During the cross country season of my Sophomore year at WPI, our first meet was at Saratoga Springs, NY. Not being a native to the area, I had no idea where this was, or what its significance was. I just packed enough clothes so I'd have something clean to wear after the race, and a bottle of water. It was warm that day.

Warm may be an understatement. It was 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and there was no wind. To top it off, the trail was dusty and had a load of hills. The race was hell packed into 5 miles, 8,000 meters of pure torment.

Upon returning to camp, I found my now-lukewarm bottle of water and chugged it, barely quenching the thirst that had consumed me so thoroughly. The team cool-down wasn't much more fun. We were all nearly naked by this time, just wearing shorts and shoes, and we were still parched. At the end of the second mile of cool-down, we stopped by a small water fountain jutting out of some rocks. I was so parched, I would drink anything, regardless of the source.

I wasn't sure if the water tasted so good because I was so thirsty, or if it was just good water. But I drank, and I had my fill. I commented on the quality of the fountain water, and the older members of the team pointed out to me that we were in Saratoga Springs. As we left the course on the bus, I spotted the bottling plant that I had missed on the way in.

In summary, Saratoga Springs: good water, hellish cross country course.


An unplanned nodeshell rescue. Yeah me!

Saratoga Springs, New York is located in Saratoga County, and is located at 43.07° north and 73.78° west. It has a current population of about 27000.

The name Saratoga originates from the Mohawk tribe of the Iroquois Confederacy, thought there are several interpretations. It comes from the word "Se-rach-ta-gue" meant "the hillside country of the quiet river." The first settlers arrived in the area around Saratoga Springs in 1688. In 1702, Johannes Schuyler came to the area, and organized sawmills and farms in the area around Fish Creek. He invited people from Albany to come and work for him, going so far as to build fortifications to protect the settlements from raiding parties, resulting in the construction of Fort Saratoga. By the mid 1700's, the area around the fort had 30 dwellings and many small industries.

In December 1745, the fort was destroyed during a very strong raid. The fort was under-defended, as much of the garrison was in Albany for the winter. The settlement was burned, and many residents were either massacred or taken prisoner. The settlement was rebuilt, but it was still victim to occasional raids.

The Battles of Saratoga during the American Revolution were the turning point in the war for the rebelling colonies. General Burgoyne planned to sever the colonies by occupying the Hudson Valley, and marched down from Canada. At the first battle, fought on September 19th, 1777 at Freeman's Farm, Burgoyne defeated a force under General Horatio Gates. After failing to advance further down the valley after the Battle of Burlington, Burgoyne retreated to Saratoga, where he was defeated at Bemis Heights by Gates and Benedict Arnold. The American victory prompted France to recognize the independence of the colonies and send support. The battlefields are now part of Saratoga National Historical Park.

On February 7th 1791, the New York State legislature created Saratoga County, among others, out of Albany County. Ballston Spa was chosen as the county seat. The completion of the Champlain Canal in 1822 firmly connected the Adirondacks with the Hudson Valley, and created an economic boom for the area. Saratoga Springs became a processing area for raw materials headed down the valley, and many merchants set up shop.

On top of this new industry, Saratoga Springs thrived on it's tourism. No talk about Saratoga can be complete without discussing the mineral springs, which are thought to have healing properties. Many bathhouses were constructed, and tourists came from all parts to bathe in the waters. Saratoga soon became a trendy spot for the upper class of New York City to "see and be seen."

Another attraction to Saratoga Springs is the Saratoga Race Course. It was built in 1864 by William Travers and John Hunter to showcase their own horses, rather than to create a racing venue. The Travers Stakes, held each August in memory of William Travers, is the oldest stakes race to be continually documented in the United States. The racing season has greatly expanded over the years, and now goes from Mid-July until September.

Skidmore College was founded in 1903 by Lucy Skidmore Scribner. The school's original mission was to educate the women of the Saratoga area. She recruited the college's first president, Charles Henry Keyes, and under his direction the school grew. By 1964, Skidmore had outgrown it's downtown campus, and moved to land given to the school by trustee Erik Jonsson. The new campus, now up to 49 buildings, sits on 650 acres on the northern edge of Saratoga Springs. The school currently has 2200 students, both female and male.

Other Misc. Facts

The potato chip was created in Saratoga Springs in 1853. As rumor goes, Cornelius Vanderbilt, while eating lunch at Moon's Lake House, complained that his fried potatoes were not sliced thin enough for his taste. The cook at the restaurant, George Crum, was so furious that he sliced the potatoes paper-thin, fried and salted them, and sent them back out. Instead of ruining Vanderbilt’s meal, he enjoyed them immensely. Crum started his own restaurant, selling "Saratoga Chips" to tourists. As the fad spread, the "Saratoga" name was lost.

The Saratoga Performing Arts Center, or SPAC, is a large amphitheater in Saratoga National Historical Park. It is the summer home of the New York City Ballet and the Philadelphia Orchestra, as well as hosting other large musical and artistic events.

Saratoga Springs is also home to Yaddo, an artist's retreat on the eastern side of the city. Yaddo sits on about 40 acres of forests and gardens, some of which are open to the public during the day.


Saratoga Springs today is still a major tourist spot. Many people come to the area for it's historical significance, the horse races, or the mineral springs. The city has also grown as a suburb of Albany and the Tri-Cities, causing heavy rush hour traffic on Interstate 87.


Resources:
http://www.townofsaratoga.com
http://www.saratoga.com
http://www.wpi.edu
http://www.nyra.com
http://www.skidmore.edu
http://www.yaddo.org

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