NY's Hudson River Valley_by PeterSCrosby_ANA Magazine_1995

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NY's Hudson River Valley_by PeterSCrosby_ANA Magazine_1995

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NY's Hudson River Valley_by PeterSCrosby_ANA Magazine_1995

  1. 1. ,j.:. tu g ry g -n i,r ::i:i;-a:! . : ::,:!i:: .
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  3. 3. =!::€i:===*=+ . r-:: i.... i::-:i:::€t: .: French-Indian Wars. And those pesky Americans&**r#m We*fu*se#*re #r# Sfr*ep ffier* wanted freedom.Yes, the Hudson is a two-way river, but not only The Revolutionary War was fought all along thebecause of the tides. After serving as the front line 315-mile Hudson. Here, General George Washing-for American independence, the river was the ton educated the British about the effectiveness ofpipeline fot commerce during much of the next guerrilla warfare. One critical battieground was thetwo centuries. Over the years, the Hudson became bluff at West Point where cannons ranged over aa conduit for wealth, recreation and urban sophisti large S-turn in the river. Rebellious colonists evencation soaking into its valleys. Today, art, haute stretched iron chains made of 300-1b. links acrosscuisine and cosmo chic siphon up from the Big the water here to stop British warships ftom attack-Apple to spice the country life. True to the ing up-stream. The Point remains a vitalnature of the river, antiques, fine wine and part of the U.S. Armys strategy todayenvironmental activism also flow out. (please see page 18).And, a little rock & roll flows both ways. Robert Fulton steamed up the Explorer Henry Hudson is the Hudson advertising his invention aroundwaterways namesake. He sailed it first in 1800, and fired up a century of economic1609, and it wasnt long until other boom. The Erie Canal opened in 1825 andEuropeans followed, settling into the stretched the river from Albany to Buffalo,Valley to coexist unsettlingly and thereby to the Great Lakes, Chicago - sometimes with a confederacy, an "Iroquois and Quebec. Railroads then used the same-Nation" of Native Americans that also route to go west from New York CitY.included the Mohawk, Seneca and Oneida Factories sprouted along the artery andpeoples. most of the dozen or so bridges spanning For a century and more, relative peace the stream were built. Brick-lined aque-was maintained between these Valley ducts under the Hudson constructed 75residents and the Algonquian to the years ago still supply drinking water fromnorth. Then the French and English the Catskill Mountains to New York City.governments imported their European If youre looking for the birthplace ofconflict and dragged the locals into the American industry, youve found it.t6
  4. 4. - "Laws are only so good," says John Myiod, ffi**es ca$ &#cxmeg Executive Director of Clearwater. The U.S. Clean "I want to hear the whistles of the trains in the valley... Water Act was made law in 7972, in part because of It is the sound of money." media pressure generated by non-profit Clearwater. William Henry Vanderbilt said this of his Water quality in the Hudson has improved dra- familys 55-room mansion on a 700-acre river-front matically since: swimming beaches have re-opened estate in Hyde Park. The Manhattan-bred and sea-going sturgeon are spawning all the way to Vanderbilts controlled most of the steam ships and Albany. railroads in l9th-century America. Of the string of But Clearwaters efforts can only go so far, and residences the family built from Newport, Rhode theres a long way to go, as evidenced by the fact Island and Palm Beach, Florida to East Hampton, that no other river in America has more "endan- N.Y., the one at Hyde Park is probably the most gered" sites under the egis of the national Environ- ostentatious. Its Italian Renaissance and rococo mental Protection Agency. Three of these are styling add up to pure Beaux Arts. Today, this drawing support from that Agencys "super fund" Hudson property is a National Historic Site, dusted and are currently being cleared of their deposits of with picnickers, even though W.H. Vanderbiit also toxic PCBs, healy-metal waste from battery said: "The pubiic be damnedl" factories and other pollutants. But plans to extend Near the Vanderbilt pile, another notable this support to other sites along the river are being American family, the Rockefellers, built a palace contested in the courts, and meanwhile, the abuse and museum-quality sculpture garden, called continues. Kykuit. For the first time since it was built, it is now "It is only public consciousness," says open to the pubiic. Others that have been restored Clearwaters Mylod, "that makes these laws en- and can be viewed include the Mills mansion in forceable." Staatsburg, showing 83 rooms, the Van Cortlandt Manor, Montgomery Place, Cherry Hill, Sunny i*fc +.::*!+ =:. Ivi+ *,:i:. Valley Side, Lyndhurst and Olana monuments to assets and ego. - all Hudson Rose gardens, orchards, nature walks, stocked ponds with waterfalls and ducks one might create if wealthy - the wonders adorn these estates for ali to enjoy. - Other preservations required more heroics. Boscabel is a 1806 wooden residence saved from the wrecking ball by local citizens in the 1940s, and again in the 1950s. Built by a British loyaiist with funds from the war, Boscabel was moved and totally reconstructed with donations from the founders of Readers Digest. Nowadays, costumed volunteers explain the hardships of Federalism in the newly formed United States, lead Christmas caroi sing-alongs in front of a gigantic basement hearth and ofler classical music concerts on the lar.ryn overlooking West Point. Boscabel is a model of culturai heritage, and of community activism at work. The Hudson Val1ey is known for both. #$qlwr3#m*sa* & ryqry.qi Perhaps the most vocal of the activists in the Hudson River Valley are members of Clearwater. Since the mid-1960s, this environmental group has led the call to clean up water pollution in this river and beyond. Pete Seeger, the legendary folk singer of "Where Have AII the Flowers Gone?" fame, was, er, instrumental in early efforts. He acted as the media spokesman and helped raise funds. Then, in 1969, the group launched Clearwater, a 106-foot replica of the sloops that sailed the Hudson a century ago, to educate citizens about the areas natural history and ecology.
  5. 5. f green. Brass music swells as the or- chestra-sized band thumps to the middle of the parade ground. Colden tubas glimmer in the midday sun. A color guard follows right behind, their gray tunics crossed with white braces. From five arches in succession more blocks of white and gray bob into the open. Then another wave. Throngs of cameras whirl and click as the field be- comes checkered with squadrons of cadets. Finally, t"vo regiments more than 2,000 soldiers in all - - are in for- mation, perfectly still. All at once, they salute, their white-gloved hands crest- ing in a tsunami. The commandant of West Point stands rigid, and salutes, as TIIE I;OilGCMYRATTLE the "StarSpangled Banner" soars across the plain. The sounds of rifle drills then fill the air-to the grounds, up, across, ff *o young men whoosh pass me as back to 1802 and include: Douglas and slap. E I wanderamong canons and monu- MacArthur, Dwight D. Eisenhower, One by one, the units file by the re- ments on the plain above the sharp Ceorge S.Patton, even Ulysses S.Crant. viewing stand mechanically, precisely, bend in the Hudson River. They are On a dozen Saturdays during the spring in time to the piccolo-piped "Stars and walking fast, very fast two steps per and fall, the spirits of these by-gone Stripes Forever." Then they return to - second fast. Their heads are locked for- generals still rattle their sabers when their caves and the drumbeats fade. ward, their backs are ramrod straight, Point trad ition is on parade d ress pa- The generals are satisfied for the week- - their gray and black uniforms are rade, to be exact. end. unwrinkled. Even in the distance, I can A row of white pants pierces the That is, unless its a home football see their shaved napes sweat. shadows of an archway in the L-shaped weekend. At West Point, its not a game, "Pinking," its called, and all the citadel across the vast immaculate its an event. Tailgate picnics begin at "smacks," "bean heads" and "plebes" breakfast, and range from champagne - with candelabras to pork and beans that is, all the men and (since 1976, women) who are freshmen at West and beer. The sidelines show is just as Point - must do it. "Hazing" like this is against the rules dedicated - only noisier. While two bands bless the bleachers, dozens of at all colleges and universities in cheerleaders do gymnastics and Army America. ln fact, the United States Mili- mules embed hoofprints in the end tary Academys strict policy against it zone. Canons roar after each score, and was strengthened last fall. But hey, this The Black Knight leads plebes in a is more than college. This is The Point. round of push-ups totaling the Army "Tradition here is more important points * every time. Against arch rival than rules," as one upperclassman put Navy, its more intense still. it. But official discipline is also meted Yet even with all the virility, the dis- out corporally. Marching for hours in cipline and rules, this is, after all, col- the drab stone courtyard of the main lege; a time of romance and raging hor- barracks in full uniform mones. So after the game, couples rifle - and a hefty is the primary way to work off invariably end up strolling beneath the - demerits accrued from pinking, or for stone fortifications by the river along that matter from such infractions as tar- "Flirtation Walk." Traditionally, a kiss diness, chewing gum and so on. cannot be refused down this wooded Craduates of this army grind are lane, lest West Point slide into the water. called The Long Cray Line. They stretch Ah, tradition. We salute you. 18
  6. 6. ffir$re$*mg! fi€ €* €k* ffiewp$ea 1ff$s*v* &r€ $s ffia**we"Punkins are my friends," says Trish, a sparkling The natural splendoi of the Hudson has inspiredchild who holds up three fingers on one hand to naturalists and artists for centuries. The Hudsontell her age lest she drop any of the five babypumpkins shes hoarding. River School of painters in the lead depicted - with Frederick Church the 19th-century Valley in - syrupy tones of romantic realism. Churchs During Clearwaters annual Pumpkin Sail, thesloop visits 15-20 ports along the Hudson to raise Moorish hilltop mansion (Olana) set every windowtheir $1.5 million annual budget and heighten as a frame for a landscape scene.environmental awarenbss among busioads of Washington Irving used the Hudson as theschool kids through skits and songs. Pumpkins are setting for his "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Ripsold, folk music concerts are held and a "stone Van Winkle" tales. John Burroughs philosophizedsoup" is prepared (a pot of water and some stones about the conservation of nature here beforeJohnare provided by the Clearwater and the locals Muir or environmentalism was heard of. Richardcontribute the other ingredients). Wright, the Art Deco designer, spent 30 years in Trish squeaks as she lifts a basketball-sized the Hudson foothills sculpting an S0-acre arbore-pumpkin, and nudges her friend to leave. "Say tum called Manitou, Algonquian for "Place of Greatgood-bye to river!" she urges. "River is our friend." Spirit." Another Hudson environmentai success story is Nature and art couple most grandly at theIona Island. Its about 40 miles north of New York Storm King Art Center. More than 100 major kind by Calder, Noguchi,City, near Bear Mountain, where the Hudson sculptures - the BIG David-Smith and others, are Armajani, Liberman,Valley becomes steep and City drivers slow down.Iona Island was a munitions dump during W.W.II scattered over an undulating 400-acre park. Sum-and berthed dozens of mothballed Nary ships mer concerts of jazz, classical and folk music iuIIafterward. The base was closed 20 years ago and the audiences into the art, the land, and the conscious-Iand was rehabilitated. Wildlife was reintroduced. ness in between.Wetlands surrounding it were flushed and spawn-ing grounds were grooqled. Recently, a campsite F**-ss*d* *h*€swas opened on Iona called Pioneer. During a dawn Perhaps the Hudson Valleys best synthesis ofstroil, I saw scores of deer, a pair of beaver, a tbx, history, activism and nature is the birthplace ofand either a bald eagie or the largest turkey r.ulture Franklin Delano Roosevelt at Hyde Park. As theon the Hudson. One fisherman on the reed-spiked only U.S. president to be elected four times, FDRbank had an eel and two shad in a bucket, and told lifted the country out of the Great Depression withme about a whopper sturgeon that iust got away. social welfare initiatives and led the nation during "100 kilos!" he cursed with a Baltic accent. W.W.II. Archives, political memorabilia and films"More!" of his era are here in a huge presidential library. !*,:<*9 +cii:€*s xcr*ss €resse S**t F*i**/- --.t- -
  7. 7. old carriage house and barn on the old Mansakenning estate. Her aim was to turn it into a bed-and-breakfast inn. She laughs: "Me, in my high heels, putting lumber into taxis... The locals thought I was crazy ." It took her four years of hard labor to transform the historic site. But now, the 1Z-room Mansakenning Carriage House - with its gabled roofs, plank-wood floors and well-worn antiques offers several suites with baiconies, firepiaces and - Jacuzzis. Gourmet brunches by Culinary Institute of America chefs offer the iikes of "Pecan and Cream Cheese-stuffed French Toast with Warm Orange- Maple Syrup." Two yellow Labrador retrivers Franny and Zoe, no less - - serve as amiable rent-a- pets for those needing a dog fix. Dremann says it takes New Yorkers a while to get used to the peace and quite of the Valley, to having no locks on the doors and no jackhammers tearing up the streets. But eventually they begin to relax - popular forget some work done: Mansaken- ning is and even shooting films about murder mysteries for TV, and for, among other things, getting married. Gentrification like this during the "go-go" 80s renovated scores of historic buildings, and drew tourists to discover Hudson Valleys past. At Cromwell Manor Inn, a 2O0-year-old Quaker home in Cornwali-on-Hudson now crammed with perfect plumbing and style, you can read a teenagers diary from a century ago. (She was bored with a suitor,$t*rr*r Ki*6 &r{ {*::*er but thdlled by new ribbons.) Other bed-and-breakfast inns with names like His sprawling-yet-cozy home became the Pink House, Pig Hill and the Bird & Bottle Inn"Summer White House." It is criss-crossed with flourish as well. Rhinebecks traditional Beekmanramps for FDRs wheelchair and its walls are full of Arms now presents gourmet cuisine by a Manhat-Currier & Ives prints, political cartoons and family tan culinary star, Larry Forgione, who puts theportraits. Roosevelt loved to gather people along emphasis not on fancy French fare, but on good olthe crest of the hill behind the house to absorb the American dishes.beauty of the Hudson River and the hundreds ofdifferent ffees he planted on the 188-acre estate. ,&, Yms€c d *k* &rmp* And FDR often broadcast his "fireside chat" Several of the local wineries are promoting "Ameri-radio speeches from here; today, recordings of can traditional" as wellthem are aired on a side porch outdoors. A few - even though the revival of the industry here was sparked by European grapeyards from the porch, while standing in the rose imports.garden before the simple tomb that holds the Wine has been made in the Hudson Valleypresident and his wife, I overhear the recording of since the 17th century, and Brotherhood Winery ishis first inaugurai address: "...the only thing we actually the oldest one in America. But until thehave to fear is fear itself." Iast few years, the wines of the 20-some Valley*Y&ee vintners were, well...undistinguished. Then, New &.*e*$s Y&wecg&€ * Wam *rmxg* York States Agricultural Department and privateMichelle Dremann, a boomer businesswoman, is investors began importing European vinifera grapespart of the Valleys "ner,.r gentry." This former New yields chardonnay and cabernetYork City resident didnt have a drivers license - the species that and the wine business came sauvignon wineswhen she started visiting the Valley, so shed come - out of its deep, deep sleep. Millbrook Winery wasup by Amtrak train and take taxis all over the one of the first to wake up. It started its "money-Rhinebeck region. Then, about eight years ago, she no-object viniculture" more than a decade ago andfell in love with and started renovating a9O-year- now makes the best wine in the state.)6
  8. 8. ;sS,.+ ontact!" shouts the pilot behind the runway grandstand. The audience ln 1958, when Palen began this "1F me. A pair of arms reaches uP boos the scoundrels on command from museum-of-the-sky on a "level-from suspendered shoulders and yanks the master of ceremonies, warming to enough" runway at a clearing in thethe wooden propeller. The engine sput- the melodrama as if they were watch- woods between two farms, not muchters, belches a cloud of smoke, then else was here. Now, the Aerodrome plane shut- ing - or a part of - a Keystone Kops film. flies and thats the amazing partthunders to life - the entiretering to the drone. Every weekend from April through - a world renowned collection of World - Built of wood, canvas, and hope, September, weather permitting, a War laircraft including three Fokkersthis 1944 De Havilland feels like an troupe of volunteer pilots scores of (tri-, bi-, and single-winged planes, re-over-sized model airplane or worse - vintage contraptions and skits in this spectively), a Sopwith Camel, aa go-kart with wings. The whole thing, old-fashioned air show. Buildings ex- Nieuport, an Avro, and a I9l I Bleriotincluding the massive exposed motor, plode in puffs of corn-oil smoke, dum- (which could barely fly when it wasweighs less than I ,000 lbs. lts a plane mies get thrown out of planes, and a new!). Model-T Ford automobiles,built for stunts and its called a Tiger hero always saves the day. hand-pump fire engines and lndianMoth. "No director, no actors," says Palen, motorcycles round out the props for As we bound down the rolling grass perhaps the zaniest one of all, just the show. To house all these heir-runway, the soft leather helmet slaps fun." looms, New York State recentlyagainst my cheek, reminding me Spectators can also ride in an open- granted funds to build real hangars on the site. Palen who suffered a stroke recently and is no longer flying, pushes back his beret, rubs his head and tells me, "The young types will carry it on. They cant get enough of flying." He looks skyward as another antique craft baarrrrooooms overhead, making a sharp turn and div- ing almost to the ground before zoom- ing skyward again.theres no cockpit. Even though the two cockpit 1929 mail plane (a New Stan- I duck and Palen smiles. "Thatscloth-covered wings are wired to each dard D-25, to be precise). Four goggled what barnstorming is all about," heother and to the fuselage, theY are passengers cram into two front seats for says. "Cet it?"twanging and bending and swaying as a low-altitude look at the Hudson. This Even though theres no barn inif they are trying to flap. I turn back to big plane rides like a classic Cadillac sight, I get it. Now all I need is a long - silk scarf and goggles. point this out to the pilot, but hes lean- smooth, stable, almost comfortable. ing out the fuselage to steer. And wevejust lifted offl Up, up we go, up like a fast eleva- gOME FIYWITHTHEMtor. The acceleration drives me down into my seat as the 1 00-mph winds peel back my cheeks and lips into a forced grin. This is Rhinebecks Old Aerodrome, a living museum and community the- ater all in one. And its the result of one mans vision: when Cole Palen went to inspect one World War I biPlane at a military auction in 1951, he was the only bidder. So he bought six. Now 70 years old, wearing an eye patch and a black beret, Palen could pass for a Hollywood director of the 1920s. ln fact, hes too down-to-earth, too full ofgap teeth and laughter to be a DeMille, though he does like his the-atrics. A charcoal dust bomb exPlcdes inthe air as two antique biplanes stage amock dogfight in the air and the "BlackBaron" menaces "Trudy True Love" by
  9. 9. :,tii!::;., --.:r.tti,."-*na.1ai;l:ia::-r:ritl . ::a:::li::,:i,l::::l .t..ls g Millbrook is in a converted dairy barn atop a hi11ock. Because its smail, most of the processing is t?lap til,*mntg, Srruirru done by hand, and visitors can see fermentation Horses graze across white-fenced fields and deer are bubbling in stainless-steel barrels which once seen on the roads at dawn. Pass by just about any stored milk. The tasting room is in the loft which orchard and youll see apples for sale not some- overlooks 100 acres oi vines. - one selling apples, iust a stack of apple crates and a Our group of two dozen strangers stafied our tast- tin can with a sign that reads something like "Just ing session with a sparklingntethod cltampenoiseblend put your money here keep that doctor away!" of pinot noir and chardonnay. Like the first fast dance - North of Bear Mountain, life gets simpler. The at a prom, that tasty tasting broke the ice, and soon county fairs feature livestock shon,s, competitions we were sipping a splendid 1991 Estate Chardonnay between various 4-H Clubs, craft bazaars and even that had us spinning. From there we sashayed into a baking contests. Depending on which weekend lruity Claret, and by the time we hit the Merlot, we you happen to visit the Dutchess County Fair were dancing on the baicony. Grounds you can gander at collections of classic lnnon "ff hereareboattoursthatwill takeyoufromNewYorkCityuptheHudson-atleastpartoftheway.Butto ? get a better look at the lifestyle enjoyed here - today and in the past - its best to drive, and these country roads are meant for driving, and rent-a-car companies are rife. You can of course motor up from the City, but a more leisurely (and cheaper) way is to take the Amtrak train from New York Central, with local stops all the way to Albany; alight at any of lhese, then rent your buggy. For details, schedules and suggestions: . New York Tourism: ln the U.S., call: I -800-CALL-NYS or 518-474-6950. . Dutchess County Tourism: call: 9l 4-229-0033 fax: -6276 . Orang€ County Tourism: 91 4-294 5151
  10. 10. cars, shop for antiques or duck decoys, listen to folkmusic hoedouns, join in a square dance or do justabout any of the things you might have thoughtAmericans didnt do any more. The fairs draw a lot of visitorsYorkers - mostly New and flood nearby Rhinebeck with a -flavor-of-the week coating that doesnt really sinkin. But the prosperity does. Intimate four-stareateries like Le Petite Bistro are down the streetfrom a church converted into a rock & roll bar. "Rhinebeck is changing nicely," says ColePalen, a 7}-year old barnstormer. Its still a smalltown and "looks the same as 50 years ago."?tus ffimsk*awk ffi*$$xxmThe main intersection in Rhinebeck, where the OldAlbany Post Road meets Sepasco Trai1, is home toAmericas oldest inn, The Beekman Arms. Hun- Some visitors overnight in the antique butdreds of finches tweeter in the oak out front. charmhg Hudson Inn right on the river. But these Down the street is Schemmys, a drug-store days, most take the train up from the City, strollsoda-fountain which dispenses only calories now. around, grab a bite to eat then catch the returnJoe Curthoys, a son of a son of the founder, says train, loaded down with mementos.their business was built by "treating people withrespect. " &eee*m* *€ &tm€ While admitting that city folks have educated Zealous antiquers go north, to Tivoli, Saugerties orthe locals about business, Curthoys says the Hudson tiny towns, river towns, towns that may - lack some of the gosh-all-mighty quaintness ofbackiash has begun, with demands for stricterzoning and slow-growth policy. "Nobody wants Rhinebeck but who are seriously into reaping theirgridlock," he says. share of the back-to-America avalanche. Other towns are also feeling the heat. "The last Here, antiques, replicas and hand-me-downs arething we need is another antique shop," said an stacked in converted supermarkets. Chippendale,antique-shop owner in Cold Spring, across from Shaker and Empire furniture cascade out of shopsWest Point. Sundays during the summer and fall, onto the streets. After I looked at one well-oiledcrowds of pokers, sniffers and "how-old-is-this- cedar chest in Saugerties, a leather-iacket man.andthing?" casual shoppers do their thing at the 40- his hungry wife lifted its lid and asked the price.some antique boutiques that line the towns steep "We11 come back after brunch," he said, leaving.main street. With a nod to the shop owner, I returned to the chest as if interested. The man rushed back with $200 in hand. "We want this piece of country by our bed," he said. The shop owner just smiled, and winked. Saugerties, by the way, has the notoriety of rejecting a certain music festival back in 1969, rescinding the permit only a week before the concert was to have taken place. Thats why the concerts promoters ended up on Max Yazgurs farm in a nearby town - a town called Woodstock. But now, 25 years later, Saugerties has the chance to redeem itself: Woodstock II is scheduled for this August in the town. The tickets, it is said, will cost a minimum of $100 each. This revenue inflated by TV and movie deals, CD recordings and - fill Saugerties coffers for the other perks - could next generation or two. Meanwhile, as the Hudson flows on, plans are already in place to make sure the surge of visitors from the City wont swamp the little town: crowd control for the concert will begin some 50 miles downstream. I

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