MILTON is a little town with a lot of ruins. Situated in Ulster County over the Hudson's west shore, this quiet village lies about opposite Locust Grove, the home of Samuel Morse, below Poughkeepsie. At one time, Milton was served by river, rail and highway traffic. Eventually the steamboats disappeared, the train station closed, and the highway was realigned away from the village center, leaving Milton today a bypassed backwater. But its historic character remains well intact, its frame houses and big shade trees, stores and churches, library, post office and two bars clustered by an old crossroads above the river.

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I'D TRULY HATE TO ADMIT how many times I must have passed by Milton on Route 9W without ever knowing it was there. Finally one day I headed out for an afternoon drive and found myself here amid the old buildings of this forgotten place, just a few miles from where I grew up yet as unfamiliar to me as some town I might come across far away from home. I've gone back often since then and Milton remains one of my favorite towns in the Valley.

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AROUND THE VILLAGE I found a handful of exceedingly picturesque ruins that kept my shutter button busy as I explored the village. I've kept tabs on them over the years, usually trying to out-do my photos from the previous trip. Near an old dock at the foot of a narrow road that winds down from the village I came across an interesting pair of ruined houses that may have been associated with a shipyard that once operated here. Not far away the buildings of the Kedem winery have stood empty for a few years now. Close to the village center, the seventeenth century farm house of Samuel Halleck is a truly extraordinary specimen of the Valley's colonial architecture and a haunting ruin.

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SOME DISTANCE west of the village stands the vacant shell of what appears to be an early nineteenth century duplex for tenant farmers. Heavy timber framing exposed by fallen clapboards hints at its early construction date.

SO FAR only one of the abandoned buildings I've been keeping track of here has disappeared (naturally the one I didn't photograph). Maybe, just maybe, some happy fate lies in store for the others. But writing this, I can't help but fear the day I'll have to sit down and update this Milton page with grim news, or a photo of the empty space where one of them used to stand.

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© T.E. Rinaldi, 2006