Highland Landing

If you were standing on Highland Landing nearly 250 years ago, you may have been the target of British warships making their way up the Hudson to reinforce General Burgoyne in the Battles of Saratoga. Setting colonists’ property on fire with hot cannonballs, the Brits fortunately missed the home of Anthony Yelverton. It now stands as the oldest wooden structure in Ulster County. Yelverton was both a practical man and an opportunist. A son of Poughkeepsie, he built his house into the hillside partly from the timbers of an old boat. In need of bricks, he started a brickyard. When more settlers arrived, he converted his ground floor into a tavern and store. In order to get across the river, he created a ferry service -- using slaves to man the oars. Entrepreneurship has long been a hallmark of the waterfront. Wharves, warehouses, icehouses, coal and lumber depots, and a foundry have all thrived here. But times changed in the 1880s. The West Shore Railroad, with its right of way, cleared many of the buildings. Fires ravaged most of the rest. The hamlet of Highland shifted the economic activity and population up the hill as the Hudson River shoreline gradually deteriorated into an industrial echo. Decades after the Mid-Hudson Bridge rendered ferry service obsolete in 1941, the waterfront became more valued for its scenic beauty and recreation. Dedicated residents have helped the Town create Bob Shepard Highland Landing Park where a boat launch and deep-water dock encourage access to the Hudson. But vestiges of the Revolutionary War remain. British cannon balls continue to be dug up along the riverside. They’re on display at the Town Hall in Highland.

 

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