History abounds in National Forests

In the Finger Lakes National Forest, you can see a history of grazing, you can see old apple orchards, and at Caywood Point you can see the women’s rights movement.
Forest Service photo of Queen’s Castle now, at Caywood Point

Forest Service photo of Queen’s Castle now, at Caywood Point in the Finger Lakes National Forest has been managed by the Forest Service since 1996.

This week marks the 198th birthday of Elizabeth “Libby” Smith Miller a known women’s rights advocate and the affectionately titled “Queen” of Fossenvue camp. As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment, which recognized women’s right to vote, Forest Service personnel reflect on their duty to preserve land touched by trailblazers like Miller.

Forest Archives photo of the Queen’s Castle at Fossenvue Camp

Forest Archives photo of the Queen’s Castle at Fossenvue Camp, now Caywood Point in the Finger Lakes National Forest. The “castle” was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.

The Forest Service is best known for preserving natural resources and providing recreation opportunities. Lesser known is the agency’s dedication to preserving history and culture. “Mile markers like the 19th amendment centennial reminds me that our job as an agency isn’t simply about preserving trees and rivers and mountains,” said Jodie Vanselow, Finger Lakes National Forest District Ranger, “It’s about preserving the history of the land whenever possible.”

According to Vanselow, the stories you uncover in the Forests strengthen your tie to a special place and to a moment in time. “When I read about the anniversary of the 19th amendment, I immediately think of the Queen’s Castle at Caywood Point,” said Vanselow, “I’m sure some visitors do too.”

Forest Archives photo of Fossenvue Camp visitors

Forest Archives photo of Fossenvue Camp visitors who would spend a month every summer on the lake recreating and talking politics.

The Queen’s Castle is the only remaining building erected as part of Fossenvue camp in 1899. The “castle” is a small, wood cabin on Seneca Lake. A gift to Libby Smith Miller for her 77th birthday by her daughter, Anne, just a few short years after Fossenvue came to be, the “castle” is the only structure that remains of the camp. Fossenvue was founded by Smith Miller, her daughter, and five friends the summer of 1875 as a place for women to gather and recreate in a way women were not normally permitted at the time. Women could swim, play tennis, practice archery, and of course, talk politics.

For over 20 years, Fossenvue was a summer getaway for Smith Miller and occasionally, infamous visitors such as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Alice Stone Blackwell. When the Forest Service acquired the property in 1996, it became the agency’s sole responsibility to protect the castle. To keep it safe from vandalism, theft, fire, and other threats. In 1999, the Queen’s Castle was added to the National Register of Historic places. Visitors can view the castle on site but are not permitted to enter.





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