More to Clinton, NY, than initial impressions suggest
Picturesque and peaceful, Clinton reflects its New England heritage, with its attractive village green and tree-lined streets.
Clinton is in up-state New York, about 5 miles from Utica. The population is around 2,000, but there are other villages adjoining it, so actually the population is a bit more than that.
The reason we were in Clinton in October last year (2015) was to visit new family after a family wedding in the Berkshires in neighboring Massachusetts. I was only in Clinton for 2 days, just enough to begin to get a feel for the area. We enjoyed it and realize it would be very easy to return here and explore more.
We ate at home with the family, and at a couple of restaurants in other nearby villages, but we did visit two really interesting local places: The Labyrinth, and Clinton Cider Mill.
The Labyrinth is on The Path at Sunset Hill, in an area called The Clearing. It’s a simple construction of grass and gravel, based on a Celtic design, and is largely the work of George and Pinny Kuckel, wonderful local citizens. They felt that the area could benefit from a feature like this and put a lot of effort into making it happen. We drove there with them one morning, and found the labyrinth in a very pretty setting, in a clearing on a hill overlooking woods and a distant valley with more hills beyond. At the time, the fall colors were not totally over, so it was really lovely. We walked the whole labyrinth and it is indeed very peaceful and meditative.
We’ve seen the famous labyrinth at Chartres in France, and a couple of others in France, plus our town in Illinois recently developed one too, close to a big hospital. I’ve been meaning to learn more about the power of these labyrinths, so this visit has inspired me to do so.
The Clinton Cider Mill is open every year, daily from early September through Thanksgiving weekend, so we were lucky to be there when it was open. As we walked through the front door, we were immediately enveloped in a wonderful fruity, apple-y aroma. The mill has a long history; it opened in 1903 with a screw press powered by a steam engine. In 1927, a new hydraulic press was installed. Since then, although the mill changed hands in 1998 (now owned by the Fehlner family), the cider-making process has stayed the same, with the addition of screening and refrigeration.
Sometimes when the press is running you can watch them press the apples making the juice (cider). But, the mill shop offers other goodies too: fresh apples, cider donuts, fruit pies, cookies, apple butter, bread mixes, salsas, maple syrup for example.
Some fun cider facts:
—There are 100-125 apples in a bushel (to be honest I still can’t conceptualize what a bushel is!).
—One bushel makes 4 gallons of cider.
—The mill makes their cider with a blend of fresh local NY apples, such as Empire, Macoun, Ida Red, Cortland, Northern Spry and others.
—Their cider has no additives at all.
Lots of details on their good web page;
Where to stay: The Artful Lodger B&B, right by the Village Green, a pretty place in the center of the village, with a fountain and various places to eat and drink and relax nearby.
It’s a very pleasant B&B, run by Tim and Susan Sweetland, offering a full breakfast, parking and free wifi.
Brief History of Clinton:
A small town that boasts a pretty big history. Clinton was settled in 1787 by pioneers from Connecticut led by Capt. Moses Foote, a veteran of the Revolutionary War. It was named in honor of George Clinton, the first governor of New York State. In1843, by then the hub of the growing Town of Kirkland, it was incorporated as a village.
Clinton is the home of Hamilton College, third oldest in the State. Founded in 1793 as Hamilton-Oneida Academy by the Rev. Samuel Kirkland, a missionary to the Oneida Indians, it was chartered as a college by the Board of Regents in 1812.
Hematite ore was discovered early in the area, and until the late 19th
century (when deposits of iron ore were developed in the Lake Superior region) Clinton was the center of a thriving mining and manufacturing industry.
For almost a century the hematite ore was mined and converted by local blast furnaces into ingots, which were widely used in the production of stoves, scales, and other cast iron products of the day. The last mine closed in 1963, its production at the time used mainly in manufacturing red paint pigment.
Clinton is also the original home of the nationally known Bristol-Myers Company, which got its start in the second floor rooms of a West Park Row building on the village green in 1887. The Town also once boasted mineral spring activity as well as several textile mills, the largest being Clark Mills.