Tag Archives: Hudson River

Forts Montgomery and Clinton: Twin Forts Day


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On October 6, 1777 an invading British Army assaulted Fort Montgomery and nearby Fort Clinton. Outnumbered 3 to 1, the defending Continental soldiers and militia held out as long as they could until at last the forts were overrun, the Continental ships burned by their own crews to prevent capture, and the Great Chain removed. Over half of the garrison was captured or killed.

Fort Montgomery State Historic Site in the Hudson Highlands on Saturday October 6th will commemorate the 235th anniversary of this bloody battle. Reenactors are portraying the American Continentals and militia as well as the British, their German allies, and the Loyalist Americans. There will be a reenactment of the battle on the actual battlefield of Fort Montgomery; cannon firings, including the fort’s 32-pounder “George” and military drill and living history demonstrations throughout the day.

Schedule:

10:00 AM – Camps Open. Living History Demonstrations and Military Drill throughout the Day
11:00 AM – Guided Tour of Fort Montgomery – Starting at the Museum
12:00 PM – Children’s Musket Drill – Reenactment Field
1:00 PM – Artillery Firing – Grand Battery
1:30 PM – Military Music Demonstration – Grand Battery
2:00 PM – Children’s Musket Drill – Reenactment Field
3:00 PM – “Soldiers of the Twin Forts” – Museum Terrace
4:00 PM – Battle Reenactment – Reenactment Field
5:00PM – Camps Close

Parking will be available off-site with a shuttle bus running throughout the day (follow the posted signs). Twin Forts Day is presented by the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, the Fort Montgomery Battle Site Association, and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

Fort Montgomery is located at 690 Route 9W, ¼ mile north of the Bear Mountain Bridge. The museum and grounds are open Wed. through Sun. 9 AM to 5 PM. Call 845-446-2134 for more information.

More Hudson River Ramble September Weekends


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The 2012 Hudson River Valley Ramble continues for the weekends of September 15-16, 22-23, and 29-30, 2012. More than 170 events will be held from the Capital District to New York City.

The Ramble brings people outside to enjoy our distinct cultural heritage and the natural beauty of the Hudson River Valley. It also serves as an economic boost for our region’s tourism. Nearly 150 environmental, land conservancy, trail and historic preservation organizations, State historic sites and parks, as well as the National Park Service participate by offering events. Many events are free of charge and family friendly. Guided hikes, cycling and kayaking tours, historic site walks, festivals and river explorations are examples of some of the types of events that will be available for every ability level. With all that the Ramble has to offer, it’s easy to find a Ramble adventure nearby.

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Waterford Tugboat Roundup This Weekend


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More than two dozen boats are expected to participate in this year’s Tugboat Roundup in Waterford. The Roundup, cancelled last year due to damage caused by the storms Irene and Lee, is organized by the town of Waterford and runs from Friday, September 7 through Sunday, September 9.

Working tug boats from along the Hudson River including Kingston, Albany and Troy, from the Canal System, the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River are expected to converge in Waterford in time for Friday afternoon’s parade. The parade starts at the Port of Albany at 2:45 on Friday with boats arriving in Waterford as early as 5pm.

Live music will be performed throughout the event with at least nine different groups booked to play on board one of the tugs, the Grand Erie, docked in front of the Visitor’s Center along the canal at the foot of Tugboat Alley in the village.

Boat tours will be offered on both the Hudson River and the Waterford locks and kids activities will include face-painting, clown performances, puppet theaters, a bouncy-bounce, pony rides. and more throughout the weekend.

On Sunday, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) will be dedicating the Waterford flight of locks as a significant engineering achievement in America. This dedication will take place on Sunday.

A full schedule of performances and activities can be found on the Roundup’s website, www.tugboatroundup.com or on their Facebook page, www.facebook.com/tugboatroundup.com

Photo: The 2008 Tugboat Round-Up, Courtesy Duncan Hayes, NPS  (Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor).

Call to Artists: Hudson River School Art Trail


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To celebrate the many talented artists who continue to be inspired by the landscapes along the Hudson River School Art Trail, the Thomas Cole Historic Site has issued a “call to artists” to submit a new postcard-sized artwork for an exhibition and sale entitled “Postcards from the Trail” that will take place on Sunday September 23, 2012.

A preview will benefit the Greene County Council on the Arts on the Saturday before. Artworks may depict any one of the 22 magnificent views that are now part of the Hudson River School Art Trail, a series of driving and hiking routes to the places that inspired the great landscape paintings of the 19th century. Hurry! The deadline for submissions is August 31st. For information about the Saturday preview, contact the GCCA at 518-943-3400.

Artists can get the details and entry instructions online.

Bridges And New York History


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New York State has approximately 17,000 highway bridges. They are essential for traveling around our state and connecting our communities. About 37% are “functionally obsolete” or “structurally deficient,” according to DOT, a reminder of the need for continuing investment to maintain valuable resources.

Bridges – old and new – are part of community and state history. The story of three historically significant bridges shows various connections to history. Continue reading

Annual Waterford Tugboat Roundup Returns


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Tugboats will Roundup the weekend after Labor Day in Waterford after taking last year off due the effects of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.

The Tugboat Roundup is an annual event in Waterford, celebrating the maritime heritage of upstate and interior New York at the confluence of the Hudson River and New York State Canal system. The Roundup begins on Friday, September 7 and concludes on Sunday afternoon, September 9.

More than 30 tugboats, workboats, barges and other craft are expected along the Waterford wall at the entrance to the Erie Canal. The festival takes place in front of the Visitor’s Center at the foot of Tugboat Alley and kicks off with the Tugboat Parade on Friday afternoon which starts at the Port of Albany, coming into Waterford in late afternoon.

The Mohawk-Hudson chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers will be recognizing the Waterford Flight of Locks as a significant American Engineering achievement on Sunday at noon during the Roundup. The flight is a two-mile long series of five locks, critical to the success of the “modern” Erie Canal when it was built in the Nineteen Teens (it opened in 1917).  Boats are raised from Hudson River level more than 180 feet into the Mohawk River above Cohoes.

Additional land displays include local crafters, artists, food tents, historical displays and local organizations. The American Red Cross, continuing in their efforts to help the region recover from last year’s storms, will have a tent at the festival for more information and donations. Local fire departments, always at the ready, will also have information areas.

Live music with local musicians will take place throughout the weekend, kicked off on Friday afternoon with canal and river balladeer George Ward and including other local bands such as “All Nite Long,” “Yesterday’s News,” “Flood Road,” Nixie Dixie Cats,” “Captain Squeeze and the Zydeco Moshers,” “Lawson,” “Scott Stockman with Big Blue Sun,” and wrapping up with the “Boys of Wexford” on Sunday afternoon.

Fireworks will take place on Saturday evening at 8:00.

More information on the event, and the complete schedule can be found online. Check out video just released by the Saratoga Chamber of Commerce: http://youtu.be/69rO-PkJwfA

The Tugboat Roundup is organized by the Town of Waterford with the support of sponsors.

Photo: The 2008 Tugboat Round-Up, Courtesy Duncan Hayes, NPS  (Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor).

2012 Hudson River Valley Ramble Events Set


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The 2012 Hudson River Valley Ramble will be held on the weekends of September 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, and 29-30, 2012, with more than 165 events from the Capital District to New York City.

The Ramble aims to bring people outside to enjoy our distinct cultural heritage and the natural resources of the Hudson River Valley. It also serves as an economic boost for the regional economy. Nearly 150 environmental, land conservancy, trail and historic preservation organizations, New York State historic sites and parks, as well as the National Park Service participate by offering events, and many are free of charge and family friendly.

Guided hikes, cycling and kayaking tours, historic site walks, festivals and river explorations are examples of some of the types of events that will be available for every ability level. With all that the Ramble has to offer, you’ll have no problem finding a Ramble adventure near you. 
For a complete listing of events, visit www.hudsonrivervalleyramble.com. Copies of the program guide can be found in the August issue of Chronogram magazine or at various tourist destinations throughout the Hudson Valley. They may also be downloaded directly from the web site.

The Hudson River Valley Ramble is presented by the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area and Hudson River Valley Greenway, in partnership with the NYS DEC Hudson River Estuary Program, NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the NYS Office of Tourism, the National Park Service, and nearly 150 organizations hosting Ramble events throughout the Hudson River Valley.

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.