Description of the New Netherlands

IO great quantity of train oil, still the whole river (the current being still rapid) was oily for three weeks, and covered with grease. As the fish lay rotting, the air was infected with its stench to such a degree that the smell was offensive and perceptible for two miles to leeward. For what purpose those whales ascended the river so far, it being at the time full forty miles from all salt or brackish water, it is difficult to say, unless their great desire for fish, which were plenty at this season, led them onward. Forty-four miles from the sea this North river is divided. One part by four sprouts ascends to the great falls of the Maquas kill, which is named the Chahoos, of which we will treat presently. The other part, which retains the name of the North river, is navigable for boats several miles farther, and, according to the information of the Indians, rises in a great lake, from which the river of Canada also proceeds. This should be the lake of the Iracoysen (lake Ontario), which is as great as the Mediterranean Sea, being about forty miles wide, when in the middle of the sea, no eye can see land or see over it. The lake also has extensive reed and brook lands of great breadth, wherein great multitudes of water-fowl breed in summer. When the Indians intend to cross this lake, they know certain islands which lie therein, and proceed from one to another by daylight, to the number of three or four, without which they could not find their way over the same. This, however, we relate on the information of the Indians. They also assert that we can proceed in boats to the river of Canada, which we deem incredible. The other arm of the North river runs by four sprouts (as we have related) to the great falls of the Maquas kill (Mohawk river), which the Indians name the Chahoos, and our nation the Great Falls; above which the river is again several hundred yards wide, and the falls we estimate to be one hundred and fifty or two hundred feet high.* The water glides over the falls as smooth as if it ran over an even wall and fell over the same. The precipice is formed of firm blue rock; near by and below the falls there stand several rocks, which appear splendid1 in the water, rising above it like high turf-heaps, apparently from eight, sixteen, to thirty feet high; very delightful to the eye. This place is well calculated to exalt the fancy of the poets. The ancient fabulous writers would, if they had been *This is careless guessing, the falls being seventy feet high.