Photo courtesy of Lake Placid Public Library

Mt. Jo and the Lost Love of Henry Van Hoevenberg

One summer, nearly a decade ago, my sister-in-law and I were discussing ways to nudge her children out of the house to expend some energy. We had three visiting children, aged 8 to 14, badly needing some diversion and exercise after two days of steady rain. I suggested we take the easy hike up Mt. Jo. It seemed suited to their ages and to be honest, my own interest level.

One problem: the kids went on a family hike in Colorado a few months earlier that took a slightly difficult turn. While they were never in any danger, they encountered some bad weather, hadn’t brought quite enough water or snacks,and spent way longer in the woods than expected. The kids were miserable. The word hike sent them into a tizzy. No they did not want to hike ever again!

My ever-resourceful sister-in-law waited twenty minutes and then announced in a cheerful, loud voice, “Good news kids! We are going on a boulder scramble.” Incredulously, they bought it. We quickly prepared some provisions and drove to the base of Mt. Jo.

Hoping to keep their minds off the fact that they were,indeed, on a small hike, I began telling them the story of Henry Van Hoevenberg and his lost love. In 1877, Mr. Van made his first trip to the Adirondacks. Accompanying him In the party was a beautiful, Brooklyn girl named Josephine Schofield. They fell quickly and deeply in love, and planned to buy the land surrounding a heart-shaped lake they spied from atop Mt. Marcy.

Sadly, this was never meant to be. Josephine’s father refused to give his blessing and Josephine disappeared. Lore has it she took the train to Utica and eventually threw herself off Niagara’s Falls. More reliable sources say she went back to her native Brooklyn. Nevertheless, a grief stricken Henry bought the land anyway and built a very successful hotel lodge. He named the small mountain on the property after his love. He never married.

Once on top of Mt. Jo, I suggested the kids yell the name of their love interest into the wind, having made that up on the spot. I started things off by shouting my husband’s name, which was followed by a lot of giggling. Each, in turn, did the same. Much to our secret delight, the ten-year-old yelled the name of a girl in his class we hadn’t heard before. It was a special family moment. All in honor of the star-crossed Henry Van Hoevenberg and his never-forgotten love.

This story was written by Lake Placid Land Conservancy Board Member Valerie Ireland. If you enjoyed it, please share it with a friend.

If you would like to hear more tales like this and about the history of land conservation in the High Peaks, please let us know!