The fictional aspect of the story relates how Col. Monro’s two daughters, Alice and Cora were traveling to the Lake George fort from Fort Edward and had the misfortune to be caught up in the terrible panic, confusion and massacre that followed. They were forced to flee for their lives down the Muhheakunnuk — the “River that flows two ways,” or the Hudson River — with a group which consisted of frontiersman Natty Bumppo, known as “Hawkeye,” Chingachgook and Uncas among others, such as the villainous Huron Indian guide, Magua. It is Chingachgook and his son, Uncas who are the only living members left of the once great Mohican Indian tribe.
The group, seeking safety, was led down the river gorge near the waterfall to the cave which is today located under the bridge and after much fighting and adventure there the group later heads back for Lake George where the girls are reunited with their father. In the story Cora Munro and Uncus are later murdered by the Hurons.
Back in the mid-1950s when I first came to Glens Falls, there was a long spiral staircase attached midway to the south side of the bridge which allowed courageous tourists to climb down to visit the celebrated cave. This was eventually done away with and in more recent years a platform with a picnic area has been constructed on the south Glens Falls side of the river with a clear view of the mouth of the cave.
James Fenimore Cooper was the 12th of 13 children of his mother, Elizabeth Fenimore Cooper. His father, William Cooper, a Quaker, founded a settlement in upstate New York near Lake Otsego in 1790 which he named Cooperstown. James Fenimore Cooper died there in 1851 and his name and legend lives on.
Readers are welcome to contact Adirondack Journal correspondent Jean Hadden at firstname.lastname@example.org or 623-2210.