It is doubtful that anyone in 1757 actually hid in the cave at Glens Falls which later became an oft photographed scene for 19th century postcards.
Edward Stanley, who later became prime minister of England, visited the cave in 1824 with James Fenimore Cooper and others, and suggested it would be a great setting for a romance.
That inspired Cooper to write “Last of the Mohicans,” the classic novel set in the French and Indian War.
Historians say much of the novel was a figment of Cooper’s imagination, including main characters Miss Alice and Miss Cora, but the story has taken on a life of its own, including in multiple movie versions over the years.
The Cooper’s Cave viewing area, underneath the bridge between Glens Falls and South Glens Falls, is a great place to connect with local literary history and enjoy a scenic vista.
It is a popular stop for motor coach tours and Cooper enthusiasts.
Taisuke Suziki, a professor at Asahi University who had studied and taught about Cooper for 25 years, came all the way from western Japan to see the site in 2005.
The viewing area is open to the public free of charge during daylight hours from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Turn right onto the access road just after crossing the bridge into South Glens Falls, or left just before the bridge, if you are coming from South Glens Falls.
There is an ample parking area.
After visiting the viewing area, stop by The Queensbury Hotel in downtown Glens Falls to view a 13.5-foot by 10-foot mural of a scene of the cave, as portrayed in the novel.
The mural is above the fireplace in the lobby.
Internationally-known artist Griffith Bailey Cole painted the mural, based on a historic Glens Falls Insurance Co. calendar illustration, for the hotel’s opening in 1926.
A century ago, Glens Falls newspaper editors called for increased publicity of Cooper’s Cave.
“This opening in the rocky little island is known the world over as ‘Cooper’s Cave,’” The Post-Star editorialized on Aug. 7, 1919. “Tourists passing through Glens Falls have no means of knowing where this historic spot is located, except by diligent inquiry.”
The editorial suggested erecting a sign on the bridge.
“This sign would cost little and accomplish much,” the editorial said. “Perhaps the Chamber of Commerce, which is fast proving itself a real, live organization of great value to the city, will accept this suggestion.”
The editors of 1919 would be glad to know about the viewing area that is available today.
Maury Thompson was a reporter for The Post-Star for 21 years before he retired in 2017. He now is a freelance writer and documentary film producer specializing in regional history. Thompson is collaborating with Snarky Aardvark Films to produce a documentary about Charles Evans Hughes and the Adirondacks, which is expected to release in 2020. See the trailer here.