Education

Rainbow Falls at Ausable Chasm, before 1911


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 impact culture and economic systems?
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and explain how this water source influenced New York's culture and economy.
[click to enlarge]
AuSable Chasm. Rainbow Falls, New York State Archives, NYSA_A3045_D47_AA6
Document Description
Rainbow Falls at Ausable Chasm in New York's Adirondack Mountains, pre-1911.
Questions
  1. Why would Ausable Chasm be called the "Little Grand Canyon of the East"?
  2. Explain why this river would be a good source for mill power.
  3. How was this river used for the logging industry during the 1800s and early 1900s?
Historical Challenge
When was Ausable Chasm opened to the public? What is significant about Ausable Chasm as a natural attraction? This photograph was originally published by Glens Falls photographer Seneca Ray Stoddard. Research Stoddard and his work.
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?
Resources
  1. Donnelly, Andrew. Waterfalls. Chanhassen, MN: Child's World, 1999. ISBN: 1567664873.

    Fowler, Allan. The Wonder of a Waterfall. New York: Children's Press, 1999. ISBN: 0516208136.

    Freeman, Rich. 200 Waterfalls in Central and Western New York: A Finders' Guide. Fishers, NY: Footprint Press, 2002. ISBN: 1930480016

    http://www.apa.state.ny.us/Documents/Flyers/auSableRiverGuide.pdf

    http://www.angelfire.com/ny4/waterfalls/NewYork.html

    http://www.ausablechasm.com

    http://timesunion.com/promo/NortheastTraveler/06summer/caves.html

    http://www.nynaturalwonders.com
  2. Fowler, Allan. The Wonder of a Waterfall. New York: Children's Press, 1999. ISBN: 0516208136.
  3. Freeman, Rich. 200 Waterfalls in Central and Western New York: A Finders' Guide. Fishers, NY: Footprint Press, 2002. ISBN: 1930480016
  4. http://www.apa.state.ny.us/Documents/Flyers/auSableRiverGuide.pdf
  5. http://www.angelfire.com/ny4/waterfalls/NewYork.html
  6. http://www.ausablechasm.com
  7. http://timesunion.com/promo/NortheastTraveler/06summer/caves.html
  8. http://www.nynaturalwonders.com