Discovering the Hudson

Written August 11-12, 2021

Today’s installment is the Hudson River from NYC to Albany. This is about 315 miles of River and just about all we can do without taking down the mast on our boat. Doing that we could do the Champlain Canal or the Erie Canal and end up in Canada. That is another trip. Interesting that the Hudson River is considered an estuary as it is tidal all the way to Troy although the water is fresh this far up. There are 4 – 5 foot tides and as mush as 2 knot currents around Albany. The water of our planet is so interesting. Our journey from New York City to Albany has been a week and a half roughly with several stops along the way.

At the north end of Manhattan and the entrance to the Harlem River. You can already see the hills developing along the river.

Croton-on-Hudson

Our first stop was Croton-on-Hudson. Such a sophisticated name and really an ex-burb or New York. This stop was planned to pick up a friend Leesa from Santa Fe and her sister Marsha. From there, the plan was to head north to Hyde Park, visit the Roosevelt Library and the Culinary Institute and then move farther north to Kingston where Leesa, Marsha and I have common 17th century ancestors. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Jim and I spent a couple days around Croton-on-Hudson before Leesa and Marsha arrived. We had a lovely dinner at a local restaurant, riding our bikes there and back. It had never occurred to me the terrain along the Hudson was so hilly. There is near the river and then everything on the bluffs. Hard riding.

Rincon Feliz in “the Fort” as I like to call it. The fortress is to stop the waves on this 3-mile wide stretch of the Hudson. Only partly successful. Notice the hills across the Hudson? They exist on both sides.

There is the very nice Croton Point Park along the water quite close to the marina with a plesant bike trail to the park and lots of great roads for biking and birding. We spent the better part of a day doing so.

Near Croton Point looking out into the Hudson. Lovely riding and reasonable birding.

White Plains

We rented a car as I wanted to take the sojourn to White Plains (only about 20 miles) as my mother lived there in 1934 with here parents. My Grandfather was a keen photographer and I have a lovely photo he took of the house. Google made it clear the house was still there and worth a drive by. It is all part of building the story of my parents lives and ancestry.

Mom’s home in 1934 in White Planes, NY
Where Mom lived 87 years later. This house has really held up! The people living there drove up while we were lurking. We didn’t talk to them.

Ossining

Just down from Croton-on-Hudson, on the other side of the Croton Point Park is Ossining, home to the infamous Sing Sing Prison and the double arch bridge. No pics of Sing Sing, although we had a very good view from the water of the layout. One interesting tidbit, the Amtrak and local trains go right through the center of the prison. Just think of the un-hatched escape plans using the train! So, the double arch bridge. One of the most interesting I’ve seen.

The upper bridge was built in 1840 as part of the aqueduct to deliver water to New York City through a 41 mile long aqueduct. The lower bridge was built in 1860 to move people across the Sing Sing Kill (kill = river in Dutch) which you can see at the bottom. There was a system to dump excess water into the Kill if needed from the aqueduct..

Sleepy Hollow

We also stopped by the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery which is just a tiny bit farther south. Yes, that Sleepy Hollow of the headless horseman legend. Lots of famous folks buried there but there is also an early Dutch Church from the 1600’s. No ancestors there, but an interesting walk around the cemetery.

The Old Dutch Church Cemetery from about 1697 looking towards the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery; hard to tell the true dividing line. Washington Irving, burred in Sleep Hollow actually derived his story about the Old Dutch Cemetery, not Sleep Hollow Cemetery.

Croton Dam

The last part of the car day was a visit to the Croton Dam. Turns out this piece of New York has lots of very interesting structures built in the 1800’s, Croton Dam was built in 1892, replacing the old Croton Dam. Beginning in the 1830’s this whole project was about improving the water supply of NYC by moving water from upstate New York to the city via aqueducts. Refer to the double arch bridge above.

Hyde Park

The next day Leesa and Marsha arrived and the following morning we moved a bit up river to Hyde Park, life-long home of FDR and also home of the Culinary Institute. Through the tenacity of Leesa, we had dinner two nights reserved. Quite difficult right now as they only have 2 of their restaurants open and a small cadre of students (normally 4000). The restaurants are run by the students and all the students have rotations in all aspects of the process from seating, bussing, cooking, waiting, ….. The campus is quite impressive, housed in an old Jesuit school.

Jim and I in front of the main building at CIA (what everyone calls it.)
Jim and I in front of the main building at CIA (what everyone calls it.) American Bounty is at the right end and Bocuse at the left. Chatting with students, each one was enthusiastic and had a very clear idea of their plans upon graduation and why they were there. I guess having to write essays to get in and show your worth adds clarity. CIA is apparently very difficult place to land a spot.

As well as the two restaurants, there is a resturant primarily for students and a bakery, also mostly for students, both open to the public though. Thus, as well as having dinner at American Bounty, and Bocuse (their French riff), we also visited The Egg (their student union of sorts) and Apple Pie Bakery. My choice, Bocuse.

Jim, Marsha and Leesa on the terrace at The Egg (student union) at CIA. Pretty view of the Hudson. What a nice place to learn.

In between eating, we visited the Franklin Roosevelt Library, the first Presidential Library built by FDR at his home in the 1940’s. Jim and I love these libraries as you get a sense of the person and also a very nice review of their priorities, accomplishments and history at that point in general. The FDR library did not disappoint.

I love seeing these old campaign slogans. This was from Roosevelts 1st campaign for president. Later, likely in his last term after much/most of the New Deal had been implemented, here is an excerpt of what his detractors were saying. ” Roosevelts critics were just as intense in their hatred of “that man in the White House.” Conservatives believed he and Eleanor Roosevelt were dangerous radicals leading the nation into socialism and, possibly, dictatorship. left-wing critics complained that the Roosevelts were too moderate and unwilling to challenge entrenched interests.” Some things never change.
Behind the library. Two pieces from the Berlin Wall built into a obviously modern sculpture. Roosevelt was not happy with the division of Europe but felt it was the best deal he could garner from Stalin.

Turns out FDR lived only about 3 miles from one of the Vanderbuilt mansions. Lovely, HOT, long walk along the river, through trees and winding our way through housing areas to the Vanderbuilt estate. Closed, but one could see the gardens. Well, only one garden. Quite formal, but the water was nice.

We were so hot and out of water. No one was around and the water looked so inviting. We all joined Marsha. Well…. Jim did not. Boy was it nice!

Kingston, Hurley and New Paltz; Our early Ancestors

Next day we moved up river to Kingston, the crux of Leesa joining us. Turns out Leesa, Marsha and I share 9th Great-Grandparents, Louis Du Dois and Catherine Blanchan, Huguenots who came to New Amsterdam around 1661 and settled in the Hudson Valley around Kingston. Louis was one of the Patentees of New Paltz New York.

Leesa and I have both done lots of exploring our roots but had difficulty finding the love and soul back to the 17th century. So much time has passed, it was hard to feel what it must have been like.
There are an amazing number of old Dutch Colonial houses still standing, although many much modified. Rather shocking to me that this cute home, The Cornelis Tappan House, reportedly the oldest in Kingston dating to likely the 1680’s is for rent as commercial property.

New York has repurposed many of their old rail lines into bike trails so we rented bikes and rode a good portion of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail. I love these nice flat trails. Although it was hot, the tail is almost fully shaded so it was quite pleasant.

Fresh and ready for the trail
There are many ice caves along the northern part of the tail. Natural caves that have ice and snow with cool breezes even on the hottest summer days.
I loved these spider webs found near the start of our bike journey of around 20 miles.

Heading to Albany

Marsha returned home before biking and Leesa left the next day. We had a day to roam lower Kingston and also took a quick cruise up the Rondout before heading to Albany where we are now. We’ll spend a few days here, meet with some friends who live further north and then head on for new adventures.

The Hudson is not known for pretty water front cafes. Lots of old relics. All interesting, but not in the “pretty scenic” relm.
Some are prettier than others.
The water gateway to Albany, a town of only about 100,000. Not the most inviting entrance.

And one last pic to close for now. We took a quick “spin” up the Rondout as we were leaving Kingston. Some boats are more interesting than others….

Comments

Discovering the Hudson — 2 Comments

  1. A busy time! So much to see without the wide open spaces of the west