Tag Archives: Hudson River

Peter Feinman: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (2012)


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Once upon a time, as all good stories begin, in the fair village of North Tarrytown (later to be renamed Sleepy Hollow), there was a beacon of light in the river that ran two ways.

Located a quarter mile from the shore of village on the river, this lighthouse had been built in 1882-1883 by strong and sturdy men back in the day when strong and sturdy men built and made things along the Hudson River and before it became a valley of ruins with a book of a similar name. Continue reading

Hudson River Greenway Offers Trail Grant Program


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Applications are now available for the 2012 Greenway Conservancy Small Grant Program from the The Hudson River Valley Greenway. A total of $50,000 is available for matching grants in this year’s program.

The Greenway Conservancy Small Grant Program is an annual competitive grant funding opportunity available to communities and not-for-profit organizations within the designated Hudson River Valley Greenway area, which extends from Saratoga and Washington counties to Battery Park, Manhattan.
The program offers funding for trail planning and design, construction and rehabilitation, and education and interpretation. Emphasis is placed on trail projects that seek to implement the goals of the Greenway Trail Vision Plan, fill in identified gaps in the Greenway Trail System, and make improvements to designated Greenway Trails. Copies of the Hudson River Valley Greenway Trail Vision Plan may be downloaded online
This annual program has offered technical and financial assistance to municipalities and not-for-profit organizations since 1995.

Projects that will be considered for funding through this year’s grant program include:

· Education and Interpretation projects, including trail signs, kiosks, guides, maps, brochures, one-day conferences or workshop series. 

· Projects to construct, design or plan trail segments or trail links that further the goals of the Greenway Trail Program.

· Rehabilitation projects to improve trails/trail segments that further the goals of the Greenway Trail Program.

Applications can be requested by calling (518) 473-3835, by emailing the Greenway at hrvg@hudsongreenway.ny.gov, or by download from the Greenway website. All applications must be postmarked by 5:00 pm, August 17, 2012. Late, incomplete, faxed or emailed applications will not be accepted.

Replica Ship Half Moon Opportunities Announced


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William T. (Chip) Reynolds, Director, New Netherland Museum and Captain, Replica Ship Half Moon has announced that work is proceeding on fall programming and regular ship-board projects, and the ship will be holding an upcoming sail training opportunity.

On July 21-22 crew old and new alike will come together on the Half Moon to train in sail handling and ship operations. The two day program will depart from and return to Peckham Wharf in Athens, NY while anchoring out on the evening of the 21st. Crew will board 8am Saturday and depart late afternoon on Sunday.  No prior experience necessary; all training will be provided. Preference will be given to those who have volunteered with the Half Moon this season.

If you would like to participate in the sail training weekend, send an email with your name, phone number, location and the information for an emergency contact to: hmvolunteer@gmail.com

Dockside work continues on the Half Moon as they prepare for sail training and other programming through the summer and Fall of 2012. Crew have been working around the ship on various projects. Doug Lyke has been working on rewiring bilge pumps and radio wires; Gene Tozzi repaired the decorative anchor on the front of the ship; Woody Woodworth and Bob Hansen have installed new water pumps and other elements for the ship’s generator.

In addition to work around the ship, they’ve also said goodbye to bo’sun Wesley Jasper who spent three months living and working aboard the Half Moon, and who is headed to the Rotterdam Maritime Academy in the fall.

Work will continue weekdays throughout the summer. If you are interested in joining in and assisting with maintenance work around the ship, contact them at 518.443.1609 or by email at: hmvolunteer@gmail.com

This season, the Half Moon will be open for school and public tours in Albany NY Sept 22 & 23 and Sept 29 & 30 and public viewing in Connecticut.

Half Moon also offers school class tours. Educators looking to sign-up their class Sept 21, Sept 24-28 and Oct 1-4, should contact Carol Ann Margolis at the Albany Convention and Visitor’s Bureau: 518.434.0405

The 85-foot replica of the ship Henry Hudson sailed while exploring the Hudson River in 1609 has a volunteer crew of 15 and was built in Albany, N.Y. in 1989 to commemorate the Dutch role in exploring and colonizing America. The Half Moon replica has six sails on three masts, sporting 2,757 square feet of canvas. It’s equipped with six cannons and four anchors.

The original ship, called the Halve Maen, was commissioned on March 25, 1609 for the Dutch East India Company. The company hired Hudson, an Englishman, to search for a passageway between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. He thought he had found that passage when he sailed up the river that now bears his name. In making his trip up the river, Hudson claimed the area for the Dutch and opened the land for settlers who followed. His voyage came 10 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. 

For general information about the replica Half Moon check their website.

Photo provided.

Historic Farm Tour Focusing on New Paltz Area


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CIRCA, a tour of historic farmhouses this Sunday, June 10th, aims to highlight the rich and varied architecture that remains from the late 18th and 19th centuries, when the New Paltz area was part of the Nation’s breadbasket.  

CIRCA will feature six local homes, all of which have strong ties to this pivotal period in America’s history. Also included on the tour is an 18th century Dutch-style barn, today home to Adair Vineyards, and an artist’s studio created from a unique early 19th century stone barn.


It was the bounty of the Hudson Valley and the industrious nature of our 18th and 19th century farmers that helped feed our young country – especially burgeoning cities such as New York.

Farming in this era involved individuals of all social strata, from the wealthiest of gentleman farmers, to the hardworking tenant farmers who made it possible for the prosperous to extract wealth from the huge tracts of land they controlled.

Among the homes included on the tour is early 19th century home of Thaddeus Hait. Hait, from a well-to-do Westchester County family of the time, moved to the then newly-formed town of Plattekill. By 1828, he had accrued 153 acres, some of which is still farmed today. His home is an interesting example of how the refined Neoclassical style was interpreted in a decidedly rural setting. The result is an otherwise modest home that endures as an example of the optimism and aspiration of its builder. Outside, the home features an unusual second floor “Juliet” balcony. Inside, high style mixes with exposed stone walls and brick floors. The current owners have lovingly preserved the home and the surrounding outbuildings.

Two short miles away, as Hait staked his claim, Josiah Hasbrouck and his wife Hylah Bevier lived in a striking Federal-style showpiece they completed in 1814. This home, known today as Locust Lawn, was at the heart of a massive 1,000 acre gentleman’s farm. Josiah and Hylah, who each were descended from the earliest Huguenot settlers of the area, presided over a home truly remarkable for its time. Lived in by three generations of their family, the home was shuttered in the 1880′s – in effect turning it into a time capsule of one family’s unique history. A preserved museum home today, the home has been closed to the public for the past two years and is normally open only by appointment.

On the other end of the spectrum is a humble home owned by DuBois Hasbrouck and dating to the late 18th century. This home, built for tenant farmers, represents the lives of the families who toiled to get a toehold on the American dream. This simple one-and-a-half story home, expanded over time, still sits along a gentle stream with views of the fields all around.

Capping off the tour will be a reception at the Maplestone Inn, a substantial stone house built by John L. Jenkins and Mary Catherine Broadhead in late 18th century. Innkeepers Sean and Patty Roche have generously agreed to open their renovated streamside barn for the reception.

CIRCA will be held on Sunday, June 10th, from 11am to 5:30pm. Advance tickets are $25 and can be purchased at www.casaulster.org or by calling (845) 339-7543. Day of tickets are $30 each. The event is presented by Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA), which works to ensure that foster care is temporary and that all children can grow up in safe, loving and permanent homes. CASA was founded in Ulster County in 1987 and is one of over 950 CASA programs across the country. More information about CASA can be found at www.casaulster.org.

Free Tour of Rogers Island in Fort Edward


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Rogers Island in Fort Edward (Washington County) is offering a walking tour on Thursday, June 28, at 7 pm. This event, open to the public free of charge, is hosted by the Old Saratoga Historical Association.

Exhibits at the Visitors Center, opened in 2001, highlight the history of the Fort Edward area from the earliest Native Americans through the Revolutionary War.

According to the Rogers Island website, “Fort Edward and adjacent Rogers Island was once the third largest ‘city’ in colonial North America.” The site continues, “The history that was made from this place at the bend in the Hudson River in the 1750s would lay the foundations for the nation that would be born two decades later.”

There are picnic tables for those who would like to enjoy supper at the Visitors Center before the 7 pm tour begins. Sturdy shoes are advised for the walking tour of the island. Rogers Island is just off Route 197 (Bridge Street) between the two bridges just west of Route 4. For more information call Historical Association president Deb Peck Kelleher, 698-3211 or visit the website, www.rogersisland.org.

Hudson River Valley Ramble Dates Set


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The Hudson River Valley Greenway and Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area invite Hudson Valley communities to become part of an exciting regional event — the Hudson River Valley Ramble. Now in its 12th year, the Hudson River Valley Ramble is a variety of walks, hikes, paddles, biking tours and other events throughout 13 counties, and is designed to showcase the scenic, natural, historic and cultural resources of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area . This year, the Ramble will be held on four weekends: September 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, 29-30, 2012.
Ramble events are led by naturalists, ecologists, historians, geologists and trained volunteers from participating groups, which last year included over 150 environmental, land conservation, trail groups, heritage sites and historic preservation organizations.

“In 2011, over 120,000 people participated in Ramble events and we expect a great turnout again this year,” said Mark Castiglione, Acting Director of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area and Greenway. “If it’s September, then it’s time to Ramble. The event provides people of all ages an opportunity to experience the cultural landscape of the Hudson River Valley by hiking a trail, visiting an historic site or paddling on the river. The Ramble demonstrates that celebrating our natural and cultural resources also provides a big boost to our regional economy.”

The Hudson River Valley Ramble is funded in part through the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area (HRVNHA) program. The HRVNHA program was established by Congress in 1996 and is funded through the National Park Service and Department of the Interior. The mission of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area is to recognize, preserve, protect and interpret the nationally significant cultural and natural resources of the Hudson River Valley for the benefit of the Nation. The Hudson River Valley Greenway is the management entity for the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area.

The 2012 Ramble Sponsors Are:

The Hudson River Valley Greenway; The Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area; The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Hudson River Estuary Program; The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation; The National Park Service.

Visit www.hudsonrivervalleyramble.com for more information about the Ramble

Visit www.hudsonrivervalley.com for information about the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area

Visit www.hudsongreenway.ny.gov for more information on the Greenway

Visit www.dec.ny.gov/lands/4920.html for more information on the Hudson River Estuary Program

Photo: 2012 Hudson River Ramble at Fort Crailo, in Rensselaer. 

Peter Feinman: On Regional Agendas


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I recently received an invitation to attend a meeting of the Hudson Valley Smart Growth Alliance on behalf of Center for Research, Regional Education and Outreach (CRREO) and The Advocacy Coalition of the Hudson Valley to address the question: Is there a HUDSON VALLEY Regional Agenda? (The meeting will be held on Friday, June 15, 2012 from 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM at the Student Union Building of the State University of New York at New Paltz) [Link]. Continue reading

Ulster County Architecture Focus of May 14th Event


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Monday, May 14th the Gardiner Historical Society will host their annual meeting with the Historical Society of Shawangunk and Gardiner at 7 pm at the Gardiner Town Hall. The event is open to the public and is free of charge, refreshments will be served.

Author William B. Rhoads will share his book Ulster County, New York, The Architectural History & Guide, A Historical guide to 325 sites in all 20 Ulster County townships and the city of Kingston. The sites explored in the book show the variety and changing architectural styles that have appeared over nearly 300 years in the Hudson River Valley and Catskill Mountains, from 17th century Dutch limestone houses of the colonial era, through the Federal and Victorian periods, up to the Modernist architecture of the mid-1950’s.


The architecture reflects the history, tracing the evolution of one of the first regions in today’s New York State to be settled by Europeans. Dutch and French Huguenot villages and homesteads of the 1600s form the core of today’s Kingston, New Paltz, and Hurley, surrounded by the structures built by their descendants and later immigrants – the English, Irish, Italians and scores of other ethnic and national groups – as Ulster county rose from the American Revolution and became an important commercial center, with bustling ports on the Hudson River, the booming 19th century “Empire State’s” first superhighway. Everywhere one looks in Ulster County there are vestiges of the past – abandoned cement mines, locks of the old D&H Canal, idle railroad depots, the ghostly shell of a grand old hotel that never opened to the public. And there is the “living history” as well, the structures built by previous generations that are still vital today, like the Mohonk Mountain House and the hundreds of other historic buildings representing nearly every American architectural style from 1660 to 1950 that remain private homes, libraries, schools, houses of worship or have been converted into museums.

William B. Rhoads is a professor emeritus of art history at SUNY New Paltz, where he taught from 1970 to 2005. His publications include studies of Colonial Revival architecture and Franklin Roosevelt’s sponsorship of architecture and art. Rhoads’s Kingston, New York: The Architectural History & Guide was published by Black Dome Press in 2003.

Ulster County: Lake Minnewaska State Park


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Minnewaska State Park Preserve has become a popular destination for hikers, bikers, and nature lovers. It is crisscrossed with acres of pristine views, carriage trails, and hiking trails. Many people visiting there do not realize that it once was the site of two spectacular mountain houses that sat perched on the cliffs overlooking Lake Minnewaska. They were named Wildmere and Cliff House. Continue reading

New Director for Newburgh Bay, Highlands Historical


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The Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and the Highlands has announced that lifelong Newburgh resident Johanna Porr will serve as the organization’s new director. Porr assumed the position last week.

“To be able to study the largest historic district in New York State is certainly fun, but to be entrusted with a role to use that understanding to help rebuild this city is an honor,” she said in a statement release to the press.

As director, Porr’s duties include fundraising, directing future research and programs, overseeing the remaining renovations to the Captain David Crawford House, creating useful networks in the fields of public history and academic history and increasing membership within the group the statement said.

“The Historical Society has been and will continue to be a resource for people who want to learn more about Newburgh’s history or those who are interested in restoring homes here,” she said.

Porr “wants to establish an inspiring new direction for the Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and the Highlands while maintaining everything Newburgh has come to love about the organization. Her goals are to keep up with the current trends in the academic world, exchange information and ideas with other historical societies in New York and beyond and to use the society’s resources to make Newburgh’s history
more relevant to today’s citizens,” the press statement said.

“It’s important to find the academics who are already doing the research and connect them with the people on the ground who have a better idea of the questions the public is interested in,” said Porr. “I’d like to see more serious focus on scholarly research being done in the Hudson Valley.”

Porr has been an historical interpreter at Washington’s Headquarters, where she has both volunteered and been employed for nearly a decade. She attended Franklin College in Switzerland where she studied European history, earned an M.P.A. from Marist College and recently spent time in Virginia doing archaeology at Historic Jamestown and historic-trades research at Colonial Williamsburg.

“Newburgh is a fascinating place,” said Johanna, who grew up in city. “We call it ‘History City’ because you can take any major movement and tie it back here somehow; you can always find a way to understand the scope of American history through the narratives that are available in Newburgh.”

The new director is the daughter of former Newburgh city manager Harold Porr and Joan Mauriello, who volunteered as a preservationist and historical activist while Johanna was growing up.

“This society is one of the earliest and we’ve been building a collection and archive since 1884,” Johanna said. “I’m proud to be part of such a strong institution, especially since the viability of Newburgh’s future is inseparable from its legacy.”

Spring Walk at Olana Features Landscape, Wildlife


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Craig Thompson, director of Five Rivers Environmental Education Center, will host an outdoor foray to search for bluebirds, robin redbreast, white trillium and other colorful signs of spring on Sunday, April 1. An Olana educator will join the group to discuss the history of the landscape and carriage drives designed by Frederic Church.

Craig Thompson has been an environmental educator in NYS DEC’s Division of Public Affairs for over 30 years. Five Rivers, one of the state’s environmental education facilities, is a 445-acre “living museum” offering a comprehensive program of interpretive, education and information services year ‘round.

The Spring Walk will take place from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm, and is free and open to all ages. Meet at the Wagon House Education Center and dress for casual trail walking. Binoculars are helpful but not necessary. Space is limited, so please register by calling (518) 828-1872 ext. 109. In the event of inclement weather, the program may be canceled. (If in doubt, call (518) 828-1872 x 109 to confirm.) A vehicle use fee will be charged at the entrance to the site.

Rockland Lake Park Complex Master Plan Underway


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The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) Palisades Region and the Palisades Interstate Park Commission (PIPC) will hold a public information meeting regarding the preparation of a Draft Master Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for Rockland Lake, Hook Mountain, Nyack Beach, and Haverstraw Beach State Parks (together, the Rockland Lake Park Complex) on the west bank of the Hudson River in Rockland County, New York.

OPRHP and PIPC encourage the public to participate in the planning efforts for the park complex and welcome all comments and suggestions. Developed and opened to the public in the early 1960s, the parks are part of the Palisades Interstate Park system.

The public meeting will be held at Rockland Lake State Park Championship Golf Course Clubhouse on Tuesday, March 27, 2012 at 7:00 PM. Park staff will make a brief presentation about the master planning process and the park after which the meeting will be open to receive public comments.

All persons interested in the Rockland Lake Park Complex are urged to attend; those who cannot may view the Public Information Meeting Packet on the OPRHP website.

Written comments and suggestions may be submitted by April 27, 2012 to:

Mark Hohengasser
Park Planner
Agency Building 1, 17th Floor
Empire State Plaza
Albany, NY 12238
Rockland.Plan@parks.ny.gov

Upon inclement weather conditions, please visit the OPRHP website for a meeting cancellation notice and updated information.

For additional information and directions to the meeting, contact the park office at 845-268-3020.

Canal Life: Near Tragedy on the George W. Lee


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In November 1886, Captain John Frawley of the canal boat George W. Lee reached the eastern terminus of the Mohawk River at Cohoes. Before him was the Hudson River intersection: south led to Albany and New York City, and north was the path of the Champlain Canal, which ran from Waterford to Whitehall, at Lake Champlain’s southern tip. Access to the Champlain Canal was on the north bank at the Mohawk’s mouth, opposite Peeble’s Island.

At the mouth of the river was a dam, maintaining calm water so the boats could cross the river, and about 500 feet upstream from the dam was a bridge. Canal boats were pulled by tow ropes linked to teams of mules or horses. To cross from the south bank of the Mohawk to the north, towing teams used the bridge, which is what Frawley did.

Sounds simple, and usually, it was. But the Mohawk was badly swollen from several days of rain. Traveling at night, Frawley was perhaps unaware that the normally strong current had intensified. Water was fairly leaping over the nine-foot-high dam.

Accompanying the captain were his mother, around 60 years old; his ten-year-old son; and the boat’s steersman, Dennis Clancy. To help ensure that things went okay, Frawley left the boat to assist the team driver during the crossing of the 700-foot-long bridge. They moved slowly—the rope extended sideways from the bridge downstream towards the boat, an angle much more difficult than pulling a load forward along the canal.

Below them, the George W. Lee lay heavy in the current, straining against the rope. All went well until the bridge’s midpoint was reached, when, with a sound like a gunshot, the rope snapped. Horrified, they watched as the boat swung around, slammed sideways into the dam, and plunged over the edge. Nothing was left but darkness.

Shock and grief enveloped them at such a sudden, terrible loss. Within minutes, though, a light appeared on the boat’s deck. It had held together! At least one person had survived, but no one knew how many, or if any were injured. The roar of the river drowned out any attempt at yelling back and forth. With the boat aground, there was nothing to do but sit and wait until morning.

With daylight came great news. All were okay! But, as had happened the previous evening, great elation was followed by great uncertainty. How could they be saved? The river remained high and dangerous. The boat, resting on the rocks below the dam, could not be reached. And the November chill, heightened by cold water pouring over the dam all around them, threatened the stranded passengers with hypothermia.

A rescue plan was devised, and by late afternoon, the effort began. The state scow (a large, flat-bottomed boat), manned by a volunteer crew of seven brave men, set out on a dangerous mission. Connected to the bridge by a winch system using two ropes, the scow was slowly guided to the dam, just above the stranded boat.

The men began talking with the passengers to discuss their evacuation. Then, without warning, disaster struck. Something within the winch mechanism failed, and again, with a loud cracking sound, the rope snapped. Over the dam went the scow, fortunately missing the canal boat. Had they hit, the results would have been catastrophic.

Briefly submerged, the scow burst to the surface. A safe passage lay ahead, but the drifting scow was instead driven towards nearby Buttermilk Falls by the swift current. Two men leaped overboard and swam for shore in the icy water. The rest decided to ride it out.

In one reporter’s words, “The scow sped like an arrow toward Buttermilk Falls. It seemed to hang an instant at the brink, and then shot over the falls. It landed right side up and soon drifted ashore.” Incredibly, everyone survived intact. Chilled, wet, and shaken, but intact.

Meanwhile, still stuck at the base of the dam was a canal boat with cold, hungry, and frightened passengers. A new plan was needed, but darkness was descending. The stranded victims would have to spend another night on the rocks.

On the following day, Plan B was tried. According to reports, “A stout rope was stretched from the Waterford bridge, over the dam, to a small row boat at Peeble’s Island [a distance of about 1800 feet.] Two men stood on the bridge and pulled the skiff upstream until it came alongside the canal boat Lee. The party embarked and the boat was allowed to drift back to the island.”

What an amazing, fortuitous outcome. Two boats (one at night) over a dam; three people trapped for more than 36 hours in a raging river; two men swimming for their lives in icy water; and five men and a boat over a waterfall. All that potential for tragedy, and yet all survived unscathed.

Photos: The dam at Cohoes, looking west from Peeble’s Island; A canal boat scene at Cohoes.

Lawrence Gooley has authored ten books and dozens of articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 19 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.

Lecture: Hudson Valley African American Experience


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On Sunday, February 26 at 4:00 pm, Historic Huguenot Street (HHS) is presenting a special talk, The Missing Chapter, about the lives and working conditions of African-Americans in the Hudson Valley region during the colonial and antebellum periods.

The award-winning presenter, Susan Stessin-Cohn, Director of Education at HHS, will discuss her current research on slavery including the personal stories of several local African-American families over the course of 200 years. The presentation will include information gathered from HHS’s archives as well as the Ulster County Hall of Records, the Senate House, and 18th & 19th century local and national newspapers. Susan will also discuss her virtual “Missing Chapter” exhibit which can be found at www.hrvh.org.

Susan Stessin-Cohn is currently the Director of Education at Historic Huguenot Street in New Paltz. She was formerly an instructor at SUNY New Paltz and Vasser College and is a past trustee of the Elting Library and a member of the New Paltz Preservation Committee. She now serves on the board of the Ulster County Historical Society, the Southeastern New York Library Resource Council and the Hudson River Valley Heritage Digital Advisory Committee.

For more information, call 845-255-1660, x108 or email Jan Melchior at jan@huguenotstreet.org.

Bear Mountain Inn Reopening Saturday After Renovations


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The historic Bear Mountain Inn at Bear Mountain State Park, which had been closed for renovations for over six years, will reopen its lodging facilities to the public this Saturday, February 18, 2012.

Originally built in 1915, the Inn has been extensively renovated to include 15 luxury guest rooms and suites designed by Thomas Hamilton and Associates, and over 20,000 square feet of flexible event space. Room rates will range from $189 to $450/night. The Inn also welcomes guests to the 1915 Cafe, which features a local and sustainable menu, and the Bear Mountain Trading Company, where visitors can find park souvenirs, crafts, local food items, and jewelry.

Bear Mountain Inn is an historic landmark, listed on the National and New York State Registers of Historic Places. Upon its opening, The American Architect declared the Bear Mountain Inn to be one of the “finest examples of rustic Adirondack architecture in America.” Park employees constructed the Inn using natural materials, including stone and wood found in the park. The Inn’s interior is outfitted in the rustic style with handcrafted chairs, sofas, tables, light fixtures, and other accessories to complement the building’s design and woodland setting.

The Inn has hosted such dignitaries such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Madame Chiang Kai-shek, Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, and Dwight D. Eisenhower. It has also welcomed the Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Giants, New York Knicks, Green Bay Packers, champion boxer Jack Dempsey, and entertainment headliners Harry James, Tommy Dorsey, and Kate Smith to name a few.

Bear Mountain State Park is considered the flagship of the Palisades Interstate Park System. The park is 45 miles north of New York City, in the Hudson Highlands. Facilities include playing fields, picnic groves, rowboat docks on Hessian Lake, swimming pool and bathhouse, nature trails including the first segment of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, an ice-skating rink, basketball court, Trailside Museums and Zoo, Iona Island Estuarine Reserve and Bird Refuge, Perkins Memorial Drive and Tower, the Bear Mountain Merry-Go-Round and pavilion as well as four stone lodges, Cliffhouse and the Overlook Lodge.

Event catering is under the leadership of award-winning Executive Chef Michael Matarazzo. The Bear Mountain Inn is managed by Guest Services, Inc., of Virginia, a private hospitality company that has provided food, hotel, resort and leisure services since 1917.

More information about Bear Mountain Inn can be found online.

Photo: Bear Mountain Inn Dining Room, circa 1923.

Forum: 1979 Hudson Valley Nuclear Decision


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In 1979, a nuclear power plant was nearly built on the Hudson River in plain view of Olana State Historic Site. The Olana Partnership is presenting a panel discussion on Saturday, February 25, about this little-known incident in Hudson Valley history.

For the first time ever, three key players in this debate will unite and recount this game-changing episode, and how each played an important role. The panelists, Carl Petrich, J. Winthrop Aldrich, and Richard Benas, will discuss the unprecedented and nationally significant approach of considering the visual impact of a nuclear power plant in a region. Dorothy Heyl, a member of Olana’s Landscape/Viewshed Committee, will moderate.

In 1977, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Power Authority of the State of New York held hearings on siting a nuclear power plant just south of Catskill in Cementon. The cooling tower, at a height of 450 feet, would have been visible for many miles. Thirty-five stories tall, it would have been 250 feet in diameter at its highest point and discharged a prominent plume. On some days, the plume would have obscured views of the Catskill Mountains from many locations, including Olana.

In the late 1970s, Carl Petrich, one of the panelists, worked as a landscape architect on the research staff of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. Through an agreement with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Oak Ridge produced an Environmental Impact Statement for this project. Petrich immersed himself in Hudson River School history and the designed landscape of Frederic Church’s Olana. His conclusion—that the viewshed from Olana was of national importance and warranted protection—changed history. The resulting Environmental Impact Statement caused the Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff to recommended denial of a construction license for the proposed nuclear power plant. This was the first and only time that such a recommendation had been made on any grounds—let alone environmental or aesthetic.

J. Winthrop Aldrich, a Hudson Valley resident and long-time public servant, worked with counsel for local groups opposing the siting of the plant in Cementon. He was a proponent of assuring that the impact of the project on historic and scenic resources would be formally weighed in the decision making.

Richard Benas, then at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, testified in hearings on the proposed plant. Based on this experience, Benas later developed visual impact guidelines which are now used to insure compliance with the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act, SEQRA.

Testimony at the hearings on the significance of the Olana Viewshed included some by David Huntington, who had earlier led the successful preservation effort that saved Olana in 1967. More than 30 years ago, Huntington testified, “Olana is a monument and site whose significance will be increasingly appreciated by the American people.”

The three panelists, Petrich, Aldrich and Benas, will share their memories of a crucial, but mostly forgotten chapter in the preservation of a national historic landmark and its spectacular viewshed. “It’s surprising how few people know about this episode in this region,” noted Mark Prezorski, Landscape Curator for The Olana Partnership. “In some ways, it’s similar to the Storm King Mountain preservation effort, with far reaching effects.”

“This discussion, while it addresses the prospect of a nuclear power plant, is not about nuclear energy,” commented Sara Griffen, President of The Olana Partnership. “It is the story of how the importance of the Olana Viewshed factored into the siting of a plant, and how this mattered on a national and regional level.”

“Olana is famous for its breath-taking panoramic views that draw thousands of visitors to this magnificent historic site every year,” said Kimberly Flook, Site Manager of Olana Historic Site. “It was Frederic Church’s vision that actively shaped his landscape to frame the Hudson Valley’s unique natural beauty.”

The panel discussion will begin at 3:00 PM on Saturday, February 25 in Hudson, NY, at Stair Galleries (549 Warren Street). A suggested donation of $10 can be paid at the door, and admission is free for all members of The Olana Partnership. A reception will follow. More information is available online at olana.org or by phoning The Olana Partnership at 518.828.1872. RSVPs appreciated.

Photo: View from Olana with Superimposed Simulated Nuclear Cooling Towers (detail), 1979, photograph #4363-77, Courtesy of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, US Dept. of Energy.

Students Write About Place, Win Class Trips


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Teaching the Hudson Valley (THV) has announced the winners of its first student writing contest. Three winning writers and their classmates will visit the places they wrote about with costs covered by a THV Explore Award.

Aayushi Jha, a fifth grader at Main Street School in Irvington, is the elementary school winner. Her essay, Tug of War, describes an experience aboard the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. Aayushi’s teacher, Susan Wallace, responded to the announcement with this note, “WOW! We are so THRILLED! Thank you so much for offering this opportunity to the future
environmentalists and writers of the world!” You can read Aayushi’s essay online.

“Climbing up Bonticou Crag, I split open the wilderness,” is the provocative opening line of Looking Topside Down, a poem about the Mohonk Preserve by high school winner Nicole Yang. The middle school winner is seventh grader Emilie Hostetter who wrote a poem about Minnewaska State Park called I Did Not Know. Nicole and Emilie are students of Janine Guadagno at Tabernacle Christian Academy in Poughkeepsie. You can read both poems here.

“We received many wonderful and inspiring pieces of writing,” said THV coordinator Debi Duke. “Although we could have only three winners, we’re looking forward to publishing more student writers throughout the winter and spring. Essays about Eleanor Roosevelt’s Val kill in Hyde Park, the replica of Henry Hudson’s Half Moon, and Muscoot Farm in Westchester County
are among those readers can watch for.”

Colonel Jonathan Hasbrouck’s Tory Son Cornelius?


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Governor George Clinton of New York sat down at his desk, in January 1781, to read a painful letter from Judge Robert Yates. The letter concerned the son of a now deceased acquaintance, Colonel Jonathan Hasbrouck. It involved his oldest son, Cornelius Hasbrouck, who as Clinton read the letter, sat in a Kingston jail tried, convicted, and branded for stealing “sundry oxen and goods and chattels of the United States of America”. Continue reading

Chris Pryslopski: The Hudson River Valley Review


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As Associate Editor of The Hudson River Valley Review, published by The Hudson River Valley Institute (HRVI), I get to explore the region that I call home and to share these finds with our readers.

While our website allows us to be as expansive as our associates and interns are interested in being, it is the journal that I find most rewarding with its approximately 150 pages per issue that forces us to focus our interests and energies into a concise product every six months. The Hudson River Valley Review is published each spring and autumn, alternating between thematic and open issues. Continue reading

New Contributor From Hudson River Valley Institute


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Please join us in welcoming our newest contributor, Christopher Pryslopski, Program Director of the Hudson River Valley Institute at Marist College (HRVI) and Associate Editor of the Institute’s The Hudson River Valley Review, a peer-reviewed journal of regional studies.

Chris coordinates projects and programs associated with the core mission of the Institute, the “educational arm of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area,” and also coordinates the development of the HRVI’s Digital Library and Portal Site.

He is a specialist in regional studies and is the author of “Cultivating the Greenhouse Complex at Mills Mansion,” The Hudson Valley Regional Review, March 1999, “A Thoroughly Modern Conundrum: Paul Rudolph’s Orange County Governor Center” The Hudson River Valley Review Autumn 2004, and “Getting to “The Point;” Design No. 26: The L. M. Hoyt House at Staatsburg,” Dutchess County Historical Society Yearbook, 2009. He is co-editor of America’s First River: The History and Culture of the Hudson River Valley.

In addition to contributions from Chris, we’ll begin featuring highlights of new issues of the The Hudson River Valley Review here at New York History as they are released.