Travels with Darley | S11E12 | Saratoga, New York

Travels with Darley | S11E12 | Saratoga, New York

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(gentle music) - Hi, I'm Darley Newman, and I'm here in Saratoga Springs, New York, exploring horses, health, and a whole lot of history. We're on a revolutionary road trip. Welcome to "Travels with Darley." (upbeat music) We're taking a revolutionary road trip in and around Saratoga, New York, the site of a landmark battle of the American Revolution, and home to one of our nation's first resort cities. We're diving into the past through the lens of history with expert locals as our guides in and around downtown, Saratoga National Historical Parks, and locally-owned businesses, offering travelers unique tastes and experiences. I'm starting my road trip with local historian Charlie Kenzel at a key location in downtown Saratoga Springs, Congress Park.

- We were the number one tourist destination in the 1800s, but it was all based or built on the springs, the mineral springs that we had. Saratoga was known initially for its health considerations, a health resort. Our city slogan is "Health, history, horses." - At Congress Park, I get my first glimpse of those mineral springs that made Saratoga Springs so famous.

Horses and horse racing are a long time draw to Saratoga Springs. - John Morrissey's a very interesting character here in Saratoga and helped a lot with the development of the city. He came up with the idea of thoroughbred horse racing and also casino gambling. Americans can only be healthy for a certain amount of time, and then they've gotta find something to do. - So bringing horse racing here, bringing gambling, and really helping skyrocket further tourism.

John Morrissey hailed from Ireland, and was known as Old Smoke, a bare-knuckled boxing champion. He went on to retire and own stakes in casinos, including in Saratoga, attracting Mark Twain, Cornelius Vanderbilt, John D. Rockefeller, and others to Saratoga. - [Charlie] He had run for Congress. He was out campaigning in the spring of 1878.

He contracted pneumonia and he passed away at the Adelphi Hotel. Now that that building has been redone, the bar attached to it was very fittingly called Morrissey's Tavern. - Steps away from Congress Park, The Adelphi Hotel was a hotspot for travelers seeking Saratoga's natural springs, and later, casinos and horse racing. It's such a beautiful facade and amazing that it dates back to the 1870s. - Opened in 1877, one of four grand hotels in Saratoga Springs.

The only one that still stands. - I'm dining with Patrick Toomey at Morrissey's, where the menu is directed by celebrity chef David Burke. We are toasting John Morrissey because he actually passed away here in the room above the bar. - Directly above the bar. Room 205 in 1878. Given a couple weeks to live, chose to come here and pass.

- So cheers to John Morrissey. - Cheers to John Morrissey. (gentle music) - [Darley] Saratoga is well known for its history with horses and healing, but there are also scars of the past that remind us of a major turning point in the American Revolution that took place here. I'm visiting Saratoga National Historical Park, a national park site where in the fall of 1777, there were two major Revolutionary War battles. American troops secured victory against the British Army for the first time in history. Park Ranger Garrett Cloer is leading me on a tour where the battles took place. - If you look through that gap in the trees, that's Freeman's Farm.

That's where the first battle of Saratoga took place. The high ground on the opposite side of the river. That's what forced Burgoyne to bring his forces to this side. - [Darley] British General John Burgoyne and his troops were poised to march and take Albany, but the additional troops he thought were meeting them did not arrive. Still, Burgoyne and the British troops overran the Americans in the September battle.

- Fast forward to the second Battle of Saratoga on October 7th, at the top of that hill off to the left, we have that location falling to a group of American soldiers led by Benedict Arnold. - [Darley] Burgoyne was outmatched in October by history's infamous Benedict Arnold. While many of us knew Benedict Arnold for his betrayal of his fellow Americans, he was at one point a hero.

The Nielsen House is the only remaining structure here from the American Revolution? - Yes, Benedict Arnold, along with another general named Enoch Poor, are going to move in and use this as his headquarters. By this point in the war, Arnold was already seen as probably one of the most well known field commanders on the American side. He'd been involved in the war from the beginning and was sent up here specifically by George Washington.

- Benedict Arnold, eventually he sides with the British. - That happens a couple years down the road. At the end of the Battle of Saratoga, he is going to be wounded, badly wounded in the leg. He's going to attempt to sell West Point. When that doesn't work out, he's able to escape down to New York City where the British army is, and he will actually command British forces against the American cause that he had so nobly advanced up to this point. - A lot of people.

Ranger Garrett and I head over to a monument to Benedict Arnold that doesn't bear his name. - People come from all over and just say they wanna see the boot monument. - The boot.

And what's remarkable about this, we have no mention of Benedict Arnold here. - It was all put together to symbolize this moment where Arnold is wounded here on the battlefield. A lot of people have wished that Benedict Arnold would've died instead of only being wounded here, because he would've gone down as one of the Great American heroes.

- But then history would've been changed. - For sure, for sure. (upbeat music) - While looking at Saratoga's history, why not stay in a historic property? In downtown Saratoga Springs, Amy Smith is sharing the beloved Saratoga Arms, a longtime family run hotel that's been lovingly restored. Dates back to 1870.

- 1870, it was actually built as a hotel. My parents said, "We've got one more project in us, Amy. We're going to rehab this building."

It was an old dilapidated building and it just was screaming for someone to love it. - Amy, all these wonderful details that you were able to save, the beautiful fireplace and the crown molding. - And then this chandelier was original to electrification in the mid 1900s. So saving everything that we could save to make that historic element just so perfect.

- [Darley] Well I love the nice big wraparound porch out there. - First thing my folks did was they wanted to make it what we call a Saratoga porch. And a great thing about a Saratoga porch is it is wide enough where you can have a conversation on either side.

People love to watch the world go by. - From Saratoga's porch. - From Saratoga's porch. You're exactly right. - Just across from the Saratoga Arms, Joyce Locks does more than just outfit people with larger-than-life hats for horse races and weddings. She gives them a new lease on fashion and a confident smile.

How did you acquire all these hats, Joyce? - Oh, well, I started my business because I was having a bad hair day. Decided there wasn't a great boutique for hats. Started my own business and a pop-up tent in the park on Tuesdays. - You were popping up pop-ups before pop-ups were popular.

- [Joyce] Yes, I guess I was. - What makes this area so great for hats? - Well, horse racing has a lot to do with it. People come here, they know they can come to get a hat for derby or whatever gala or function they're doing. - Ooh, I love the lilac. This is great. Bagel bag? - Yes. - Wait a minute.

We have some of my favorite things in here. We have a cat hat and a bagel bag. - [Joyce] It's an everything bagel.

- Oh my God. For the woman who has everything, the everything bagel bag and the cat and the hat. I like your name, Hatsational, because when you put on a good hat, you feel, you can feel sensational. - It's all about empowerment.

They make us feel pretty. They make us feel special. - Don't take my bagel away. - Sorry. - Everyone told me that I had to go to Hattie's for fried chicken while in Saratoga.

For almost eight decades, it's been a favorite of many who visit and those who live here. Celebrity Chef Bobby Flay challenged chef Jasper Alexander in his Food Network show, "Throwdown With Bobby Flay" and lost. I'm from South Carolina. Had a lot of fried chicken. - I would put it up against any fried chicken quite honestly. - What makes this chicken so good? - [Jasper] Every batch is hand-dipped. That's a big part of it.

You've gotta be able to really look at the chicken and know when there's just enough crumb that's adhered. It's just repetition, repetition. And we've mastered our trade. - I keep smelling the chicken, so I have to try it now. Super tender and juicy on the inside.

It's really good. It's like surprisingly light and savory. - [Jasper] So the lightest fried chicken you have, it doesn't seem greasy on the palate. - Really crunchy on the outside, but super moist and good on the inside. Next door is Cafe Lena, a folk music venue with an amazing legacy. Sarah Craig now helps run Cafe Lena as a nonprofit.

Sarah, this is the oldest folk music venue in the United States. - Yes, Cafe Lena has actually always been in this space since 1960. (upbeat music) - The Coffee House was the place to be from the early '60s and on, and its original owner, Lena Spencer welcomed many artists who got a kickstart here. And the famous stage where Bob Dylan performed among others. - Among others, yeah. Among thousands of others.

Without the small venues, you wouldn't have Bob Dylan, you wouldn't have anybody. They are the building blocks of the whole music world. - I get to stay for a show. ♪ This is the sound that moves ♪ Cassandra Kubinski is celebrating her latest album with a performance, which seems to pay tribute to Lena Spencer, Cafe Lena's founder. - She was a really creative, brilliant, silver-tongued lady who just had art in her blood. Lena Spencer Day was declared in Saratoga.

Skidmore gave her an honorary doctorate. She died kind of unexpectedly in 1989. Devoted friends decided to turn it into a nonprofit. The community loves it and the audience feels that that's definitely part of what the magic of the space is. (applause) - [Cassandra] Thank you guys. - [Darley] I'm venturing outside of Saratoga Springs.

Saratoga County historian Lauren Roberts is joining me at Revolution Rail Company to go biking along old train tracks in the Southern Adirondacks. - [Lauren] The Adirondacks were really the first time that the Victorians came up and were experiencing nature, and now we're seeing a resurgence of that again. - Anybody can do this and it's really accessible for people to come out and get out here and kind of do some biking in a different way. - Yeah.

So we're about to come to a really cool bridge, the Hadley Bow Bridge, which is a historic bridge built in 1885. It is a semi-deck lenticular truss bridge. It's the only one left in New York state. It was slated for demolition. Local preservation groups really rallied to save the bridge. - We're riding the rails. - Yeah.

- This is amazing history that got preserved here, so special. Back in Saratoga National Historical Park, there's more to explore with Ranger Garrett, this time at the Schuyler House, the country home of General Philip Schuyler. The Schuyler House has been visited by many famous figures, including George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, who married Philip's daughter, Elizabeth Schuyler, and the Marquis de Lafayette. - So this is Philip Schuyler's house and estate.

He built this house in 1777 to replace one that the British had burned during the siege of Saratoga here after the battles took place. - The property today is very peaceful, lots of parkland, very different than it would've looked back then. - It was an early industrial operation in addition to all the agricultural things going on here at the estate. So it was the centerpiece and creator of Philip Schuyler's wealth. So we're entering into the Schuyler family's kitchen, but honestly, the Schuyler family wouldn't have spent much time back here. This really would've been the center of the world for the estate's enslaved population.

Slavery was present here, very present in New York, and it took a very long time to go away. It's not until 1827 that the last slaves officially became free in New York. 30 years almost after the first abolition law had been passed. - [Darley] Inside the home is a work of art depicting the death of General Montgomery and featuring a lesser known Revolutionary War patriot from Saratoga, Louis Cook. - In 1779, Congress awards him commission as a Colonel in the continental army.

He is the only person of African descent to get such an honor, and he is the highest ranking of native descent. So he really is this prominent figure with these ties back here to this community in Old Saratoga. - Those are the stories that you don't get to hear about every day. That's why coming to a site like this and being able to speak with people who really know the history well is so rewarding. Ranger Garrett takes me further down the road to see Saratoga Monument, where a window into history reveals how perceptions of the American Revolution have changed over time. When was the Saratoga monument constructed? - So the cornerstone is laid on the 100th anniversary.

October 17th, 1877. The United States had just finished the Civil War. There's this great interest in commemorating the American Revolution to heal some of those wounds.

This is not an 18th century artifact. This is a 19th century artifact. You can go inside and find depictions of events from the American Revolution that didn't happen. One that shows Katherine Schuyler, Philip Schuyler's wife, burning their wheat crops to keep it from getting to the British. Didn't happen. - Why would they do that? - Good stories sell, right? Because a monument is a place in time representing periods of the revolution as people in the 19th century saw them.

I wouldn't want to rely on them for my history test. (gentle music) - [Darley] Historian Lauren Roberts is meeting me at the Saratoga Surrender Site. - This is the actual site where Burgoyne surrendered his sword to General Gates, and it marked the first time in world history that a British army had ever surrendered. - And this would be a major turning point in the American Revolution. - That's right.

The victory here convinced the French to finally recognize us as an independent nation and to become our ally. Their support helped us win the war. There isn't any comparison to standing on the site where you know something momentous happened, and to try to imagine what that would've been like at the time, but also to feel a connection to the place where you are. We do feel gratitude towards those who came before us and preserved these spots so that we can come here today and still think about our history and explore these new stories that we now have access to and hopefully get the next generation to carry on that tradition. - From the site where General Burgoyne surrendered to the site of his 1777 camp.

While not much remains here from the period, you can check out historical markers across from and onsite at Stewart's Shops. An example of a locally-owned company with roots in the revolution. Stewart's is known for its ice cream sourced from milk from local farms. Bill Dake, Stewart's chairman, meets me for a cone.

- The Dake family came to the United States in the early 1700s, and then the Battle of Bennington came along, and it happened to be only a mile or two from the family homestead. So we became part of the Revolutionary War, whether we wanted to or not. And the Battle of Bennington was pretty important because it was the turning point of the Saratoga being the turning point of the revolution.

So as a result of participating in the war, we got a land grant. My father and uncle were working the farm there, had extra milk, they started making ice cream and built an ice cream plant. - So the dairy farm has its roots in the American Revolution. - Yes. With my son, we'll be three generations.

- [Darley] Another family-run business with deep roots is Saratoga Apple, where you can go apple picking, and where I meet Eric Darrow, whose family has been growing apples in the region for six generations. - Could almost say that apples are in the Darrow blood because as far back as we can trace is 1784, my six times grandfather Jedediah Darrow, he's in the town archives as planting the very first apple orchard in Washington County. - We can come here, I can pick some apples. I can go have some cider donuts. I can go have some hard cider and make it a day.

(bright music) Eric puts me to work, a job that comes with sweet rewards. - And that's a cinnamon sugar donut right there. ♪ Gotta roll the donut roll. ♪ - This is maybe the best apple cider donut I've ever had.

The outside's like slightly, slightly, slightly crisp. Inside it's so soft. It's fresh. - Well, not only because it's fresh coming right out of the fryer, but part of the secret is that as an orchard, we have the luxury of using apple cider.

So it gets that little extra apple flavor in there. - I'm heading back downtown where history takes many forms in Saratoga Springs, including through adaptive reuse of historic buildings and businesses. Is it a coffee shop? Is it a brewery? Well, it's both. Locals call it Walt and Whitman.

And we're heading in this old newspaper building to get the story. Now a brewery and a coffee shop, Whitman Brewing Company and Walt Cafe is housed in what used to be the headquarters for the Saratogian newspaper. - Back when they were serving the newspaper, people would come up to that side of the building and they could see the newspaper being printed downstairs when we brew the beer. We're able to hand you a beer like they'd be able to hand you a newspaper right out the front door. - Thank you. - Yeah, anytime.

(upbeat music) - You know, it is morning here in Saratoga. - No shame at all. It's just morning juice. Our experience here in this building is to bring the community together, just like the Saratogian did. - I can sit here and have my coffee.

I can go over there and have my beer. And it's a real community gathering place here in downtown Saratoga Springs. Historian Charlie Kenzel is taking me to another key location in Saratoga, High Rock Park. - Many people, especially in the area of history, think that this is by far the definite founding location in the city. It's all because of the water.

This was an area that was visited by the indigenous tribes in this area, the Mohawk for approximately 5,000 years. - And this is the fault line. - It is. We've got a very, very strange geology, which makes for very unique cold water, highly mineralized, highly carbonated water that was sought after across the country. General George Washington visited here in 1783. He was with General Philip Schuyler.

Schuyler was so over the top about the waters and what it did for him that he brought Washington here. - Let's try the water. We gotta try the water. - [Charlie] Washington was so taken by this that he wanted to buy land.

The intent was to build a house here. - It's smooth like water. - It is. And it's cold year round, 52 degrees.

- It's really neat that this has been here for such a long time and we can still come and take in these same waters today. - Yeah, it really is. It's a lot of heritage, a lot of history. Yeah. - [Darley] The Olde Bryan Inn is yet another historic structure just up from High Rock Park.

- People would come and drink the water at High Rock and feel better and hopefully stay at the inn that was here. The inn that was here before that was the first tavern inn in Saratoga. - So people have been coming to this location for quite some time to drink basically. - Yes, even before Colonial folks, the Native Americans came for thousands of years, and we're camping on this overlook where this house is and the house before that was. - People can come here also to enjoy the camaraderie of the community through a unique club that you have going.

- That's right. We have a Mug Club, which we serve beers in pewter mugs, the style of the colonial days. - It's so warm and cozy here with these fireplaces, it kind of makes me wanna join the Mug Club. - Cheers. - Cheers.

- [Charlie] You're officially a member of the Mug Club. - Nothing says fall like a good fireplace, a warm, cozy setting, and some comfort beer. Another preserved building that definitely stands out in downtown Saratoga with its bow art style of architecture is the Adirondack Trust building, where Charles Waite shares the history of the building, but also historic artifacts held inside.

- The bank was founded in 1902. They built this new building here out of marble, and it cost $100,000 in 1916. It's been preserved pretty much the way it was in 1916. - What are some details of this design and architecture? Because I know the doors are significant. - Yes, the front doors were made by Tiffany and Company, and they're a scene of the Adirondack on the outside, in particular, a scene of Mount Mercy. And then these chandeliers, they're the signs of the zodiac around the bottom.

- How did you end up having what we have over here? - The musket is a British musket that was surrendered at the Battle of Saratoga. These cannonballs are Hessian cannonballs that were buried near where the Hessians had their artillery set up. - [Darley] So you are safeguarding these pieces of history here? - [Charles] We are, yes. - It's like you're banking with a bonus.

You have a museum and a bank. - We do. We do. - [Darley] Haley Stevens went to culinary school in Italy and brings a unique take on honey and tea with sustainable products with a twist at Saratoga Tea and Honey. Another fun place to pop into between historic stops around town.

- So we are primarily a tea bar. In the front, we have tea, in the back, we have a honey tasting room. - I've never done a honey tasting, so let's try that. - Great, let's go. So this is gonna be our local honey.

So it's wild flour that we've infused with ghost pepper chilies. - A little heat to it. I feel like in the back of my throat a little bit.

I like this one though. Interesting. I wouldn't have thought of putting some of these flavors, infusing them into honey. - With my culinary experience, adding different flavored honeys just like you do different flavored olive oils or balsamics. - I like the idea of a place where you can recharge when you're taking a walk downtown. Come in here and get your honey zest. (upbeat music) If you're walking streets of downtown Saratoga Springs, keep a lookout for Upset, a miniature horse who is the mascot for another locally-owned business.

- Named after Upset, which was the only horse that beat Man of War here in Saratoga in 1919. We started our Dark Horse brand. We started it here at Impressions. That brand is all about overcoming the odds, believing in yourself, even if you're the long shot, the underdog, dark horse. - Aw, I love that. - So he was our mascot for the branch. So he comes downtown and goes to events, meets people.

- I love it. Being a horse lover, I have to head into Impressions, another woman-owned business encouraging locals and travelers to shop and source local. You're stocking things and finding unique items that are for horse lovers and people who wanna get a feel for Saratoga. - We don't sell souvenirs, we sell memories. And that truly is what we try to do. So we like to have things that are locally made to bring those memories of Saratoga home.

- I'm not trying to be partial, but Upset's been the best tour guide I've had on this trip. I mean, kind of hard to beat, right? Thanks so much for taking a trip back in time with me here in Saratoga, New York. I'm Darley Newman and you've taken a revolutionary road trip. Cheers to that. As we explore horses, history, and a whole lot of health. No, that was wrong.

Who has "Hamilton" music in their head right now? - [Garrett] Everyone. - We're actually not open today on Tuesdays. No, we haven't been open Monday or Tuesday.

- What are you doing here to get a drink? - Locals call it Whitman, Walt and Whitman. They got a tap room too. Standing on my heels. We're in Saratoga.

2024-05-29 00:28

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