Monday, December 19, 2016

The News When It Happened

We all know that South Bay was rendered inaccessible to sailing ships when the Hudson River Railroad was built. Earlier today, I discovered this news item, which appeared in the Hudson Daily Star on June 7, 1851, about the construction of the embankment that carried the railroad across the mouth of the bay.

Painting of South Bay and Mt. Merino by Henry Ary



  1. These are the first depth measurements I've ever seen for the South Bay prior to the restricted flow following 1851 (it's also fair to say, prior to 1492).

    An 18th century map shows the entire South Bay as a mud flat to the approximate limit of the railroad embankment, which suggests that the bay was 4 to 5 feet deep, as claimed in the newspaper excerpt.

    Somewhere there must be documents showing depths at the northern shore, though, and particularly just off the wharfs which stood between today's train station and Tanner's Lane.

    It's reasonable to assume it was deeper at that shore, though maybe not. Perhaps the rate of commerce depended on the tide, which is also likely recorded somewhere.

  2. The RR was granted all of the land under water it needed, everything above the high water line it had to pay for.
    Given that choice today, wouldn't they go around south bay?

    1. But I know you know the railroad bought "deeds" for parcels which were out in the water at the time. One of these deeds was created by Cotton Gelston, the Proprietor's deed-maker, which passed to his son Samuel who sold it to the railroad.

      It wasn't until the 21st century that these claims were disputed, a dispute to which you were a party.

      Unfortunately, it was Cotton Gelston, et al, who sunk the chances of the North Dock Tin Boat Association and Shantytown generally.

      Miraculously, the same fate was not met by the Wastewater Treatment Plant, which was also built unwittingly on state-owned land.

      This place is nuts.