Thursday, February 28, 2008

Mysteries of the Thruway: Another Travel Day

The last of our classes behind us, all that was left was to travel on to New York City, the airport and home in our different directions. In the meantime, on an especially cold night we pulled into the Econo Lodge in Farmington, New York.

As a rule, Econo Lodges do not have a great deal of personality, but the one on Farmington charmed me, not as much by what it is today, but by the ghosts of motels past. Now owned by a discount lodging chain, the lodge which overlooks the Thruway, ratains the vestiges of its independent, family owned past. I have to admit to having a certain unreasonable nostalgia for the era of motoring, when hotels were becoming motels in response to a new restless age of driving vacationers.

The section of the New York State Thruway on which the lodge rests had been open for less than a decade when William Treholm built the rustic resort out of cedar and cherry woods. Its location 200 feet above the surrounding country side both gave it a view and made it easy to be seen by travelers. Everything was state of the art. An article in 1961 about the new hotel boasted of helicopter service and a fallout shelter, neither of which are currently on the list of amenities.

Although its glory days have clearly passed, the individual cabins, the rustic conference room, and the fact taht we seemed to have the place all to ourselves, made it a relaxing place to stay. Other people might react differently, of course, but I have never been able to resist the questions posed by a place with an overlooked history.

Among the places that I have lived is Stephentown, New York (the only Stephentown on earth) between Albany, New York and Pittsfield, Massachusetts. I traveled I-90 from Buffalo to Albany many times. I don't recall seeing the road sign that says "Entering the Seneca Nation." It must be new. Whoever designed it seemed to have forgotten that 21st century travelers on the Thruway are in automobiles. The sign had a full paragraph of text that couldn't possibly be read at highway speeds, but I imagine it was an interesting story.

Another sign urged us to "honor Indian treaties," which I am happy to do, although I'm not sure how to do it as an individual. Maybe it told me on the verbose road sign.

When I see things like this at the side of the road that pique my curiosity, I make a note of them and then research them-- or at least Google them-- when I'm home. But don't you find having a question is much more interesting that having an answer most of the time?

In case you were interested in a little Seneca/Thruway context, click on the link for an article I found.