Visitors Guide here are few places in the world that offer more ways to play than New England. Carnival midways and fairs, horse racing and amusement parks, multiplex theaters and giant shopping malls. All the noise and neon that technology can bestow is within a short drive. Then there’s Ausable Chasm — a 150-foot cleft in the earth nearly two miles long, fringed with ancient evergreens, cool mosses and delicate wildflowers. Along its majestic walls, which cradle the Ausable River as it flows from the Adirondacks toward Lake Champlain, are the ages of history etched in rock. Half a billion years in the making and a favorite tourist attraction for more than a century, the “Grand Canyon of the East,” as it was dubbed a century ago, continues to draw 50,000 visitors each year to its serene, majestic vistas. They come for solitude, reflection, and the unspoiled beauty of one of America’s great natural wonders, preserved for eons in its natural state. Formed 500 million years ago during North America’s Cambrian period, Ausable Chasm was created by the spasms of the earth—ancient sandstone split by geologic faults and scoured by receding glaciers and rushing waters. DISCOVERY OF THE CHASM
n an October day in 1765 William Gilliland, late of County Armagh, Ireland, took a jaunt from his settlement on the Boquet River, exploring northward along the west shore of Lake Champlain.
His bateau nosed its way up the sandy, twisting mouth of a river to still water below some rapids, from which he could see the lower end of a narrow gorge. His journal reads: “It is a most admirable sight, appearing on each side like a regular built wall, somewhat ruinated, and one would think that this prodigious clift was occasioned by an earthquake, their height on each side is from 40 to 100 feet in the different places; we saw about half a mile of it, and by its appearance where we stopped it may continue very many miles further.” Gilliland is perhaps the first European to discover the great Ausable Chasm, where Atlantic salmon spawned in great numbers to the delight of settlers. Saw mills, grist mills, paper mills and wheelwright shops soon sprung up, powered by the Ausable River’s strong currents. Thaddeus Mason made the mistake of building his saw mill below the falls, where the spring floods sent it tumbling toward Lake Champlain. By the early 1800s, a lucrative logging industry, fueled by the adundant pine forests of the region, saw the basin at the Chasm used as a dunking spot for logs. The giant logs, 80 feet in length, were piled at “rolling banks” along the river during the winter and rolled into the water at flood levels each spring by means of a log slide. Plunging dramatically into the waters, they floated downstream toward Lake Champlain for
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DISCOVERY OF THE CHASM
Before interstate highways, visitors to Ausable Chasm often came by stagecoach. Later, trains and steamboats made the trip more comfortable. A notice from 1879 boasts: “A new, good plank road from Port Kent to the Lake View House and Chasm is in use.”
nail Works began producing two tons of shipping. In the 1820s, iron ore deposits were iron nails each day. Water was flumed found in the Adirondacks. Blacksmiths from the head of the falls to an upright hammered away at hinges, latches, tram- tube four feet in diameter and 53 feet high. As the water fell through the tube, mels, pot hooks, trivets and tongs. The first of many bridges to span it powered a 20-inch water wheel to Ausable Chasm, along the old Post produce 100 horsepower. The nail works closed in the 1890s Road, was called High Bridge. Immense Norway pines were laid from bank to and Ausable Chasm’s industrial days bank across the divide. Six stringers, came to an end, but the Chasm’s heyday each about 20 inches wide, supported a was yet to come. roadway 12 feet across of heavy cross planks THE BIRTH OF sawed at a nearby mill. TOURISM The High Bridge was n 1873, Joseph Bonused until about 1810 when it was replaced by sall had an idea. one of sawed lumber The Philadelphia enbetween the two falls trepreneur incorporatabove the Chasm, Rained with Francis Fallon bow and Alice falls. Perand John Simes as The haps the last person to use High Bridge was the AuSable Company, legendary Max Morgan secured land along [see page 7]. both sides of the river, Despite the War of and opened one of 1812, floods on the Saranac and Ausable America’s earliest orgarivers, a cholera epidemnized tourist attracic in 1832, and the Paptions–Ausable Chasm. ineau war in 1838, One of America’s earliest Together they built settlement continued in tourist attractions drew the first wooden walkthe hamlet so blessed visitors from the world over. ways and stairs down with natural resources and an abundant power source. When to the river’s edge, a rustic lodge on the the place became known in 1876 as east side, galleries along the west side to AuSable Chasm, Joshua Appleyard Flat Rock—later Picnic Rock—and served as the first postmaster at his offered guided bateau rides on the river. Chasm tours and boat rides were 25 store. In 1876 the AuSable Chasm Horse- cents each. Crowds grew from a daily average of 40 visitors to as many as 200 by the summer of 1875. On July fourth that year, over 3000 people celebrated at the Chasm. Entertainment included croquet, fireworks, a Punch & Judy show, Whitney’s Cornet Band, and a tightrope walker who frolicked on a rope 80 feet above the water near Pulpit Rock to the gasps of onlookers.
on the other side. Since only one of the stringers (support beams) had yet been laid across the 30-foot gorge, Samuel Jackson threw the yoke across his broad shoulders and tightroped the Chasm to the other side. In 1820, when High Bridge was in ruin, Stephen St e a r n s a l l i e d across the last remaining stringer of the bridge in his stocking feet, holding a boot in each hand for balance. In the 1890s more than one boy was said, on a dare, to ride his bicycle across the railroad trestle.
“In 1820, when High Bridge was in ruin, Stephen Stearn sallied across the last remaining stringer of the bridge—in his stocking feet—holding a boot in each hand for balance.”
STORIES & LEGENDS
hat interpid tightrope walker was neither the first—nor the only—daredevil to flaunt danger atop the Chasm.
As the High Bridge was being built in 1793, it was discovered that oxen stood on one side of the river, ready to haul the huge timbers, but the ox yoke was
About where the wheel house of the AuSable Horsenail Works once stood, near the present Chasm entrance, was once a projecting rock. Some boys, attempting to weight the overhang till it collapsed, were carrying stones out to the edge. When Jim Hall delivered his load, the ledge did indeed collapse, carrying Jim along with it 110 feet to the
waters below. Luckily, Jim suffered only bruised limbs and ego. About 1870, a mammoth log served as a bridge to Table Rock from the opposite bank. The upper side had been hewed flat but had become slippery with moisture. It was a fine summer day and the Rev. John Dyer, a young Episcopalian minister, was enjoying an outing with his sweetheart, Jennie Smith. As John stepped out onto the log bridge and reached back to take Jennie’s hand he lost his balance and plunged into the boiling waters below. His horrified sweetheart watched him disappear beneath the water, never to return. Local legend offers the classic storybook ending that Jennie stayed on at the Chasm until she pined away and died of a broken heart. When voting time comes around, an old story about Ausable Chasm is brought to mind. It appeared in the Readers Digest awhile back. A farmer was asked who he was going to vote for in the next election. He scratched his head, saying he really didn’t know, but he had seen a lot of bumper stickers and he kinda liked that guy Ausable Chasm.
Ausable Chasm Visitors Guide page 3
The Devastating Floods of ‘96
n January 19, 1996, the Ausable Chasm sustained devastating damages from record high flood waters and massive ice dams. It was believed to have been a "hundred year event.” Temperatures rose that day from a crisp 20° to 75° in just 12 hours. This shock wave of heat rapidly melted several feet of accumulated snow in the mountains and 18 inches of local ground snow. Rain began to fall in record amounts, contributing to the massive water runoff. These thundering flood waters and mammoth ice blocks tore through the Chasm, destroying much of its infrastructure. Trees as tall as 60 feet were uprooted and swept downstream. Nearby campsites were broken up like toys and swept along by mighty torrent of waters rushing through the Chasm. Steel bridges as long as 70 feet were torn from their foundations and sent
“The volume of water which tore through the walls of the Chasm was greater than anything recorded in modern times.” crashing into the cliffs of the Chasm, coming to rest on the bottom of the river beneath tons of debris. Steel hand rails were ripped out of the stone walkways, many parts of which no trace has yet been found. In the space of a few hours, Ausable Chasm was devastated, but Chasm management rallied. Restoration began in the spring and the new bridges and rails were completed by May, just one day before the Chasm’s scheduled season opening. Return visitors that spring were struck by the sight of new steel bridges constructed of 30-inch steel beams, nearly twice as thick as those destroyed by the flood. The floods were considered a once in a lifetime freak of nature, so the new bridges, railings and other constructions were built stronger, built to last for another century. Mother Nature had other plans. On November 9, 1996, not quite ten months after January’s record setting
flood, the tri-county area was once again hit with heavy rains which, coupled with an already saturated ground, brought unprecedented flooding to the Chasm region. Road beds, bridges and countless homes were destroyed, causing President Clinton to declare the area a Federal Disaster Site for the second time. Ausable Chasm was once again at the mercy of nature, and no mercy was shown. The volume of water that tore through the walls of the Chasm was greater than anything recorded in modern times. The Chasm’s three new bridges fared no better than two which had survived the previous flood—all five were washed away as though constructed of twigs instead of steel. Downed trees, fencing and safety rails resulted in $63,000 worth of damage. “It took out everything that had been repaired and more, including a cinderblock building,” said Chasm general manager Patricia Stone. Despite the devastating destruction experienced twice in one year, the Chasm was again rebuilt. Today, new trails, new vistas and newly constructed bridges enhance the beauty of the Chasm. Guests enjoy views never before possible from the safety of the new bridge atop the Grand Flume. Instead of merely replacing existing bridges and safety rails, an entirely new walking trail system was carved out on higher ground. Besides being safer, the new route offers enhanced views of Elephant’s Head Rock and Rainbow Falls, two of the tour’s classic postcard scenes. A more adventurous river rafting ride has replaced the earlier boat rides, which had depended on optimum water levels to successfully channel the 32-foot long boat down the waterway, returning upriver by an antiquated cable system. The new raft ride operates virtually every day. Evidence of the destructive force of the floods can still be seen. Many areas 70- to 100-feet above the river were stripped clean of their soil covering, leaving behind bare rock ledges where, earlier, vegetation had grown from topsoil accumulated over thousands of years. Certain areas susceptible to flooding are no longer accessible on the walk, but can be viewed from the top of the Chasm at various vistas.
Ausable Chasm now boasts new trails, new vistas and newly constructed bridges.
A Geological Timeline of Ausable Chasm
usable Chasm (“Au Sable” is French for “at the sands”) was formed more than 500 million years ago during a time geologists call the Cambrian period, when the Adirondack Mountains were surrounded by a great ocean that had invaded the continent. Great rivers flowed down the mountains into these waters, carrying off countless tons of topsoil and sand from the exposed bedrock. These sediments, known as Potsdam sandstone, ranged in texture from a soft sandstone to a hard, dense quartzite, and were deposited over the ages in layers along the ancient coasts. As the seas receded, the sandstone remained. Carved by streams and scoured by glaciers, the Potsdam strata has been weathered away and today covers only scattered patches along the flanks of the Adirondacks. Its legacy is the breathtaking ravines and gulleys still in evidence today, shaped over the eons into geological sculptures of breathtaking power and majesty. The ravishing artistry of nature’s handiwork is nowhere in greater
evidence than in the mile-and-ahalf long gorge named Ausable Chasm, which has been called the “Grand Canyon of the east.” The great Ausable Chasm was born when a very wide tension joint, combined with lateral thrust faulting, created the original channel for the Ausable drainage flow. A glacial tongue of ice moving in a north to south direction assisted in widening the channel. During the glacial recession at the end of the Pleistocene Age, enormous quantities of meltwater increased the Chasm erosion. Rivers flowing down steep slopes do not usually cut their channels down evenly, but work hardest at the base of the slope. This causes rapids or falls which move upstream, leaving behind vertical side walls. In this manner Ausable Chasm was cut back from the lower edge of the Potsdam sandstone sheet to its present length. River water flow continues to gradually erode the Chasm channel today as it flows northeast toward Lake Champlain. As long as the power dam remains above Rainbow Falls at the head of the canyon, no further headward erosion will be permitted. Mean-
WHAT YOU’LL SEE
usable Chasm is a mile and a half long. The first part of your tour will take you onto a nature trail set in the midst of a primeval forest with displays of bright lichens, cool mosses, liverworts, evergreens and more than 20 varieties of ferns and delicate wildflowers.
Since this is an enviromentally sensitive area, we ask your help in protecting it. Please stay on the designated path and refrain from smoking. Once you descend the stairs into the Chasm, you will be on natural stone walkways which will afford views of numerous majestic rock formations, all carved by the forces of nature. Your walk ends at Table Rock, where you will begin your raft ride through the Grand Flume and Whirlpool Basin. You will be given instructions and fitted with a life jacket and paddle before embarking on the rafting portion of your tour. Whether you take the complete tour or the walk portion only, our bus will convey you back to the entrance building and parking lots, a refreshment center and gift shop. The tour can be made in approximately 90 minutes, but you are encouraged to take as much time as you please to enjoy the beauty of the Chasm. Please stay on the walkways and help us maintain the beauty of the Chasm by using the litter cans located throughout. Vista #1 grants a spectacular view of Elephant’s Head, perhaps the most unusual natural rock formation of the Chasm. Note the closely spaced vertical joints at the top of the 15-foot upstream and 10-foot downstream faults which frame the formation, creating the illusion of an enormous elephant’s head and trunk. Vista #2 provides guests with views both upstream and downstream from a height of 150 feet above the river level. Looking upstream, view the breathtaking beauty of Rainbow Falls and, just below that, Horseshoe Falls. Vista #3 gives visitors the sense of being on top of the world. Named Rocky Point, this approach to the very rim of the Chasm is scattered with ferns and wildflowers, and provides an excellent photo opportunity. There is a bench at this location for relaxed viewing. Vista #4 has the dubious name of Devil’s Oven. This cave, situated high above present water levels, was excavated by the surge of annual flood waters from a wide fault zone as the river bends to the northeast. This provides a sense of the higher Chasm water levels of past ages, before the Chasm reached its current depth and when runoff volume was much greater. Vista #5 is named Punch Bowl. This pothole was formed when the river was dammed up by fallen rocks or ice jams, creating a waterfall. A harder piece of rock fell and swirled at the base of the falls, eventually grinding out a pothole in the softer sandstone bedrock. Vista is called Jacob’s Well, and gives an even better example of an ancient pothole formation, bored down into the rock by the incessant swirling of small, hard rock material in a whirlpool or eddy at a time when #6
Welcome to Ausable Chasm, one of Amer the river’s elevation was much higher. The harder rock ground patiently away at the softer sandstone over countless centuries to create the well, which measures six feet in diameter and 20 feet deep. Its base is 40 feet above the normal flows of the river. While this pothole is perfectly preserved, you can find many others which did not survive intact when the waters receded. Some of these potholes are 30 feet above the walkway, attesting to a time when the Chasm was young and erosion had not yet created this awesome gorge. Vista #7 has been named Column Rock. This vertical pinnacle of stone will be one of the first sites along the
Chasm wall to be removed by natural frost and wedging forces. Note the white “leachate” groundwaters to the left of the column, which have already contributed to the fall of another column adjacent to the present formation. Column Rock provides an excellent view of the many layers of sandstone which have accumulated over time— a geologic cross-section of history. Vista #8 is Hyde's Cave, another example of the dynamic forces of nature. The cave, discovered in 1871 by a Philadelphia tourist who let himself 100 feet down over the cliff with a rope, was created by a lateral thrust fault, part of the continual mountain-building activity of
Please use caution during your tour and refrain from smoking. Stay on the pine bark trail through the nature section and use the handrails when descending the stairs into the Inner Sanctum trail. The natural stone walkways and bridges may be slippery when wet.
are suited in life jackets and invited to participate in the paddling. Vista #13 is the Grand Flume Bridge. This bridge affords a bird’s eye view of the narrowest point in the Chasm. The raft will glide you down through the Flume between the towering cliffs, on past the gigantic Sentry Box and past the Broken Needle, speeding through the long rapids, around another deep basin called Whirlpool Basin into a second wall-enclosed flume, and then through a long glide to the landing area. A shuttle bus conveys you from this point back to the entrance building and parking area. LAKE CHAMPLAIN ESTUARY TRIP This tour is available only during certain flows of the river. It extends your tour’s rafting portion an additional mile through placid and rushing waters to an area just before the Ausable River empties into Lake Champlain, and allows you to witness how the vertical walls of the Chasm virtually disappear. Many varieties of fish and bird life can be seen. A shuttle is provided back to the entrance building. NATURE WALK ONLY The first leg only of the historic tour is available to groups who do not have the time or desire for both the land and water portion. This abbreviated tour still affords the majestic views for which the Chasm is famous, and allows guests a chance to view the rafters from the Grand Flume Bridge. After crossing the bridge, a shuttle bus conveys your group from the top of Table Rock back to the entrance building. NATURE WALK TOUR & FLOAT RIDE via raft or tube
Upon completing the breathtaking nature tour, you’re invited to participate in an exciting float ride aboard a 12-person raft. Rides are conducted by an experienced guide who will instruct you in the basics of rafting. Gaze up at the Chasm’s towering cliffs, including Sentry Box and Broken Needle, as you glide through the Grand Flume, down the rapids, through Whirlpool Basin and onto the landing. Guests 10 years and older who seek a little more adventure can travel the same route by tubes.
rica’s Greatest Natural Scenic Wonders. the Adirondack region. Here, the relentless scouring action of swirling waters created a cave, leaving a center vertical column intact. Vista provides the visitor a calming respite. Named Mystic Gorge, it is a massive lateral thrust zone filled with broken rock, extending from the top of the gorge to beneath the Chasm floor. Here the sounds of rushing waters subside and a mystical quiet prevails. #9
Vista #10 is the Cathedral, another quiet vista ideal for serene meditation. The site is a wide fault zone opened up by glacial scour and forces of erosion. Fractured rock
has been removed to reveal a chamber impressive in size and beauty. Vista #11 is Splash Board Bridge, so named because of the constant flow of water cascading from a spring located at the top of the Chasm. This water flow can be seen at all times and, when flows are heavier, can even be felt as it splashes onto the bridge. Vista #12 has been named Table Rock. The entire slab of stone resembles a table top. At this point, a favorite spot for picnics in the last century, you begin the placid raft ride through the lower portion of the Chasm. Under the care of an experienced guide, guests
FLOODS As you walk through the Chasm you can see evidence of recent record high waters. 1996 saw the Ausable River overflow its banks twice, first in January and again in November. All of the walkways you will be on were under water. Many of the structures, bridges, rails and stairways were peeled away and remain at the bottom of the Ausable River or Lake Champlain. NOTE As always, please use caution during your tour. Be sure to stay on the pine bark trail through the nature section and use the handrails when descending the stairs into the Inner Sanctum trail inside the Chasm. The natural stone walkways and bridges may be slippery when wet.
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Capturing the Chasm
In books, on canvas, in spoken legend and in the movies, presidents and matinee idols have romanced ausable chasm
own the years, countless visitors have searched for words to describe their impressions of Ausable Chasm—in diaries and letters, newspaper stories and poems. Artists have tried to capture its majesty on canvas, and Hollywood has preserved it on film. Horace Tousley of Keeseville, pioneer photographer, lowered his big box camera into the lower reaches of the “walled banks” to shoot some of the earliest photographs of the Chasm. Noted
“Here couples have wed and daredevils have taunted death, sometimes unintentionally, as in the tale of Max Morgan.” painters such as Charles Ellenwood struggled to capture its hues and textures in oils. Presidents and statesmen have eulogized the Chasm. But no prose, photograph or painting can do justice to the beauty of this natural wonder, which still must be seen to be appreciated. Stories have grown up around the great canyon, some comic, others tragic, and a few which seem incredible. Here couples have wed and daredevils have taunted death, sometimes unintentionally, as in the tale of Max Morgan. Fact or legend, his fantastic midnight ride across
A couple enjoys a moment’s meditation during a picnic near Column Rock. Ausable Chasm has a rich heritage of romance, with many weddings performed here over the past century.
the Chasm, high above the Ausable River’s rocky bed, has passed down through generations in prose and verse. Not to be outdone by Mr. Morgan— whose nervous mount may (or may not) have navigated a single slippery beam across the Chasm that black night— Lester Cord of Keeseville rode his trusty bicycle across the Chasm some years later on the steel rail of the new railroad bridge completed in 1891. A good for nothing town chararacter was once caught in the act of theft near the bridge. It having been playfully suggested by someone that the thief ’s morals might be improved by suspending him by his heels from the bridge over the Chasm, the punishment was promptly administered. The cure proved effectual; the man thieved no more, but his terrifying experience is said to have left him a raving lunatic for the remainder of his life. Famous visitors have flocked to Ausable Chasm. Thomas Edison made a pilgrimage, as did Henry Firestone, Dr. Charles Steinmetz, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, John D. Rockefeller Jr. and many others. In August, 1897, President William McKinley vacationed here, as reported in a local newspaper: “At AuSable Chasm station the party was met by carriages and driven to the Chasm hotel and thence to the Chasm. The journey through the grand canyon may not be considered easy but the President didn’t seem to mind it half as much as the younger men. Jacob’s Well, the Devil’s Oven, Sentinel Rock and other features were pointed out and closely observed. Arriving at the boat landing, the President again led the way into the boat which carried fourteen of the party down the swift current and through the rapids into the basin below. “Although the President is continually on the go, he says that already the bracing air of the Champlain Valley has done him a world of good.” A Miss Frederika Bremer, visiting from Sweden at the turn of the last century, raved that the sight of the Chasm alone “would reward a voyage from
The Lake View House offered elegant accommodations for up to 300 Ausable Chasm visitors, with its own barber shop, bowling alleys, gas lighting and hot running water. The hotel boasted a dairy farm and telegraph office as well.
Europe.” Her account attests to the popularity of Table Rock as a favorite picnic spot. “I have just been down to the famous High Bridge of older times,” her diary
tude. “As we pass into the road after viewing the falls,” she continues, “our attention is called to a graveyard on the side of the hill, in which we find a slate tombstone bearing this quaint epitaph: Sallie Thomas is here, And that’s enough, The candle is out, also the snuff; Her soul is with God, you need not fear, And what remains is interred here. “The graveyard where Sallie Thomas lies appears to receive very little attention or care from the community here, being grown up with weeds, and we thought it eminently God’s Acre.” HOLLYWOOD CASHES IN
ollywood wasted little time capitalizing on Ausable Chasm, usually for spectacular stunts. In the days of silent movies, several western films were shot here.
In 1914, Rodman Law, one of film’s earliest stunt men, rode the rapids of Ausable Chasm in a flatbottomed boat for Pathe Freres Movie Co. during filming of The Tom Mix Red Robe. The boat was swamped but starred in one of several Law managed to swim to a rocky ledge. early motion pictures depicting Later he rode a motorcycle across the spectacular stunts at Ausable Chasm. Chasm, and then “dove” a horse from the upper ledge of the ravine into the foamreads, “thrown over the river 90 feet ing water below. Not bad for a day’s above its surface. Down one of the work. crevices, a flight of steps leads to the Two of the Chasm’s most famous bottom of the horrid abyss where rent celebrity visitors were silent western matrocks are piled into fantastic columns inee idol Tom Mix and his horse Tony and majestic bastions. Here is spread who came to film their new adventure 3 out a Table Rock where picnics are held Jumps Ahead. Mix did many of his own by summer parties in the solemn solistunts, but after one look at the Chasm,
Ausable Chasm Visitors Guide⇥page 7
he decided to hire a double for his spectacular jump on horseback off the Chasm cliffs into the river. A horse double was hired as well which, being no trooper, had to be blindfolded before he could be persuaded to make the leap. A local man was hired for three dollars to ride Tony’s stand-in over the cliff. For The Black Chasm, a horse was purchased by the film company from local boy Deo Dwyer for $50. After the animal had taken his own breathtaking jump into the Chasm, emerging some-
what bruised and cut, the Yankee trader bought him back for $15. The rider of the horse, plunging into only 25 feet of water, emerged with a broken leg. In 1951, a reporter at the AuSable Forks Adirondack Record Post filed the following story: June, 1951 - A galaxy of famous movie stars, members of Famous PlayersLasky headed by Thomas Meighan, Renee Adoree and Alleen Pringle, are on location at AuSable Chasm, participating in scenes for Tin Gods, last year's
success in New York. Ausable Chasm will provide unexcelled backgrounds and settings for this future screen classic. Allan Dwan is directing the acting. Meighan takes the role of a young bridge engineer who leaves his wife (Alleen Pringle) to wrestle with a big job in the wilderness and while there meets the “other woman” (Renee Adorree). Our hero, Meighan, saves this woman after she plunges into the raging waters of the AuSable river, and the ending of the story? A happy one, of course!
The Ballad of Max Morgan
www. ausablechasm.com Open May through October Ausable Chasm, NY US Route 9 12 Miles South of Plattsburgh Take Exit 34 or 35 from I-87 Telephone: 518-834-7454 Or Toll Free: 800-537-1211
In the early days when the land was new, Ere mill and village along it grew, At a narrow point a bridge was made, High o’er the current its planks were laid, Huge timbers stretched from shore to shore, The rude and simple frame upbore; For miles the only crossing found, For travel or traffic by settlers round, High Bridge they called it in days of old, And this the story about it told: Max Morgan set forth one night to ride To the house of friends on the farther side, The mist closed thick, and the darkness fell, But his trusty horse knew the pathway well; And the rider rode on with pulse serene, Though round or above nothing could be seen, Not horse nor hand could he guide by sight, And horse and rider were part of the night; But he knew ere long that the bridge was near, By the roar of the waters that met his ear, As soon as the sound rose loud and clear, The horse stopped sudden and shook with fear, As if some dreadful danger lay, Imperilling its onward way; Max Morgan peered into the night, No gleam, no shadow met his sight, He listed for voice or note of woe, Only the torrent dashed below; “Go on,” once more he sharply said, With cautious steps the beast obeyed, He felt its panting quick and deep, And felt the flesh under him quiver and creep; And it seemed to struggle, and labor and cower, As if held by some unearthly power, And when its feet took earth again,
The rider shuddered and took the rein, As from the very thought to ride, Over that black abyss and rushing tide; And swift he speeds till a glimmering ray, Tells him where friends for his coming stay, But when he enters and greets the host, All stare as they had seen a ghost; “How came you?” they asked in amazed surprise, “By the bridge, on horseback,” he replies, And stares in turn, as their arms on high, They throw, and all together cry; “There’s no bridge there! The gale today, Swept plank and railing complete away, The sleepers alone in their place lie, Such a roadway no creature tonight would try,” “But I crossed,” he made answer doubtfully, “Wait for the morrow’s light and see;” Back to the stream with the coming day, Max Morgan rode on his homeward way, The tale had been true; every plank was gone, Bare timbers spanned the flood alone; And along one of these, in the shiny ooze, Were scratches and dents of a horse’s shoes, Where, twixt life and death in the darkness hung, The glorious beast had crept and clung; Max Morgan looked slowly along the beam, Then he glanced down to the foaming stream, Forty feet from side to side, Eighty feet down to that turbulent tide; Soon he turned and spoke his horse’s name, And quick at the call to his side it came, His arms around its neck he threw, And close to his breast her head he drew, When he lifted his eyes and bared his head, “He giveth his angels charge,” he said.
Refreshments & Gifts The Chasm’s Entrance Building offers guests delicious food served at reasonable prices, a large gift shop, and clean, modern restroom facilities.
Camping & Lodging One of the area’s finest KOA campgrounds is located at Ausable Chasm. Wooded sites with complete hookups are complemented by a swimming pool, tennis, free movies and cartoons, a cross-country ski center, mini golf, game arcade, glass blowers’ shop and ice cream shop. Motel accommodations are also available.
The Pavilion For company picnics, family gatherings and outdoor wedding receptions, the Pavilion is available to parties of 25 to 200. We’ll help plan your day to the smallest detail and tend to all your catering needs. Let our event planner make your next gathering as awesome as the setting. Come make history at one of America's original attractions. There's no more magnificent place for your next memorable event.
A guide to, and brief history of, one of America's oldest tourist attractions—upstate New York's breathtaking Ausable Chasm.