Cole was enraptured by the mountains, crags, and verdant valleys that rim the Hudson River in upstate New York and spent much of his time at his house near the town of Catskill, on the banks of Catskill Creek. By 1837, however, the landscape no longer resembled this canvas. The Canajoharie and Catskill Railroad was being constructed through its heart, dooming hundreds of trees. Cole, who was also a poet and an essayist, wrote in despair of the ruthless sacrifice. In the painting, the misty distant mountains, the calm light on the water, and the pastoral figures in the foreground constitute a scene that he mourned as lost forever.