The Town of Moriah sits directly on the Adirondack Coast. The township is comprised of several hamlet areas: Moriah Center, Moriah Corners, Witherbee, Mineville, and the former Village of Port Henry. It has more publicly accessible waterfront along Lake Champlain than any other community in the region. There are numerous reasons why Moriah holds a special place in the hearts of its residents and charms visitors as well; too many to list really. Let’s look at a few of its unique features and special characteristics that appeal to so many and which give this community a huge personality. Some you may even find a bit quirky, but that’s part of the appeal.
The entire town sits on a series of hills and mountains that overlook Lake Champlain. In particular, the village area of Port Henry has an incredible view. In fact, it’s difficult to not have a scenic view from any point within this village. I’ve heard Port Henry referred to as the “San Francisco of the Adirondacks” principally because it sits on a hill and overlooks a bridge (the Lake Champlain Bridge) and a bay (Bulwagga Bay). Across the water to the east, lies Vermont and the handsome Green Mountains that frame the eastern side of this valley.
Home of Champ
The legendary Lake Champlain monster actually resides here. Sure, he/she may go off on excursions around the lake, but Port Henry is “home.” Numerous sightings have occurred from Moriah’s shores and waters.
The town has a billboard listing these sightings. Champ is honored symbolically around the town and at an annual festival, Champ Day, held during the summer.
A few of the unique features of Moriah are related to its iron mining history, which took place over a century and a half and had this town booming at one point. It was one of the wealthiest communities in New York in the late 19th century.
Much of the rather high style architecture from that period is still found around Port Henry. You can get all the historic mining details as well as architectural walking tour information at the Iron Center Museum, but there are a few obvious special features of that mining past that you can still view today.
Visible from the lake, and various other points throughout the town and surrounding area is a “bald mountain”. It stands out as a contrast among its forested companions and does raise curiosity. It’s actually a pile of tailings; a byproduct of the iron mining. Though the mines have been closed now for close to 50 years, this unusual peak stands out and continues to remind everyone what once was.
We seldom think what lies beneath our feet as we meander around the earth’s surface. In Moriah, that would be miles of abandoned mine shafts; a honeycomb-like network of underground tunnels and cavities.
One such shaft opens to the surface at a location in the Mineville-Witherbee area and gifts passersby a special air conditioned treat on the hot humid days of summer. On those extremely hot and humid 90+ degree days you can literally see the cold air wafting from the Roe Mine Shaft. Locals and “those in the know” include this route on their summer drives to cool off.
Not to be missed:
There are a few additional select features you need to see or experience to further your appreciation of this unique community. Here are a few that I wouldn’t want you to miss or overlook:
Along Routes 9N and 22, the Main Street of Port Henry, a friendly boater will greet you with a hearty wave. She and her vessel are raised high on top of a pole so you will be sure not to miss them. Barnacle Betty is the icon of Van Slooten Harbour Marina, one of two full service marinas along Port Henry’s shoreline. Betty is there to say hello 24/7. If she takes any time off, it’s usually around the holidays, when she can get a Santa-helper to fill in.
Scattered throughout the town is a collection (eighteen pieces, to be exact) of “public art;” colorful murals to cheer and enchant you. Get a guide to their locations here.
A fall visit will have you meeting the community’s “Funky Folk” along Port Henry’s main streets, Main and Broad. This collection of creatively attired “folk” bring in the costume season of fall and Halloween. They only are around for a few weeks of the year. I hope you get to see them.
The Adirondack Coast is known for their Michigan hot dogs; therefore those are not peculiar to the Town of Moriah, but they certainly can be found at a variety of local eateries. If you are not familiar with them, a Michigan is a steamed or boiled hot dog on a steamed roll with a unique, somewhat sweet-tangy sauce; often mustard and diced onions are added. Many claim to get hooked after tasting their first one. Every establishment offering Michigans can have their own special variation of sauce, but one such take-out establishment has been a local favorite for decades: Gene’s on Main Street in Port Henry. Be sure to try one.
Adjacent to the New York State boat launch and Port Henry Marina on Dock Lane at the northern end of the village is a fantastic waterfront park! From this park you will have amazing views of the lake, the Lake Champlain Bridge, and Vermont. Well spaced benches and picnic tables invite you to linger peacefully with privacy.
A key feature of Powerhouse Park is the Port Henry Pier. This popular fishing site extends over 500 feet easterly into the lake; its end and southerly side provides great lake access for getting a line into the water.
A good share of the northern side of the pier has a sandy beach shoreline which changes character regularly with lake levels. That northerly side is a great place for beach combing and enjoying a walk along the shoreline.
The park also encompasses a portion of the tree-lined Mill Brook and features a pedestrian bridge to cross the brook. Again, depending upon water levels and recent weather, this portion of the park has a dynamic personality. It can vary with every visit.
I hope you get to know Moriah. It’s welcoming and friendly residents will make you feel at home. I’d love to hear what you find special about this great Adirondack Coastal town.