Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Pelham's Hutchinson River "Landing" in the Early 19th Century

Yesterday I published to the Historic Pelham Blog a brief posting entitled "Logging the Virgin Forest in Pelham in the Early 19th Century". Coincidentally, I received three email messages from readers interested in the reference to the Hutchinson River "landing" contained in the November 17, 1813 classified advertisement from The Evening Post that I quoted in yesterday's posting. The most extensive message said:

"I read your article with interest regarding the long-ago logging industry of Pelham. It seems to explain the remains of some sort of dock (the loading dock you mention?) in the Hutchinson River. Where 95N passes over the River, these are visible at a low tide. Look for the mud flat near the remains of the old rowboat. Also, if you follow the train tracks south, as they pass Co-op City, you will see more of the same; and in a 'better' state of preservation. What do you think?"

Comments such as these caused me to give some careful thought last evening to the landing and its location and whether there may be remnants of piers that supported a dock associated with the landing. In the last few years I have read many references to the landing, but have not tried to collect them and analyze them with any substantial effort.

One of the earliest maps of Pelham containing sufficient detail to show such a landing was prepared in 1853. Below is a detail from a copied version of that map prepared in the 1940s. I have added an arrow to show the location of the landing as depicted on the map. Note that not only does the map show a "landing", but it also shows the "Prevost" property north of the area consistently with the reference in the classified advertisement quoted yesterday saying that the wood offered for sale on the Prevost property was within "3/4 of a mile of the landings".

Detail from Copied Version of 1853 Map
Prepared in the 1940s.

Last evening I tried to compare the map detail to a current view of the same area. I chose the "Hybrid" version of satellite photography and street maps offered by Google. I located the area where I-95 crosses the Hutchinson River as well as the area to the south. Click here to see the hybrid satellite image / map that I reviewed. (Remember, when you view such a Google map you can place your cursor on the map and depress your left mouse button. While depressing that button you can drag your cursor to move the map and thereby "navigate" through the satellite image / map hybrid.)

Of course, the analysis is not easy. Beginning in the 19th century, the Army Corps of Engineer straightened much of the channel of the Hutchinson River. Thus, the path of today's Hutchinson River is different in many respects from its path in the early 19th century.

However, in comparing the Google image with the map detail above, you may notice that remnants of the distinctive "loop" in the path of the river just north of the landing appear to be visible in the satellite image. If that is the case, then any remnants of the landing should be to the south of the remnants of the distinctive loop.

Using the Google satellite map scale of approximately 1-1/4 inches represents 500 feet and doing the best I can to approximate distance based on a review of the map detail above, it looks to me like any remnants of the landing likely would lie about 2,000 feet south of the place where I-95 crosses the Hutchinson River. That would seem to place it very roughly in an area of the river across from where Peartree Avenue intersects with the bend in Co Op City Boulevard.

Thus, the reader who noted that "if you follow the train tracks south, as they pass Co-op City, you will see more of the same; and in a 'better' state of preservation" likely is correct.

My curiosity is so stimulated that the next step will be to track down the possible remnants at low tide and photograph the site.

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