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Roadside America

All-American Diner Tour: Julie’s Diner in North Syracuse, New York

Located off Brewerton Road (US Highway 11) at the terminus of Airport Boulevard just outside the Syracuse Hancock International Airport in North Syracuse, New York, Julie’s is a modern diner with a fresh, contemporary style. Their motto is “We dish it out, you gotta take it!” (Not sure what that’s supposed to mean…)

Julie’s was crowded when a friend and I visited. We sat at the small counter (5 to 6 seats at most) and both had their signature waffles. I also got a side of raisin toast. I don’t know if blueberries were just out of season, but the blueberry topping they used seemed old and the berries were tiny. The waffle was good though. The diner was clean and the wait staff was friendly, despite the rush.

Julie’s is only open until 2:30 p.m., so breakfast is its primary focus. Without a doubt, people come here for the waffles. They are served Belgian style with several different fruit toppings, or just powdered sugar.

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Roadside America

All-American Diner Tour: Knotty Pine Diner in Wampsville, New York

Located along Genesee Street (Route 5) just west of Oneida, New York, the Knotty Pine is a rustic, country-style diner. It sits in the heart of a historic area with lots to see and do, including the Oneida Community Mansion House, Turning Stone Casino, and Boxing Hall of Fame.

I liked the atmosphere and decor at the Knotty Pine. There is counter seating, booths, and plenty of table space for larger groups. I ordered the Knotty Pine Breakfast Combo, which as you can see from the above photo, is enough for one person but you won’t have any leftovers. I also had a Diet Coke (of course), and my total came to $11.10. My eggs were well done, not runny, just the way I like them. On my visit they were offering a special omelet, spicy ham and pepperoni with hash browns.

TVs were displaying the local news at a reasonable volume.

Breakfast is served at the Knotty Pine until 11:30 a.m. They have two custom breakfast items: the Knotty Pine Big Breakfast, featuring two eggs served on home fries with ham, peppers, onions, and Texas toast for $7.99, and the Knotty Pine Breakfast Combo, featuring two eggs, two pieces of toast, two slices of bacon or sausage links, and two pancakes for $7.99. Both standard diner specials.

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Roadside America

All-American Diner Tour: Magic’s Diner in Felts Mills, New York

Located along State Route 3 between Felts Mills and Great Bend, New York, Magic’s Diner (formerly Magic’s Golden Unicorn) is a country-style diner known for its “Mountain Challenge” and is a favorite of soldiers from nearby Fort Drum.

According to their Facebook page, Magic’s Golden Unicorn opened in November 2014. It rebranded as Magic’s Diner in May 2016, but retained the same menu and staff. The “Mountain Challenge” consists of two eggs, two pieces of bacon, two sausages, toast, home fries, and two 32 oz buttermilk pancakes (4 lbs!) for $13.95. As of writing this, only eight people have successfully eaten the entire meal.

In terms of food quality, my several visits to this diner have been a mixed bag. On one visit, I ordered a ham and cheese omelet and it was runny and undercooked, but the potatoes were well done. On another, I ordered one extra-large “challenge” pancake and a side of bacon, which was more than I could handle. The pancake was thick and tasted great. A friend told me he was inspired by my effort and also hoped to eat a big pancake in the future. The service has always been good. Their waitresses are friendly and helpful.

On Sundays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. they offer a breakfast buffet and hold a “cruise in” for classic cars, imports, and motorcycles on Tuesday nights from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the summer.

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Mysterious America

Happy Valley Ghost Town, Oswego County, New York

The remains of the Hamlet of Happy Valley lay deep within the 8,898 acres of Happy Valley Wildlife Management Area in Oswego County, New York. In the 1800s, this area was home to a community called Happy Valley. During the Great Depression, the government bought up foreclosed farms to form the basis of this game reserve. After decades of tree planting and creating ponds and marshes for wildlife, it hardly resembles the former farmland.

The area is covered in marshy terrain and pine forest, with northern hardwoods such as sugar maple, beech, yellow birch, and softwoods such as hemlock, white pine, and spruce. In summer, biting flies and mosquitoes swarm the lowlands. Several unimproved, dirt roads travel through the area. At times, the road is smooth, at other times there are deep ruts, rocks, and steep hills. Exercise caution.

According to Scott Schild, the people who lived here were mainly hops farmers. A few wells, foundations, and stone walls remain, including a cemetery and the burnt remnants of a school house.

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Historic America Video

Artillery Demonstration at Fort Ontario, New York

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Historic America

Civil War Ballads: The Fighting 69th

This song is dedicated to the Union Irish Brigade, which consisted of the 63rd New York Infantry, 69th New York Infantry, 28th Massachusetts Infantry, 116th Pennsylvania Infantry, and 88th New York Infantry regiments. It was first commanded by Colonel Michael Corcoran, then Brigadier General Thomas Francis Meagher, and finally Colonel Patrick Kelly. “The Fighting 69th” was recorded by the Dropkick Murphys for their album The Gang’s All Here (1999) and The Wolfe Tones for Across The Broad Atlantic (1993).

Regimental flag of the 69th NY Infantry

Come all you gallant heroes,
And along with me combined
I’ll sing a song, it won’t take long,
Of the Fighting Sixty Ninth
They’re a band of men brave, stout and bold,
From Ireland they came
And they have a leader to the fold,
And Cocoran was his name

It was in the month of April,
When the boys they sailed away
And they made a sight so glorious,
As they marched along Broadway
They marched right down Broadway, me boys,
Until they reached the shore
And from there they went to Washington,
And straight unto the war

So we gave them a hearty cheer, me boys,
It was greeted with a smile
Singing here’s to the boys who feared no noise,
We’re the Fighting Sixty Ninth

Categories
Historic America

Second Battle of Sackets Harbor

At the outbreak of the War of 1812, the United States had only one warship in Lake Ontario, so it had to repurpose civilian vessels for military use. Sackets Harbor, New York became a principal port and shipbuilding yard for the upper St. Lawrence River Valley and Lake Ontario. The U.S. built several forts to protect the harbor, including forts Tompkins, Pike, Volunteer, Kentucky, Virginia, and Chauncey. In the First Battle of Sackets Harbor, July 19, 1812, American cannons on shore chased away five British ships pursuing a merchant vessel, severely damaging the British flagship Royal George.

In late May 1813, the American fleet was preoccupied at Fort George, near the mouth of the Niagara River. The British took advantage of its absence and attempted to seize and destroy the shipyard and supplies at Sackets Harbor. Captain James Lucas Yeo took six ships (with a total of 700 crew and 98 cannon) and approximately 870 men, consisting of a grenadier company from the 100th Regiment, two companies of the 8th Regiment of Foot, four companies of the 104th Regiment, one company of the Glengarry Light Infantry, two companies of the Canadian Voltigeurs, and a detachment of Royal Artillery with two 6-pounder guns, and sailed south. Approximately 37-40 American Indian warriors accompanied them.

On May 28, the British intercepted 12 small boats carrying reinforcements from the 9th and 21st U.S. Regiments from Oswego to Sackets Harbor in Henderson Bay. They landed at a rocky outcropping called Stoney Point and fled into the wilderness, only to be overtaken by hostile American Indians. The 9th and 21st were virtually destroyed, losing 35 men. The remaining 115 surrendered. Only seven men escaped and made it back to Sackets Harbor.

By that time, Lieutenant Colonel Electus Backus of the 1st Regiment of Light Dragoons assembled 400 regulars, 250 Albany Volunteers, and 550 local militia, led by Brigadier General Jacob Brown, to oppose the British invasion.

Before dawn on May 29, the British force landed at Horse Island, several miles west of Sackets Harbor, and crossed the narrow straight to the mainland. They split into two wings. One advanced east parallel to the shore toward the navy yard and the other moved southeast through a wooded area, protecting the right flank. American militia opposed the landing, but fell back to pre-planned defensive lines as the British advanced.