French Mountain in 1875

topo map of French Mountain

Maury Thompson recently shared with me a link to a short newspaper article about the photographer Seneca Ray Stoddard.  On the same page I noticed a letter from a reader, which decried the lack of coverage for French Mountain, at that time a hamlet in the Town of Queensbury.  Now the site of the Factory Outlets of Lake George (sometimes called the million dollar 1/2 mile) the small community once was quite different.  The description provided by the letter writer provides a detailed picture of the way things were 145 years ago.

Stage coaches lined up at a tollgate
French Mountain Tollgate, ca. 1875 by S. R. Stoddard

“Having observed in your paper the progress of certain towns in this county, and no mention being made of a part of the town in which your paper is published, has induced me to ask a favor of a small corner, as I feel from the apparent thriving prospects that surround us that we ought to take a stand with our neighbors and not be left in the obscurity neglect has placed us. 

There is a place in the town of Queensbury called French Mountain, situated on the plank road, five miles from the village of Glens Falls, containing within a radius of a half of mile from the hotel one hundred inhabitants.  It contains a store, tin shop, glove factory, tannery, saw mill, coal yard, blacksmith shop, wagon shop, shoe shop, post office, and telegraph office.  The trade of this place extends north over the county and supplies the immediate wants to the adjacent country.  We have also a school house, which on every Sunday is used as a place of worship and on weekdays as a schoolhouse. 

stage coach in front of an old hotel
Half Way House, ca. 1875 by S.R. Stoddard

Our tannery in the season stocking gives employment to several hands, and is also a place for the sale of wood, bark hides, etc.  Its stock when manufactured is sent to Albany, Boston and New York for sale, bringing back for distribution the whole proceeds of this production and labor of the place.  The social, enterprising and accommodating proprietor of the hotel is always on hand to receive his guests and entertain them to the best his house affords.  French Mountain is quite a place of resort for visitors at the lake, who find it a short and shaded drive of about four miles.”

The Glen’s Falls Republican, April 06, 1875

Submitted by Tim Weidner