NEW YORK—In July, the leadership team for the Green Mountain and Finger Lakes National Forests incorporated a project element to their bi-monthly meeting—improving access to a historic interpretive site on the Finger Lakes National Forest.
The leadership team spent just over a day reframing and re-decking a boat dock on Caywood Point in order to provide water access to forest visitors. Prior to the dock replacement, the only safe and reliable access was on foot, via a steep, winding Forest Service trail.
Popular for its stunning views, Caywood Point is home to the historic “Queen’s Castle.” The Queen’s Castle was built in 1899, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999. The building, and its environs, are connected to women’s suffrage. The building is very important to the local area, as the Finger Lakes region of New York is rich in history of the women’s rights movement, abolitionism and social reform.
The Queen’s Castle was a 77th birthday present to Elizabeth Smith Miller. It was built on the site of lakeside summer campground Fossenvue, founded in 1875 by Smith Miller, her daughter and five friends. Smith Miller was the daughter of Gerit Smith and Ann Carol Fitzhugh, both of whom were active in the Underground Railroad, and their activism led Smith Miller to her own strong convictions. Fossenvue served as a site for intellectual discussion for one month out of each summer. Prominent visitors included Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Alice Stone Blackwell.
The Queen’s Castle served as the center of camp life for just two years before its closure in 1901. For most of the 20th century, the site functioned as a Boy Scout camp. It was bought by the Forest Service in 1996 and added to Finger Lakes National Forest.
Rebuilding the boat dock gave leadership a unique opportunity for team-building and growth. By restoring the dock, the leadership team was able to ensure greater access to this historic site that provides a window into the past.