Of this fashionable resort embraces a century. The muse of history has marked the spot with one of her red battleflags, and thus distinguished her from the herd of new places whose mushroom growth is like that of the gentility which they harbor.
[Illustration: ROUTES TO LAKE GEORGE.]
The first white visitor who is known to have drank from these “rivers of Pactolus” is no less a distinguished person than Sir Wm. Johnson, Bart., who was conducted hither, in 1767, by his Mohawk friends. At that early day America could boast of little in the way of aristocracy, and it was not till 1803 that the career of Saratoga, as a fashionable watering place, was inaugurated. In this year, when the village consisted of only three or four cabins, Gideon Putnam opened the Union Hotel, and displayed his primitive sign of “Old Put and the Wolf.”
It was Putnam’s ambition, when a boy even, to build him a great house, and in his time the Union Hotel, then 70 feet long, seemed to him doubtless comparatively as large as the present Grand Union seems to us.
It is not necessary for us to follow Saratoga through its misfortunes and its successes, its fires and its improvements, until it has reached its present reputation and attractiveness.
Year after year the water wells up its sparkling currents; year after year a little paint and plaster new-decks the great caravansaries; year after year belles blush and sigh away the summer, or, linking their destinies, rejoice or repine at leisure; and year after year, for a short four months of sequence, the little town swarms and rejoices with merry glee.
Routes to Saratoga.
During the visiting season trains from the metropolis reach the place in five hours and thirty minutes—a distance of 186 miles. You can leave the city at nine o’clock in the morning, and upon the soft-cushioned seats, and amid the damask and velvet of Wagman’s magnificent drawing-room cars, enjoy a pleasurable journey up the famous Hudson, till you arrive at Saratoga early in the afternoon. Or, by the four o’clock train, Saratoga is reached in the evening. If pleasure is the object, and enjoyment of the lordly Hudson’s bewildering beauty is desired, one of the steam palaces that plough the river should be taken. The most luxurious and elegant, and the safest and surest of these are the boats of the Peoples’ Line. The contrast between the accommodations of these boats and certain others nearly as large, is so great as to leave no question which route is preferable.
From New England and Boston the shortest and most direct route is via Rutland and Fitchburgh. This is the only route that run Palace cars through between Boston and Saratoga.