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.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Only Known Image of the Glen-Drake Rifle Range Near Pelhamville

I recently wrote about a nagging mystery regarding the existence of a "Glen-Drake" rifle range in Pelhamville during the 1870s. See:

Wed., April 1, 2009: Evidence of a "Glen-Drake" Rifle Range in Pelhamville During the 1870s.

Stubbornly, I have continued my efforts to locate more information about the rifle range. To my surprise, I have now located an engraving published in 1876 that shows the rifle range -- likely the only extant image showing the site. The engraving appeared in a book that included a little more information about the range. I have quoted the pertinent excerpt from the book below and include the image immediately below.

"The American Rifle Association was organized at Mount Vernon, Westchester County, N.Y., Dec. 5, 1874, mainly through the efforts of Captain Frederick Whittaker, who was one of the original corporators of the National Rifle Association. With considerable pluck the young organization began work at once upon a temporary range; targets were erected upon the new Wimbledon plans, rules were adopted similar to the revised Wimbledon rules, and matches were held, the result of which was such as to warrant the Directors in securing land for a permanent range. They succeeded in procuring sixty-three acres of Mr. Thomas S. Drake, within ten minutes' walk of Pelhamville depot, on the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, the distance from the Grand Central Depot, N.Y., being about fifteen miles. The time occupied in reaching the range is about thirty-five minutes. The cost to those who purchase excursion tickets is seventy-five cents. The canvas target, and the telegraph worked by a corps of operators, were introduced first by this Association in this country. In honor of the owner, the range has been called Glen-Drake.

Gen. J. Watts De Peyster, for the purpose of encouraging off-hand shooting, presented to this Association a medal which is said to be the most artistic and handsome ever made in America for a similar purpose."

Source: Starr, George C., The Forest and Stream Hand-Book for Riflemen, pp. 6-7 (NY, NY: J.B. Ford & Co. 1876) (text appears on page 6; engraving appears on page 7).

The engraving provides additional clues regarding the precise location of the Glen-Drake rifle range. In the foreground there appears to be a small creek spanned by a small bridge across which a roadway passes. There is a knoll in the distance in front of which are six canvas bullseye targets for the riflemen. According to the text, the range was located about a ten minute walk from the Pelhamville depot on the New Haven Line.

It seems possible that the creek is the Hutchinson River at the far northern reaches of today's Town of Pelham. If so, then the rifle range would appear to encompass -- at least in part -- an area that since has been covered by the construction of the Hutchinson River Parkway. (Please use the comment feature below to provide your own theories regarding the location of the site.)

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