Cooperstown, in central New York, has been a beloved destination for baseball enthusiasts, golfers, art lovers, and many others seeking the idyllic charm that that the Village has offered for decades. Home to the renowned Otesaga Resort Hotel, Fenimore Art Museum, The Farmers’ Museum and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, as well as a number of other attractions, this quaint town located along the southern tip of Otsego Lake, is rich with history and even holds a few surprises. Here are five lesser known historical tidbits about America’s Most Perfect Village.
5 Cooperstown Tidbits
1. History of Hops
Beer lovers will be fascinated to learn that upstate New York was the leading producer of hops in the mid-1800’s and by 1855, was producing more than three million pounds annually. Crops grown in Otsego County were praised for being the best in America and rivaled the highest quality hops being produced around the world. The Farmers’ Museum honors this each year with their event, Hopsego, celebrating the rich hops history in the area.
2. The Otesaga Resort Hotel
For more than a century, the iconic Otesaga Resort Hotel has entertained guests from all over the world. The elegant, 132-room resort is perched on 700 acres of Lake Otsego lakefront property and offers fine dining, luxury accommodations, and unparalleled hospitality.
The Hotel was built by the Clark family in 1909 who, to this day, continues to own and operate the property. When built, the Otesaga Resort Hotel was acclaimed for its modern engineering marvels and stunning Federal-style architecture. Soon after, to appease guests who enjoyed the up and coming game of golf, the 18-hole Leatherstocking Golf Course was added to the estate which continues to be ranked as one of the top courses on the East Coast.
3. The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
Cooperstown is most notably recognized for its contribution to baseball and is home to Doubleday Field and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Once a cow pasture, Doubleday Field was the field where the locals played what was described as “town ball.” Later, a myth was born that Civil War General Abner Doubleday laid out the first baseball diamond on this very same cow pasture.
The acclaim that baseball brought to Cooperstown was such that the residents wanted to memorialize Doubleday. Upon the completion of construction, Doubleday Field was open on September 6, 1920, and was labeled America’s original baseball diamond.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum was dedicated on June 12, 1939, as a tribute to America’s favorite pastime.
4. New Yorkers Seek Respite from the City
The lakeside village was a popular retreat in the mid-1800’s for city dwellers who sought peace and quiet while being amidst the natural landscape of the region. The village was developed by William Cooper in 1786 at the southern end of Lake Otsego which to this day, provides a number of activities for outdoor enthusiasts and and today, escape for for people from all over the world.
5. Home to Author James Fenimore Cooper
James Fenimore Cooper might not be a household name but you’ve probably heard of some of his work. The Last of the Mohicans, The Leatherstocking Tales, and The Spy were written by the Cooperstown native who, on a dare from his wife, wrote his first novel, Precaution, in 1821. He went on to author 52 books and was given the title of America’s First Novelist. Never intending to be a writer, Cooper attended Yale for a short period but decided that a life at sea was his longing; first, he served as a common sailor and later, as a midshipman in the Navy. When he returned to Cooperstown, he became a gentleman farmer and settled the land that is now home to the Fenimore Art Museum where he continued to write until the mid-1840’s. The museum maintains a collection of personal artifacts from the famous novelist on display year-round.
An Ideal New York Getaway
If you’re looking for the perfect getaway, look no further than Cooperstown. You’ll find a number of lodging options, fine dining, venues to explore the culture and art of the region, and plenty of recreational activities. America’s Most Perfect Village has pleasant surprises around every corner.