While I was visiting Promenade Hill, I paid a visit to the statue of St. Winifred that is in the park. St. Winifred is Welsh, and is said to be the Patron Saint of Mariners (sailors). I guess that is why she keeps watch over the Hudson River!
The statue was given as a gift to the park by General John Watts DePeyster, who lived in Tivoli. General DePeyster purchased the statue for $10,000. He wanted it to be mounted in a fountain, at the Methodist Church in Tivoli, but they could not afford to build a fountain. He then offered the statue to the City of Hudson, who accepted it. The City of Hudson begun work on a base and fountain for the sculpture, and the statue was placed there in 1896.
Unfortunately, St. Winifred no longer stands over a fountain. She does continue to keep watch over the park and the Hudson River though!
The story of the park at Promenade Hill begins way back in the 1700’s! On March 9th, 1795, the Proprietors (the men who founded Hudson) voted to set aside land as a public park. They wrote: “certain piece of land, known by the name of Parade, or Mall, in front of Main street, and on the banks fronting the river, which should be granted to the Common Council forever, as a public walk or Mall, and for no other purpose whatever.”
In 1834, the city of Hudson began to make improvements to the park. They put in walkways, and gave it the name “Parade Hill,” as it is sometimes known today. Later in the 1800’s, some people also called it “Promenade Hill.”
From Promenade Hill, there is a beautiful view of the Hudson River, with the Middle Ground Flats (the Island the is in the middle of the river between Hudson and Athens), and the Hudson Athens Lighthouse. Mount Merino rises to the south, and in the distance, are the Catskill Mountains.
A couple weeks ago, when I visited with Bob the Livingston History Sheep at the Livingston History Barn, we visited this ore car. I couldn’t figure out why there was a train car in the middle of the yard! Bob explained to me that it had come from Burden, an iron mine that was located further west in the town of Livingston.
This weekend, I went to visit the former site of Burden. While the historic marker at the site points out the biggest period of iron mining at the site, smaller attempts to mine iron at the site started around 1863. Early mining at the site was done from above ground. By the 1880’s, with new owners, they began mining below ground. The ore car that I saw at the Livingston History barn was used on tracks that ran into the mine, to help bring iron ore (rocks that are found in the ground, that contain iron) to the surface. From there, it could be loaded on bigger train cars, which ran on tracks toward the Hudson River. After a brief stop in the large kilns (big industrial ovens, that heated the ore to get out materials other than iron), the iron was loaded onto boats, and taken up the river to Troy.
When the switch was made to underground mining, more workers were needed. A booming village was built up to provide houses for the miners, as well as a school and shops. In this picture, you can see the village and the railroad tracks:
One of the few buildings from the time of iron mining at Burden is the machine shop. This is where engines were repaired:
After they stopped mining at the site, they removed many of the buildings. This is what the site looks like today:
The abandoned iron mine found new uses after 1898. First, one of the big, open, underground cavern was used for growing mushrooms (yum!). Mushrooms need a damp, dark place to grow, and a man named Herman Knaust thought the abandoned mines were a perfect place to raise them. He grew mushrooms in the mine until 1950. Then, the mine was purchased by the Iron Mountain Corporation. They had an idea for a different way to use the old mine: to store important documents! Soon, lots of construction was done in the mine, to make it a secure space for banks and other companies to store their records. The facility was also used to store other valuable things, including artwork, silver, and furs. To this day, the old mines are a safe place for companies to keep important things safe!
This weekend, I didn’t get to do any history exploring, as I had hoped to. I did, however, do some shopping, and I was excited by what I saw: seeds! I know my cousin in Philadelphia said we were due for six more weeks of winter, but when its time to start seeds inside, it is a sure sign that spring is on its way outside.
All of those modern seeds reminded me of some historic seeds that are in CCHS’ collection:
This collection of seeds, packaged in “Nature’s Treasure Box,” was from 1944. During World War II, people were encouraged to plant “victory gardens.” The idea was that your family would grow some of its own food, so that large farms and food manufacturers could focus on making food to send to our soldiers who were off fighting. Growing your own vegetables and fruits was also considered a way to get good nutritious food for your family. You can see that the insert for the package says “Toughen Up Americans! Vegetables build strong bodies, strong minds, strong hearts,” and the box reads “Flowers for Beauty, Vegetables for Health.” This package of seeds was sold as a fundraiser by students at the Elizaville Country School, a one-room schoolhouse. By selling the seed packets, the students encouraged people to start victory gardens, and raised money for the war effort.
I think that pumpkins, spinach, Swiss chard, and tomatoes all sound like tasty crops for a home garden. Us groundhogs are known for our love of gardens, with their tasty greens… maybe CCHS will let me plant a garden this spring?
Upstairs in the History Barn, we saw a sign from the Livingston Hotel, as well as a room key and some photographs.
The original hotel was built in the early 1800’s. It served as a stage inn (visitors would have arrived by stage coach, a type of horse drawn carriage, before cars were invented!). In 1922, Samuel Simmons and his family took over the business. The hotel closed in the 1960’s, and sadly, it burned down in October of 1977 (which you can see in photographs in the second photo).
Bob took me outside to show me the field where the hotel used to be.
With a big hotel, and a general store like the one the Lynk family ran, Livingston must have been a pretty busy place! Now that more of us have cars, and they are more reliable, it is easier to travel a little further to find a store or a place to spend the night. Small towns don’t all have their own hotels and stores like many used to!
My visit to Livingston was by the invitation of Bob, the Livingston History Sheep. Do you remember when he visited me at CCHS last week? He thought that the History Barn was best place for me to start learning about the history of the town of Livingston. The Livingston History Barn is a small museum that collects the history of the town, and tells the story of some of its historic residents.
First, we visited Mrs. Lynk! Ok, just a poster of Mrs. Lynk. The real Mrs. Lynk and her husband ran a general store in Livingston. The counter here is from her store, and some of the objects displayed on it are items that you could buy in a general store.
Bob also showed me a display about the Potts Memorial Hospital. The hospital was created in the early 1900’s to help patients suffering from a disease called tuberculous. Tuberculous effected the lungs of people with the disease. In the 1800’s and early 1900’s, there was no cure for the tuberculosis (a cure was finally found in 1943). Instead, doctors developed facilities that would help patients recover. At Potts Memorial Hospital, they had a new idea for how to help patients get healthier. Rather than keeping them closed up in hospital rooms, the patients worked at different jobs on the farm. The bull you see in the photo was one of the animals the patients took care of. He was named “King Hendrick!” Some patients at Potts Memorial Hospital learned other skills, like candle making, printing, and textile making.
This is a nurse’s uniform from Wold War II, that was worn by a young woman from Livingston. The history barn has a pretty big collection of uniforms from the town residents who served in the military, especially in World War I and World War II.
More on my adventures at the Livingston History Barn later, in part 2…