Monday, January 31, 2011

A View from the West Point dock…

An interesting painting:
The Hudson River Looking North from West Point Showing USS Macedonian and USS Savannah, June 14, 1868
A view rarely seen, though you might have years ago as I recall as a small child on the Circle Line cruises that left New York, turned around at West Point and docked at Bear Mountain State Park. One can see a side-wheel ferry-boat that used to stop at the “Steam Dock” in Cold Spring, NY on the east shore of the Hudson River in this painting. Further north one can see Pollopel Island that became "Bannerman’s Castle” in the early 20th century, now a state historic site, and the Hudson Highlands. The east shore “West Point Foundry” appears quiet, lacking smoke, where many cannons and other material was made in the historic ironworks, now an interpretative park with trails through the “sea of brick” and maintained by Scenic Hudson, Inc. Constitution Island appears just beyond the USS Macedonia and USS Savannah in this wonderful Hudson River painting. From about here, one of the “chains” stretched across the Hudson River to Constitution Island and its forts both there and above the river, set to thwart the advance of the British Navy's large ships in the Revolutionary War for Independence.

Bear Mountain Park is where the State of NY opened nearby an archaeologically excavated and interpreted Revolutionary War era site, Fort Montgomery, across the Popolopen Creek (or “Popolopen’s Kill”), which recently had a suspension footbridge built across, connecting with the park. Another “chain” once stretched across the Hudson River here. Just below that bridge, and by the Bear Mountain Bridge, also on the Appalachian Trail, we once worked documenting two Hudson River wind-powered centerboard cargo haulers for the NYS Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Office. Seen in a 1930s(?) photo in the background of a replica of the Dutch “Half Moon” (original voyage captained by English explorer Henry Hudson), it was a surprise to find they never left that photo! They had an interesting iron rod and wood construction (no threads and nuts, see my: “Ship Architecture Query”) and the centerboard on the sailboat allowed them added control in the tides and winds of the river, pulled up for shallow docking to load and unload. It also, as seen, had a very shallow rudder. That particular area of the Hudson River, under today’s Bear Mountain Bridge, was known as “The Race” as many boats would wait on the tide and then set off upriver, had the appearance of a “race” to one observer cited in an unpublished manuscript in the Field Library in Peekskill, NY. Peekskill is also home of the National Maritime Historical Society (NMHS) of the USA. Our recordings of the two hulks are reported in an article in their “Sea History” quarterly magazine. This Panoramio photo “Route 9W Viaduct Bridge, circa 1918” perhaps shows the two ships circa 1918, found in Google Earth.

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