Hudson River
Hudson River

Hudson River History: A Rich Heritage

From a 500-acre estate to a rustic cabin in the woods,
from the Hudson River School to the American Revolution:
These are the events, people and places that make our Hudson River Heritage so rich.

The above print, "View from West Point" is from a steel engraving by W. H. Bartlett, c. 1850
(from the author's collection).
The background for this page is from bricks found in the Hudson River area of New York State
where hundreds of brick-making factories existed from the late 1700s into the 1940s. See the entire collection HERE.


Under Development: Our Hudson River History Blog

This Month's Featured Publication:
Hudson River
This new release chronicles the rise and demise of amusement parks that lined the Hudson River from the turn of the twentieth century through the 1950s. Some of the parks covered include Electric Park at Kinderhook Lake, Woodcliff Pleasure Park in Poughkeepsie, Orange Lake Park in Newburgh, Indian Point Park in Buchanan, and the Fort George Amusement Park in northern Manhattan. The book contains about 160 photographs.


   Hudson River Photo Tour Courtesy NY-NJ-CT Botany Online

The Perkins Effect

A History of Palisades Interstate Park
prepared by the Palisades Interstate Park Commission

Since its founding over a century ago, the Palisades Interstate Park Commission has depended on donations as well as public funds for financial support to meet its mission to promote and expand the preservation of natural, historical and cultural resources. These donations enable them to conserve and protect open space and wildlife habitats, improve facilities and enhance programs and services for visitors. Today, the need is greater than ever.

The Catskill Mountain House and The World Around

This new documentary tells the early history of the Catskill Mountains, the railroad and steamboat empires, the Hudson River School of Art and poetry and literature that helped create America's first vacation land. The film documents the rise of competing hotels like the massive Hotel Kaaterskill, the beautiful Laurel House, the Grand Hotel and Woodstock Overlook Mountain House. It features world-famous landmarks like Kaaterskill Falls, and Otis Elevated Railway.
Produced by Willow Mixed Media, a not for profit arts group specializing in arts projects and documentary production on topics of social interest. See also: Deep Water: The Building of the Catskill Water System

A History of Hudson River Towns
from the perspective of
the great Hudson River Brick Industry

(a work in progress)


Brockway (Beacon)



Danskammer Point

Dennings Point (Beacon)

Dutchess Junction (Beacon)

East Kingston (Whiskey Point)

Fishkill Landing (Beacon)


Kingston Point


New Paltz

Poughkeepsie (incl. Arlington)



Saugerties (Glasco)

Ulster County
"The Gentleman from Ulster," a history of the MAYONE Brick Co. in Athens and Glasco, NY

Verplanck (incl. Montrose and Crugers)

Hudson River Events, People and Places from A to Z

America's First River: Bill Moyers on the Hudson "It's quite a river, the Hudson, flowing from near the Canadian border down past New York harbor to the Atlantic... And it's quite a story we report in AMERICA'S FIRST RIVER, from the American Revolution to the epic battle between Jack Welch, former Chairman of General Electric, and people up and down the Hudson who fought him tooth and toenail over PCBs dumped in the river by GE."

Bannerman Castle
Bannerman Castle Trust "Pollepel: An Island Steeped in History"

Bannerman's Island Arsenal From the acclaimed Hudson Valley Ruins web site.

Books Hard to find gems of Hudson River history, mystery and lore.

Books: On-Line Many out of print books or hard to find articles. Free to read on-line!

Boscobel The house was completed in 1808 for the States Dyckman family and is widely regarded as one of the finest examples of Federal architecture in the country.

Catskill Archive A great site for the history of hotels, railroads and towns in the Catskills.

Clermont Established in 1728, this 500 acre historic site is the former estate of Robert Livingston, Jr.

Thomas Cole National Historic Site Cole was a major player in the Hudson River School. Visit his home in Catskill, NY.

Croton Point Tales of life at "Interwasser" woven with world-famous wine, brickmaking and War of 1812 watermelons.

Danskammer Point Here was the Edward Armstrong mansion where a Cuban sugar broker, Juan Jacinto Jova, built a brickmaking empire.

Delaware and Hudson Canal This engineering feat of pre-industrial America brought a new form of energy from the hills of Pennsylvania to the Hudson River.

Henry Hudson
Henry Hudson: His Life and Voyages 400 years ago, Hudson, sailing into the mouth of a wide river near today's New York City (later named the "Hudson" River), was unsuccessful at finding a way to the Orient. He then was arrested in England for sailing under another nation's flag.

Historic Hudson Valley Visit manors, mansions and a church in a network of historic sites in Sleepy Hollow Country.

Hoopla On the Hudson Award-winning Hudson Valley historian Lincoln Diamant has translated his fatherís day-by-day reports of the Great 1909 Hudson-Fulton Celebration.

The Hudson: The River That Defined America A new website on Henry Hudson's arrival, the Dutch settlement and the River today with image galleries and video interviews!

Hudson River Chains to block the British at Ft. Washington, Ft. Montgomery and West Point.

Hudson River Heritage Committed to preserving the unique character of the Mid-Hudson Valley's historic architecture, rural landscapes and scenic viewsheds, HRH acts as steward for the Hudson River National Historic Landmark District, a 32-square-mile area stretching from Staatsburg, in Dutchess County to Clermont, in Columbia County. This area is rich with country estates, small hamlets, and breathtaking landscapes.

Tarrytown Light
Hudson River Lights Information, pictures and histories of all the Hudson River lighthouses. Includes some virtual tours.

Hudson River Maritime Museum The only museum in New York State exclusively preserving the maritime history of the Hudson River, its tributaries, and the industries that developed around it.

Hudson River Maritime Museum's History Pages:
Henry Hudson and Early Hudson River History
Hudson River Sloops in the Age of Sail

A Hudson River Portfolio (NO LONGER AVAILABLE) Prints, maps, photographs, guidebooks, histories and literature from the 19th century have been scanned and organized for the student, scholar and general audiences. Material is from the collections of the New York Public Library (Webmaster Note: What a shame! This wonderful resource has been removed from the NY Public Library website.)

Thomas Cole
The Hudson River School: Views of Natural Wonder.

Hudson River School Art Trail Walk in the footsteps of Thomas Cole, Frederic Church, Asher B. Durand, Jasper Cropsey, Sanford Gifford and other pioneering American artists, and see the landscapes that launched the Hudson River School of Art.

Hudson River Valley Heritage One of the best Hudson Valley history sites on the Web. Provides online access to historical materials such as atlases, newspapers and photos.

Hudson River Valley Institute
Hudson River Valley Institute Located at Marist College, its mission is to study and to promote the Hudson River Valley and to provide resources for educators, tourists, environmental organizations, the business community and the general public.

Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area
Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area This is one of 49 Congressionally designated National Heritage Areas in the United States. The website promotes a network of designated Heritage Sites, classified by theme and amenities. Videos, blogs and other resources help all to "Explore the Heritage!"

Hudson River Books Hard-to-find gems of Hudson Valley history, mystery and lore.

Hudson Valley Ruins Forgotten Landmarks of an American Landscape. Includes the Hudson Valley Demolition Alert.

Newburgh Beacon Bay Celebration Nice site from the 2009 Quadricentennial.

Olana Visit the estate of famed Hudson River School artist Frederic Edwin Church.

Rosendale Natural Cement was used in the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, the wings of the U.S. Capitol, the Washington Monument, Grand Central Terminal and the Croton Aqueduct.

Scenic Hudson: protecting the natural beauty of the Hudson Valley and the unique character of the Hudson River towns.

Slabsides Learn about the rustic cabin where John Burroughs wrote some of the essays that made him America's foremost nature writer of his time.

Stony Point Tour the Battlefield and Lighthouse. This is a NY State Historic Site.

Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt Read about his famous trip from the source of the Hudson (Lake Tear of the Clouds) to the White House.

Virtual History Tour of the Upper Hudson Region A River Runs Through It, edited by Rebecca Haynes

Virtual Trip on the Historic Hudson River A wonderful resource for students, educators, and those interested in the history, culture, and conservation of the Hudson River Valley. Features William Wade's 1846 Panorama of the Hudson River!

West Point Foundry The site was chosen as one of four federally-subsidized foundry sites by President Madison in 1812. The "Parrot Gun" was made here in the 1860s and shot farther and more accurately than any other weapon at the time. It is credited for helping the Union Army win the Civil War.

Fire at Riverdale!

Andrew Jackson Downing
Andrew Jackson Downing
Born October 30, 1815(1815-10-30)
Newburgh, New York
Died July 28, 1852 (aged 36)
Hudson River, New York
Cause of death Fire on The Henry Clay
Occupation Landscape designer, Horticulturist

"The Wreck of the Henry Clay"
Excerpt from Chapter 3


It was called a race by some while others denied the accusations. Whatever the truth, the steamboat Henry Clay burned on the shore of the Hudson River at Riverdale taking dozens of innocent lives. Death Passage on the Hudson: The Wreck of the Henry Clay chronicles the catastrophic events that occurred on that July day in 1852 along with its devastating aftermath.

In Part One of this two-part, illustrated and documented volume, Kris A. Hansen details the final death passage of the steamboat Henry Clay. The author brings to life the personal stories of several victims and survivors set within the tragic circumstances of the disaster. Some passengers of prestigious stature became victims while others, normally ordinary people, became heroes. For one person in particular the praises of bravery would not come until all the facts were determined.

Hudson River Valley notables such as Andrew Jackson Downing and families with names such DeWint, Schoonmaker, Bailey, and Kinsley were among the many affected by the tragic circumstances. The disaster, reported in the major newspapers of the day, drew national attention. Families, friends, and thousands of New Yorkers shared emotions of grief and disbelief, which were often intertwined with anger and outrage.

Speculation arose that a race with the competing steamboat Armenia was responsible for the disaster. Negligence was suspected and the public demanded retribution. In the second part of the book, the author employs witness testimony and information obtained from legal documents to detail the public's search for truth at the official inquest and subsequent legal wrangling in the courts.

Hansen has included within the text and attached appendices, information about several survivors, the known perished, the missing, and the unrecognized. More than 50 illustrations, including photographs, copies of legal documents, original newspaper articles and a map add to the understanding of the disaster.

208 pages, illustrated, 7 x 10, index.
$18.00, paperback

Selected Hudson River Books

The Hudson's Worst Steamboat Disaster! The Wreck of the Henry Clay

The Wreck of the Henry Clay

Special Discount Price
Now in 3rd Printing



A Quadricentennial Commemoration
The 1909 Hudson-Fulton Celebration

The 1909 Hudson-Fulton Celebration


In the American Revolution


New Deal Post Offices in the Mid-Husdon Valley


A Short History

Video Now Available On Demand. Click for Free Preview:


This important film tells the dramatic story of how two generations of Hudson River fishermen and environmentalists
fought a decades-long battle to protect one of the nation's great rivers. Featuring Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Hudson River Walkway

Hudson River Walkway
The Historic Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge
Reopened as the Walkway Over the Hudson in 2009

Hudson River Walkway
Photo Essay by Rob Yasinsac,


During 2009, signature events spanned the Hudson Valley Corridor from New York City to Quebec including a series of celebrations to mark the 400th anniversary of the historic journeys made by Henry Hudson and Samuel de Champlain, as well as the 200th anniversary of Robert Fulton's steamship voyage on the Hudson River.

Explore NY 400

Hudson River is pleased to provide the following informational links.

Newburgh Beacon Bay Celebrations

Hoopla On the Hudson!

1909 Memorabilia

Half Moon
Photo Highlights from the Hudson River Quadricentennial Celebration

The Olde Brick Store:

Hudson River Books

Hard-to-find gems of Hudson Valley
lore, history and mystery

We hope you'll have as much fun browsing through these books as we did finding them for you.

If you have any questions, Contact Us

The Great Hudson River Brick Industry

At its height, the brick industry along the Hudson River comprised over 130 brick yards in the cities and towns of Croton, Verplanck, Crugers, George's Island, Peekskill, Haverstraw, West Haverstraw, Grassy Point, Garnerville, Stony Point, Tomkins Cove, Jones Point, Tappan, Thiells, Roseton, Newburgh, Beacon (Dennings Point), Cornwall, Dutchess Junction, Fishkill, Chelsea, Brockway, Kingston, East Kingston, Steep Rocks, Saugerties, Ulster Park, Malden, Athens, Glasco, Ulster Landing, Stockport, Catskill, Hudson, Coeymans, Schedack Landing, Stuyvesant and Mechanicsville in New York plus Hackensack and Little Ferry in New Jersey.

Catskill Brickyard
Ferrier & Golden and C.C. Abeel Brickyards, Catskill, NY
(From a drawing by L.R. Burleigh, Troy, NY 1889)

On the Eastern shore of the Hudson in Westchester County, one of the areas brickmaking took place was Croton-on-Hudson where William A. Underhill established a brick works in 1837. We have created a special page on this historic site with notes from Sarah Gibbs Underhill called "Tales From Croton Point."

Business was booming. The New York metropolitan area was experiencing a building craze. In 1923, the price of brick commanded $20 per 1000.

Richard VerValen, James Wood,
David Strickland

Brickmakers were confounded by the problems they encountered with the oftentimes irregular shape of the building blocks, which at that time were made almost entirely by hand. A few rudimentary tools had been introduced to help streamline production and in 1830, Nathaniel Adams of Newburgh and Cornwall, NY, invented a moulding machine. However this required human or animal labor to operate.

The real break-through came in 1852, when Richard VerValen developed his brickmaking machine. This connected to a steam-powered drive shaft called a "power-line."

VerValen Machine

VerValen, who knew the industry and had "an inventive mind," pondered the dilemma for a time, according to the late historian, author and area resident, Daniel deNoyelles, in his book, "Within These Gates."

Before VerValen invented his machine in 1852, the clay was forced into the moulds by hand, and therefore had to be rather soft - and when the bricks were dumped out of the moulds, many became misshapen. VerValen's machine made it possible to use stiffer clay. Quoting from deNoyelles:

"..the VerValen machine forced the raw clay into the moulds with a machined packer. The moulds held six brick paralleling each other. Under this newer method a stiffer clay could be used, which made a brick more square. The moulds were drawn by hand from a revolving sander where the iron oxide was added to the flour-like moulding sand. This dusted the insides of the moulds and allowed the soft brick to slip easily to the surface on the drying yards. Of course the filled mould were first 'struck off' by a two-handed knife about two feet long. This made the brick smooth on the exposed plane. This knife was called the moulder's strike'."

"The tempering of the mixture was effected back of the press by a steel shaft pinned with steel knives which extended into the raw clay, sand, and coal dust which had been conveyed above the press by a chain and bucket elevator."

"Red coloring was added to the outside of the newly-moulded brick by adding iron oxide to the moulding sand in the patent sander ca. 1885. Before that time, brick had been burned in their raw state, resulting in a light pink color with a yellowish tint at times. With the use of red ochre, as some oldtimers called it, the hard-burned brick had a deep red, and in some places, a rich purple hue."
Another machine was invented in 1874 to automatically 'sand' the moulds, so that it could keep up with the VerValen moulding machine.

A Closter, NJ native, VerValen lived in Rockland County, NY as a child. He then left for upstate New York before returning to Rockland (Haverstraw) in 1848, where he worked manufacturing stoves and plows in his foundry.

According to legend, it was in the middle of a Sunday church sermon that VerValen had a breakthrough and came up with the machine design. He patented his machine in 1852 and, its principles were "so workable and so novel to brickmaking" that they were used until a more advanced machine, incorporating some of his original ideas, was developed in the 1920s.

In 1828 brickmaker James Wood discovered that 'culm' - fine coal dust - added to the mixture reduced burning time for a kiln by one-half, from FOURTEEN DAYS to SEVEN. He patented it in 1836:

'Be it known that I, the said James Wood, have invented a new and useful improvement in the art of manufacturing bricks and tiles. The process is as follows: Take of common anthracite coal, unburnt, such quantity as will best suit the kind of clay to be made into brick or tile, and mix the same, when well pulverized, with the clay before [it] is moulded; that clay which requires the most burning will require the greatest proportion of coal-dust; the exact proportion, therefore, cannot be specified; but, in general, three fourths of a bushel of coal-dust to one thousand brick will be correct. Some clay may require one eighth more, and some not exceeding a half-bushel.

The benefits resulting from this composition are the saving of fuel, and the more general diffusion of heat through the kiln, by which the whole contents are more equally burned. If the heat is raised too high, the brick will swell, and be injured in their form. If the heat is too moderate, the coal- dust will be consumed before the desired effect is produced. Extremes are therefore to be avoided. I claim as my invention the using of fine anthracite coal, or coal-dust, with clay, for the purpose of making brick and tile as aforesaid, and for that only claim letters patent from the United States.


Dated 9th November, 1836.

Wood, an Englishman, came to Ossining, NY in 1814 but found little clay there so he leased a yard across the river (from Daniel deNoyelles) in Haverstraw and established his first brickyard in 1815. Later he invented a machine for tempering clay.

David J. Strickland of Cleveland, OH, the Bronx and Beacon, NY, patented numerous brick-making inventions. In 1911 he came out with Improved Brickmaking Machinery. In 1920 he created the Strickland Automatic Brick-making Machine. In 1925, a low-pressure steam brick dryer. Strickland is also credited with creating oven-sized brick and introducing the coloring of common brick in the New York market.


Shortly after the turn of the 20th century, things began to change. Cheaper European bricks flooded the market, and the focus shifted to lighter building materials such as glass, aluminum and steel. Veneers over poured concrete foundations were used instead of brick for building. The Great Depression sounded the industry's death knell, by 1933 the price for 1000 bricks fell from $20 to $9.50. World War II delivered the final blow.

When the last yard, Rockland Brick Co., dismantled its only remaining kiln shed in 1941, part of the shed was delivered to a World War II munitions plant for scrap.

Hudson River Bricks were the subject of a book,"The Great Hudson River Brick Industry" (Purple Mountain Press, 2003), by George V. Hutton, whose family owned a factory in Kingston, N.Y., from 1865 to 1980. To obtain this landmark book at a Special Price Click Here.

Another fine book "Within These Gates" (Copyright ©1982) by Daniel deNoyelles is available at the Haverstraw Brick Museum. At the turn of the century, the deNoyelles Brickyard was a major player in the North Rockland brickmaking industry.

Sources Consulted:

"The Gentleman from Ulster" by Mike Mayone (whose great grandfather Joseph founded the MAYONE brickyard in Athens, NY)
"Haverstraw's place in history assured by machine," Suzan Clarke, The Journal News, March 28, 2003
"A Brief History of Rockland County," Thomas F. X. Casey, Rockland County Historian
"Brickmaking Along the Hudson River," Regina M. Haring
Quotations from Daniel deNoyelles "Within These Gates", Copyright ©1982
Photos from
Burleigh drawing:

Today In History!

from The Library of Congress


A compilation of resources on the history of New York's Hudson Valley and a unique history of Hudson River towns created by researching bricks found in the region.


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