associated with the portage or carry, around the rapids. Little Falls was the site of several frontier industries during the 18th century, including a saw mill, grist mills and a foundry at the mouth of Furnace Creek. A cheese exchange was established and in the years 1853 - 1875, Little falls was cheese market to the Nation.
Throughout the 18th century, the area saw much growth and development, but the settlement was not incorporated into a village until 1811. In 1895, the community received its charter as the City of Little Falls. Before that, the Village also had been informally known as Rockton or Rock City.
There is a certain degree of irony in the name Little Falls. The Mohawk River descends over 40 feet as it passes through the narrow gorge, while proceeding less than 3 miles. New York Lock 17 on the contemporary Erie Canal, was constructed to solve this engineering challenge, replacing 3 locks on the 1825 Erie Canal. Until very recent years, this great lock was the highest lift lock in the world.
Little Falls was the site of much industrial growth in the years surrounding the turn of this century. The development of industry and commerce in Little Falls was due largely to the immense source of available energy. Today, this source of power is being tapped by a hydro-electric plant located just west of Lock 17.
This industrial growth, and the associated economic impact on this area is responsible for another noteworthy feature of the city. Many visitors to the area are struck by the number of stately old homes, many in remarkably preserved condition. These homes for the most part, were the domiciles of the entrepreneurs and managers of the once booming shops and factories.
Another feature that enhances the spirit of relaxation and enjoyment in the community are the parks and other open areas. These spaces have open access and are perfect for walking, games, or just relaxing. Moreland Park, for example, located in a wooded setting, has excellent facilities for family and small group picnics and outings.
Located along the south bank of the Erie Canal, the Miller Bicycle and Exercise Trail is ideal for taking a casual walk, or pouring-it-on to burn those extra calories. There are several sanctioned running events within the city during the year. The Fall Flurry and the Canal Classic 10k Run, held during the Canal Days Celebration are very popular.
Did we mention The Canal Celebration? Each year in August, Little Falls is visited by a celebration likened to a mini Mardi Gras. Much more on that fantastic event later.
There are many natural and geological features in the area that are awesome. The deep chimney potholes, scoured in the stone by the swirling waters, at the end of the last ice age, are a geological marvel. Many of the larger pot holes are located on Moss Island, adjacent to Lock 17.
If one searches carefully, "Little Falls Diamonds" can be located along various outcroppings. Excellent examples of these unique Quartz crystals are on display at the Public Library and The Little Falls Historical Society Museum.
Little Falls is located along State Rt. 5, approximately mid way between Syracuse & Albany, New York. Exit Interstate 90 (New York State Thruway) at interchange 29A.
(David M. Ronan; 1945-2004)
Last Updated 5-05-06
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