Hope Farm Press & Bookshop 252 Main Street Saugerties NY 12477
Publisher of New York Regional History, Folklore. Nature, Military History and Genealogy Books
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Saugerties is at the foot of the Catskill Mts on the West bank of the Hudson River, 100 miles North of New York City. The picture above is of the Esopus Creek flowing through it. The name Saugerties takes its derivation from the Holland Dutch, Zager's Killetje. Zager (meaning sawyer or sawmill), and Kill meaning creek or stream, with the suffix "t j e" to indicate small or little (now modernized as "t i e s"). Thus the sawmill on the 'Zager's Killetje, or Little Kill, became Saugerties, leaving us with a direct link to our early Dutch heritage.
Lured by the great water power furnished by the falls in the Esopus, Henry Barclay built the first mill to become the cornerstone of our immensely successful paper industry. Coated papers named "Catskill" and "Ashokan" were produced in Saugerties and earned national fame. In fact, throughout the 1800's and early 1900's our town ranked as one of the leading producers of paper in the country, with as much as eight tons of paper and books produced daily. In addition, seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars worth of bluestone was quarried here annually and shipped from our docks on the Hudson all over the world. This town was jumpin'! (See, "The History of Paper Manufacturing in Saugerties $3.50)
Our early prosperous and thriving economy is still evident in the architecture of Saugerties Village, called one of the most attractive communities on the Hudson. If you enjoy urban walks, the village has an 8 block commercial section designated an Historic District by the National Register of Historic Places. It boasts old stone houses, beautiful churches, and over 80 mid to late 19th century brick buildings housing the best selection of antique shops and restaurants in the Hudson Valley. There is a Carnegie Library, circa 1915, and a few blocks from the village is a 1/3 mile long "low tide" nature trail to the oldest lighthouse on the Hudson River. It even has overnight accommodations, call 914-246-4380. (See Lighthouses and Legends of the Hudson, Glunt, Ruth $20.00) There are also boat launching areas on the Hudson River and at the public beach on the Esopus Creek. Wintertime sports include public skating and sledding in town, with several major ski resorts within a half hour drive up the mountains.
Saugerties annually hosts the Spring Festival, an outdoor art show and evening fashion show; the Garlic Festival, the annual New York State Garlic Growers meeting and a collection of vendors of "garliciana" that drew 30,000 garlic lovers last year (in only its 3rd season!); and the Mum Festival, an incredible collection of flowers planted in the public gardens of Seamon Park that has drawn thousands each weekend in the fall since the mid 1960's. The Saugerties Community Band and Saugerties Pro Musica regularly perform concerts to delight music lovers of all tastes. And, recently, local businessmen have designated three Saturdays a year as "Flea Market Festival Days", with hundreds of vendors set up at the spacious Cantine Field. There you can find a huge pavilion, barbecue pits, and a bandstand surrounded by lighted public tennis courts and baseball fields, all open to the public, with plenty of parking.
Just outside the village at New York Thruway exit 20, James Winston established his 1000 acre Saugerties estate while overseeing the ten-year construction of the Ashokan Reservoir just a few miles away in West Hurley. New York City owes its vast quantity of pure drinking water to this Saugertiesian's engineering expertise. Now Winston Farm, internationally famous as the site of the 25th reunion Woodstock Festival, is proposed as a music/performace space a.k.a. Saratoga Performing Arts.
I couldn't let a discussion of Saugerties end without mentioning Opus 40, a nationally known earth works. Built on over 6 acres of abandoned bluestone quarry in Highwoods, this monumental sculpture took almost 40 years to construct. Harvey Fite created a labyrinth of ramps, walls and walks, spanning different levels and offering changing vistas of the surrounding countryside, all at the foot of Overlook Mountain. Throughout the bluestone landscape are arranged pools, fountains and plantings in harmony with the environment, all encircling a 9 ton monolith. Opus 40 is truly a spectacular achievement and a fitting eulogy to what was once a major industry in Saugerties. While you are here, tour the quarryman's museum for a display of the tools and the way of life of our ancestors.
You see, Friendly Saugerties has it all! Culture, art, and history, topped off by a magnificent view stretching from the blue foothills of the Catskill Mountains across the Hudson to the green Berkshires of New England. Come visit, you'll stay awhile.
Of course, this is only my slightly prejudiced point-of-view!
Much of this history, as-well-as the history of each town in Ulster County, is in The Concise History of Ulster County.
To read more about early Saugerties' history see "The Palatines of Olde Ulster"
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Last revised 6/1/96 Copyright © 1995 by Richard Frisbie -- All rights reserved.