“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Cohoes in Albany County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Sightseeing / Cataract House, Cohoes Falls, N.Y.

Cataract House, Cohoes Falls, N.Y. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Howard C. Ohlhous, September 16, 2008
1. Cataract House, Cohoes Falls, N.Y.

Dutch visitors left the first written accounts of the Great Falls of the Mohawk River at Cohoes during the 1640s. Generations of sightseers, poets, and artists followed to look at the falls, hear their roar, and feel the spray.

The Cataract House opened above Cohoes Falls in 1860. Rebuilt and enlarged after a fire, it was operated by William Gwynn from 1867 until 1912. It burned to the ground soon after that.

Cataract House, Cohoes Falls. N. Y.
The Attractions.

Parties visiting this section of the Country should make it a special object to visit these "FALLS," it being one of the grandest sights for miles around. The Cataract House is beautifully situated upon a bluff overlooking the Falls, and from its Observatory the Country can be seen for miles around. It is one of the most delightful places we know of, the cool breeze from the Falls always mitigating the intensity of the heat.
The Falls are three miles from Troy, eight from Albany, and but a short distance from Shaker Village.
No expense has been spared to make the
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Cataract "Excelsior," in addition to the beautiful scenery surrounding the same. The artificial Fall 123 feet, the Falls of the "Mighty Mohawk" 86 feet. The Walk in the Dell, on the bed of the river, &c. &c. combine to make this a very attractive resort.
Pleasure Gondolas are on the Pond near the Cataract House; the Scenery from the many windows in the large Billiard room is surprisingly beautiful, and a spacious Ball Room for the accommodation of Sleighing Parties is attached to the House.

Dinners and Suppers served in the most recherché style, and the Stabling Department is complete.
A ride or walk through the Town of Cohoes, famous by its unexcelled water power and princely factories, business streets and churches, thronged, with well-to-do people, cannot fail to favorably impress a stranger - adding City charms to the Cataract House, situated on the summit of Mohawk Street - a secluded spot in Nature's Garden

WM. H. Gwynn, Proprietor.
Erected 2008 by US Department of the Interior.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Natural ResourcesNotable Places. A significant historical year for this entry is 1860.
Location. 42° 47.151′ N, 73° 42.58′ W. Marker is in Cohoes, New York, in Albany County. Marker can be reached from North Mohawk
Marker Detail - Cataract House image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Howard C. Ohlhous, September 16, 2008
2. Marker Detail - Cataract House
Lithograph Broadside, late 19th century, lithograph with hand-coloring on paper depicting the Cataract house to the left on a bluff overlooking the falls of the Mohawk River over text describing the attractions of the area.
Street, on the right when traveling north. The Cataract House Cohoes Falls, N. Y. marker is at the over look of the newly created Falls Overlook Park. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Cohoes NY 12047, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A Park Named Craner * Cohoes Recalls a Hero (about 800 feet away, measured in a direct line); Misty 17 (about 800 feet away); Cohoes Mastodon (approx. ¼ mile away); The Cohoes Mastodont (approx. half a mile away); The Erie Canal (approx. half a mile away); Cohoes - Waterford Bridge (approx. 0.8 miles away); White Homestead (approx. 0.8 miles away); First Power Mill for the Manufacture of Knit Fabrics (approx. 0.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Cohoes.
More about this marker. The marker is posted in the recently created four-acre Falls View Park which is adjacent to the Brookfield Renewable Power’s 38-megawatt School Street hydroelectric generating facility. The park, which was first unveiled on August 21, 2008, offers a view of the scenic Cohoes Falls never before open to the public. Cohoes Falls is the the second largest falls in New York State after Niagara Falls. The interpretive panels found in Falls View Park’s canal-side plaza were created by the National Park Service. Falls View Park was developed as part of Brookfield Renewable Power’s 40-year operating license for the School Street hydropower plant granted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in February 2007.
Regarding Sightseeing / Cataract House, Cohoes Falls, N.Y.. The first Cataract House was built in 1860. It was partly destroyed by a fire in 1867 and was rebuilt later that year. Col William H. Gwynn was hired as manager. The house had a central fireplace large enough to roast a whole ox. Breakfast consisted of steak, fish, eggs, cakes, coffee, and tea. The evening meal was a variation on breakfast, plus cold meat. Certain alcoholic beverages were free; other cost extra. The rates were only $2.00 per day.
Also see . . .  Overlook Park & Falls View Park in the City of Cohoes
Sightseeing / Cataract House Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Howard C. Ohlhous, September 16, 2008
3. Sightseeing / Cataract House Marker
The marker is posted at the falls overlook, with the falls in the background.
. (Submitted on September 21, 2008, by Howard C. Ohlhous of Duanesburg, New York.)
Additional commentary.
1. Cataract House Cohoes Falls
Hi ,
I am interested in the history of the Cataract house as an ancester of mine , Col. William Henry Gwynn or with an 'e' at the end as it was spelled both ways. was the proprieter from 1879 through 1912.
William Henry Gwynn was born in Wocester England in 1849 so would be 17 when acquiring such a job. This in itself is not odd considdering the era but where and how could he have acquired the title Col. from.
William Henry Gwynn was mentioned throughout Cohoes Falls history as being a cigar manufacturer..gwynn,s golden gems... and being very wealthy.
Is there any further history on this man that I can have. Was he married. To whom?
When did he die.
Anything would suffice.
Thanks in advance,

Editor's Note: Please see our Forum, Reply No. 233 posted Saturday, October 3, 2009, at 2:38 AM ET by Correspondent Carol of Burlington
    — Submitted September 24, 2009, by Roy Gwynn of Sarnia, Ontario.

Additional keywords. Spindle
Falls View Park image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Howard C. Ohlhous, September 16, 2008
4. Falls View Park
The Sightseeing/Cataract House marker is to the right of the visitor shielding her eyes from the glare of the late afternoon sun. This area of the newly opened Falls View Park includes an 80-person amphitheater.
City Waterfall
Cohoes Falls image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Howard C. Ohlhous, April 26, 2006
5. Cohoes Falls
Before the opening of the new Falls View Park the primary view of the falls was from the Cohoes Falls Overlook park at the end of School Street. This is the view of the Cohoes Falls from that location in the spring time when an ample supply of water is going over the falls.
Falls View Park Entrance image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Howard C. Ohlhous, September 16, 2008
6. Falls View Park Entrance
This is the entrance to the new Falls View Park, as seen from across North Mohawk Street.
Cohoes and Falls View Park image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Howard C. Ohlhous, September 16, 2008
7. Cohoes and Falls View Park
This imagine is a detail from an 1966 aerial view photo of Cohoes posted on another interpretive sign at the new Falls View Park. The park includes a foot bridge across the power canal to the overlook, indicated by the red lines on the photo. The red circle indicates the location of the amphitheater and the Sightseeing/Cataract House marker. In this photo the Cohoes Falls are almost entirely dried up because so much of the Mohawk River water has been diverted away to the Waterford Flight of the Erie Canal, and the School Street Hydro power plant.
Credits. This page was last revised on April 13, 2021. It was originally submitted on September 20, 2008, by Howard C. Ohlhous of Duanesburg, New York. This page has been viewed 4,838 times since then and 131 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on September 20, 2008, by Howard C. Ohlhous of Duanesburg, New York. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.

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Sep. 28, 2023