Hudson Valley Parent

HVP - July 2014

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Page 32 of 49 ■ Hudson Valley Parent 31 By BRIAN PJ CRONIN T he Mohicans called it "Ma- hekanituck," meaning "the river that fl ows both ways." Robert Boyle called it "the most beautiful, messed-up, productive, ig- nored and surprising piece of water on the face of the earth." We call it the Hudson River, named after the British explorer who sailed a Dutch ship up it in 1609 and told Europe of the wonders he found there. Two years after his voyage up the river that would bear his name, Hen- ry Hudson's crew mutinied and cast him, his son, and seven other crew members adrift in an open faced boat in cold Northern Canadian waters. They were never seen again. So goes the last 400 years of history along the Hudson River: Sometimes full of hope and possibility, some- times abandoned and left for dead. The Hudson River is not just an river, It's a tidal estuary; where the salt waters from the Atlantic Ocean and the freshwaters fl owing down from Lake Tear of the Clouds atop New York State's highest peak meet Down by the river Explore the Hudson with your kids There are numerous ways to turn a trip on the river into an educational experience for the whole family. and mingle, governed by the tides. This means that the southern half of the river, from Troy down to Manhattan, changes directions sev- eral times a day. It also makes for an astonishingly productive ecosystem home to over 200 species of fi sh. Early European settlers wrote that the Hudson was so full of fi sh they could walk across the river on their backs. While that's probably an ex- aggeration, the heaps of oyster shells found via archeological digs along the southern Hudson River show that it may have not been a very big exaggeration. As an important avenue for trade and transportation, the Hudson was a vital component in the Revolu- tionary War with both sides viewing the river as a key to victory. The British fi gured if they could control the river, they would soon crush the rebellion. Fierce battles raged up and down the river from 1776 to 1778. Finally, General George Washington laid a massive iron chain across the river from his base at West Point, blocking the Hudson off. The fi ght- ing moved south until the war ended a few years later. The river's importance for trade increased with the popularity of the steamboat (thus reducing sailor's dependence on the Hudson's fi nicky tides) and the construction of the Erie Canal, which connected the river to Cleveland and the Great Lakes. But the increase of trade led to the gradual decrease of the river's health. By the middle of the 20th Centu- ry, the Hudson was a smoggy mix of raw sewage, household garbage, industrial waste and goodness knows what else. The marine population dwindled, the bald eagles and ospreys that once soared along the (Continued on Page 32) The Walkway Over The Hudson provides an unparalleled bird's eye view of the Hudson River. At 1.28 miles long, the Walkway is now the longest elevated pedestrian bridge in the world. Photo by Robert Rodriguez Jr.

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