Tag Archives: Wallkill River

Preservation Secured for Historic Huguenot Land

The Open Space Institute (OSI), Historic Huguenot Street (HHS) and the Thomas and Corinne Nyquist Foundation have announced the preservation in perpetuity of the Harcourt Wildlife Sanctuary, a 56-acre nature preserve located on Huguenot Street in the town and village of New Paltz.

OSI, through its land acquisition affiliate, the Open Space Conservancy, acquired the Sanctuary for $110,000 on June 21st from Historic Huguenot Street. HHS owns and maintains a National Historic Landmark District which includes a number of historic houses dating to the early 18th century set on ten acres in downtown New Paltz.

HHS acquired the property known as the Harcourt Sanctuary from Hastings Harcourt in 1976 and subsequently established the wildlife sanctuary. In 2009, HHS entered into a Conservation Easement with the Wallkill Valley Land Trust. According to a statement issued to the press, HHS has been focusing its efforts on the historic properties on Huguenot Street and has been searching for a buyer for the Harcourt property. Mary Etta Schneider, President of HHS comments, “It was especially important that we find a buyer that would honor Mr. Harcourt’s original intent to keep the land open to the public and in its natural state. We are delighted to collaborate with OSI and the Nyquist Foundation to make this happen.”

On July 6th, OSI sold the parcel for $55,000 to the Thomas and Corinne Nyquist Foundation. The sale included a restriction requiring the property to be made available to the public in perpetuity for recreational use. Thomas E. Nyquist, chair of the Foundation says, “The acquisition of the Harcourt Wildlife Sanctuary reflects a long-existing appreciation of the beauty of the mid-Hudson Valley by the Nyquist family. Through the foundation, the Nyquists are pleased to serve as stewards of the newly-named Nyquist-Harcourt Wildlife Sanctuary.”

The Sanctuary contains the “oxbow,” a complex of ponds and wetlands remaining from a tightly curved meander cut off when the Wallkill River straightened its course hundreds of years ago. It has over 1,300 feet of frontage on the Wallkill River and adjoins the Jewett and Khosla farms, two historic Huguenot farms totaling more than 180 acres that were protected by OSI and the Wallkill Valley Land Trust in the “Two Farms” campaign in 2007. The Sanctuary also adjoins land owned by the village of New Paltz containing the Gardens for Nutrition, a community-supported public gardening area.

“With the generous participation of the Nyquist Foundation, we are thrilled to be able to preserve the Harcourt Sanctuary,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s president and CEO. “Like the other properties we’ve protected along Huguenot Street, it exemplifies both the rich history and natural resources of New Paltz and the Wallkill River.”

The property has relatively open areas dominated by grasses and herbaceous plants, which provide rich and varied habitat opportunities for a wide range of plants and animals. In 1987 the Town of New Paltz Environmental Conservation Commission created the Huguenot Path, an improved nature trail which loops through the Sanctuary and the adjacent Village-owned property.

The Open Space Institute protects scenic, natural, and historic landscapes to ensure public enjoyment, conserve habitats, and sustain community character. OSI achieves its goals through land acquisition, conservation easements, regional loan programs, fiscal sponsorship, creative partnerships, and analytical research. OSI has protected more than 110,000 acres in New York State. Through its Northern Forest Protection Fund and Conservation Finance Program, OSI has assisted in the protection of an additional 1.8 million acres in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina and Georgia. Please visit www.osiny.org for more information.

The Thomas and Corinne Nyquist Foundation is a family foundation founded in 2004 to provide financial support for local initiatives and programs of nonprofit organizations and groups in New Paltz and in Roosevelt County, Montana with emphasis on the communities of Bainville, Culbertson and Froid.

Historic Huguenot Street (HHS), located on the banks of the Wallkill River, is the place where the spirit of individualism that New Paltz is known for today began. Here a small group of French-speaking Huguenots settled in 1678. Just steps from downtown New Paltz, the site features seven stone houses dating to 1705, a burying ground and a reconstructed 1717 stone church – all in their original village setting. HHS offers ten acres of landscaped green space and public programming to the local community and visitors from around the world. For more information about Historic Huguenot Street, visit www.huguenotstreet.org or call (845) 255-1889.

New Paltz: Moonlight Historic Harcourt Preserve Walk

Historic Huguenot Street and the Wallkill Valley Land Trust have come together with a unique and new offering in New Paltz, on Saturday, June 26th at dusk: a moonlight walk on the 54-acre Harcourt Preserve that borders Huguenot Street. As the sun sets and the moon rises, participants will enjoy a drink on the porch of the DuBois Fort before setting off to see the historic preserve as few do – by the light of the moon. Full moons were a much anticipated treat in the days before electricity – an opportunity for people to venture out at night and enjoy the ability to see by the light of the moon.

The tour will begin at 8:30pm at the DuBois Fort Visitor Center at 81 Huguenot Street in New Paltz with a toast to the rise of the full moon with a glass of sparkling cider or wine. The easy, flat one-and-a-half-mile walk is the perfect opportunity to experience the kind of summer nights the original inhabitants of Huguenot Street once did.

Advance reservations are not required, but are suggested. To make a reservation, visit www.huguenotstreet.org or call (845) 255-1889.

Historic Huguenot Street (HHS), located on the banks of the Wallkill River, is where small group of French-speaking Huguenots settled in 1678. Today, just steps from downtown New Paltz, the site features seven stone houses dating to 1705, a burying ground and a reconstructed 1717 stone church – all in their original village setting. HHS offers six acres of landscaped green space and public programming to the local community and visitors from around the world. For more information about Historic Huguenot Street, visit www.huguenotstreet.org or call (845) 255-1660.

Photo: Moonlight over the serene Harcourt Preserve along the Wallkill River in New Paltz.

New Paltz Talk: Early Hearths of the Hudson Valley

Historic Huguenot Street in New Paltz is known for its unique architecture and for the preservation of the houses built by the community’s founding families. On Saturday, Huguenot Street continues its Second Saturday’s Lecture Series with a lecture by Rob Sweeney, local historian and old house enthusiast, titled “Early Hearths of the Hudson Valley.”

The talk will begin at 7pm on Saturday, February 13th in Deyo Hall, which is located on Broadhead Avenue between Chestnut and Huguenot Streets in downtown New Paltz. There is a $7 charge per person ($5 for Friends of Historic Huguenot Street). Refreshments will follow Sweeney’s talk. In the case of inclement weather, the talk will be postponed to February 20th.

Rob Sweeney is a board member of Hudson Valley Vernacular Architecture, the historian for the Town of Ulster and the owner of the Benjamin Ten Broeck House, a stone house built in 1751. His presentation will trace the evolution of the “jambless fireplace,” a style that dates to medieval Europe and which can be found in the houses of Historic Huguenot Street, to the popularity of the “Rumford Fireplace” of the early 19th century. Sweeney will also explore the role of tradition over comfort among the residents within the region.

Historic Huguenot Street (HHS), located on the banks of the Wallkill River, is where small group of French-speaking Huguenots settled in 1678. Today, just steps from downtown New Paltz, the site features seven stone houses dating to 1705, a burying ground and a reconstructed 1717 stone church – all in their original village setting. HHS offers six acres of landscaped green space and public programming to the local community and visitors from around the world.

Mastodon Tusk May Be Largest Ever Uncovered in NYS

Research under way at the New York State Museum indicates that a huge mastodon tusk, recently excavated by Museum scientists in Orange County, may be the largest tusk ever found in New York State. The nearly complete but fragmented tusk, measuring more than nine feet long, was one of two excavated this past summer in the Black Dirt area of Orange County at the confluence of Tunkamoose Creek and the Wallkill River, on the property of Lester Lain of Westtown. Museum scientists believe that the other less complete tusk, about 5-6 feet long, came from the same mastodon, which has been named the Tunkamoose mastodon.

Glen Keeton of Mount Hope, N.Y. and Chris Connallon of Hampton, N.J. came across the tusks in November 2008 as they were canoeing down the Wallkill River. Keeton contacted the Orange County chapter of the New York State Archeological Association, which then contacted the State Museum. Weather conditions delayed the excavation until this past
summer.

Since then, Dr. Robert Feranec, the Museum’s curator of vertebrate paleontology, has been researching other mastodon excavations in New York State. Feranec believes that the Warren Mastodon tusk, which is 8 feet, 8 inches long, is the longest one uncovered to date. It was discovered in New York State in the 1800s and is on exhibit at the
American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The tusk of the Cohoes Mastodon, on display at the State Museum, is about 4-5 feet long.

Based on the age of similar fossils, Feranec suspects that the tusks are about 13,000 years old. However, carbon dating results to determine the exact age, will not be available until later this year. In the meantime, the tusks have been taken apart to be cleaned and conserved for their long-term survival. It is hoped that eventually the tusks can be made available for scientific research and exhibits at the State
Museum and at a museum in the area where the tusks were found.

Abundant mastodon fossils have been found in Orange County, especially in the rich Black Dirt area which Keeton calls “a gold mine for these fossils.” Other fossils have also been found including those of giant beavers, stag moose, ground sloths, peccaries and reindeer. Several Museum scientists will be involved in an integrative research
project in the Black Dirt area where they will investigate the ancient environment in which the mastodon lived, as well as how that environment changed over the last 13,000 years.

“From my perspective, this is a significant find,” said Feranec. “These fossils will tell us more about the ancient history of New York. We hope to be able to reconstruct the environment in which the mastodon lived, as well as to try to understand why they went extinct.”

In 2007, Feranec oversaw the relocation of the Cohoes Mastodon from the State Museum lobby window to its new location in the Museum’s Exhibition Hall, where temperature and humidity levels are more stable and more conducive to the skeleton’s long-term preservation. The iconic Museum treasure is now the centerpiece of an expanded exhibition.

Discovered in 1866 near Cohoes Falls, the Mastodon once stood about 8 ? feet tall, was about 15 feet long, and weighed between 8-10,000 pounds. Its tusk weighs 50 pounds.

Photo: During the excavation process in Orange County, Dr. Robert Feranec, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the New York State Museum, poses next to part of the tusk of a mastodon. (Photo courtesy of NYS Museum)