Lower Hudson Valley Tour April 2012 – Part 1

Recently I had the pleasure of showing an out-of-state friend some of the highlights of ruins in the Hudson Valley. Nailhed and I spent two-and-a-half days visiting locations between Yonkers and Poughkeepsie, after which he continued on in his travels. Well-versed in all sites Michigan, he has in particular studied the Wayne County Training School.

Nailhed’s trip from Detroit took longer than expected so our first, very late, meeting took place over drinks at Tarrytown’s Setback Inn, a place that seemingly hasn’t changed much in fifty years of business. In the morning we started our first day of exploring with a driving tour of notable Yonkers sites including the sugar refinery, Yonkers Teutonia, Public School 6, the Alexander Smith and Sons carpet mills, and the Longfellow School before settling in at the Yonkers Power Station. We later went past the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research. Photos from our exploration of the power station are found in Part Two of this thread.

We stopped for lunch at Nick’s Pizza in Irvington, but not before detouring for a glimpse of the famed “Octagon House.”

We spent the afternoon checking out a couple of iron mines in Harriman State Park. Using Edward Lenik’s out-of-print, highly-priced “Iron Mine Trails” book as a guide, we first visited the Boston Mine. Lacking visual depictions, the book made it hard to tell which mines would be best to visit. Though the Boston Mine site turned out to be impressive, the mine was entirely flooded and entrance was not possible.

Boston Mine, Harriman State Park


Boston Mine, Harriman State Park

The rain forecast for that afternoon only amounted to a light drizzle, but the temperature was cool and there was a misty October-ish feel to the day as we hiked to the Bradley Mine. Here we found something more like what we were hoping to find. The mine here is also flooded, but there is enough of a slope to the sidewalls that exploration is possible. Nailhed found his way to the back, while lacking a tripod I took some hand-held shots with an off-camera flash near the front.

Bradley Mine, Harriman State Park

Bradley Mine, Harriman State Park


Bradley Mine, Harriman State Park

We crossed the Bear Mountain Bridge back into Westchester County, stopping on the parkway’s overlook for a view at Iona Island. (Normally closed to the public, a limited number of people will be allowed to visit Iona May 19 and 20. Follow this link for details). We continued our explorations at St. Mary’s in Peekskill and a drive-by of the Lent House, Peekskill’s oldest house. Now dark, we settled for a drive-by of the Brandreth Pill factory in Ossining. I had been planning to write a blog post on Brandreth after it appeared in the Demolition Alert earlier in 2012, but someone else beat me to it. Dinner was had at Demeter’s Tavern in Tarrytown.

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On Day Two, our planned-tour of Bannerman’s Island Arsenal was cancelled due to high winds and rolling whitecaps on the Hudson River. So we drove by some more sites in Irvington including the Strawberry Hill mansion and the former Abbott House campus before deciding to head up to Millbrook and see what’s up at Halcyon Hall and the Bennett School for Girls. Halcyon Hall is fenced off now, but the building is still standing despite a village-ordered demolition date of October 1, 2011.

Halcyon Hall, Bennett School for Girls, Millbrook

Halcyon Hall, Bennett School for Girls, Millbrook

We got lunch at the Millbrook Diner and went over to Poughkeepsie for a few hours of exploration at Hudson River State Hospital. Photographs from our visit to the hospital are found in Part Two of this thread.

On our way back south, I took a detour off Route 9D to see the Garner Bleachery in Wappingers Falls and to drive along the river through Chelsea. We ate dinner at Tito Santana Taqueria in Beacon and followed the meal with driving tour of the mills at Matteawan and Tioronda.

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For Day Three Nailhed and his chainsaw joined myself and Thom Johnson for a planned clean-up of the Northgate Ruins in Cold Spring. Nailhed and another volunteer named Ziggy made great progress by cutting down some trees while Thom and I cleared some vines from the top of the ruins. Our seemingly-simple task was made complicated by three to five inches of rich soil and vines rooted into the stonework. We mainly cleared off the port cochere and then carried cut trees and branches away from the ruins.

Brickhenge
Upon arrival we found some bricks from around the ruins artfully-assembled into a henge on the west porch. I am told it was rearranged a few days later. Nice work.

Northgate Ruins, Cold Spring
With a ladder we were able to peer down into the ruins for the first time.

Northgate Ruins, Cold Spring

Northgate Ruins, Cold Spring

Northgate Ruins, Cold Spring
Here the difference is visible between the porte cochere that we cleared of vines and soil, and the rest of the house ruins. This should help protect the ruins by keeping growth from settling into and between the stones and loosening them.

Northgate Ruins, Cold Spring

Northgate Ruins, Cold Spring

All of our work at Northgate is done with the permission of New York State Parks and with the assistance of the Friends of Fahnestock and Hudson Highlands State Parks as we would not be allowed to do this kind of work otherwise. Anyone wishing to help should contact FoFHH and join us as we do have a plan and we are not cutting everything in sight.

We had a PBJ lunch at the ruins before deciding, with our limited remaining time for the day, between a hike to the dairy farm or a drive by of several other nearby ruins. We gave some random hiker a ride back to Cold Spring so she could catch her train and and then we headed over to the West Point Foundry in Cold Spring, which is now quiet again after years of archaeological excavations by Michigan Tech’s Industrial Archaeology program.

This important historical site is a personal favorite of mine, having been one of the first ruins I explored in the mid-late 1990s. I am also fond of the Foundry for having volunteered for three days each summer in 2007 and 2008. (Not only is the site is a trove of buried historical treasure, but the staff and students of Michigan Tech were great and I was able to help them take a tour of Bannerman’s Island Arsenal.)

Despite all of the important research that occurred here in the past decade, the Foundry site looks as much as it did when I first visited in 1997, as the excavations have been re-buried to protect the structural fragments that were studied. With better resources and permanent protection, these digs could possibly be reopened in the future to allow the public to look into the excavation sites.

A window in the Office, West Point Foundry, Cold Spring.

West Point Foundry, Cold Spring.
I believe this brick arch to be part of the ruins of a blast furnace that stopped operating in 1844. The furnace was the subject of a 2006 archaeological thesis.

West Point Foundry, Cold Spring.

West Point Foundry, Cold Spring.

We still had some time left in our day so I stopped in Garrison to give Nailhed a view of West Point, USMA, from Garrison Landing. We parked in front of the only remaining original wooden 1850s Hudson River Railroad Station. After that we took a short stroll to the ruins at Arden Point. I also go way back to the Arden Point ruins. I didn’t own a car when I began exploring ruins in the 1990s and they were visible from the train and close to the train station, making for an easily-accessible site. I don’t know anything about the ruins, except they were possibly the kinds of hotels or rooming houses typically found in the old landing towns.

Hudson River Rail Road station, Garrison.

Arden Point ruins, Garrison

Arden Point ruins, Garrison

We had to part ways in Tarrytown mid-afternoon, as I had other plans for the night, but we made one last stop at the site of the General Motors factory in Sleepy Hollow. The factory was torn down around the time when I started to photograph the changes to the built landscape of the Hudson Valley. Over a decade later the factory site is still an empty 90-acre lot, which provoked comparison to the larger but equally vacant Buick City complex, a site more familiar to my visitor from Michigan.

It was a fun two-and-a-half days of exploring, and it allowed me to chance to see some new sites that I might not have explored on my own and provided an opportunity to see old familiar places in a new perspective.

General Motors site, Sleepy Hollow, NY

General Motors site, Sleepy Hollow, NY

Visit Part Two of this thread for photographs of the Yonkers Power Station and Hudson River State Hospital

PS – Thanks to the one hundred or so of you who crammed into Scenic Hudson’s River Center in Beacon last month for the Hudson Valley Ruins lecture by Tom Rinaldi and myself. Thanks too for buying out our stock of books. It was a beautiful night on the Hudson and we were glad to share it with all of you.

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5 Responses to Lower Hudson Valley Tour April 2012 – Part 1

  1. Mark Kaufman says:

    Does anyone know what the brick ruins at Arden Point once were? I read somewhere that it was a lock factory, but that was unreferenced without any other info. Also, there is a foot bridge over the train tracks at Arden Point that has 1828 dating in the footing. That makes the bridge older than the train line it crosses, I think? What did it cross over when it was built?

  2. Rebecca Elise says:

    I have been to most of the locales you mentioned, and I enjoyed reading this post. Thank you. I always thought “Iona Island” was the same as “Constitution Island” and I can recall many times parking the car with my brother and walking as far out along the Amtrak tracks as we could get before being chased off. This was a location with abandoned Munipcal buildings as well.

  3. HV-Rob says:

    Yes, those buildings are the few remaining structures of a US Naval Weapons Depot. In the 19th century vineyards and fruit trees were planted there, and later an amusement park and hotel were built on the island. The navy depot was there from 1899-1947 and the Palisade Interstate Parks Commission razed 160 naval buildings in 1967.

  4. Rebecca Elise says:

    Thank you, this is of much interest to me:

    Yes, those buildings are the few remaining structures of a US Naval Weapons Depot. In the 19th century vineyards and fruit trees were planted there, and later an amusement park and hotel were built on the island.

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