From Poughkeepsie to Kingston along the Hudson River

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Leaving the Poughkeepsie dock the steamer approaches the Poughkeepsie Bridge which, from Blue Point and miles below, has seemed to the traveler like a delicate bit of lace-work athwart the landscape, or like an old-fashioned “valance” which used to hang from Dutch bedsteads in the Hudson River farm houses. This great cantilever structure was begun in 1873, but abandoned for several years. The work was resumed in 1886 just in time to save the charter, and was finished by the Union Bridge Company in less than three years. The bridge is 12,608 feet in length (or about two miles and a half), the track being 212 feet above the water with 165 feet clear above the tide in the centre span. The breadth of the river at this point is 3,094 feet. The bridge originally cost over three million dollars and much more has been annually spent in necessary improvements. It not only affords a delightful passenger route between Philadelphia and Boston, but also brings the coal centers of Pennsylvania to the very threshold of New England. Two railroads from the east centre here, and what was once considered an idle dream, although bringing personal loss to many stockholders, has been of material advantage to the city.

As the steamer passes under the bridge the traveler will see on the left Highland station (West Shore Railroad) and above this the old landing of New Paltz. A well traveled road winds from the ferry and the station, up a narrow defile by the side of a dashing stream, broken here and there in waterfalls, to Highland Village, New Paltz and Lake Mohonk. The Bridge and Trolley Line from Poughkeepsie make a most delightful excursion to New Paltz, on the Wallkill, seat of one of the State normal colleges.

Prominent among many pleasant residences above Poughkeepsie are: Mrs. F. J. Allen‘s of New York, Mrs. John F. Winslow‘s, Mrs. Thomas Newbold‘s, J. Roosevelt‘s and Archie Rogers‘. The large red buildings above the Poughkeepsie water works are the Hudson River State Hospital. Passing Crum Elbow Point on the left and the Sisters of the White Cross Orphan Asylum, we see

Hyde Park

Hyde Park, 80 miles from New York, on the east bank, named some say, in honor of Lady Ann Hyde; according to others, after Sir Edward Hyde, one of the early British Governors of the colony. The first prominent place above Hyde Park, is Frederick W. Vanderbilt’s, with Corinthian columns; and above this “Placentia,” once the home of James K. Paulding.

Immediately opposite “Placentia,” at West Park on the west bank, is the home of John Burroughs, our sweetest essayist, the nineteenth century’s “White of Selborne.” Judge Barnard of Poughkeepsie, once said to the author of this handbook, “The best writer America has produced after Hawthorne is John Burroughs; I wish I could see him.” It so happened that there had been an important “bank” suit a day or two previous in Poughkeepsie which was tried before the judge in which Mr. Burroughs had appeared as an important witness. The judge was reminded of this fact when he remarked with a few emphatic words, the absence of which seems to materially weaken the sentence: “Was that Burroughs? Well, well, I wish I had known it.”

Mount Hymettus

Mount Hymettus, overlooking West Park, so named by “the author and naturalist,” has indeed been to him a successful hunting-ground for bees and wild honey, and will be long remembered for sweeter stores of honey encombed and presented in enduring type. Washington Irving says of the early poets of Britain that “a spray could not tremble in the breeze, or a leaf rustle to the ground, that was not seen by these delicate observers and wrought up into some beautiful morality.” So John Burroughs has studied the Hudson in all its moods, knowing ing well that it is not to be wooed and won in a single day. How clear this is seen in his articles on “Our River”:

“Rivers are as various in their forms as forest trees. The Mississippi is like an oak with enormous branches. What a branch is the Red River, the Arkansas, the Ohio, the Missouri! The Hudson is like the pine or poplar—mainly trunk. From New York to Albany there is only an inconsiderable limb or two, and but few gnarls and excrescences. Cut off the Rondout, the Esopus, the Catskill and two or three similar tributaries on the east side, and only some twigs remain. There are some crooked places, it is true, but, on the whole, the Hudson presents a fine, symmetrical shaft that would be hard to match in any river in the world. Among our own water-courses it stands preeminent. The Columbia—called by Major Winthrop the Achilles of rivers—is a more haughty and impetuous stream; the Mississippi is, of course, vastly larger and longer; the St. Lawrence would carry the Hudson as a trophy in his belt and hardly know the difference; yet our river is doubtless the most beautiful of them all. It pleases like a mountain lake. It has all the sweetness and placidity that go with such bodies of water, on the one hand, and all their bold and rugged scenery on the other. In summer, a passage up or down its course in one of the day steamers is as near an idyll of travel as can be had, perhaps, anywhere in the world. Then its permanent and uniform volume, its fullness and equipoise at all seasons, and its gently-flowing currents give it further the character of a lake, or of the sea itself. Of the Hudson it may be said that it is a very large river for its size,—that is for the quantity of water it discharges into the sea. Its watershed is comparatively small—less, I think, than that of the Connecticut. It is a huge trough with a very slight incline, through which the current moves very slowly, and which would fill from the sea were its supplies from the mountains cut off. Its fall from Albany to the bay is only about five feet. Any object upon it, drifting with the current, progresses southward no more than eight miles in twenty-four hours. The ebb-tide will carry it about twelve miles and the flood set it back from seven to nine. A drop of water at Albany, therefore, will be nearly three weeks in reaching New York, though it will get pretty well pickled some days earlier. Some rivers by their volume and impetuosity penetrate the sea, but here the sea is the aggressor, and sometimes meets the mountain water nearly half way. This fact was illustrated a couple of years ago, when the basin of the Hudson was visited by one of the most severe droughts ever known in this part of the State. In the early winter after the river was frozen over above Poughkeepsie, it was discovered that immense numbers of fish were retreating up stream before the slow encroachment of salt water. There was a general exodus of the finny tribes from the whole lower part of the river; it was like the spring and fall migration of the birds, or the fleeing of the population of a district before some approaching danger: vast swarms of cat-fish, white and yellow perch and striped bass were en route for the fresh water farther north. When the people along shore made the discovery, they turned out as they do in the rural districts when the pigeons appear, and, with small gill-nets let down through holes in the ice, captured them in fabulous numbers. On the heels of the retreating perch and cat-fish came the denizens of the salt water, and codfish were taken ninety miles above New York. When the February thaw came and brought up the volume of fresh water again, the sea brine was beaten back, and the fish, what were left of them, resumed their old feeding-grounds.

It is this character of the Hudson, this encroachment of the sea upon it, on account of the subsidence of the Atlantic coast, that led Professor Newberry to speak of it as a drowned river. We have heard of drowned lands, but here is a river overflowed and submerged in the same manner. It is quite certain, however, that this has not always been the character of the Hudson. Its great trough bears evidence of having been worn to its present dimensions by much swifter and stronger currents than those that course through it now. To this gradual subsidence in connection with the great changes wrought by the huge glacier that crept down from the north during what is called the ice period, is owing the character and aspects of the Hudson as we see and know them. The Mohawk Valley was filled up by the drift, the Great Lakes scooped out, and an opening for their pent-up waters found through what is now the St. Lawrence. The trough of the Hudson was also partially filled and has remained so to the present day. There is, perhaps, no point in the river where the mud and clay are not from two to three times as deep as the water. That ancient and grander Hudson lies back of us several hundred thousand years—perhaps more, for a million years are but as one tick of the time-piece of the Lord; yet even it was a juvenile compared with some of the rocks and mountains which the Hudson of to-day mirrors. The Highlands date from the earliest geological race—the primary; the river—the old river—from the latest, the tertiary; and what that difference means in terrestrial years hath not entered into the mind of man to conceive. Yet how the venerable mountains open their ranks for the stripling to pass through. Of course, the river did not force its way through this barrier, but has doubtless found an opening there of which it has availed itself, and which it has enlarged. In thinking of these things, one only has to allow time enough, and the most stupendous changes in the topography of the country are as easy and natural as the going out or the coming in of spring or summer. According to the authority above referred to, that part of our coast that flanks the mouth of the Hudson is still sinking at the rate of a few inches per century, so that in the twinkling of a hundred thousand years or so, the sea will completely submerge the city of New York, the top of Trinity Church steeple alone standing above the flood. We who live so far inland, and sigh for the salt water, need only to have a little patience, and we shall wake up some fine morning and find the surf beating upon our door-steps.”

How strange it seems in these brief years since 1880 to read of “Trinity Church steeple standing alone above the flood” as the rising tide of New York skyscrapers has long since overtopped the old landmark and is sweeping higher and higher day by day.

The Frothingham residence and Frothingham dock are south of the Burroughs cottage. The late General Butterfield’s house immediately to the north. The old Astor place (once known as Waldorf), is also near at hand. In our analysis of the Hudson we refer to the hills above and below Poughkeepsie as “The Picturesque.” Any one walking or driving from Highland Village to West Park will feel that this is a proper distinction. The Palisades are distinguished for “grandeur” which might be defined as “horizontal sublimity.” The Highlands for “sublimity” which might be termed “perpendicular grandeur;” the Catskills for “beauty,” with their rounded form and ever changing hues, but the river scenery about Poughkeepsie abides in our memories as a series of bright and charming “pictures.” North of Waldorf is Pelham, consisting of 1,200 acres, one of the largest fruit farms in the world. Passing Esopus Island, which seems like a great stranded and petrified whale, along whose sides often cluster Lilliputian-like canoeists, we see Brown’s Dock on the west bank at the mouth of Black Creek, which rises eight miles from Newburgh on the eastern slope of the Plaaterkill Mountains. Flowing through Black Pond, known by the Dutch settlers as the “Grote Binnewater,” it cascades its way along the southern slope of the Shaupeneak Mountains to Esopus Village, a cross-road hamlet, and thence carries to the Hudson its waters dark-stained by companionship with trees of hemlock and cedar growth. The Pell property extends on the west bank to Pell’s Dock, almost opposite the Staatsburgh ice houses. Mrs. Livingston’s residence will now be seen on the east bank, and just above this the home of the late William B. Dinsmore on Dinsmore Point. Passing Vanderberg Cove, cut off from the river by the tracks of the New York Central Railroad, we see the residence of Jacob Ruppert, and above this the Frinck mansion known as “Windercliffe,” formerly the property of E. R. Jones, and next beyond the house of Robert Suckly. Passing Ellerslie Dock we see “Ellerslie,” the palatial summer home of ex-Vice-President Levi P. Morton, an estate of six hundred acres, formerly owned by the Hon. William Kelly. Along the western bank extend the Esopus meadows, a low flat, covered by water, the southern end of which is marked by the Esopus light-house. To the west rises Hussey’s Mountain, about one thousand feet in height, from under whose eastern slope two little ponds, known as Binnewaters, send another stream to join Black Creek before it flows into the Hudson. Port Ewen on the west bank, with ice houses and brick yards, will be seen by steamer passengers below the mouth of Rondout Creek.

Rhinecliff

Rhinecliff, 90 miles from New York. The village of Rhinebeck, two miles east of the landing, is not seen from the river. It was named, as some contend, by combining two words —Beekman and Rhine. Others say that the word beck means cliff, and the town was so named from the resemblance of the cliffs to those of the Rhine. There are many delightful drives in and about Rhinebeck, “Ellerslie” being only about eight minutes by carriage from the landing.

The Philadelphia & Reading Rhinebeck Branch meets the Hudson at Rhinecliff, and makes a pleasant and convenient tourist or business route between the Hudson and the Connecticut. It passes through a delightful country and thriving rural villages. Some of the views along the Roeliffe Jansen’s Kill are unrivaled in quiet beauty. The railroad passes through Rhinebeck, Red Hook, Spring Lake, Ellerslie, Jackson Corners, Mount Ross, Gallatinville, Ancram, Copake, Boston Corners, and Mount Riga to State Line Junction, and gives a person a good idea of the counties of Dutchess and Columbia. At Boston Corners connection is made with the Harlem Railroad.

From State Line Junction it passes through Ore Hill, Lakeville with its beautiful lake (an evening view of which is still hung in our memory gallery of sunset sketches), Salisbury, Chapinville, and Twin Lakes to Canaan, where the line crosses the Housatonic Railroad. This route, therefore, is the easiest and pleasantest for Housatonic visitors en route to the Catskills. From Canaan the road rises by easy grade to the summit, at an elevation of 1,400 feet, passing through the village of Norfolk, with its picturesque New England church crowning the village hill, and thence to Simsbury and Hartford.

City of Kingston

—Rondout and Kingston gradually grew together until the bans were performed in 1878, and a “bow-knot” tied at the top of the hill in the shape of a city hall, making them one corporation.

The name Rondout had its derivation from a redoubt that was built on the banks of the creek. The creek took the name of Redoubt Kill, afterward Rundoubt, and at last Rondout. Kingston was once called Esopus. (The Indian name for the spot where the city now stands was At-kar-karton, the great plot or meadow on which they raised corn or beans.)

Kingston and Rondout were both settled in 1614, and old Kingston, known by the Dutch as Wiltwyck, was thrice destroyed by the Indians before the Revolution. In 1777 the State legislature met here and formed a constitution. In the fall of the same year, after the capture of Fort Montgomery and Fort Clinton by the British, Vaughan landed at Rondout, marched to Kingston, and burned the town. While Kingston was burning, the inhabitants fled to Hurley, where a small force of Americans hung a messenger who was caught carrying dispatches from Clinton to Burgoyne.

Rondout is the termination of the Delaware and Hudson Canal (whence canal boats of coal find their way from the Pennsylvania Mountains to tidewater), also of the Ulster and Delaware Railroad, by which people find their way from tidewater to the Catskill Mountains, which have greeted the eye of the tourist for many miles down the Hudson. Originally all of the country-side in this vicinity was known as Esopus, supposed to be derived, according to Ruttenber, from the Indian word “seepus,” a river. A “sopus Indian” was a Lowlander, and the name is intimately connected with a long reach of territory from Esopus Village, near West Park, to the mouth of the Esopus at Saugerties. In 1675 the mouth of the Rondout Creek was chosen by the New Netherland Company as one of the three fortified trading ports on the Hudson; a stockade was built under the guidance of General Stuyvesant in 1661 inclosing the site of old Kingston; a charter was granted in 1658 under the name of Wiltwyck, but changed in 1679 to Kingston. Few cities are so well off for old-time houses that span the century, and there is no congregation probably in the United States that has worshipped so many consecutive years in the same spot as the Dutch Reformed people of Kingston. Five buildings have succeeded the log church of 240 years ago. Dr. Van Slyke, in a recent welcome, said: “This church, which opens her doors to you, claims a distinction which does not belong even to the Collegiate Dutch Churches of Manhattan Island, and, by a peculiar history, stands identified more closely with Holland than any other of the early churches of this country. When every other church of our communion had for a long time been associated with an American Synod, this church retained its relations to the Classis of Amsterdam, and, after a period of independency and isolation, it finally allied itself with its American sisterhood as late as the year 1808. We still have three or four members whose life began before that date.”

Dominie Blom was the first preacher in Kingston. The church where he preached and the congregation that gathered to hear him have been tenderly referred to by the Rev. Dr. Belcher:

“They’ve journeyed on from touch and tone;
No more their ears shall hear
The war-whoop wild, or sad death moan,
Or words of fervid prayer;
But the deeds they did and plans they planned,
And paths of blood they trod,
Have blessed and brightened all this land
And hallowed it for God.”

The Senate House

The Senate House, built in 1676 by Wessel Ten Broeck, who would seem by his name to have stepped bodily out of a chapter of Knickerbocker, was “burned” but not “down,” for its walls stood firm. It was afterwards repaired, and sheltered many dwellers, among others, General Armstrong, secretary of war under President Madison. The Provincial Convention met in the court house at Kingston in 1777 and the Constitution was formally announced April 22d of that year. The first court was held here September 9th and the first legislature September 10th. Adjourning October 7th, they convened again August 18th, 1779, and in 1780, from April 22d to July 2d, also for two months beginning January 27, 1783.

It was in the yard in front of the court house that the Constitution of the State was proclaimed by Robert Berrian, the secretary of the Constitutional Convention, and it was there that George Clinton, the first Governor of the State, was inaugurated and took the oath of office. It was in the court house that John Jay, chief justice, delivered his memorable charge to the grand jury in September, 1777, and at the opening said: “Gentlemen, it affords me very sensible pleasure to congratulate you on the dawn of that free, mild, and equal government which now begins to rise and break from amidst the clouds of anarchy, confusion and licentiousness, which the arbitrary and violent domination of the King of Great Britain has spread, in greater or less degree, throughout this and other American states. And it gives me particular satisfaction to remark that the first fruits of our excellent Constitution appear in a part of this State whose inhabitants have distinguished themselves by having unanimously endeavored to deserve them.” The court house bell was originally imported from Holland.

The burning of Kingston seemed unnecessarily cruel, and it is said that Vaughan was wide of the truth when, to justify the same, he claimed that he had been fired upon from dwellings in the village. General Sharpe in his address before the Holland Society says: “The history of this county begins to be interesting at the earliest stages of American history: Visited by Dutchmen in 1614, and again in 1620, it was in the very earliest Colonial history, one of the strong places of the Province of New York. The British museum contains the report of the Rev. John Miller, written in the year 1695, who, after ‘having been nearly three years resident in the Province of New York, in America, as chaplain of His Majesty’s forces there, and constantly attending the Governor, had opportunity of observing many things of considerable consequence in relation to the Christians and Indians, and had also taken the drafts of all the cities, towns, forts and churches of any note within the same.’ These are his own words, and he adds that in the Province of New York ‘the places of strength are chiefly three, the city of New York, the city of Albany, and the town of Kingstone, in Ulster.’ The east, north and west fronts ran along elevations overlooking the lowlands and having a varying altitude of from twenty to thirty feet. The enclosure comprehended about twenty-five acres of land. There were salient’s, or horn works at each end of the four angles, with a circular projection at the middle of the westerly side, where the elevation was less than upon the northerly and easterly sides. The church standing upon the ground where we now are, was enclosed with a separate stockade, to be used as the last resort in case of disaster, and, projecting from this separate fortification, a strong block-house commanded and enfiladed the approaches to the southerly side, which was a plain. The local history is of continued and dramatic interest. The Indian wars were signalized by a great uprising and attack here, which was known as the war of 1663, when a considerable number of the inhabitants were killed, a still larger number were taken prisoners, and about one-fourth of the houses were burned to the ground. Reinforcements were sent by the governor-general from New Amsterdam, followed by his personal presence, when the Indians were driven back to the mountains, and, after a tedious campaign, their fields destroyed and the prisoners recaptured. When the next great crisis in our history came Kingston bore a conspicuous part. It was the scene of the formation of the State Government. The Constitution was here discussed and adopted. George Clinton was called from the Highlands, where, as a brigadier-general of the Continental army, he was commanding all the forces upon the Hudson River, which were opposing the attempts of Sir Henry Clinton to reach the northern part of the State and relieve Burgoyne, hemmed in by Gates at Saratoga. He was the ideal war governor—unbuckling his sword in the court room, that he might take the oath of office, and returning, immediately after the simple form of his inauguration, to his command upon the Hudson River.

“The court house, standing opposite to us, and rebuilt upon its old foundations, and occupying, substantially, the same superficies of ground with its predecessors, recalls the dramatic scene where, surrounded by the council of safety, and in a square formed by two companies of soldiers, he was proclaimed Governor by Egbert Dumond, the sheriff of the county, reading his proclamation from the top of a barrel, and closing it with the words ‘God save the people,’ for the first time taking the place of ‘God save the King.’ The only building in any way connected with the civil foundation of this great State is still standing, and presents the same appearance that it did at the time of its erection, prior to the year 1690. It was subsequently occupied by General Armstrong, who, while residing here for the better education of his children, in Kingston Academy, was appointed minister to France. Aaron Burr, then in attendance upon court, spent an evening with General Armstrong, at his house, and, having observed the merit of sundry sketches, made inquiry with regard to, and interested himself in the fate of John Vanderlyn, who afterwards painted the Landing of Columbus in the Capitol, and Marius upon the Ruins of Carthage—which attracted the attention of the elder Napoleon, and established Vanderlyn’s fame. There are more than forty blue limestone houses of the general type found in Holland, still standing to-day, which were built before the revolutionary period, and many of them before the year 1700.”

Coal, cement and blue-stone are the prominent industries of the city. The cement works yield several million dollars annually and employ about two thousand men. A million tons of coal enter the Hudson via the Port of Rondout from the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania every year. Blue-stone also meets tide-water at this point, brought in from quarries throughout the country by rail or by truck. The city of Kingston, the largest station on the West Shore between Weehawken and Albany, has admirable railroad facilities connecting with the Erie Railway at Goshen via the Wallkill Valley, and the Catskills via the Ulster & Delaware. All roads centre at the Union Station and the Ulster & Delaware connects at Kingston Point with the Hudson River Day Line, also with the New York Central by ferry from Rhinebeck.

To the Catskills.—The two principal routes to the Catskills are via Kingston and the Ulster & Delaware Railroad, and via Catskill Landing, the Catskill Mountain Railway and Otis Elevating Railway to the summit of the mountains. It has occurred to the writer to divide the mountain section in two parts:

The Southern Catskills

Kingston Point, where the steamer lands is indeed a picturesque portal to a picturesque journey. The beautiful park at the landing presents the most beautiful frontage of any pleasure ground along the river. Artistic pagodas located at effective points add greatly to the natural landscape effect, and excursionists via Day Line from Albany have a delightful spot for lunch and recreation while waiting for the return steamer. In the busy months of mountain travel it is interesting to note the rush and hurry between the landing of the steamer and the departure of the train. The “all aboard” is given, and as we stand on the rear platform a friend points north to a bluff near Kingston Point and says the Indian name is “Ponckhockie”—signifying a burial ground. The old redoubts of Kingston, on the left, were defenses used in early days against the Indians.

After leaving Kingston Union Depot, the most important station on the West Shore Railroad, and the terminus of the Wallkill Valley Railroad, we pass through Stony Hollow, eight miles from Rondout, where the traveler will note the stone tracks in the turnpike below, on the right side of the car, used by quarry wagons. Crossing the Stony Hollow ravine, we reach West Hurley, nine miles from Rondout and 540 feet above the sea.

The Overlook commands an extensive view,—with an area of 30,000 square miles, from the peaks of New Hampshire and the Green Mountains of Vermont to the hills of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. To the east the valley reaches away with its towns and villages to the blue hills of Massachusetts and Connecticut, and, through this beautiful valley, the Hudson for a hundred miles is reduced to a mere ribbon of light. Woodstock, at the foot of the Overlook, is popular with summer visitors, and is a good starting point for the mountain outlook.

Olive Branch is the pretty name of the station above West Hurley. Temple Pond, at the foot of Big Toinge Mountain, covers about one hundred acres, and affords boating and fishing to those visiting the foothills of the Southern Catskills.

Brown’s Station is three miles beyond, and near at hand Winchell’s Falls on the Esopus. The Esopus Creek comes in view near this station for the first time after leaving Kingston. The route now has pleasant companionship for twenty miles or more with the winding stream.

Brodhead’s Bridge is delightfully located on its wooded banks near the base of High Point, and near at hand is a bright cascade known as Bridal Veil Falls.

Shokan, 18 miles from Rondout. Here the road takes a northerly course and we are advised by Mr. Van Loan’s guide to notice on the left “a group of five mountains forming a crescent; the peaks of these mountains are four miles distant;” the right-hand one is the “Wittenberg,” and the next “Mount Cornell.” Boiceville and Mount Pleasant, 700 feet above the Hudson, are next reached. We enter the beautiful Shandaken Valley, and three miles of charming mountain scenery bring us to—

Phœnicia, 29 miles from Rondout and 790 feet above the Hudson. This is one of the central points of the Catskills which the mountain streams (nature’s engineers), indicated several thousand years ago. Readers of “Hiawatha” will remember that Gitche Manitou, the mighty, traced with his finger the way the streams and rivers should run. The tourist will be apt to think that he used his thumb in marking out the wild grandeur of Stony Clove. The Tremper House has a picturesque location in a charming valley, which seems to have been cut to fit, like a beautiful carpet, and tacked down to the edge of these grand old mountains. A fifteen minutes’ walk up Mount Tremper gives a wide view, from which the Lake Mohonk House is sometimes seen, forty miles away. Phœnicia is one of the most important stations on the line—the southern terminus of the Stony Clove and Catskill Mountain division of the Ulster & Delaware system. Keeping to the main line for the present we pass through Allaben, formerly known as Fox Hollow, and come to—

Shandaken, 35 miles from Rondout and 1,060 feet in altitude, an Indian name signifying “rapid water.” Here are large hotels and many boarding houses and the town is a central point for many mountain spots and shady retreats in every direction—all of which are well described in one of the handsomest summer resort guides of the season, the handbook of the Ulster & Delaware Railroad. Three miles beyond Shandaken we come to a little station whose name reminds one of the plains: Big Indian, 1,209 feet above the river.

Big Indian

—It is said that about a century ago, a noble red man dwelt in these parts, who, early in life, turned his attention to agriculture instead of scalping, and won thereby the respect of the community. Tradition has it that he was about seven feet in height, but was overpowered by wolves, and was buried by his brethren not far from the station, where a “big Indian” was carved out of a tree near by for his monument. An old and reliable inhabitant stated that he remembered the rude statue well, and often thought that it ought to be saved for a relic, as the stream was washing away the roots; but it was finally carried down by a freshet, and probably found its way to some fire-place in the Esopus Valley. “So man passes away, as with a flood.” There is another tale, one of love but less romantic, wherein he was killed by his rival and placed upright in a hollow tree. Perhaps neither tradition is true, and quite possibly the Big Indian name grew out of some misunderstanding between the Indians and white settlers over a hundred years ago. As the train leaves the station it begins a grade of 150 feet per mile to—

Pine Hill, a station perched on the slope of Belle Ayr Mountain. This is the watershed between the Esopus and the Delaware, and 226 feet above us, around the arcs of a double horseshoe, is the railway summit, 1,886 feet above the tide.

Grand Hotel Station

The New Grand, the second largest hotel in the Catskills, with a frontage of 700 feet, stands on a commanding terrace less than half a mile from the station. The main building faces southwest and overlooks the hamlet of Pine Hill, down the Shandaken Valley to Big Indian. The mountains, “grouped like giant kings” in the distance are Slide Mountain, Panther Mountain, Table and Balsam Mountains. Panther Mountain, directly over Big Indian Station, with Atlas-like shoulders, being nearer, seems higher, and is often mistaken for Slide Mountain. Table Mountain, to the right of the Slide, is the divide between the east branch of the Neversink and the Rondout.

Continuing our journey from the summit we pass through Fleischmann’s to—

Arkville, railway station for Margaretville, one and a half miles distant, and Andes twelve miles—connected by stages. Furlough Lake, the mountain home of George Gould, is seven miles from Arkville. An artificial cave near Arkville, with hieroglyphics on the inner walls, attracts many visitors. Passing through Kelly’s Corners and Halcottville, we come to—

Roxbury (altitude 1,497 feet), a quaint old village at the upper end of which is the Gould Memorial Church. Miss Helen Gould spends part of her summer here and has done much to make beautiful the village of her father’s boyhood. Grand Gorge comes next 1,570 feet above the tide, where stages are taken for Gilboa three miles, and Prattsville five miles distant, on the Schoharie Creek. Pratt’s Rocks are visited by hundreds because of the carving in bas-relief of Colonel Pratt and figures emblematic of his career.

Stamford is now at hand, seventy-six miles from the Hudson, about 1,800 feet above the sea, named by settlers from Stamford, Conn. Here are many large hotels, chief among them The Rexmere and Churchill Hall. Thirteen miles from Stamford we come to Hobart, four miles further to South Kortright, and then to—

Bloomville, eighty-nine miles from the Hudson, where a stage line of eight miles takes the traveler to Delhi. Passing through Kortright, ninety-two miles from the Hudson, 1,868 feet above the tide, East Meredith, Davenport, West Davenport (where passengers en route for Cooperstown and Richfield Springs are transferred to the Cooperstown and Charlotte Valley R. R.) and four miles bring us to

Oneonta, on the Susquehanna division of the Hudson & Delaware R. R. Returning to Phœnicia we take train through “Stony Clove Notch,” passing Chichester, Lanesville, Edgewood and Kaaterskill Junction to—

Hunter, terminus of the Stony Clove Road. Resuming the eastward journey at Kaaterskill Junction we come to—

Tannersville, near which are Elka Park, Onteora Park and Schoharie Manor.

Haines Corners is another busy station, at the head of Kaaterskill Clove. On the slope of Mt. Lincoln have also been established “Twilight,” “Santa Cruz” and “Sunset” Parks.

Laurel House Station.—Here the voice of a waterfall invites the tourist to one of the most famous spots in the Catskill region and a mile beyond is

Kaaterskill Station, 2,145 feet above the sea, the highest point reached by any railroad in the State, and half a mile or so further we alight on a rocky balcony, known for its beautiful view all over the world.



MLA Source Citation:

Bruce, Wallace. The Hudson; Three Centuries of History, Romance and Invention. New York: Bryant Union Company. 1907. AccessGenealogy.com. Web. 15 September 2014. http://www.accessgenealogy.com/new-york/poughkeepsie-kingston-along-hudson-river.htm - Last updated on Jan 6th, 2014


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