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The Shoe Magnate of Marlboro

Many an immigrant was drawn to the beauty and fertility of the hills of New York’s  Town of Marlborough. Most seekers came as laborers, stonemasons, and farmers, but others put down roots here after already attaining prosperity in other fields. United States Patent Office patent # 92,966 was awarded to Dominick La Valle regarding “Design [Read More…]

Roebling’s Gifts

Unlike today, fame once equated with substantial achievement—overcoming disease, taming natural barriers, death-defying exploration, tweaking the laws of nature. Fame was once the province of the world-changer. In that rich vein of past boundary-pushers are many inventors, entrepreneurs and scientists who saw better ways of answering the needs of their fellow humans. Henry Ford, Jonas [Read More…]

Five Locks Walk

It is difficult to imagine how William and Maurice Wurts developed the concept for and then actually constructed the Delaware & Hudson (D&H) Canal System that ran from Honesdale, PA, to Kingston, NY, using the power and technology of the day–primarily men & draft animals and picks & shovels. The Wurts brothers’ main objective had [Read More…]

A Ferry Tale

Midnight, New Years’ Eve, 1941. Its light shining into the darkness of the Hudson River, the Brinckerhoff Ferry left its berth in Highland making one last crossing. Its forty-year Hudson River history sealed. Its future uncertain. Prior to the American War for Independence, crossing the Hudson River between Yelverton’s Landing (today Highland) and Poughkeepsie meant [Read More…]

Other Ferry Tales

Captain William Tompkins I love it when things come full circle. One of the last ferry men, William E. Tomkins, was the chief engineer of the Poughkeepsie Highland Ferry Company. Captain Tompkins was the grandfather of local resident Linda Smith. Linda and her husband, Matt Smith, have been instrumental in reclaiming the land that once [Read More…]

A Magical Spot

Highland has a few magical spots which remain unsullied by time’s aggressive fingers. If you walk down Mile Hill Road, for instance, the incline becomes steep and you’ll eventually come to the crux of a “y.” At this point, the Twaalfskill Creek, which has raced down Mile Hill with you, gushing with the spring thaw, [Read More…]

Patrons of Husbandry

“Its primary object is to bring about a union among the farmers of the Republic, for it is its cardinal maxim that only in union can the agricultural class show its strength and make it felt.” History of the Grange Movement (Edward Winslow Martin, 1873)     1867 The United States Civil War had disrupted [Read More…]

Through Time: Perrine’s Bridge

About Town was founded in 1984 by Liz Weisz, Elena Erber, Karen Thompson, and Vivian Yess Wadlin.  Stories from 2001 to the current issue are in the archives. As we closed the books on Winter 2018-2019, ending our 35th year, we take the opportunity to look back on some of our favorite stories from earlier [Read More…]

Schools of Thought

I chose “Luminari” for the title typeface of this article because it captures the spirit of the camps, colonies, and schools that have fed the minds and imaginations of countless students from every socio-economic strata. Some of those schools evolved (above B&W postcard of the Mt. St. Alphonsus Seminary, now The Mount, a private high [Read More…]

Levi Calhoun

based on a previous About Town article

As I look at this photo of Levi, I am suddenly a five-year old standing at the edge of an unpaved road. It’s 1949. “Poison ivy,” Levi says knowingly. His incredible aquamarine eyes survey the ravages of the plant’s oil on my arms. “Stay,” he commands, and carefully lays his bicycle on the grass next [Read More…]

Racing Hearts

This article honors the historic racing spirit of Ulster County. This September, two unusual races take place here. The Catskill Conquest Pilot Rally partially follows the historic auto-endurance race of 1903 sponsored by the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers (original 800 miles from NJ to PA). The September 22nd race starts in Ulster County and [Read More…]

What Might Have Been

Twenty years ago, American Demographics magazine published an article titled “Strong Home Towns.” It was based on a study of the 3,600+ counties in the United States detailing the civic connectedness of citizens in each county and ranking them more or less “strong home towns.” Some of the data they looked at were lengths of [Read More…]

Woodstock: An Original Long Before…

Outside influences, large and small, tangible and intangible, have shaped Woodstock, NY, for the last 100 years or more. Ideas that crossed the Atlantic in the prior century challenged the accepted orthodoxy of community. Worldly painters brought the beauty of the wild to the city-bound. The affordable publishing and distribution of newspapers and periodicals helped [Read More…]

Street Art: Celebrating the Highland-New Paltz Trolley

Art evokes feeling. For many of us, trolley images from early last century do just that. They beckon us to imagine riding on them. To think about how they changed the places and people they connected. Now, the Town of Lloyd Historical Preservation Society, whose mission is, in part, to collect and preserve the historic [Read More…]

The Deep Family Roots of an Old Vineyard

Fall is a great time to discover Ulster County wineries, and we have plenty: Adair Vineyards, Baldwin Vineyards, Benmarl Winery, Brimstone Hill Vineyard & Winery, Cereghino Smith Winery, El Paso Winery, Enlightenment Winery, Glorie Farm Winery, Kedem Winery, Magnanini Farm Winery,  Maple Hill Winery, Robibero Family Vineyards, Stoutridge Vineyards, and Whitecliff Vineyard (see Whitecliff listing). This list doesn’t include all the “hobby” vineyards scattered throughout [Read More…]

Where’s Waldo?

J. Waldo Smith, engineer, and George B. McClellan, NYC Mayor, are each honored on the “McClellan Monument” shown above in an early post card. The structure, near the Ashokan Reservoir dam, commemorates the amazing feat of sending millions of gallons of water per day to New York City from 92 miles upstream in the Catskill Mountains. [Read More…]

A New Paltz Reunion

Members of the New Paltz High School Class of 1962 were born at the end of World War II. In July we celebrate the 55th anniversary of our commencement into the world at large-a world of great opportunity. Though we’ve changed beyond recognition in many cases, many areas of New Paltz are much the same. [Read More…]

Recasting Recreation

To paraphrase a mantra of tourism and business developers throughout the world: Happy residents draw visitors. And, I add, businesses. It makes good sense. Residents who like where they live and work usually work and live in very nice places. Who wouldn’t want to visit? It explains why Ulster County has always been a destination. [Read More…]

Winter Tales

Winter. The thought summons dread to many New Yorkers. To others, it’s the best season–invigorating and challenging. Perspective is often missing in today’s revilers and revelers of winter. We are not that encumbered any more by the season’s bluster. This Winter story begins with entries from a set of diaries begun in 1874 by a [Read More…]

275 of History: Going, Going…

By the Casparus Westervelt House as recorded by Tim Harnett By the time you read this, I may be gone. Since I’m still standing now, though, I have some time to share my story. I was built in 1741 in Poughkeepsie, on King’s Highway between New York and Albany. Now, the Americans call this road [Read More…]