Scenic and Historic Interpretive Hike Sunday,  May 20,  1 PM


(a joint program of the Brunswick Historical Society and the Rensselaer-Taconic Land Conservancy)

Many people wonder when and why Bald Mountain, located in the northwest corner of the Town of Brunswick, appears on maps with the strange name of French origin," Mount Rafinesque."  Was the mountain perchance named after the eccentric nineteenth century scientist, Constantine Rafinesque?  More specifically, what was the connection between this foreign-born naturalist and a Brunswick mountain?  And how does the naming of the mountain relate to an excursion in the year 1833, to a chance meeting upon an Erie Canal vessel in the 1820s, and to the history of natural science in the Capital District region?  This is the story we will tell when we hike the mountain for geology, botany, and wonderful scenic views.

Mt. Rafinesque has been a popular scenic attraction since it received its name in the 1830s. The summit has been preserved and is now owned by Hudson Valley Community College.   In celebration of Brunswick Hometown Heritage Days, in recognition of the 2007 Brunswick Bicentennial, join Brunswick Town Historian, Sharon Zankel, and Warren F. Broderick of the New York State Archives, as they lead a hike through woodlands to the open summit for scenic views and a glimpse of an unusual plant found growing there by a pioneer botanist nearly 200 years ago.  The hike will cover between 2 and 4 miles and will be moderately steep in places.  Copies of literature on the history of Mt. Rafinesque will be provided gratis to attendees.

Meet at Brunswick Town Hall, Town Office Road, in Center Brunswick to car pool to the hike location.  Participants should dress casually for inclement weather, wear hiking shoes or hiking boots, and bring necessary beverages.  For additional information contact Sharon Zankel at (518) 279-9714 or szankel@aol.com, Phyllis Harrison at 279-9775, Warren Broderick at (518) 235-4041, or e-mail RTLC@RTLC.org, or phone 238-2832. 

The mountain is prominently visible in this ca. 1850 William Guy Wall painting looking east from just below Cohoes Falls.

Constantine Rafinesque (1783-1840)

Turn of the century picnickers relax in a shady mountain grove.

Horses graze on the mountain's south slope just prior to the turn of the century.

Young Richard Hayner poses with government surveyors in the 1870s.

from Constantine Rafinesque's A Life of Travels and Researches in North America (1836)

"I ascended the Bald mt. 4 miles east of Lansingburgh, which is not on the maps altho' 1030 feet high; I surveyed it, and explored the plants and minerals of it.  As there are many mts. of that name, Mr. W. proposed to change it to Mt. Rafinesque.  It is an insulated mt. wild and wooded except on the summit.  It is primitive and transitive like the mts. Taconick in the neighborhood.  It is visible from afar, and is 10 or 12 miles in circuit.


from a lecture he delivered at the Waterford Lyceum,  August 7, 1833:

"On the top of the mountain, I received the finest prospect which has ever been given me in the State of New-York: - a range of fifty miles in circumference was open, presenting a diversity of country, and beauty of scenery, which gave me the most pleasing sensations. . ."  


    The illustrations used here are reproduced compliments of the Rensselaer-Taconic Land Conservancy; Brunswick Historical Society; and Warren F. Broderick.

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