Collection: The Hudson

The Hudson River

The Hudson River has played a prominent roll in the history of the State of New York and America. This collection of writings documents a writers sojourn along the Hudson River as he explains in poignant language the features, locations, history and tales of the Hudson River.

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From Yonkers to West Point along the Hudson River

Passing Glenwood, now a suburban station of Yonkers, conspicuous from the Colgate mansion near the river bank, built by a descendant of the English Colgates who were familiar friends of William Pitt, and leaders of the Liberal Club in Kent, England, and “Greystone,” once the country residence of the late Samuel J. Tilden, Governor of New York, and presidential candidate in 1876, we come to Hastings to Dobbs Ferry Hastings, where a party of Hessians during the Revolutionary struggle were surprised and cut to pieces by troops under Colonel Sheldon. It was here also that Lord Cornwallis embarked for Fort Lee after the capture of Fort Washington, and here in 1850 Garibaldi, the liberator of Italy, whose centennial was observed July 4, 1907, frequently came to spend the Sabbath and visit friends when he was living at Staten Island. Although there is apparently little to interest in the village, there are many beautiful residences in the immediate neighborhood, and the Old Post road for two miles to the northward furnishes a beautiful walk or driveway, well shaded by old locust trees. The tract of country from Spuyten Duyvil to Hastings was called by the Indians Kekesick and reached east as far as the Bronx River. Dobbs Ferry is now at hand, named after an old Swedish ferryman. The village has not only a delightful location but it is also...

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From West Point to Newburgh along the Hudson River

The steamer passes too near the west bank to give a view of the magnificent plateau with parade ground and Government buildings, but on rounding the point a picture of marvelous beauty breaks at once upon the vision. On the left the massive indented ridge of Old Cro’ Nest and Storm King, and on the right Mount Taurus, or Bull Hill, and Break Neck, while still further beyond toward the east sweeps the Fishkill range, sentineled by South Beacon, 1,625 feet in height, from whose summit midnight gleams aroused the countryside for leagues and scores of miles during those seven long years when men toiled and prayed for freedom. Close at hand on the right will be seen Constitution Island, formerly the home of Miss Susan Warner, who died in 1885, author of “Queechy” and the “Wide, Wide World.” Here the ruins of the old fort are seen. The place was once called Martalaer’s Rock Island. A chain was stretched across the river at this point to intercept the passage of boats up the Hudson, but proved ineffectual, like the one at Anthony’s Nose, as the impetus of the boats snapped them both like cords. Some years ago, when the first delegation of Apache Indians was brought to Washington to sign a treaty of peace, the Indians were taken for an “outing” up the Hudson, by General O. O....

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Source of the Hudson

In our journey from Albany to Plattsburgh, we have indicated various routes to the Adirondacks: By way of Saratoga and North Creek to Blue Mountain Lake following the course of the Hudson which might there for be called “The Hudson Gateway;” via Lake George, Westport, and Elizabethtown, suited for carriage and pedestrian trips, and via Plattsburgh, which might be termed “The Northern Portal.” In addition to these it has been my lot to make several trips up the valley of the Sacandaga to Lake Pleasant and Indian Lake, and via Schroon Lake to Sanford and Lake Henderson—and four times to ascend the mountain trail of Tahawas to the tiny rills and fountains of the Hudson, but one trip abides in memory distinct and unrivalled, which may be of service to those who wish to visit in fact or fancy the head waters of the Hudson. The Tahawas Club The Tahawas Club.—We took the cars one bright August morning from Plattsburgh to Ausable Forks, a distance of twenty miles, hired a team to Beede’s, some thirty miles distant from the “Forks;” took dinner at Keene, and pursued our route up the beautiful valley of the Ausable. From this point we visited Roaring-Brook Falls, some four hundred feet high, a very beautiful waterfall in the evening twilight. The next morning we started, bright and early, for the Ausable Ponds. Four miles...

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From Poughkeepsie to Kingston along the Hudson River

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...

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Discovery of the Hudson River

So Robert Fulton had several predecessors in the idea of applying steam to navigation. —John Fitch in 1785, William Symington in 1788 and many others who likewise coasted along the shore and indenture of a great idea, marked by continual failure and final abandonment. It was reserved for Fulton to complete and stamp upon his labor the seal of service and success, and to stand, therefore, its accepted inventor. In addition to the invention of Fulton who has contributed so much to the business and brotherhood of mankind, the telegraph of Morse occupies a prominent page of our Hudson history, and it is said that Morse left unfinished a novel, the incidents of which were associated with the Highlands, in order to work out his idea which gave the Hudson a grander chapter. Fulton’s and Morse’s inventions are also happily associated in this, that the steamboat was necessary before the Atlantic cable, born of Morse’s invention, could be laid, and, singularly enough, the laying of the cable, largely promoted by Hudson River genius and capital, by Field, Cooper, Morse and others on August 5, 1857, marks the very middle of the centennial which we are now observing. The Hudson River Among all the rivers of the world the Hudson is acknowledged queen, decked with romance, jeweled with poetry, clad with history, and crowned with beauty. More than this, the...

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From New York City to Yonkers along the Hudson River

This upper landing of the Hudson River Day Line has a beautiful location and is a great convenience to the dwellers of northern Manhattan. On leaving the pier the steel-arched structure of Riverside Drive is seen on the right. The valley here spanned, in the neighborhood of 127th Street, was once known as “Marritje Davids’ Fly,” and the local name for this part of New York above Claremont Heights is still known as “Manhattanville.” The Convent of the Sacred Heart is visible among the trees, and Trinity Cemetery’s Monuments soon gleam along the wooded bank. Among her distinguished dead is the grave of General John A. Dix whose words rang across the land sixty days before the attack on Fort Sumter: “If any man attempts to pull down the American flag shoot him on the spot.” The John A. Dix Post of New York comes hither each Decoration Day and garlands with imposing ceremonies his grave and the graves of their comrades. Near Carmansville was the home of Audubon, the ornithologist, and the residences above the cemetery are grouped together as Audubon Park. Near at hand is the New York Institute for the Deaf and Dumb, and pleasantly located near the shore the River House once known as West-End Hotel. Washington Heights Washington Heights rise in a bold bluff above Jeffrey’s Hook. After the withdrawal of the American army...

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Along the Hudson River in New York City

Our historic journey fittingly begins at Desbrosses Street, for here, near the old River-front, extending from Desbrosses along Greenwich, stood the Revolutionary line of breastworks reaching south to the Grenadier Battery at Franklin Street. Below this were “Jersey,” “McDougall” and “Oyster” batteries and intervening earthworks to Port George, on the Battery, which stood on the site of old Fort Amsterdam, carrying us back to Knickerbocker memories of Peter Stuyvesant and Wowter Van Twiller. The view from the after-deck, before the steamer leaves the pier, gives scope for the imagination to re-picture the far-away primitive and heroic days of early New York. Desbrosses Street Pier to Forty-Second Street On leaving the lower landing a charming view is obtained of New York Harbor, the Narrows, Staten Island, the Bartholdi Statue of Liberty, and, in clear weather, far away to the South, the Highlands of Nevisink, the first land to greet the eye of the ocean voyager. As the steamer swings out into the stream the tourist is at once face to face with a rapidly changing panorama. Steamers arriving, with happy faces on their decks, from southern ports or distant lands; others with waving handkerchiefs bidding good-bye to friends on crowded docks; swift-shuttled ferry-boats, with hurrying passengers, supplying their homespun woof to the great warp of foreign or coastwise commerce; noisy tug-boats, somber as dray horses, drawing long lines of canal...

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From Newburgh to Poughkeepsie along the Hudson River

Newburgh, 60 miles from New York. Approaching the city of Newburgh, we see a building of rough stone, one story high, with steep roof—known as Washington’s Headquarters. For several years prior to, and during the Revolution, this was the home of Jonathan Hasbrouck, known far and wide for business integrity and loyalty to liberty. This house was built by him, apparently, in decades; the oldest part, the northeast corner, in 1750; the southeast corner, in 1760, and the remaining half in 1770. It fronted west on the king’s highway, now known as Liberty Street, with a garden and family burial plot to the east, lying between the house and the river. It was restored as nearly as possible to its original character on its purchase by the State in 1849, and it is now the treasure-house of many memories, and of valuable historic relics. A descriptive catalogue, prepared for the trustees, under act of May 11, 1874, by a patient and careful historian, Dr. E. M. Ruttenber, will be of service to the visitor and can be obtained on the grounds. The following facts, condensed from his admirable historical sketch, are of practical interest: Washington’s Headquarters “Washington’s Headquarters, or the Hasbrouck house, is situated in the southeast part of the city, constructed of rough stone, one story high, fifty-six feet front by forty-six feet in depth, and located on...

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From Kingston to Catskill along the Hudson River

Rhinecliff, with its historic Beekman stone house, is on the east bank of the river opposite Kingston. The old mansion, on the hillside, above the landing, was built before 1700 by William Beekman, first patroon of this section. It was used as a church and as a fort during the Indian struggles and still preserves the scar of a cannon ball from a British ship. Ferncliff, a mile north of the Beekman House, is the home of John Jacob Astor, formerly the property of William Astor, and above this Clifton Point, once known as the Garretson place, the noted Methodist preacher whose wife was sister of Chancellor Livingston, and above this Douglas Merritt’s home known as “Leacote.” Flatbush landing lies on the west bank opposite Ferncliff. One might almost imagine from the names of places and individuals here grouped on both banks of the river, that this reach of the Hudson was a bit of old Scotland: Montgomery Place and Annandale with its Livingstons, Donaldsons and Kidds on the east side, and Glenerie, Glasgo and Lake Katrine on the west. Barrytown is just above “Daisy Island,” on the east bank, 96 miles from New York. It is said when General Jackson was President, and this village wanted a postoffice, that he would not allow it under the name of Barrytown, from personal dislike to General Barry, and suggested another...

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Hudson River Steamboats

An accurate history of the growth and development of steam navigation on the Hudson, from the building of the “Clermont” by Robert Fulton to the building of the superb steamers of the Hudson River Day Line would form a very interesting book. The first six years produced six steamers: Clermont, built in 1807 160 tons Car of Neptune, built in 1809 295 tons Hope, built in 1811 280 tons Perseverance, built in 1811 280 tons Paragon, built in 1811 331 tons Richmond, built in 1813 370 tons It makes one smile to read the newspaper notices of those days. The time was rather long, and the fare rather high—thirty-six hours to Albany, fare seven dollars. From the Albany Gazette, September, 1807 “The North River Steamboat will leave Paulus Hook Ferry on Friday the 4th of September, at 9 in the morning, and arrive at Albany at 9 in the afternoon on Saturday. Provisions, good berths, and accommodation are provided. The charge to each passenger is as follows: Destination Fare Duration Newburg $3.00 14 hours Poughkeepsie $4.00 17 hours Esopus $5.00 20 hours Hudson $5.50 30 hours Albany $7.00 36 hours For places apply to Wm. Vandervoort, No. 48 Courtland street, on the corner of Greenwich street, September 2d, 1807.” Extract from the New York Evening Post, October 2, 1807 Mr. Fulton’s new-invented steamboat, which is fitted up in a...

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Early Settlement of the Hudson River

In 1610 a Dutch ship visited Manhattan to trade with the Indians and was soon followed by others on like enterprise. In 1613 Adrian Block came with a few comrades and remained the winter. In 1614 the merchants of North Holland organized a company and obtained from the States General a charter to trade in the New Netherlands, and soon after a colony built a few houses and a fort near the Battery. The entire island was purchased from the Indians in 1624 for the sum of sixty guilders or about twenty-four dollars. A fort was built at Albany in 1623 and known as Fort Aurania or Fort Orange. From Wassenaer’s “Historie van Europa,” 1621-1632, as translated in the 3d volume of the Documentary History of New York, a castle—Fort Nassau—was built in 1624, on an island on the north side of the River Montagne, now called Mauritius. “But as the natives there were somewhat discontented, and not easily managed, the projectors abandoned it, intending now to plant a colony among the Maikans (Mahicans), a nation lying twenty-five miles (American measure seventy-five miles) on both sides of the river, upwards.” In another document we learn that “The West India Company being chartered, a vessel of 130 lasts, called the ‘New Netherland’ (whereof Cornelius Jacobs, of Hoorn, was skipper), with thirty families, mostly Walloons, was equipped in the spring of...

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Geology of the Hudson River

In addition to various geological references scattered through these pages the following facts from an American Geological Railway Guide, by James Macfarlane, Ph.D., will be of interest. “The State of New York is to the geologist what the Holy Land is to the Christian, and the works of her Palæontologist are the Old Testament Scriptures of the science. It is a Laurentian, Cambrian, Silurian and Devonian State, containing all the groups and all the formations of these long ages, beautifully developed in belts running nearly across the State in an east and west direction, lying undisturbed as originally laid down. “The rock of New York Island is gneiss, except a portion of the north end, which is limestone. The south portion is covered with deep alluvial deposits, which in some places are more than 100 feet in depth. The natural outcroppings of the gneiss appeared on the surface about 16th Street, on the east side of the city, and run diagonally across to 31st Street on 10th Avenue. North of this, much of the surface was naked rock. It contains a large proportion of mica, a small proportion of quartz and still less feldspar, but generally an abundance of iron pyrites in very minute crystals, which, on exposure, are decomposed. In consequence of these ingredients it soon disintegrates on exposure, rendering it unfit for the purposes of building. The...

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From Croton River to West Point along the Hudson River

Croton River, known by the Indians as Kitchawonk, joins the Hudson in a bay crossed by the New York Central Railroad Croton draw-bridge. East of this point is a water shed having an area of 350 square miles, which supplies New York with water. The Croton Reservoir is easily reached by a pleasant carriage drive from Sing Sing, and it is a singular fact that the pitcher and ice-cooler of New York, or in other words, Croton Dam and Rockland Lake, should be almost opposite. About fifty years ago the Croton first made its appearance in New York, brought in by an aqueduct of solid masonry which follows the course of the Hudson near the Old Post Road, or at an average distance of about a mile from the east bank. Here and there its course can be traced by “white stone ventilating towers” from Sing Sing to High Bridge, which conveys the aqueduct across the Harlem River. Its capacity is 100,000,000 gallons per day, which however began to be inadequate for the city and a new aqueduct was therefore begun in 1884 and completed in 1890, capable of carrying three times that amount, at a cost of $25,000,000. The water-shed is well supplied with streams and lakes. Lake Mahopac, one of its fountains, is one of the most beautiful sheets of water near the metropolis, and easily accessible...

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From Catskill to Hudson along the Hudson River

Leaving Catskill dock, the Prospect Park Hotel looks down upon us from a commanding point on the west bank, while north of this can be seen Cole’s Grove, where Thomas Cole, the artist, lived, who painted the well-known series, the Voyage of Life. On the east side is Rodger’s Island, where it is said the last battle was fought between the Mahican and Mohawk; and it is narrated that “as the old king of the Mahican was dying, after the conflict, he commanded his regalia to be taken off and his successor put into the kingship while his eyes were yet clear to behold him. Over forty years had he worn it, from the time he received it in London from Queen Anne. He asked him to kneel at his couch, and, putting his withered hand across his brow, placed the feathery crown upon his head, and gave him the silver-mounted tomahawk—symbols of power to rule and power to execute. Then, looking up to the heavens, he said, as if in despair for his race, ‘The hills are our pillows, and the broad plains to the west our hunting-grounds; our brothers are called into the bright wigwam of the Everlasting, and our bones lie upon the fields of many battles; but the wisdom of the dead is given to the living.'” On the east bank of the Hudson, above...

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