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November 21, 2012

Local author provides guidebook to sites

Henry J. Nicols had a couple of objectives when he set out to write a guidebook pointing out the hallmarks of history in this village on the shores of Otsego Lake.

First, he said, he wanted readers to gain an appreciation and understanding of key events and figures in the history of Cooperstown. And second, he added, he wanted to help youth organizations raise needed funds to keep their projects going.

The newly released product of his endeavor is called “A Cooperstown WalkAbout.” Sprinkled with maps and directions, the book is a blueprint for visitors who want to get more out of their stay in Cooperstown than a visit to its most famous attraction, the National Baseball Hall of Fame, he said.

As the title implies, the sites highlighted by the author are best examined on foot, Nicols said. The trail of sites is about five miles long and would take the average person three to four hours to take them all in.

Inspired by similar historic routes such as the “Freedom Trail” in Boston, Nicols said he had been thinking of designing such a trail for Cooperstown for the past 20 years.

“I finally said to myself: I have to stop thinking about it and do it,” he said.

The stops include: Doubleday Field, the Civil War Monument, the First World War Memorial, The Farmers’ Museum, the Fenimore Art Museum, the Otesaga Resort Hotel, the Indian Hunter Statue, Council Rock, Lakewood Cemetery, the Indian Grave, James Fenimore Cooper’s grave and the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Nicols, a former history teacher who now as serves as an Otsego County Elections commissioner and works as a professor in the graduate program for international educators at the State University at Buffalo, said while the Hall of Fame may be better known today, the village first became known for the novels of James Fenimore Cooper.

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