This Week in Rockland: Newspaper Excerpts: Flashback Friday: Week of May 19

2023-05-19 TWIR Image-Mine Hole
2023-05-19 TWIR Image-Ferry Boat

May 17, 1873 – 150 YEARS AGO
Rockland County Journal

    “O world! thou art indeed a melancholy jest,” said Byron. We thought so while that organ-grinder was wasting his valuable time in front of an undertaker's shop on Broadway.
    The improvements upon the Piermont Reformed Church are in active progress, the spire rising upwards rapidly. When completed, it will add considerably to the beauty of the landscape.
    Sparks from locomotives on the Hackensack Extension R. R. set fire to the grass and leaves south of Nanuet, on Thursday. Active exertions were required to keep the flames from doing serious injury.
    The Messenger says that on Wednesday, 7th inst., Mr. Derbyshire, wife, and infant miraculously escaped drowning at the steamboat dock, on the occasion of their horses running away and plunging into the river. All were rescued and doing well.

May 19, 1933 90 YEARS AGO
Rockland County Journal-News

[Image: The Mine Hole, ca. 1920, Leonard Cooke Collection, Nyack Library, via The image appeared in South of the Mountains, vol. 43, no. 1 (1999),]
       “Clean the Sparkill Creek” is the war cry of an army of workers who are planning a house-to-house canvass of property owners and tenants to obtain co-operation in the drive for civic improvement. Karl Kirchner, Tappan realtor, was appointed chairman of the cleanup committee Wednesday night when the executive committees of the South Orangetown Lions Club and the Piermont Dutch Arms met at the home of Ward Ackley, of Piermont.
       The drive committee will meet on the battlefield itself Sunday afternoon at five o’clock to look over the ground and plan its attack. The meeting will be at Frank Chaize's garage. Each householder through the “Mine Hole” section and the Ferdon avenue residential district will be visited and urged to co-operate by improving his own particular plot.
       Among the chief points in the campaign are the establishment of a park on the site of the old Boss ice house at the upper end of the valley, the covering of the ash dump on the creek bank in Piermont, the cleaning and improvement of the “Mine Hole” spring, and a general cleanup of property on the north bank of the creek. The Rev. J. H. Crockett, of St. Charles Church, Sparkill will give assistance to the cause by appeals from the pulpit for the co-operation of the Negro residents in his congregation.
       Mr. Kirchner is chairman of a committee which includes C. H. Kane, Trustee; George M. Stevenson; M. J. Bierbower; Frank Chaize; J. Ennis DuBois; and G. DeGroat. Fred Robley presided at Wednesday's meeting as temporary chairman. A finance committee, consisting of Robert Tangemann, Ward Ackley, and Judge Theodore W. Jessup, was also appointed
       The Rev. William V. Berg, who started the movement and who has supplied the most practical ideas for going about the task, was named as chairman of the publicity committee assisted by John Robinson, president of the Dutch Arms, and Harold E. F. Tanner, president of the Lions Club. Others who took part in the discussion at the meeting were H. C. Stiteler, E. C. Rodgers and Frank A. Peterson.

May 18, 1973 50 YEARS AGO
The Journal News

[Image: The Henry M. Hutchins at its mooring in Grassy Point. Staff photo Warren Inglese, Journal News.]
       If he knew he missed the occasion, Huck Finn’d prob’ly cuss. Or at least spit some.
       Stirring memories of Mark Twain, Mike Fink and the famed riverboat races between the Natchez and the Robert E. Lee, a new craft steeped in nostalgia, inched into a Grassy Point dock Tuesday.
       Possibly the first stern wheeler to make its way down the Hudson River in 60 years, the craft will make its home on the Rockland shore, a monument to its distant cousins of a century ago which helped civilize the Hudson banks.
       The distinctive craft was built in 1970 by its owner, Frank Hutchins Jr. of Vista Gardens in Central Nyack, a recent Rockland newcomer.
       The product of an $18,000 cash investment and 4,000 hours of labor, the stern wheeler is valued at $50,000, according to Hutchins.
       Although Hutchins and his wife, Barbara, have lived in Rockland since January, they waited until last week, when the weather had improved, before returning upstate to bring the 17-ton craft down to Rockland.
       The trip from Lake Cayuga at Union Springs took 11 days, Hutchins reported, and took the couple through the Seneca-Cayuga Canal to the Erie Canal on the Seneca River, east to Lake Oneida, across that 27-mile body through the Erie Canal again, and finally through a flight of five locks during a 175-foot drop into the Hudson.
       “The craft always attracts a lot of attention because it's so unusual,” Hutchins said. “But it's a very comfortable boat.”
       Sporting a 4-foot paddle wheel, a large saloon, oak floors, 22 windows and its own heating system, the craft averaged six miles an hour on the journey to Rockland.
       Designed 14 years ago, the craft is named the Henry M. Hutchins, after the builder's late brother.
       Hutchins said he and his wife use the boat exclusively for private recreation.

This Week in Rockland (#FBF Flashback Friday) is prepared by Clare Sheridan on behalf of the Historical Society of Rockland County. To learn about the HSRC’s mission, upcoming events or programs, visit or call (845) 634-9629.


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