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As "druids," the Knickerbockers and the painters of the Hudson River School were loath to acknowledge the industrialization of the River. However, manufacturing was an important part of the River economy from early on, much of it driven by the needs of New York City and facilitated by the ease of river transport. Early manufacturing included:
Lumbering and sawmills, gristmills and paper mills.
Quarrying in the Palisades for brownstone used in New York City houses, and in the Catskills for bluestone used to pave the streets.
Brick making had a center in Haverstraw. Bricks were also made in Kingston, Fishkill and elsewhere along the River. Even today, certain Hudson shorelines are covered with bricks, just as other shores are lined with naturally occurring stones.
Sloop building, whose capital was Nyack between 1815 and 1828; later Newburgh and Rondout took over as steamboat building centers.
Iron making, which made use of the local iron ore deposits as well as the plentiful timber needed to fuel the foundries. Cold Spring in particular emerged as one of the largest and most modern iron foundries in the country. Started after the War of 1812, the West Point Foundry benefited from excellent transportation alternatives (the Hudson, the Erie Canal, the railroad), its proximity to the armament expertise at West Point, and abundant natural resources (iron, trees for charcoal and stream water to drive the bellows). The Foundry made the first all-iron ship in the country, the engine for the first American-made locomotive and the Parrot gun, a cannon credited with being instrumental in the Union's victory in the Civil War. The lovely Chapel of Our Lady, standing on a bluff overlooking the River, is now non-denominational, but was originally built in 1833 as a Catholic church for the foundry workers imported from Europe.
Cement making, an industry that still exists today on the river using local limestone deposits.
Leather tanning, centered in the Catskills with their abundant water and cedar trees, which were used to make the dye. Have you ever wondered where the name "Tannersville" came from?
Ice harvesting, which was big business. The ice house at Barrytown, owned by the Mutual Benefit Ice Company, could hold 60,000 tons of ice and the Knickerbocker Ice Company, which cut ice from Rockland Lake in Rockland County, employed as many as 3,000 people. An excellent example of an ice house can be found on the east bank of the river at Nutten Hook, across the Hudson from Coxsackie. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
[TOUR: StockPort Flats]