Herkimer County & Scenic Tours G-H
Herkimer County is a treasure trove of history and scenic beauty. The trip along Route 20 takes visitors through two communities in the south of Herkimer County: West Winfield and Warren. From the 1869/70 history of West Winfield is this description: "West Winfield contains two churches, the West Winfield Academy, a bank, a grist mill, a saw mill, a tannery, a cheese box factory, a newspaper office and about 400 inhabitants". Today West Winfield is a quiet community home to the local schools of Winfield Township and a beautiful community park, but you'll want to explore some more. Along Route 20, Sunset Hill in Warren -- known as the Mrs. Eugene D. Stocker Estate -- is an historic home complex with a main house, guest house and other buildings designed by Dwight James Baum for Mrs. Stocker's seasonal estate. What triggered the development of large valley villages and good transport to the east and west in Herkimer County was The Erie Canal. The county's oldest industry, Remington Arms, is still a major player in the county's economy. Herkimer County is also the home of a large section of the Erie Canal and world famous Herkimer Diamonds found at Herkimer Diamond Mines and the much smaller Ace of Diamonds Mine.
Route 20 Scenic Tour G - The History Loop - Herkimer County
The Mohawk Valley and the Erie Canal are filled with History. Exit Route 20 on State Route 51 north, just east of West Winfield and travel about 12 miles winding along Steel Creek to Ilion on the Mohawk River & Erie Canal. In Ilion is Remington Arms, the nation’s oldest continually operating manufacturer and the only US manufacturer of firearms and ammunition. Remington Arms has a store located at Gems Along the Mohawk (See Excursion H).
Now you have several choices – if you do not have a New York State map, now would be a good time to pick up one! Note that Route 5 travels on the north side of the Mohawk River and Route 5S on the south side. From Ilion via Route 5 continue north on Route 51, under Route 5S and turn right into the Ilion Marina for the Dockside Café, picnic area, RV park and restrooms, all on the Mohawk River/Erie Canal. Cross the Mohawk and travel west on Route 5 for the Revolutionary Byway through an area steeped in military history. OR travel Route 5 east to Herkimer and Little Falls and join the Southern Adirondack Trail. The village of Herkimer is filled with gems – literally. In Herkimer, on the Erie Canal you will find Gems Along the Mohawk, the Waterfront Grille and Erie Cruises (see Excursion H, Diamonds and the Erie Canal). In town you must stop at Crazy Otto’s Empire Diner on Albany Street to enjoy an authentic 1952 Mountainview silver diner. For more of the history of Herkimer County, visit Herkimer’s Historic Four Corners in Herkimer. It is composed of several historic buildings, all listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Their Museum is open weekdays, with Saturday hours in the summer.
From Herkimer follow Route 5 east to Little Falls, a once thriving mill village undergoing a renaissance along the Erie Canal with fine shops, antique shops, restaurants and accommodations. From Little Falls continue east on Route 5 to Route 169 to 5S to visit the historic Georgian style General Herkimer Home. Continuing east on Route 5S you will pass the historic little white Indian Castle Church built in 1769. As you near Fort Plain there is the Fort Plain Museum, a Church built in 1769. As you near Fort Plain there is the Fort Plain Museum, a former Revolutionary War Fort built in 1776 and Lock 15. At the junction of Routes 5S, 163 and 80, you can travel south on Route 80 to return to Route 20 (Excursion Q – Montgomery County) or continue on to Cooperstown as noted above. (For points of interest on Route 80, see Excursion Q in Montgomery County)
OR, continue on 5S through Fort Plain for 3.5 miles to the village of Canajoharie where famous women’s rights activist Susan B. Anthony once taught school. Joseph Brant, a Mohawk Chief and Molly Brant, a Mohawk Leader also lived in Canajoharie. Visit the businesses and Arkell Museum in historic Canajoharie. If you have made it all the way to Canajoharie you can now return to Route 20 and the historic village of Sharon Springs via Route 10 south – and we hope you have enjoyed your excursion.
OR, from Ilion via Route 5S travel back and forth under the NYS Thruway and along the south side of the Mohawk River to enjoy several locks on the Erie Canal, rolling farmlands and interesting communities. From Ilion travel east on Clark/Main Street just a short three miles to the village of Mohawk. On East Main Street in Mohawk is the F.E. Spinner Home. Spinner was a Herkimer County Sheriff, Member of Congress and served as Treasurer of the United States under President Abraham Lincoln. From Mohawk you can travel south back to Route 20 via Route 28 south or continue south to Cooperstown (Otsego County) and Excursions I J, K or L, OR, continue east on route 5S for 22 miles to the village of Fort Plain, past the Fort Herkimer Church built in 1767, Locks 18, 17 (the highest lift lock in the world at 40.5 feet), and locks16 & 15. At the junction of Route 169 and Route 5S, stop and visit the historic Georgian style General Herkimer Home, visitor center and grounds. Continue east on 5S to Fort Plain and Canajoharie as noted above.
Route 20 Scenic Tour H - Icons and Iconic Beauty - Herkimer County
From the center of Richfield Springs (Otsego County), follow Route 167 north to Jordanville, home of the Holy Trinity Monastery of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. The community is dedicated to a life of prayer and obedience. It consists of impressive buildings and an other-worldly way of life. The Monastery has (limited) space for overnight accommodations in the Monastery Guest House. Reservations are essential, and rules of the order must be strictly observed.
Diamonds and the Erie Canal. Leaving Jordanville, follow County Route 18 west to Route 28 north and continue north into Herkimer, a little over 11 miles, to find some truly unique treasures. You'll be able to experience the Erie Canal firsthand aboard Erie Canal Cruises. The Erie Canal, which extended from Albany to Buffalo, shaped the course of settlement and commerce between the Atlantic Seaboard and the interior of the United States. The cruise is fun and historically fascinating, taking guests back to a time when the Erie Canal was only a vision and the boats were pulled by mules and horses. In addition to hearing the history of the canal, visitors travel through one of the locks -- raised or lowered 20 feet inside the lock walls -- for an unforgettable experience. At the Erie Canal Cruises dock you will want to experience Gems Along the Mohawk with more than 80 local businesses and products represented. Consider lunch or dinner at the Waterfront Grille, also located in the Gems Along the Mohawk building.
Continue north on Route 28 to Herkimer Diamond Mines where guests literally mine for "diamonds" -- actually "doubly-terminated quartz crystals". These precious stones can be found in collections internationally. The Herkimer Diamond Mines Resort today boasts the largest jewelry, rock and gem store in the Northeast. It also has dining options at the Crystal Chandelier Restaurant and marvelous campsites along West Canada Creek at the Herkimer KOA Kampground, voted the best in North America for 2009. For more of the history of Herkimer County, visit Herkimer's Historic Four Corners in Herkimer. It is composed of several historic buildings, all listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Museum is open weekdays, with Saturday hours in the summer.