Leatherstocking Tales – July 6-9, 2011

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Wednesday, July 6 (7:30 PM) thru Saturday, July 9 (5 PM)
Headquartered in Albany, NY
Led by Wayne Franklin and Bruce Venter

We all remember the novels of James Fenimore Cooper from our youth either through movie versions, the “Classic” comic books series or by actually reading them in English class.

Cooper was a popular and successful writer in his own time in part because he described many actual historical places in his books. These sites were readily identified by early 19th century readers because they had learned about these same places in school. Cooper was able to vividly describe these historical sites because he had actually visited them himself. Whether it was sitting on a porch in Westchester County, sailing upon the crystal blue waters of Lake George or tramping through the woods near his boyhood home in Cooperstown, he was able to translate what he observed into stirring tales of early America.

Our tour will explore the real historic and geographic sites portrayed in several Cooper novels. It will give us a better understanding of the author’s insight into America’s frontier legacy. Explaining how the actual places and events were reflected in the New Yorker’s fiction is one of our goals. While we will concentrate on three popular novels, The Spy, The Last of the Mohicans and The Deerslayer, there will be plenty of references to places associated with lesser known works like Satanstoe and The Pioneers.

Our first day will focus on The Spy and aspects of the American Revolution which took place on both sides of the Hudson River south of the Highlands. The treason of Benedict Arnold and the subsequent hanging of British Maj. John Andre played into Cooper’s novel. Passing through the Highlands, where Arnold commanded at West Point, we will visit the site of Andre’s hanging in Old Tappan. We’ll have lunch at the historic tavern where the young officer was sequestered while awaiting his trial. Next we’ll cross the river and, pausing at the site in Tarrytown where Andre was captured, proceed to the John Jay Homestead in Bedford, where Cooper sat on the porch hearing sundry stories about Revolutionary era espionage and the “Cowboys and Skinners” who wreaked havoc on Westchester County during the war. On our return, we’ll stop in Carmel, Dutchess County, to see the gravesite of Enoch Crosby, a real life American spy who worked under Jay and became the prototype of Cooper’s Harvey Birch. We’ll also visit the Van Wyck homestead in Fishkill, which Cooper (whose wife had kin in the town) reportedly used as his model for the Wharton house in the novel.

On the second day we’ll head north to experience the sites of The Last of the Mohicans. We’ll make a stop at Fort Edward where Cora and Alice Munro and Maj. Heywood departed for Lake George, then visit Cooper’s Cave in Glens Falls which inspired the novelist during his 1824 visit to the region. Next, following parts of the Old Military Road, we’ll stop at Bloody Morning Scout, a French and Indian battle site which will provide an excellent example of the road traversed by Lt. Col. George Munro’s daughters as they made their way to Fort William Henry on the shores of Lake George. We’ll visit the reconstructed fort and tell the history of the August 1757 siege which ended with a massacre and, in the novel, the abduction of the sisters. We’ll also be able to discuss British Maj. Gen. James Abercrombie’s ill-fated expedition to capture Fort Carillion (Ticonderoga) which left from the lake’s southern shore and was depicted in Cooper’s Satanstoe. Finally, we’ll get on the lake to see Shelving Rock, a legendary mountain on the lake’s eastern shore where Cooper purportedly envisioned the final death struggle between Uncas and Magua.

On our third day we’ll head to Cooperstown, taking a route thru Canajoharie and Cherry Valley where we’ll see the Frey House and other sites familiar to Cooper. In Cooperstown, we’ll see the sites of Cooper’s daughters’ homes, Byeberry and Apple Hill, the Pioneer Tavern, Natty’s Cave, Natty’s Falls and Three Mile Point, the latter site described in Cooper’s Home Is Found. Of course, we’ll visit the Fenimore House Museum which was the site of Cooper’s stone mansion that burned in 1823. The “Cooper Room” includes various exhibits relating to the novelist. The Library holds a collection of Cooper manuscripts. After a full day in Cooperstown, we’ll return to Albany as your lingering questions about this great American novelist are answered by our acknowledged Cooper expert, Dr. Franklin.

Registration Fee: $399.00

What’s included: motor coach transportation, three lunches, beverage and snack breaks, a map and materials package, all admissions and gratuities, and the services of two experienced tour guides. Our headquarters hotel will provide a complimentary breakfast buffet each morning. Tour participants are responsible for transportation to the headquarters hotel, and securing a room reservation, if necessary. Dinner is on your own. Tour goes out rain or shine. Please see our policy page for information about cancellations.

Hotel: We have arranged with the headquarters hotel for a group rate of $89 per night plus tax. Please call the Holiday Inn Express, 1442 Western Ave., Albany, NY 12203 directly at 518-438-0001 and ask to reserve your room at the America’s History group rate.

Our Tour Leaders:

Dr. Wayne Franklin, an Albany native is professor and head of the English department and former director of the of American Studies Program at the University of Connecticut. He is the author of the award-winning biography, James Fenimore Cooper: The Early Years and The New World of James Fenimore Cooper. He has written or edited 34 books and dozens of articles. He is a frequent lecturer on Cooper and is on the board of directors of the James Fenimore Cooper Society.

Dr. Bruce M. Venter, also an Albany native is CEO of America’s History, LLC , an experienced tour leader and has written for Blue & Gray, Civil War and the Washington Times. He has previously led tours entitled Rogers Rangers and the French and Indian War and Defending the Highlands: The Revolutionary War in the Hudson River Valley. His article, “Behind Enemy Lines: Americans Attack Burgoyne’s Supply Line” will appear in the May/June issue of Patriots of the American Revolution magazine.

Register Online:
If you need to make payment arrangements for an amount other than the full price, please use the phone option to register.

Register By Phone:

Phone: 1-855-OUR-HISTORY (687-4478)

Register by e-mail:


Register by Postal Mail:

America’s History LLC, P. O. Box 1076, Goochland, VA 23063

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