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Boating in Ausable Chasm, c. 1900

Starting a boat at Table Rock in Au Sable [sic] Chasm
New York State Archives, NYSA_A3045-78_D47_AA762
Document Description
A group of men and women prepare to launch a boat from Table Rock in Ausable Chasm, c. 1900.
How can you tell that this photograph was taken a long time ago?
What are the people in this photograph doing on the ledge?
How do you think they are feeling?
Why would these people take a boat down Ausable Chasm?
Do you think they are dressed appropriately for the trip? What would you wear on this boat?
Why is somebody holding an umbrella?
Why would Ausable Chasm be called the "Little Grand Canyon of the East"?
Explain why this river would be a good source for mill power.
How was this river used for the logging industry during the 1800s and early 1900s?
Historical Challenges
When was Ausable Chasm opened to the public? What is significant about Ausable Chasm as a natural attraction?
Interdisciplinary Connections
Science: What is sandstone made of?

Science: How was Ausable Chasm formed?
English Language Arts: After reading the journal entry of William Gilliland above, write five more sentences to complete the entry. What else do you think he might have written about the chasm if he had kept writing? Be creative!
English Language Arts: How did Ausable Chasm get its name, and what does it mean?

Historical Context
Ausable Chasm, located in Keesville, New York, is a gorge made out of sandstone. The Ausable River runs through it and ends at Lake Champlain. Ausable Chasm is sometimes called the "Little Grand Canyon of the East." No one is sure when the chasm was discovered, but the 1765 journal of an Irish man, William Gilliland, describes it:

“It is a most admirable sight, appearing on each side like a regular built wall, somewhat ruined, and one would think that this prodigious cliff was occasioned by an earthquake, their height on each side is from 40 to 100 feet in the different places; we saw about a half a mile of it, and by its appearance where we stopped it may continue very many miles further.”

By the 1800s, Ausable River was used for powering paper mills and grist mills. Additionally, it was used to move logs that had been cut for lumber by floating them down the river to Lake Champlain, where they could be placed on ships and taken to any location.

Essential Question
How does geography influence human settlement and economic systems?
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and explain the role of geography in human activities.