1870 Richfield Springs

Contributed by: Richard Palmer

Utica Observer, Saturday, May 28, 1870


Introduction to Richfield Springs

Notes By The Way


Another Railroad Wedding! Utica, that wicked old Mormon, takes unto herself Miss Richfield Springs. The ceremony occurs on Monday May 30th, next. Squire Iron Horse cements the union. Lewis Lawrence and Morgan Bryan are groomsmen. No cards but Time cards.

At Last!

At last Richfield Springs and Utica are united. The last rail is laid. The last spike has found its place. The last tie is in position. On Monday next the promises of years will be redeemed. It will be a day never to be forgotten by the people of Richfield Springs. And we are sure its importance will not be overestimated by the citizens of Utica.

The Trip.

All aboard for Richfield Springs! That's what you'll hear at the Central Depot on Monday next. Running along by the Sauquoit creek you glide off on to the branch track at Cassville, and then shoot south to Bridgewater. The stations from this point of the route are West Winfield, East Winfield, Cedarville, Miller's Mills, Youngs, South Columbia and Richfield.


Stepping from the cars you have no time to spend in admiration of the surrounding scenery. Right before you is the conveyance of the veteran A.A. Goodale. You will require just a small extract of horse power to reach the Springs, for the village lies over the hill, and these horses will save some time and more climb. The first impressions of the village gathered from the summit of this hill are only ordinary. If the famous little settlement has extraordinary attractions they are hidden beneath the green mask of foliage. Descending we find that the leafy disguise is gradually penetrated. Handsome stores, large houses and tidy grounds, buildings stamped with modern impress, commodious hotels and shady walks reveal themselves as you jaunt on through Main street.

The Village.

Richfield Springs has a population of about 1,200 souls. During the past ten years it has grown more rapidly in favor than any other sulphur watering place in the North. Only five years ago 20 out of 15 went to Sharon to avoid the longer stage jaunt to Richfield. Sharon is now the choice of few. The water there is not so powerful as a medicinal drink, while its offensive odor increases from year to year. Concerning the properties of the principal spring at Richfield we may properly print prof. Reid's Analysis of the water.

Bi-carbonate magnesia per gallon, 20 grains
Bi-carbonate lime " 10 "
Chloride sodium and magnesia " 15 "
Sulphate magnesia " 30 "
Hydro sulphate magnesia and lime " 2 "
Sulphate of lime " 20 "
Solid matter " 152.5
Sulphurated hydrogen gas " 20.6 inches

It Cures.

This water has a magical effect on some. The rheumatics drink it as a substitute for crutches. The afflicted ones come limping and go away feeling like "the man on the flying trapeze." Old Dr. Manley (the "Sum Lincoln" of Richfield Springs) delights to tell a story about sawing up a half a cord of discarded crutches only last season. The venerable Doctor is now 80 years of age. His memory is extremely good. He cast his first vote along with Greenman, Barnard and Davies, in 1819.


Richfield Springs is about 1,500 feet above the level of the sea. The air may well called pure and invigorating. Combine he effect of the water with reasonable exercise in this beautiful latitude, and the result will, in most cases, be truly gratifying. the baths ae highly recommended. We are glad to notice that the bathing accommodations here are decidedly superior to those at Sharon Springs. There the invalid recommended to the baths is dragged a quarter mile down a steep hill. Here the bath houses adjoin the principal hotels. The "American" has a spring tubed in the basement. The proprietors of the "Spring House" furnish capital accommodations for bathers, keeping the rooms tidy and scrupulously clean.


If the census man happens to strike Richfield Springs some time next August, he can count around 3,000. Everything in the place carries double during the summer months. Visitors flock in from Southern, Eastern and Northern cities. For nearly four months this beautiful little village is gay. Here you will find the latest fashionable freaks in dress, word and deed. Here you will find the quiet and intelligent ladies and gentlemen of leisure. People of the latter class are in the majority here. With comfortable incomes and ability to gratify their longings for country life, they select Richfield and her surrounding delights for their rural vacation day.

Round About.

For it must not be supposed that the boundary line of the village shuts in more than one half the enjoyment to be had in this section. J. Fenimore Cooper has immortalized Otsego Lake. to the latter day tourist, it is the most enchanting body of water in New York State. It is but six miles distant from Richfield - just an easy drive. This summer a steamer will run up to the head of the Lake, making a charming little ten mile trip, a temptation perfectly irresistible to excursion lovers.

The Lakes.

Otsego Lake is ten miles in length and two miles wide. For bold, striking scenery Lake George may rival it. But Otsego is more accessible, more civilized - and about 150 miles nearer Richfield Springs. the country abounds in Lakes. The "Twin Lakes" are only three miles distant. Allen's Lake lies away not quite so far. Schuyler Lake is reached in less than half an hour. An easy drive takes you to Summit lake. From this last named reservoir the water runs both north and south, discharging down both slopes. One stream runs to Fort Plain, emptying into the Mohawk. the other empties into Otsego Lake - the head waters of the Susquehanna river. All of these lakes have distinct beauties and are separately calculated to interest and entertain. We could write columns in their praises. "Leatherstocking Cave" is pointed out to every tourist, and it is but one of a thousand romantic spots made memorable by the imagination of the novelist and the realities of history.

Back to the Hotels.

However, we can't wander long in this region without a landlord. A great many who come to Richfield report to Gen. W.P. Johnson, the proprietor of the "American." This is the largest hotel in the place. Viewed from the front exterior, it reminds the traveler of Leland's old Union Hall at Saratoga. An acquaintance with the interior admirably sustains the impressions formed outside. Gen. Johnson is a self-made man of large wealth and a Democratic corner-stone in Otsego county. Years ago he purchased land in this neighborhood for $20 per acre. Some of this same land has since sold for $4,000 an acre. Altogether he owns over 2,000 acres. During the past winter he has added to the American a large wing comprising 70 rooms, and the hotel entire will now accommodate 500 to 600 guests. Mrs. Johnson, the General's wife, personally superintends the kitchen, laundry, dining-room work, &c. She is a pleasant and valuable hostess.

The Spring House.

Morgan Bryan and N.K. Ransom are the owners and managers of the "Spring House," the pleasant hotel with grounds opposite the "American." Mr. Bryan is somewhat generally known among the railroad men of this section. He was a Director in the Board of which Lewis Lawrence was President, and has been one of the foremost in capturing and training the Iron Horse for a daily performance to and from Richfield Springs. Messrs. Bryan & Ransom are at the head of a handsome hotel. They possess undoubted ability to entertain and the proprietorship of the principal sulphur springs enables them to offer special inducements.

Canadarago House.

Those who have visited Richfield before will, this summer, fail to recognize the Canadargo House. The proprietor has improved, modernized and enlarged the establishment, and with a large wing, Mansard roof, and long and shady piazzas, the house presents an elegant exterior. The owner is Mr. Frederick Stanton, a man of travel and observation, who has figured very successfully in the hotel business. the location of the Canadarago House is within two minutes' walk of the renowned sulphur spring within twenty rods of the four principal bathing houses.

The National.

Mr. A. Barrus, the proprietor of the "National," has excellent facilities for the accommodation of those visitors in search of comfort and quiet. His hotel is not only one of the largest, but it is well planned and finely adapted to the requirements of the general public. We not surprised to hear that it is crowded every year. Indeed, so are they all. This season, however, what with the additions, and twenty-eight private houses to receive boarders, the supply ought to equal the demand. Wait and see.

The International.

Mr. Wm. E. Darrow is proprietor. He has a well kept larder, and is noted for furnishing capital gam suppers. No better restaurant will be found in a long day's journey.

Stanton Hall.

Here the proprietor is Mr. F. Stanton. At this watering place, as in all others, ladies and gentlemen take to bowling for amusement and exercise. The accommodations are found at Stanton Hall. The second story contains seven billiard tables.

Metropolitan Flavor.

With crowded hotels and overflowing boarding-houses the summer season at Richfield is a live period. It gives to the residents a metropolitan flavor which remains with them the year round. It gives to the village its newspaper, the Mercury, conducted by R.W. Ackerman. This is a well edited and comely issue, which makes its weekly appearance from a well arranged office, and is every way creditable to its young editor. It is strictly non-partisan and hence a general favorite.


The President of the village is Isaac Ford, Esq. Prominent among the citizens are James L. Davenport, Senator Elwood, Morgan Bryan, N.D. Jewell, A. Barrus, J.R. Young and E.A. Hinds. The last named is the Postmaster. He is related to the well known hop buyer, Mr. Joseph R. Hinds. On Thursday last, Mr. James Young, the Superintendent of the Cherry Valley branch of the Albany & Susquehanna Railroad, visited Richfield, and was entertained by the leading railroad spirits of that place. Our reporter accompanied the party to the site for the new depot, and learned much that was interesting concerning the present and prospective railroad advantages hereabouts. A proposition is under consideration to build a line that shall connect with the road at Cherry Valley. It seems that the country about Richfield forms a sort of triangular center for three roads. Utica is the first to enter the triangular boundary, and the inlet and outlet afforded is timely. Considerable work yet remains to be performed by.

The Stage Coach.

Four separate lines will run during the summer, connecting with Cherry Valley, Herkimer, Mohawk, Little Falls and Cooperstown. Each line is managed by Mr. A.A. Goodale. Over ten years ago this gentleman drove into Richfield and there established stagecoach headquarters. Since that time he has had sole conduct of the heavy staging traffic. He is well a well informed and obliging gentleman. He has had stage coach relations with Theodore S. Faxton and the late John Butterfield.

This Season.

The season at Richfield will open about the 10th of June. the hotel men are now completing preparations for the reception and care of the coming crowds. Messrs. Davenport and Jewell have spent several thousand dollars in beautifying their respective houses. Both receive private boarders. Did time permit, our installment of Richfield discourse would be continued into one of Dr. Manuel's characteristic narrations. The visit was made in anticipating of the Railroad opening Monday, and having performed a hasty ceremony of introduction, we urge our citizens to cultivate the neighborly acquaintances sketched in the foregoing. The distance is but about thirty miles. The ride is through a handsome, fertile country. On and after Monday next trains will run as follows"

Leave Richfield Springs at 6 A.M., arriving at Utica at 8:40 A.M.
Leave Utica at 10:10 A.M. , arriving at Richfield Springs at 1:05 P.M.
Leave Richfield Springs at 1:45 P.M., arrive at Utica at 3:45 P.M.
Leave Utica at 4:50 P.M., arriving at Richfield Springs at 7:10 P.M.

This running arrangement is not calculated to be permanent. Manager Lawrence designs to make better time than that calculated above. Of course he will connect with the fast trains both east and west.

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