RHS: Fall 2008

Saturday, September 27th – 5:30 P.M. John Cronin at the Rhinecliff Hotel “RHS celebrates Rhinecliff” (See Poster Inside)


President's Message Summer 2008 I have 6 months left of my 4 years as president, and it's been a wonderful position to be in on Hudson Valley local history. I discussed the random events in this writing with Elma Williamson. She's enjoying the Olympics and “supervising" the apartment-like addition where she's living. She might join us 9/27 to hear John Cronin talk at the Rhinecliff. Our speaker in November, Alex McKnight, just got his new radio history book out "Never Seen Only Heard". Just before the railroad bridge closed to walking tours by Fred Schaeffer he prepared us for its focal-point as a new park with trails running for miles in both directions. The quadricentennial next September will be a talk by Tivoli mayor Tom Cordier. He'll use an October 9th, 1909 poster that reads "The Hudson-Fulton Celebration at Tivoli (Home of the Clermont)". Trains may get 2.4 times better fuel-mileage than trucking, but the CSX noise replacing railroad ties has some along the Hudson annoyed. It may make the future Amtrak faster by 8mph. August 2nd Nancy Kelly hosted a Rock City history exhibit at the church where she is organist. The maps and picture display were the work of Patsy Vogel and others. Patrick Higgins was there and everywhere. He'll be stepping down as EBHS president at the Elmendorph, but continuing as Milan historian. His Tivoli Talk focused on Hudson's failures to attain food spices and silk fabrics by venturing into the frozen Passage. It brings to mind how coal is leading to an ice-free planet. In a tv-documentary a new theory is being tested. Ice-age (France) tribes hugged the ice-shore as they hunted west as in Virginia are found projectile-points matching Europe rather than the Clovis points from the Orient migration. There's so much more to discover. Our local history talks will have a new ceiling projection-system as Starr Librarian, Steve Cook, improves the facility. Now that the new floor is finished

the Wager-cabinet can remain on the lower level. As I was putting on a cabinet lock donated by Kingston I was entertained by the Rhinebeck Legion Band outside, "we'll now hear music from 1550" the conductor announced. Our RHS Board is doing an outstanding job: Mike Frazier with a sub-committee took steps to preserve the Schuyler Mansion. Likewise 14 Center Street is being monitored as the Village took it over and it's been suggested it can be possibly a reception/lounge for attached new villageoffices behind. On Sunday, 10/5, at the 9/9G original Rhinebeck of Palatine origin, the Farmstead will christen the restored beehive bread-oven. Ellen Phelan will also have butter-churns for kids (like us) to make butter for the hot bread! John Vincent, president The Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge By Cynthia Owen Philip Have you ever walked on air? It won’t be too long before you can. The 1888 Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge will soon come to life, not as the important conduit for freight it once was but as an incredible public play space – a pedestrian and bicycle park over 200 feet high with spectacular views up and down the Hudson River. The grand opening of this stellar park will take place over the weekend on September 25, 2009 and will be the culmination of the great Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial celebration. According to Jeanne Fleming, designer of the event, the theme on Friday night will bring the bridge out of the darkness it has endured since it burned in 1974 and into light by means of a magical illumination with fireworks galore. Saturday will be VIP day, a thanks to all who made the project a reality. It will feature an immense parade, nautical events and


more fireworks. Sunday, the culmination of the culmination, is saved for the public. Walkers and cyclists coming from towns near and far will sing and dance to their own music and will also be entertained by bands and the enormous variety of performers Jeanne is so adept at assembling. All the participants will be able to approach the bridge either via a two minute walk from Route 9 along Haviland Avenue in the Town of Lloyd or from Washington Avenue in Poughkeepsie. Here are a few notes on the Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge as a reminder of what an historic bridge it was and as a help to us in imagining what an extraordinary experience walking and cycling in the new park will be. Built in 1888 – not incidentally, the same year as the Great Blizzard – it was an engineering marvel in its day. Over 200 feet above the water, it was the longest bridge in the world. A new invention called “mild steel,” whose absolutely uniform strength could be trusted, made the feat possible. Without it the two track bridge would not have been able to support two loaded trains each drawn by two concatenated locomotives as they passed each other. For the first time trains loaded with coal from Pennsylvania could go directly to New England towns in contrast to the water route that required costly transshipment at both the Hudson River and at the coastal ports. The trains originating in the east carried mixed freight and opened up the entire western rail system to eastside mid-Hudson and New England towns. Firm underpinnings were, of course, necessary to withstand such weight. These were a special challenge because the Hudson is sixty feet deep at the site and beneath the water are 70 more feet of mud and clay before bedrock is reached. Moreover, the piers had to be widely spaced so that neither the great passenger steamboats, nor the wind dependent sloops nor the eighty canal boats grouped in “big tows” up to 150 feet wide and 800 feet wide were held up. The ingenious solution was a combination of seven spans, two shore spans each measuring 201 feet, two connecting spans of 525 each and three cantilever spans of 548 feet. A writer at the time the spans were being put in place was thrilled to see three massed tows passing simultaneously between two of the four piers. The Poughkeepsie Bridge was an unmistakable boon to towns on both sides of the river. Moreover, it was so well constructed that, although exactly a hundred years old, it is still intrinsically sound - today a miracle in itself. Resurrected as a walking and cycling park with links to rail trails from New Paltz on the west side and from Hopewell junction on the east side, it will be enjoyed for

generations to come. Not only will it be the heady experience because of its great height and spectacular views, but it will offer a chance to recall what it has meant historically to the development of the entire region. September 25, 2009 may seem far away, but the other day driving along Route 9 in Poughkeepsie I spied a bright yellow construction vehicle working away up on the span. Actually from below it looked like a tootsie toy, but it was a clear signal that work is underway to bring us a splendid addition to our park system. Watch it. It will be fun and measuring its progress will speed the time as the big day of the park’s opening draws near. ______________________________________________
Rhinebeck’s 18th Century Palatine Farmstead
Route 9

“Let’s Go Deutsch”
Sunday October 5, 2008 12:00 noon to 5:00 pm 845-871-1798 An Event Celebrating Palatine Heritage with Bake Oven Demonstrations, Butter Making, House and Barn Tours Music, 18th Century Exhibits and Demonstrations, German Fare Benefit the Restoration of the Farmstead’s 1770 Dutch barn Funds raised will match a NYS $35,000 Barn Restoration/Preservation Grant General admission $10 (Children 12 and under free) Donor $25 (Recognition as a Donor on the Sponsor Board + admission) Patron $50 (Recognition as a Patron on the Sponsor Board + admission) Benefactor $100 (Recognition as a Benefactor on the Sponsor Board + admission) Event Sponsor $1000 (Recognition in event publicity, on the Sponsor Board + admission) Deadline Sept. 8, 2008 for inclusion on the Sponsor Board Farmstead is located .3 mile north of 9 & 9G intersection. Make checks payable and send to: QRC-Palatine Farmstead Committee, Michael Frazier, PO Box 624, Rhinebeck, NY 12572 (Along with Name, Address and Telephone)