Exploring The Back Roads of New York State: A Visit to Rosendale, NY
On a Country Road
Mules along the towpath
Rosendale Cement and the D&H Canal
Walking along the towpath the young man coaxed his mule to pull the barge along the canal. He knew this barge carried a special load headed for New York City. This load of cement was going to mix the base for a new statue from France, they were calling it The Statue of Liberty. After all, this stretch of canal was part of the Delaware and Hudson Canal. He was sending some of the highest quality cement in North America down to New York City!
Imagine how that young man felt? That was back in 1885. The Town of Rosendale was well known for its cement. Rosendale cement was used in the construction of the Capitol Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Starrucca Viaduct, Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct, and as already mentioned, The Statue of Liberty. This young man knew the cement was going to The Statue of Liberty and he was helping to deliver it!
It seems once the rock was found in Rosendale, the cement industry was on it's way. Rosendale Cement was originally used in the building of the Delaware and Hudson Canal that served as it's mainline to the rest of the world. The Delaware and Hudson Canal, the Rondout Creek, and the Hudson River made that connection.
The original cement works were located in Lawrenceville, just outside the Village of Rosendale. Speaking of Lawrenceville.
Lawrenceville Rosendale Map
Lawrenceville Road, Rosendale, NY
Lawrenceville...now a road in Rosendale
Originally a place for a cement mill, Lawrenceville is where my folks bought a summer home in 1961. Though we had vacationed in the area, two weeks is not enough time to learn about an area. Once they purchased the house and we started to spend entire summers in Rosenale, I learned a lot more.
The road our house was situated on was called Lawrenceville but has since been renamed Route 213 and is just considered a part of Rosendale. Our house was a little over a mile outside of the then Village of Rosendale. (The Village has since been dissolved and incorporated into the Town of Rosendale.)
The most outstanding thing about Lawrenceville was "The Caves". On the northbound side of the road were some pretty deep caves that were not accessible to foot traffic. When you drove by in the summer though you always stuck your hand out the window to feel the cool air. The caves maintain a temperature of fifty-five degrees all year round. To a kid who didn't have air conditioning in the car this was quite a treat and very memorable. There are other caves located throughout the Town of Rosendale in different hamlets including Tillson.
A Cave Opening
Have you ever heard of Rosendale, New York?See results without voting
Main Street Rosendale in the Fifties
The town of Rosendale consists of different hamlets including Tillson, High Falls, Binnewater, Bruceville, Cottekill, Creeklocks, Hickory Bush, Kallops Corners, Maple Hill and Whiteport. With all those hamlets Rosendale only covers about twenty square miles and has a population of that hovers around sixty-five thousand.
According to a May 2010 edition of the New York Times;
Rosendale, in Ulster County, is hardly the first place to consider itself Brooklyn North or the sixth borough. But like New Paltz and Beacon before it, this depressed former cement manufacturing town of 6,400 has lately had a steady influx of creative freelancers with 917, 718 and 646 area-code cellphones.
The Village Green calls Rosendale "The hippest little town you never heard of", explaining that artists and nature lovers alike flock to this little town. It's true, they do. For example, there's a place called "The Woman's Studio Workshop". Located in the hamlet of Binnewater in a historic building, this workshop provides private classes, applications for grant or fellowship opportunities, you can rent a studio that allows you to use the facilities at the workshop and there's even a ceramics studio for rent!
The Rosendale Theater, built in 1949, sits right in the middle of Main Street. Many first dates took place there, including mine in 1961. The funny thing is the original owner, Tony Cacchio was the proprietor and everybody's friend. No vulgar movies and the holidays saw free matinees for the kids. A real family theater with a real family feel. Everyone loved Tony especially when he was trying to be stern. Tony passed away in 1999 and his son Michael took over the theater along with Tony's wife Fanny. Fanny was the money taker and ticket giver. Always in her booth. Recently the theater was purchased by the Rosendale Theater Collective. Television, DVD's, and the Internet had their effect on the theater's income. In 2010 the Rosenale Theater entered the digital age when a new digital projector was donated. The theater continues to thrive under this community group.
The New Rosendale Walkway
The 155ft Joppenburgh Mt. railroad bridge has been converted into part of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, making it a pedestrian walkway over the Rondout Creek.
The Joppenburgh Mountain is a five hundred foot mountain composed of a forested area and carbonate bedrock overlain by glacially deposited material. The mountain though not exactly in the center of town has been an active part of the town's history.
Several skiing competitions were held in the thirties and forties and then not again until the seventies. During the seventies there was talk of trying to qualify this jump for the Olympics but lack of snow hindered any chances.
One hundred and eighteen years ago a truss bridge was built for the railroad, to connect the towns of New Paltz and Rosendale running up on Joppenbrgh Mountain. Lack of use led to disrepair in the late seventies. There was a gentleman who bought the bridge for one dollar with the intention of a bungee jumping venture but nothing came of it.
In the meantime the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail began expanding and there was talk of using the old trestle bridge as part of the rail trail. What a thrill to walk over that bridge. A panoramic view of the Rondout Creek and the town of Rosendale right before your eyes. The path of the railroad leading to and from the bridge needs to be worked on to expand the rail trail but the bridge is in use every day. Walkers, hikers, bike riders, you name it, they're on that wonderful old bridge.
Joppengergh and Rosendale WalkwayClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Unity Riders in Rosendale, NY
The People of Rosendale
Is there more to see? Sure, its an historic town with, obviously, lots of history.The best part of Rosendale is the people. People like the members of the American Legion or the various Volunteer Fire Departments.
There's the people who run the Street Festival held on Main Street Rosendale. It's a grassroots, not for profit citizen run event. It runs for two days in July and everyone who's anyone is there. Admission is free.
Then there's Victoria Coyne who owns and runs Victoria Gardens. Classes, special events, plants, gardening, an all round garden center, all superbly done and under the supervision of Vickie. A friendly helpful lady. Vickie is always smiling and always willing to help, in the store and out.
There's also the Pickle Festival run by Billy Brooks. Billy is a local barber who had a dream and now that dream is a yearly Pickle Festival. When my oldest son was about two years old he was petrified of anyone in a white coat. I took him to Billy for a haircut and it took three of us to hold him down. When Billy was done he said, "No charge, just don't tell anyone I gave him the haircut."
There's a Tavern in the town. Actually it used to be a lumberyard that was converted into a bar, well actually several different bars, then a restaurant and subsequently it was bought by Billy Loughlin and his wife. Bill is a local boy who owned a restaurant in nearby New Paltz but sold it and took a break for his new baby son. When he was ready to return to the business he opened the Red Brick Tavern on Main Street Rosendale. If you ever want to eat there call ahead. Bill's great cooking and reputation keep the Red Brick crowded every open hour. The ambiance second only to the great cuisine and classic desserts made by Michelle Loughlin.
There's so much more to Rosendale but you'll just have to visit for yourself to find out.
Copyright Tillsontitan - All Rights Reserved
RosendaleClick thumbnail to view full-size
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