Brockway Brick Yard
October 28, 2002
The Hudson River Valley region has long prospered by its proximity to New York City and its abundance of natural resources. 17th and 18th century trade goods from the colony's early manors passed through New York on their way to the West Indies and other ports and places in the Atlantic Ocean. New York City also became a market which depended on Hudson Valley goods for continued growth. The prosperity continued in the 19th century when technological advances allowed for the mass-production of these important goods. One of the largest industries in the Hudson Valley was brick-making.
At the end of the last ice age, departing
glaciers crushed mountaintops into a fine blue clay, perfect for making
brick when mixed with beach sand found at the river's edge. These clay deposits
sit along the shore and in the coves and harbors along the Hudson River. Despite
over a century's worth of brickmaking, the clay deposits, some over 100 feet
deep, have not been depleted.
Brickmaking in the Hudson Valley has colonial-era roots. The industry really began to develop in the early 1800s, and flourished after improvements in machinery were introduced in the 1850s. Brickmaking thrived in the late 1800s, and many communities revolved around it. The Haverstraw region alone had 41 brickyards producing 300,000,000 brick in one year at its height. These river towns virtually built late 19th/early 20-century New York. The decline occurred in the 1920s and 1930s with the introduction of lightweight building materials built above concrete foundations. Not one brickmaking company in the Hudson Valley remains active today.
Brockway is/was a small community north of Beacon. The area today resembles nothing of what it was like in the early 20th-cemtury, although nearby Chelsea retains some Victorian charm and fine old homes. All of the brick sheds and related buildings have been demolished on the riverfront, leaving only piles of rubble and a rusting railroad bridge over the existing Metro-North tracks.
An investigation of the site revealed numerous
(yes, "brick" is technically plural in industry-speak) and one other brick
inscribed with the brand of DPBW, the
Dennings Point Brick Works, a company which once owned this yard and the one at
Dennings Point. Between the Brockway site and Route 9D is a condominium
development, another non-traditional neighborhood. It looks like a few more such
developments are on the way. An industrial park is at the end of the road before
the brickyard. The Brockway school stood in this neighborhood, it was a small but
decoratively built structure, and
abandoned for many years prior to its recent demise.
This site has photos of the Brockway Brickyard from ca. 1990 when it was abandoned. Fascinating stuff.
For more information on the Hudson Valley Brick Industry, visit the Haverstraw Brick Museum. For further reading, there you can buy a reprint of Within These Gates, by Daniel DeNoyelles.
Yaz’ Hudson Valley Ruins and Abandoned Buildings, etc.
E-mail Rob Yasinsac
This page copyright © 2003
by Robert J.Yasinsac. All rights reserved.
Reproduction or copying of these photos in any form is not permitted.