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Water Works

Following the example of natural waterways, this article meanders. Hopefully, it makes connections between that H2O and some other facets of our vast land and its history that led to America’s unparalleled prosperity. Water was a natural bounty that provided a figurative and literal path to earnable wealth for our forebears, and continues for us [Read More…]

Connecting Oceans / Carleton Mabee

The globe in my New Paltz Campus School fifth-grade class- room clearly showed the Panamanian isthmus; Mrs. Compton, head-enlightener, pointed out that a channel was dug to connect the two oceans. Shipping options increased. Ho Hum. Not until the book, The Path Between the Seas, by David McCullough, made it onto my reading list that [Read More…]

The Social Relief Society Welcomes You to Cottekill…

The Inviting Postcard The bucolic image above is a postcard. Its postal cancellation reads: “Cottekill, N.Y. August 6, 1941, AM.” The Social Relief Society (SRS) advertising text on reverse sets the mood: “The S.R.S. Home is beautifully situated in the Catskill Mountains 900 feet above sea level in Cottekill, Ulster County, N.Y. Reasonable rates. All [Read More…]

Ulster County Hamlets: A-Z

The list below requires a little explanation. For instance, Rosendale is listed as a hamlet, but that is the common name for the village running along Route 213. The Town of Rosendale, however, encompasses many hamlets and the village of Rosendale is just one. Acccording to the town’s website, others are Binnewater, Bloomington, Bruceville, Cottekill, [Read More…]

Thanks To You, Our Advertisers & Readers, We Begin Our 40th Year

About Town began in the Summer of 1984 as The Guide To New Paltz. The Guide’s founders were Liz Weisz, Elena Erber, Karen Thompson, and yours truly. By 1988, the publication had grown to incorporate other Ulster County towns. To accommodate the expanded area, we changed its name to About Town (AT). Within a few [Read More…]

A Solid Heritage

This article is edited, corrected, and shortened from its original publication in About Town, Summer edition 1993 Head west from Rosendale village on Route 213 and after the Turco Water Company caves, make a right at the Brooklyn Bridge. OK, so it is not precisely the Brooklyn Bridge. It is a replica of John and [Read More…]

College Hill, Poughkeepsie, NY

Looking at the postcard images throughout this issue, it is easy to understand Poughkeepsie’s “Queen City” designation. In the 1800s, Poughkeepsie was a beautiful, bustling, wealth-generating place bursting with industry, culture, philanthropy, imagination, and education. The city’s most significant enabler, the Hudson River, and later the railroads, brought materials, people, and investment to the area. [Read More…]

Where There’s Smoke…

This is a story that jumps around like water on a hot griddle. It jumps in time and it jumps in geography. When the smoke clears, I hope you have a greater appreciation for the history of our local fire departments, your investment in them, and their hundreds of volunteers. March 17, 1891. Highland. The [Read More…]

Perrine’s Bridge: Celebrating 200 Years

For two hundred years, Perrine’s Covered Bridge has crossed the Wallkill River at Rifton in the Town of Esopus just four miles north of the New Paltz village. In the early nineteenth century, it was one of three bridges within a 10 miles span of the Wallkill in the Town of New Paltz, which had [Read More…]

The Draining and Refilling of the Swartekill Swamp

Over my almost eight decades, I’ve witnessed the transformation of land once farmed by my grandparents. It has gone from farmed to fallow, to brambled meadows, to tightly-packed small-tree groves, to now, a few good-size 60+ year-old mature trees. Another transformation on that land was quicker. Sandwiched between the mostly parallel roads of Plutarch and [Read More…]

New D&H Canal Museum to Open

The website of the D&H Canal Historical Society makes this simple declaration: “The mission of the D&H Canal Historical Society is to highlight the importance of the D&H Canal and preserve its stories, landscapes, and artifacts.” One of the Society’s important accomplishments was the establishment in 1976 of a museum. They gathered artifacts, ephemera, stories, [Read More…]

America’s Pedestrian & Ulster County’s Man of Mystery

Two articles on this subject appeared previously in About Town. One with permission of Rodale Press and the other I wrote in 2008. The latter is available on our website. The article below covers some of the same information but also material from a 2014 Rodale Press published book, “The Last Great Walk” by Wayne [Read More…]

The Era of Oscar of New Paltz

Oscar Tschirky, aka, Oscar of The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, NYC, NY […] was a man of the world. His featured Waldorf domains were the Palm Gardens, the Empire Room, Peacock Alley, The Sert Room (murals by Jose Maria Sert), the Grand Ballroom, and the private supper rooms, all part of the hotel’s iconic dining scene… This [Read More…]

Poughkeepsie’s Woodcliff Pleasure Park

July 14, 1927, at 7 pm, it opened. Finally, Poughkeepsie had something to compete with other famous amusement parks up and down the Hudson, and in nearby cities and states. Poughkeepsie welcomed the Woodcliff Pleasure Park… This pictorial layout is presented here as a downloadable PDF file: Poughkeepsie’s Woodcliff Pleasure Park (PDF)  

It’s Snow Time

Whether or not we get snow, ‘tis the season for it. And that means hiking, snowshoeing, ice climbing, snowmobiling, ice skating, plowing and shoveling…or a warm toasty fire and a good book. After checking the forecast and the wind-chill chart below, decide your day’s itinerary from the possible alternatives listed. See Fireside Reads, and Out [Read More…]

Jean Vanderlyn Unvarnished

My friend, Ken Ericksen, and I were talking about the race track that was on the flats west of New Paltz back in the 1920s. “You know,” he said, “there used to be a little girl from New Paltz who was a great trick rider back in the thirties. She still lives in New Paltz.” [Read More…]

Fireside Reads

Had enough of current events for a while? Travel back in time to the small towns and villages of early Ulster County. The books below are a great way to learn your local history and not over-tax your stressed-out brain. Vintage pictures with just enough text to tantalize you into wanting more. Other great reads [Read More…]

New Paltz Village: Then & Now

In that other lifetime, before we all learned the name, structure, and pitilessness of a virus, I was preparing a presentation titled Then And Now for the New Paltz Historical Society in November. Here are a few of the images I was planning to share…   This pictorial layout is presented here as a downloadable PDF [Read More…]

Opening the Gates to Wellness

Anyone heading east on the Mid Hudson Bridge or driving on Route 9 south of it can’t be faulted for thinking the huge shining edifice cropping out of the stone cliff above the roadway is a dazzling new hotel. The almost completed construction of the Vassar Brothers Hospital takes modern design and the institution’s facilities [Read More…]

A Little Kingston TLC History

Care of the sick in Kingston, as in all communities and throughout history, began with home care as alternatives were few, expensive, and far away, not to mention, often not effective or downright deadly. It is only in the last half-century that we take good hospital care as a given. The earliest reference I found [Read More…]