If you are a history buff or a Civil War buff or both, I think you will find a stop at Grant Cottage a real joy. My family and I were on our way to the Adirondacks and decided to jump off the Northway at exit 16 and make the 5 minute drive to Grant Cottage. The cottage is so named because it is where the General, Civil War Hero and two term president spent the last six weeks of his life in the summer of 1885.
Grant's son (Ulysses Jr.) had entered into investment banking with a partner by the name of Ward. Grant invested the family's entire remaining assets in the venture. Ward swindled Grant and other investors and fled. Grant and his family were left destitute. At about the same time, Grant learned that he was suffering from inoperable throat cancer. Grant had begun work on his memoirs with none other than Mark Twain offering to publish them for him. But Grant was in a race with death, hoping to complete his memoirs and restore his family to financial stability before dying.
At the urging of Grant's doctor, a mutual friend offered his cottage on Mt MacGregor in Wilton, NY in the foothills of the Adirondacks. Grant completed his memoirs just three days before his death at the cottage on July 23, 1885. His memoirs restored his family's fortune and are considered today to be a military classic.
My wife and I (both history buffs) loved standing on the very spot on the porch where Grant sat and wrote for several weeks that summer. I was more impressed than ever to learn that in the last few weeks Grant, in constant agony from the cancer, refused the Brandy injections and opium swabs of his mouth and throat because they made him too delirious to write.
I have only scratched the surface of what you will learn and see on this excellent little tour. The first floor of the cottage is nearly EXACTLY as it was when the Grant's were there. The cottage is only open weekends from Labor Day Weekend until Columbus Day Weekend. If you are up for the fall foliage or whatever, don't miss this stop, it is a gem! Admission is $5 for adults, teens are $4 kids 6 and under are free.
Harv - as far as I know, Grant had no direct tie. He was staying in a cottage at Sea Girt (near Belmar on Jersey Coast) in late summer, early fall of 1884 when the cancer struck. I believe his family physician was in Europe at the time and in those days it was considered by some to be "socially improper" to see another physician than your own. Grant waited a couple of months I believe for his doctor (who I think had his offices in Manhattan) to return from Europe before doing anything. His doctor made the diagnosis of inoperable cancer of the throat.
Between the industrial 'smog' that was already in the North Jersey and Manhattan area and the humid summer approaching, Grant's physician mentioned to a friend that it would be good to get Grant into a cooler, dryer mountain climate for the summer. The friend offered his cottage on Mt MacGregor and the Grant's accepted. There was a very large hotel owned by the same man just a stones throw from the cottage and it was one of the "hot spots" of the time with it's own railroad right to the hotel. Grant and his family arrived via that railroad I think in early June 1885. There is now a prison where the hotel stood, and when you approach the final stretch of road up to the cottage you have to stop at a guard gate where they take down your license plate number.