Preservationists Leading Tour of Algonquin Park, Newburgh


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round houseThe coalition Preserve Algonquin Park, Town of Newburgh Historian Joe Santacroce, and the Newburgh Historical Society have partnered to share the history of Orange Mills in Newburgh, and the development of Algonquin Park that surrounds it with a walking tour through the scattered gunpowder ruins on June 16th at 2 pm.

Orange Mills started as an industrial complex for the manufacture of black powder throughout most of the nineteenth century. Workers in the wooded acres along Powder Mill Road carefully combined volatile ingredients that were refined into gunpowder which they packed and shipped around the country. Machinery, powered by the Quassaick Creek that winds through the property, was carefully operated from a slight distance. Wood and copper tools were used to avoid unwanted sparks, and stone structures were built with thick walls intended to redirect explosive forces. Accidents were unavoidable and the mill survived twenty explosions over the course of its operation. Many of those explosions were heard and felt miles away. Now, over a century since it closed, Orange Mills is being reclaimed by nature.

A coalition, Preserve Algonquin Park, has formed to halt the forces of nature and reclaim parts of the old mill for posterity. That group is teaming up with Town of Newburgh Historian Joe Santacroce and the Newburgh Historical Society to share the history of Orange Mills and the development of Algonquin Park that surrounds it during a walking tour through the scattered gunpowder ruins on June 16th.

Philanthropist, Frederick Delano, gifted the land in 1934 for a public park. A lone NY State marker off Powder Mill Road indicates that this is a notable place but without sharing much detail about the 40-acre park.

In 2017, Preserve Algonquin Park met with Orange County officials who appropriated money for a study taking place this year to assess the conditions of the masonry ruins located in the woodlands and the ecology of the marshes and creek.

Algonquin Park’s first coordinated interpretation for the public happens Saturday afternoon, June 16th in the form of a guided tour beginning at 2 pm. Reservations can be made online or by calling (845) 561-2585. Space is limited. Admission is a suggested donation. Refreshments will be served.

Photo of The Round House used as a washroom by workmen to remove gunpowder residue, by Joe Santacroce.

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