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Interpreting the Evidence

Upper Flume in Ausable Chasm, before 1911

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    Turn of the Century and WWI (1890 - 1930)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Lower Elementary
    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:


  • Primary Source Types:


  • Regions:

    North Country
    New York State

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Upper Flume in Ausable Chasm, before 1911 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
The Upper Flume portion of Ausable Chasm in New York's Adirondack Mountains, pre-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.
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?