“July 31st.--A visit to what is called "Hudson's Cave," or "Hudson's Falls," the tradition being that a man by the name of Henry Hudson, many years ago, chasing a deer, the deer fell over the place, which then first became known to white men. It is not properly a cave, but a fissure in a huge ledge of marble, through which a stream has been for ages forcing its way, and has left marks of its gradually wearing power on the tall crags, having made curious hollows from the summit down to the level which it has reached at the present day. The depth of the fissure in some places is at least fifty or sixty feet; perhaps more, and at several points it nearly closes over, and often the sight of the sky is hidden by the interposition of masses of the marble crags. The fissure is very irregular, so as not to be describable in words, and scarcely to be painted,--jutting buttresses, moss-grown, impending crags, with tall trees growing on their verge, nodding over the head of the observer at the bottom of the chasm, and rooted, as it were, in air. The part where the water works its way down is very narrow; but the chasm widens, after the descent, so as to form a spacious chamber between the crags, open to the sky, and its floor is strewn with fallen fragments of marble, and trees that have been precipitated long ago, and are heaped with drift-wood, left there by the freshets, when the scanty stream becomes a considerable waterfall. One crag, with a narrow ridge, which might be climbed without much difficulty, protrudes from the middle of the rock, and divides the fall. The passage through the cave made by the stream is very crooked, and interrupted, not only by fallen wrecks, but by deep pools of water, which probably have been forded by few. As the deepest pool occurs in the most uneven part of the chasm, where the hollows in the sides of the crag are deepest, so that each hollow is almost a cave by itself, I determined to wade through it. There was an accumulation of soft stuff on the bottom, so that the water did not look more than knee-deep; but, finding that my feet sunk in it, I took off my trousers, and waded through up to my middle. Thus I reached the most interesting part of the cave, where the whirlings of the stream had left the marks of its eddies in the solid marble, all up and down the two sides of the chasm. The water is now dammed for the construction of two marble saw-mills, else it would have been impossible to effect the passage; and I presume that, for years after the cave was discovered, the waters roared and tore their way in a torrent through this part of the chasm. While I was there, I heard voices, and a small stone tumbled down; and looking up towards the narrow strip of bright light, and the sunny verdure that peeped over the top,--looking up thither from the deep, gloomy depth,--I saw two or three men; and, not liking to be to them the most curious part of the spectacle, I waded back, and put on my clothes. The marble crags are overspread with a concretion, which makes them look as gray as granite, except where the continual flow of water keeps them of a snowy whiteness. If they were so white all over, it would be a splendid show. There is a marble-quarry close in the rear, above the cave, and in process of time the whole of the crags will be quarried into tombstones, doorsteps, fronts of edifices, fireplaces, etc. That will be a pity. On such portions of the walls as are within reach, visitors have sculptured their initials, or names at full length; and the white letters showing plainly on the gray surface, they have more obvious effect than such inscriptions generally have. There was formerly, I believe, a complete arch of marble, forming a natural bridge over the top of the cave; but this is no longer so. At the bottom of the broad chamber of the cave, standing in its shadow, the effect of the morning sunshine on the dark or bright foliage of the pines and other trees that cluster on the summits of the crags was particularly beautiful; and it was strange how such great trees had rooted themselves in solid marble, for so it seemed.
After passing through this romantic and most picturesque spot, the stream goes onward to turn factories. Here its voice resounds within the hollow crags; there it goes onward, talking to itself, with babbling din, of its own wild thoughts and fantasies,--the voice of solitude and the wilderness,--loud and continual, but which yet does not seem to disturb the thoughtful wanderer, so that he forgets there is a noise. It talks along its storm-strewn path; it talks beneath tall precipices and high banks,--a voice that has been the same for innumerable ages; and yet, if you listen, you will perceive a continual change and variety in its babble, and sometimes it seems to swell louder upon the ear than at others,--in the same spot, I mean. By and by man makes a dam for it, and it pours over it, still making its voice heard, while it labors. At one shop for manufacturing the marble, I saw the disk of a sundial as large as the top of a hogshead, intended for Williams College; also a small obelisk, and numerous gravestones. The marble is coarse-grained, but of a very brilliant whiteness. It is rather a pity that the cave is not formed of some worthless stone.”
Nathanial Hawthorne, American Notebooks, available online.