Tag Archives: Palisades Interstate Park Commission

Carol Ash Elected to Palisades Park Conservancy Board


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Carol_Ash_2013_0Former Palisades Interstate Park Commission Executive Director and New York State Parks Commissioner Carol Ash has been elected to serve a three-year term on the Palisades Parks Conservancy Board of Directors.

During her career in the fields of natural and cultural resources preservation, Carol Ash has served as the first director of the Office of Environmental Policy and Management for the Port Authority of NY and NJ, the NYC Regional Director of the NYS DEC, the PIPC Executive Director, and the NY State Parks Commissioner. Continue reading

Four New Online Resources For New York History


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l-retro-computer-ads-80s-eg_largeHere’s a quick look at some of the latest New York History resources to hit the web:

The Museum of the City of New York and the South Street Seaport Museum have launched a joint “catablog” which provides online access to finding aids for their archival collections.  The archivists at both museums will continue to make more finding aids accessible via the Catablog as the collections are processed. Continue reading

Palisades Region’s River Parks Master Plan Meeting


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South_end_of_Rockland_Lake_c19090The NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) Palisades Region and the Palisades Interstate Park Commission (PIPC) will hold a public hearing 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 (The Park Complex). OPRHP and PIPC encourage the public to participate in the planning efforts for The Park Complex and welcome all comments related to the DRAFT MASTER PLAN and Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). Continue reading

Palisades Parks Conservancy 10th Annual Benefit


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The Palisades Parks Conservancy will hold its 10th Annual Benefit Reception and Silent Auction at the Bear Mountain Inn on Saturday, September 15th, 2012. The Conservancy will will present Barnabas McHenry with the Palisades Founders Award in recognition of his legacy of dedication and generosity to the parks and historic sites of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission.

Barney, long committed to conservation, serves as a Palisades Interstate Park Commissioner, Chair of the Hudson River Valley Greenway Council, and co-chair of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area.

The Conservancy will also extend its thanks and well wishes to the Honorable Maurice Hinchey, environmental watchdog in the United States Congress and the man behind the Hudson River Greenway and Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area. For more information or to request an invitation, call 845-786-2701 extension 281 or email smiths@pipc.org.

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.

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.

Work to Close Harriman- Bear Mountain Park Trails


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Work to replace a water line that runs through the Popolopen Gorge will close the Popolopen Gorge Trail and portions of the 1779, 1777W and Timp Torne Trails beginning at about the end of September. The closure will affect trails for a distance of 2.2 miles through the Gorge.

The Queensboro Water Transmission Main Replacement work will involve directional drilling and trenching, likely including some blasting, to replace the old aqueduct that provides water to Bear Mountain facilities. Duration of the project is expected to be six months, possibly extending into late spring of 2012. The work will destroy the trail surface; reconditioning of the surface is included in the work plan.

The map above indicates (yellow outline) the area of the trails to be closed. To aid in understanding the full situation of limited access to trails in the area, also indicated is the former location of the Popolopen Creek bridge that was washed aside by Hurricane Irene. Replacement of this long fiberglass bridge will be an extended process, requiring determination of the repair procedure, consideration of raising the height of the bridge, acquiring funding, accomplishing the repair, and moving and reinstalling the bridge into place. For more information, call (845) 786-2701.

Palisades Parks Affected by Tropical Storm Irene


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Many state parks and historic sites in the Palisades Region are inaccessible due to damage from Tropical Storm Irene. Parks will reopen as power is restored, debris is removed, floodwaters recede, and public safety can be assured. The list of closings will be updated as conditions changes. Before visiting, visitors should contact the respective park offices for the most up-to-date information on availability of facilities and hours of operation.



* Bear Mountain State Park services are limited due to disruption of water service and the pool will remain closed for the season. The zoo is currently closed.

* Camping at Sebago Cabins, Beaver Pond and group camps at Harriman State Park is unavailable until further notice.

* Sebago Beach at Harriman is closed for the season.

* Lake Welch and Tiorati areas of Harriman are without power and water.

* High Tor State Park is without power.

* Minnewaska State Park Preserve will be open on a limited basis until further notice effective Saturday, September 3, 2011. The Preserve will only be open for hiking, picnicking, and swimming at Lake Minnewaska and climbing at the Peter’s Kill area. Biking and equestrian use will not be permitted. Access is only available for hikers and climbers. All hikers must park in the Awosting Parking Lot and all climbers must park in the Peter’s Kill parking lot. Please adhere to all posted trail closings.

Photo: Storm Damage on Palisades Park Road (Photo by Sean Rose).

Hook Mountain Saved 100 Years Ago


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One hundred years ago this month, less than a year after the Harriman gift of $1,000,000 and 10,000 acres was leveraged to raise an additional $4.5 million in private and state funds, the Palisades Interstate Park Commission began its purchase of the five quarries that were steadily eating away at the stately Hook Mountain ridge between Nyack and Haverstraw, New York.

The first quarry purchased belonged to the Manhattan Trap Rock Company. Its facilities, including the concrete power house used to crush the rock before being loaded onto barges from the wharf, were eventually dismantled or converted by the WPA to recreational facilities. The power house, a beautiful dutch colonial sandstone building that sits at the foot of the mountain, was transformed into a bath house when swimming in the Hudson was still permitted. This magnificent example of adaptive use is now experiencing a second wave of interest by the community as the anchor of Nyack Beach State Park.

The River Trail, one of the Hudson River Valley Greenway Trails, runs north from Nyack Beach for almost five miles. A magnet for runners, cyclists, bird watchers, fishermen, lovers, and artists, it is the only trail along the lower Hudson in New York that does not share its waterfront with a train line or highway. The Long Path parallels this trail high above atop the cliffs.

Thanksgiving Time at Mrs. Kearney’s Tavern


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There will be 19th-century-style after-the-holiday open house programs at the historic Kearney House at Alpine Boat Basin & Picnic Area (Palisades Interstate Park Exit 2, then follow Alpine Approach Road to river) on Saturday & Sunday afternoons, November 27 & 28, from 1 to 3 PM. The programs will feature hot mulled cider and light food, period music with Mr. Thaddeus MacGregor, and fun and games for children. The programs, to be held rain or shine, are open to all with no reservations required; visitors are welcome to stay for as long as they like during the open hours. A donation box will be by the door. Suggestion: $3 adults, $1 children.

Listed on the National and New Jersey State Historic Registers as the “Blackledge-Kearney House”—but familiarly known as the “Kearney House” or the “Cornwallis Headquarters” (it was once thought that the British general had stayed here in 1776)—this house has been a Hudson River homestead, a riverfront tavern, a Park police station, and a “historic shrine.” Today it helps bring to life two centuries in the story of the Hudson River and the families who depended upon it for their lives and livelihoods.

For more information: 201 768-1360 ext. 108.

100th Anniversary of the Harriman Gift


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On October 29, 1910, 18-year-old Averell Harriman, the future governor of the State of New York, represented the Harriman family in donating 10,000 acres of land in the Lower Hudson Valley and $1 million dollars to the Palisades Interstate Park Commission (PIPC). The young Averell stated “it is the hope that through all the years to come the health and happiness of future generations will be advanced by these gifts.” The family’s gift created Bear Mountain and Harriman State Parks, which now encompass more than 50,000 acres, more than three times the size of Manhattan.

In recognition of this year’s historic anniversary, PIPC has initiated a fundraising effort to rebuild, repair, and restore the Harriman Group Camps, with a goal of $2 million. The effort hopes to build a new generation of philanthropy for the Harriman Group Camps so generations of children can share in the wilderness experience. Donations for the Harriman Group Camps can be made to the Palisades Parks Conservancy Group Camp Fund.

Photo: Women enjoying the serenity of Bear Mountain c. 1914. Photo Courtesy of PIPC Archives.

Archives Month: Palisades Interstate Park Commission


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October is New York State Archives and National Archives Month, a time to celebrate and promote the rich and diverse documentary heritage of our great state by increasing public awareness of archival materials and repositories and by acknowledging the importance of our records keepers.

Archives are essential to the historical record and include a wide range of document types, including letters, legal records, transcripts, diaries, newspapers, photographs, reports, architectural drawings, manuscripts, artifacts, audio and video records, and materials in electronic formats.

The Palisades Interstate Park Commission has 110 years worth of archives in all of these categories. The PIPC’s archives are currently housed in a former naval barrack on the Iona Island Estuarine and Bird Sanctuary. The vast collection, which documents the creation and development of the nation’s first interstate park, is an important resource for historians, environmental advocates, and archaeologists. From the documentation of the movement to stop the destruction of the Palisades cliffs, the collection of statistics of multiple natural studies, to the reports and hearings that form the genesis of today’s environmental movement at Storm King Mountain, to the creation of its 28 parks and historic sites, PIPC’s archival holdings are a largely untapped Hudson Valley treasure.

Palisade’s archives are divided into four disciplines: Archaeology and Native Americans, Historical Photographs, Research Library, and Park History. Researchers, educators, and authors have used items in the collection for unlimited projects including books, films, newspaper articles, and lectures.

But like many repositories of history, the PIPC Archive is in serious need of improvement. Only generally organized, volunteers and funding are greatly needed for database entry, cataloging, digitizing documents, and general upkeep.

The Commission is grateful for its first archive grant given by the Nyack based Austin Stokes Ancient Americas Foundation in support of the PIPC Native American collection. This funding allowed the protection of this invaluable collection.

But, much more is needed. For example, of the approximately 100,000 photographs located in the collection, less than five percent have been digitized and catalogued. And the facility in which the archives are stored, originally a barracks from when Iona Island was a naval munitions factory for World Wars I & II, lacks climate control, a critical component in the preservation of any archive.

If you are interested in assisting the Palisades Interstate Park Commission to preserve and make available this unique collection, please contact Susan E. Smith, PIPC Research and Development Director, at smiths@pipc.org.

Photo: The Carpenter Quarry, Fort Lee, NJ.