Columbia County history road trip



Take the family on a driving tour of regional history

Take the family on a driving tour of regional history


Combine a day's excursion with a history lesson for the whole family by selecting among four themed tours of Columbia County, on the east bank of the Hudson River, a bit south of Albany. Each tour has up to 12 stops. Maps and descriptions are available on the Columbia County Historical Society website. If you enjoy geocaching turn to your app and see what it offers.

Here are a few highlights:

Tour 1: Artifacts of Industry

The R. and W. Scott Ice House was the largest on the Hudson River, with four elevators that hauled ice from the river’s edge. Its ruins remain in a small park in Stuyvesant.

The five-story Glencadia textile mill, built in 1827, produced 325,000 yards of cotton cloth per year at its peak. It was powered by the 70-foot-high Stuyvesant Falls, also the name of the town where it's located.

In the city of Hudson, the county seat, visit the Henry Hudson Riverfront Park, where wharves, warehouses, and shipyards were located to support the whaling and shipping industries. The last whaling ship sailed from Hudson in 1819.

Tour 2: Patriots & Patroons: Politics in Columbia County

The Clermont estate in Germantown was the home of wealthy landowner Robert R. Livingston, one of five drafters of the Declaration of Independence.

President Martin Van Buren, a native of the Columbia County town of Kinderhook, once tried a case in the Quackenboss Tavern, which is still standing.

Visit Clermont State Historic Site and Harvey Mountain State Forest. Check out your geocaching app to see what unique finds are available. 


Tour 3: Sacred Spaces

From wood-frame country churches to Greek Revival elegance, many local houses of worship are on the National Register of Historic Places and date back to early European settlements. If your kids love architecture and learning about how people practiced their religion, this may be a good trip.

Tour 4: Legends and Folklore

This tour includes some unique locations in towns, and along streams and rivers. Each site has a unique tale.

See the schoolhouse in Kinderhook that was once run by schoolmaster Jess Merwin, a friend of Washington Irving. Merwin is reputed to be the model for Ichabod Crane in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”

Near the base of scenic Beaver Falls in the town of Valatie, magician and escape artist Harry Houdini performed a stunt on a water wheel for his final film, Haldane of the Secret Service.

In Niverville, on Kinderhook Lake, a grand “electric park” operated from 1901 to 1920 and was billed as the largest amusement park between Manhattan and Montreal.



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