Bicentennial ‘Great Cable Carry’ Will Honor War of 1812 Militia Effort

May 30, 2014

by Timothy W. Scee II
Special to

SACKETS HARBOR, N.Y. — It is often said that history repeats itself and, nearly 200 years after American militias from the north country carried a five-ton rope to assist efforts during the War of 1812, local historical societies are hoping to resurrect the same sense of patriotism in June with a bicentennial walk.

During the June 7 and 8 event – dubbed the Great Cable Carry of 2014 – north country volunteers and local Boy Scouts of America troops will carry a 6-inch wide, 600-foot hemp rope, 20 miles from the town of Ellisburg to the village of Sackets Harbor on the same trail used two centuries ago, looping through several hamlets and villages along the way.

Event co-organizer Elaine J. Scott, of Henderson, said the bicentennial cable carry will be the third over nearly three decades since members of the 10th Mountain Division first secured the rope from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and marched the original path in 1989.

“What happened was we talked ourselves right into being organizers, it was really something,” Ms. Scott said.

Having always been interested in local history, especially pertaining to the War of 1812, the cable carry organizer only recently found out her ancestors had helped in that very mission that started May 29, 1814.

Following the battle of Big Sandy Creek, in which British troops were ambushed by Americans and Oneida tribes, American troops needed to transport equipment from the creek to a ship in Sackets Harbor, called Superior, but could not use wagons to carry a 600-foot hemp rope.

Starting at night, to keep out of British sights, American civilians slipped the 22-inch wide rope over their shoulders and carried it to the destination within three days.

“They were farmers, they were shopkeepers, they were just regular people like your volunteer fire departments today,” Ms. Scott said. “They immediately came down and started taking all of the supplies out of the boats, loading their own farm wagons and taking them to Sackets Harbor.”

She said more volunteers were eager to support the cable carry as it passed through settlements on its way to the shipyard.

“As this thing moved closer to Sackets Harbor, more and more people came out,” she said.

While the rope used for next month’s cable carry will weight significantly less than the original rope, organizers say just as much teamwork will be required to move the rope across its 19.8-mile trek.

“They have to work together as part of a team and really experience this volunteer spirit,” Ms. Scott said.  “Even though the rope is only 6 inches in circumference, they will still have this great accomplishment.

The Great Cable Carry 2014 will begin at 9:15 a.m, Saturday, June 7, at the state Department of Environmental Conservation South Landing Bridge, Route 3, Ellisburg, at the Battle of Big Sandy monument.

Participants will end the day with a stop near Roberts Corners before continuing the next day to Smithville and, finally, Sackets Harbor.

Ms. Scott said individuals interested helping to carry the rope can join along the route and travel any distance.  Comfortable walking shoes, heavy-duty work gloves and a towel for shoulder padding are recommended, however, according to organizers.

Water, restrooms and snacks will be available along the route for participants.

The Great Cable Carry of 2014 is being hosted by the South Jefferson, Mannsville, Henderson, Sackets Harbor and Sandy Creek historical societies, the Sackets Harbor Battlefield Alliance and Daughters of 1812.

Questions about the event may be e-mailed to  Participation forms may be filled out at http://www. hendersonhistoricalsociety. com/partform.html.

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