Hudson River ‘Brickers’ Focus of New Exhibit


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There will be an opening reception of the Haverstraw Brick Museum’s new exhibit, Moving Bricks on the Hudson, on September 20, 2009 between 1 and 4 pm at the museum at 12 Main Street in Haverstraw, Rockland County, New York. In celebration of the Hudson River and the Hudson Fulton Champlain Quadricentennial, the exhibit highlights sloops, schooners, towboats, tugs, and barges that transported bricks on the Hudson in the 19th and early 20th centuries. At its peak the brick industry was the dominant industry on the Hudson River and diverse boats carried one billion bricks annually. Visitors will learn about the brick boats and their boatmen and women, the dangers of river transport, and the shipyards that built and repaired the “brickers.”

The exhibit was inspired by the donation of the papers of the Reilly & Clark brick company to the museum. This collection, along with documenting the manufacturer, contains extensive records for the schooners that carried the firm’s bricks to market between 1885 and 1905. Items range from hundreds of receipts for tows, dock fees, and night watchmen to detailed accountings of the number of bricks carried each trip. The exhibit’s curator, T. Robins Brown, has a personal connection to cargo-carrying sailing ships as her great-grandfather, William T. Robins, was the owner and captain of the schooner Ella Worden on the Chesapeake Bay.

Moving Bricks on the Hudson is open on Sunday, September 13 from 11 am to 4 pm for the Annual Haverstraw Street Fair and until January 31, 2010 during the museum’s regular hours Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 1-4 pm. It is also open by appointment by calling 845-947-3505 or emailing haverstrawbrickmuseum.org.

The mission of the Haverstraw Brick Museum is to collect, preserve, research and exhibit materials and cultures of the brick making industry within the Hudson River Valley.

Photo: On Minisceongo Creek, a “bricker,” a brick-carrying schooner, awaits its cargo of bricks from the Shankey brickyard. On board are brickyard workers as well as the brick boat’s crew. The two women, the wives of the captain and first mate, were likely part of the boat’s crew. They lived aboard and cooked, watched tides, pumped bilge water, and performed other tasks that required less strength. Photograph from de Noyelles, Within These Gates.

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