Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Still on the Scent of Standard Oil

It seems enough anecdotal evidence has been provided to convince even the skeptical that Standard Oil maintained a facility on the southern edge of the Hudson waterfront--on the land the City of Hudson now seeks to acquire from Holcim--but it's hard to abandon the scent once the hunt is on. In recent days, two Gossips readers have provided more news stories that give information about the Standard Oil dock and what went on there.

On July 12, 1892, this item appeared in the Hudson Evening Register, reporting the first delivery of oil by barge to the supply depot.

Once the depot got up and running, it operated at that location for less than fifteen years. On June 22, 1916, the Hudson Evening Register reported rumors that Standard Oil was planning to move its depot to the vicinity of North Bay.

Finally, on March 23, 1917, the Hudson Evening Register reports the demolition of the depot and the cleanup of the site by a "gang of junkmen."


  1. It seems almost impossible to dispute that the Standard Oil Company had buildings, tanks and a dock in the South Bay. The period of time when this took place looks to be between 1888-1917.

    This looks to be enough evidence for concerned city leaders to accept this evidence and act accordingly.

  2. It's just astonishing how much information is tucked away about a thing like this. It appears that families have saved news clippings and photos, or sometimes curious people saved this or that while doing other research. What a resource we are.

    Of course someone who doesn't want to find anything won't. We've all enjoyed a front row seat to the sloppiness of our hired professionals. Their combined arrogance and ignorance nearly became the official account of things, and it still might.

    This month in Kentucky, a conference organized around the ideas of the poet Wendell Berry summoned up a group of mid-20th c. writers called the "Southern Agrarians." Whatever the aesthetic merits of any of the above writers, in their ideas all have attempted to revive some version of the state's rights philosophy of their nearly forgotten 19th c. predecessors.

    Naturally such thinking is very southern, but as a favorite writer of mine once urged, we can still try and lift those mens' observations out of their transitory significance, and fit them to the tenets of our own day.

    The closest thing I can find today to what thinkers like the later Calhoun recommended would be a necessary addendum to the Bill of Rights is what we already enjoy in a state like New York. It's "Home Rule."

    So much of our state government is geared to this radically democratic formula. New York has spent large sums perfecting its recommendations for public participation in all of the programs it sponsors. A lot of this work is really well thought-out, and even inspiring.

    Two programs immediately come to mind, the LWRP and the Brownfield Opportunity Areas Program (BOA). Both share the state's same recommended level and kind of public participation.

    So how did Hudson's LWRP become such a shameful exercise in exclusion?

    What stands out most was that the program was controlled by a single lawyer who never looked beyond the one magic adjective: our participation was merely "recommended."

    The city's 2012 BOA Program to study potential contaminants in our midst was even more deplorable than the LWRP, if that's even conceivable!

    The application to secure a grant for the state's BOA Program was done entirely without public knowledge. The secret application, submitted to the DOS before the public even knew about it, was an amalgam of the first 2/3 of the program - the very steps which the state recommends for public participation.

    Without public participation, what did the BOA Steering Committee decide about the South Bay's former Standard Oil site? What did the same contemptuous lawyer discover who had created the LWRP in her own image?

    Out of the 14 sites they chose as candidates for a comprehensive study of the city's potentially contaminated sites, the secretly run BOA Program did not include the former petroleum site.

    Was that site was too important to the survival of the LWRP for anyone to show in a bad light? In other words, was its potential threat to public and environmental health less important than getting money?

    It's long past time Hudson residents got rid of these cynical, self-serving oligarchs and their bought dum-dums.

    1. Unheimlich--Have you not yet discovered FultonHistory.com? These news bits are not coming from clippings stored in shoeboxes; they being discovered by skillful research, done by readers, using an invaluable database of old newspapers.

    2. But you told me ...

      Anyway, my meaning is the same.

      It's still the undervalued public versus the Moore/Roberts exclusion machine.

      (Say, who last hired that lawyer anyway?)

  3. The Industrial Revolution gave us the rail that entrapped the city. The industrial development agency gave us Mrs Roberts who has closed the poor man's pathway to paradise.