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The railroad was “the beginning of the end” of the world of God; the Chateaugay River and Chasm.
This world that God assembled outshines Ausable Chasm.
Wallace also said that it is more memorable than Watkins Glen. I leave that to Wallace. I have never been there. I believe the reason for the Chateaugay’s beauty is not only the height of its chasms, but also the power and majesty of its falls.
The water seems to shine silver and not the brown tannic water of other Adirondack rivers which have been steeped in hardwood leaves and pine needles.
I visited the Chateaugay before the “improvements” were made for the visitors. I was reborn, rejuvenated, reawakened and resolved to reevaluate my life. That is the kind of effect that the Chateaugay can have on a human.
I alluded, above, that there are multiple chasms on that river even though people and books speak of “The Chateaugay Chasm.” These chasms capture visitors within its walls before they know it. Sometimes for portions of a mile; and then, suddenly fall away. In other instances the chasm ends as the river tumbles over a waterfall.
The visitor must be either brave or foolhardy; both attributes are sometimes necessary to see the most beautiful parts of the chasm. The same is true for the precipices of the several falls and flumes. It is really difficult to find the words to describe the Chateaugay in its entirety. Wallace uses words to describe each section. He, like I, can’t seem to put it all together. Maybe a few renderings combined with words will be sufficient.
But descriptions of the Chateaugay deserve better than simply being “sufficient.”
At the end of one chasm a waterfall storms toward the observer.
There is another place where the waterfalls roar for hundreds of feet only to meet an immediate right hand turn. This forces a mist to rise up to meet the visitor. The Chateaugay then sweeps around a tall stone island to form a whirlpool. Afterward, seemingly without warning, it tumbles downward once more.
Sight, sound and mist blend together to overtake the observer’s senses. Conversation must be shouted in order to reach over the din. It belittles man to be in the presence of such a majestic creation.
And a few places in the chasm are full of solitude.
But yet man has overcome the Chateaugay. The “Adirondack Trail” that follows eastward – – – stuck between the foothills of the mountains and the flats of the St. Lawrence River – – – this trail must cross the Chateaugay. Man has created a steep road downward that levels off before the river. It then continues on a twenty foot high berm made of rubble for another hundred or so feet. A key-stoned bridge crosses the Chateaugay at a stillwater. The road then climbs precipitously up the eastern side until it reaches a plateau. A driver must know his horses AND his hand-brake in order to make either descent or ascent.
And that is the end of my attempt to speak of the Chateaugay River and its chasms. I have failed. That is understandable. Even Wallace failed to describe this creation.
Possibly it should not be described in physical terms.
Spiritual terms may be more appropriate.