Our Visit to Cooperstown

Posted By BrokenClaw on July 1, 1998

After checking into a nearby motel, we arrived in Cooperstown in early afternoon. We parked the car on the outskirts of town at one of the trolley lots. A few minutes later the Deerslayer trolley pulled up and took us downtown. Cooperstown is a small mountain village with one traffic light, but it has a lot of history.

Located at the southern tip of Lake Otsego, where the lake’s outlet forms the headwaters of the Susquehanna River, it was founded by the father of novelist James Fenimore Cooper. Today it is most famous for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, along with Doubleday Field, dedicated to the traditional inventor of baseball, Abner Doubleday. The Main Street is lined with baseball souvenir and collector shops, as well as other gift and art shops. Before we even got started, we knew that we would need to spend another day exploring all the town has to offer.

Nevertheless, our first stop was the Hall of Fame, and we easily spent three hours exploring the many exhibits. Trailwalker was especially interested in the Brooks and Frank Robinson memorabilia. Broken Claw checked out all the Mike Schmidt exhibits. After a stop in the souvenir shop, we strolled along Main Street and down to the lake front, browsing in many of the shops. We walked over to Doubleday Field, which annually hosts the Hall of Fame exhibition game between two Major League teams and had been recently featured in the movie, A League of Their Own.

The field was deserted on this day, but the grandstands are always open. As evening approached we took the trolley back to the car. We drove out of town to find a place to eat dinner. We remembered passing a restaurant on the way, so we decided to try it. It was Brooks’ House of Bar-B-Q. The food was delicious, the portions were overwhelming, and we highly recommend it. To this day, whenever we see a business named House of…, we think of House of Bar-B-Q.

More of Cooperstown

Statue of James Fenimore CooperThe next morning we drove through town and parked the car at another trolley lot by the Fenimore House, which is where we planned to start the day’s activities. The Fenimore House is an art museum located in a large mansion overlooking the lake. The main museum houses various works of art related to the region, and to the Cooper family. But the most impressive area was a relatively new exhibit of Native American artifacts from the Thaw Collection. Again, we spent nearly three hours exploring, reading, and observing. A rain storm passed while we were inside, but it did nothing to dampen our spirits. The sun came out as we boarded the trolley for the ride downtown. We walked down to the lake, right where the waters spill into the channel that is now named the Susquehanna River. It is almost comical to see this small creek, which hundreds of miles later becomes the same mighty waterway that we see from our living room window back home. Broken Claw skipped a stone all the way across the river. Back at Doubleday Field, we watched the last few innings of a youth baseball game.

Afterward we stopped at the batting cages. Broken Claw was amazed at how slow his hardest throw really was (of course, it had been twenty years since he played organized baseball). By now we were both getting hungry, so we looked for a restaurant. We decided to eat at Black Bart’s. Named for the famous gentleman stagecoach robber of the Old West who supposedly hailed from this region, the restaurant has a small outdoor patio and a menu that features spicy food. Neither of us could finish our ample portions.

Friday morning we packed up the car one more time and headed south. We stopped for brunch at Bingham’s Family Restaurant, north of Scranton, “home of the big bread breakfast.” Then it was one long drive all the way home.

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