“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Verplanck in Westchester County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

The Story of a River

The Story of a River Marker (Left Panel) image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, January 30, 2017
1. The Story of a River Marker (Left Panel)
          Before you stretches the Hudson River. It may be placid at the moment or it may be wind-whipped, it may sparkle like diamonds on a languid summer afternoon, or it may be chocked in the twisted torments of winter’s ice, or it may beckon your eyes to follow the silvery path cast by a full moon. But the natural beauty of the river at all hours in all seasons is only the beginning of its story.

          About a billion years ago, igneous and metamorphic rock formed the Hudson Highlands to your right. About 200 million years ago, increasing pressure beneath the earth’s crust led to an earthquake and volcanic activity in what is now northeastern New Jersey. (1 – Please refer to the locator map on the center panel.) The liquid rock (magma) that was forced between the sedimentary rocks of the region remains today as the Palisades. During succeeding millions of years, the stream that would become today’s Hudson River began to trickle out of the Highlands and along the eastern edge of the magma flow. Beginning a million years ago, the glaciers of the Ice Age scooped out a deeper and wider channel for the Hudson. The
The Story of a River Marker (Center Panel) image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, January 30, 2017
2. The Story of a River Marker (Center Panel)
ice retreated between 18,000 and 14,000 years ago, leaving the area with the basic physical arrangement it has today.

          Native Americans found the Hudson Valley a good place to hunt, farm and fish. South of the Catskill Mountains the valley was inhabited by autonomous bands of Lenape people (later known as Delaware Indians). These bands included the Rockaway, Wiechquaeskeck, Hackensack, Tappan, Kitchawank, Esopus and Wappinger. North of the Catskills lived the Mahican. Both Lenape and Mahican belonged to the Algonquian language family, which encompassed much of North America. In this area, the Kitchawank ranged from the Kitchawan (Croton) River (2) north to the present site of the Bear Mountain Bridge. (3)

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          In 1609, seeking the fabled Northwest Passage to the Pacific Ocean and Asia, Henry (Hendrick) Hudson, an English sea captain in the service of the Dutch, sailed his ship, De Halve Maen (Half Moon), into what is now New York Harbor in early September and pushed north up the tidal river that some Native Americans called Mahicanittuck, or “Tidal River of the Mahicans.” By the time Hudson reached what is now Albany, (4) he realized that this narrowing “River of the Mountains” was not the passage he sought. He turned back in late September, never to return
The Story of a River Marker (Right Panel) image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, January 30, 2017
3. The Story of a River Marker (Right Panel)
to this area. He met an unknown fate during his final voyage, to the Hudson Bay area of what is now Canada, 1610-11.

          The Revolutionary War came to the Hudson Valley in the 1770s. In March 1777, a British fleet appeared around Croton Point, (5) passing several feet in front of you as it headed toward Peekskill Bay, (6) where a landing party destroyed food and other supplies of local revolutionaries before being beaten back by an outnumbered American force.

          The British returned in October, landing on this site before crossing the river under cover of fog to overrun and lay waste [to] Forts Clinton (7) and Montgomery (8) and, a few days later, burn the American mills at Continental Village. (9)

          In June 1779, British Captain John Andre received the surrender of Fort Lafayette (10) here on Verplanck’s Point. Then, during the night of July 15-16, 1779, Americans led by General “Mad” Anthony Wayne landed north of Haverstraw (11) and overwhelmed the British garrison at Stony Point. (12)

          Andre, now a major, returned in September 1780 to meet near the Haverstraw waterfront with traitorous American General Benedict Arnold about the betrayal of West Point (13) to the British. After cannon fire from Croton Point drove away his ship Vulture,
The Story of a River Markers image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, January 30, 2017
4. The Story of a River Markers
Andre returned to the east bank at this spot via the King’s Ferry (14) to begin his fateful journey to capture in Tarrytown (15) and execution in Tappan. (16)

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In 1781, thousands of American troops and their French allies crossed from Verplanck to the north side of Stony Point on their way to final victory over the British that October at Yorktown, Virginia. A year later, they recrossed the river to Verplanck in triumph.

          In 1807, a strange new type of watercraft, powered by neither muscle nor wind, passed this way. Robert Fulton’s steamboat North River, later known as the Clermont, belched fire and smoke as it chugged from New York City (17) to Albany, transforming the shipping industry in the process. The steamboat opened the way to accelerated trade between rural suppliers and New York merchants.

          In 1826, the oldest extant lighthouse on the Hudson – the squat white tower visible atop Stony Point (18) – began sending its beams of guidance to the ships that plied the river.

          Later in the 19th century, brickyards on both sides of the river turned this area’s rich clay resources into millions of bricks a year.

          Between the end of World War I and 1971, a stretch of river (19) opposite Peekskill
Marker in Veterans Memorial Park image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, January 30, 2017
5. Marker in Veterans Memorial Park
became home to a pair of “ghost” or “mothball” fleets – surplus ships kept in reserve until they moved on to other service.

          Life abounds in the river as well as on and near it. Crabs, oysters, shad, striped bass and sturgeon are but a few of the many forms of life that call the Hudson home at some part of their life cycles.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: ExplorationIndustry & CommerceNative AmericansWar, US Revolutionary.
Location. 41° 14.944′ N, 73° 57.831′ W. Marker is in Verplanck, New York, in Westchester County. Marker is at the intersection of Hardie Street and Broadway, on the right when traveling south on Hardie Street. Marker is located in Veterans Memorial Park. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Verplanck NY 10596, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Kings Ferry (a few steps from this marker); In Grateful Remembrance (a few steps from this marker); The Path to Victory (within shouting distance of this marker); King’s Ferry Offered a Safe Crossing (within shouting distance of this marker); Washington at Verplanck’s Point (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named Kings Ferry
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(approx. 0.6 miles away); Post Hannock House (approx. 0.6 miles away); The Battle’s Aftermath (approx. 0.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Verplanck.
Credits. This page was last revised on February 4, 2021. It was originally submitted on January 30, 2017, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 214 times since then and 14 times this year. Last updated on February 3, 2021, by Carl Gordon Moore Jr. of North East, Maryland. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on January 30, 2017, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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Mar. 7, 2021