The Copake Iron Works historic site in Taconic State Park has been designated a Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area Site.
The recognition, awarded through the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, in partnership with the National Park Service, recognizes the Copake Iron Works as a nationally-significant cultural and natural resource of the Hudson River Valley.
As a Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area Site, the Copake Iron Works joins about 100 other historic places in the Hudson Valley including Olana State Historic Site, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, and the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park.
Friends of Taconic State Park, who helped lead the recognition effort, has worked since 2008 to preserve, stabilize and interpret the Copake Iron Works historic site, one of the most intact examples of 19th century industrial ironmaking in the northeast. The site is home to more remaining buildings and structures – including the centerpiece Copake Blast Furnace with its water jacket hearth – than most other iron works of its era.
New York State acquired the abandoned Copake Iron Works in 1926 as part of the creation of Taconic State Park. The site remained an industrial ruin until 2008 when Friends of Taconic State Park was formed. The stabilization and preservation work carried out by the Friends since then has been guided by the March 2000 report, The Copake Iron Works at Taconic State Park – A Report on its Historical Significance and Development Potential, by Larry Gobrecht, a State Parks historian, and Tom Scofield, who served as Taconic State Park Manager from 1985 to 2000. J.
Winthrop Aldrich, retired New York State Deputy Commissioner of Historic Preservation, was instrumental in helping the Copake Iron Works achieve National Heritage Area designation according to an announcement by Friends of Taconic State Park.
Established by 19th century industrialist Lemuel Pomeroy in 1845 at the base of the Taconic Ridge in Copake Falls, New York, the ironworks operated from 1845 until 1903. Components of this extraordinarily intact 19th century industrial complex include the rare blast furnace, the blowing engine house, a machine shop museum with original equipment and artifacts, an original condition ironworkers’ residence, a Carpenter-Gothic style office building, and the elegant residence of Isaac Chesbrough, one of the first ironmasters for the site.
A three-mile loop trail circumnavigating the Copake Iron Works Historic District and Bash Bish Falls State Park has been extensively interpreted with signage designed and installed by Friends of Taconic State Park with assistance from the New York State Bureau of Historic Sites.
Self-guided tours of the Copake Iron Works Heritage trail can be enjoyed year round. Guided tours of the Copake Iron Works Museum are offered weekends from May to November.
Friends of Taconic State Park was established in 2008 to support cultural, recreational and educational activities within the park with the preservation of the historic Copake Iron Works site its first priority. The group is implementing a 20-year plan, approved by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, to create an iron-making historic site and a national destination for tourists in Copake Falls.
Photos provided: Friends of Taconic State Park’s efforts to save the Copake Iron Works have included the stabilization and preservation of the iconic 19th century blast furnace.