Friday, November 4, 2016

Where the Mohawk Meets the Hudson

Despite my assertion that the focus of this blog is Saratoga County, I rarely get down to my home county's southern border, which is defined by the Mohawk River. So I was quite happy this week when my friends in the Thursday Naturalists decided to walk the trails of Peebles Island near Waterford, a large island that lies at the intersection of the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers.

 Map provided by Google Maps

According to a brochure provided by the visitors' center of what is now Peebles Island State Park, this island was created thousands of year ago when glaciers receded from the Hudson Valley and the Mohawk River cut channels into the bedrock as it flowed into the Hudson, creating steep-banked islands as well as alluvial flats.  Both Native Americans and early colonial European settlers used these islands for agriculture and grazing cattle.

Later, during the American Revolution, American forces built fortifications on Peebles Island to defend against a British invasion, and remains of these earthen fortifications can still be seen.

During much of the first three-quarters of the Twentieth Century, Peebles Island was owned by a Troy-based manufacturer of men's shirts, which operated a fabric-bleaching plant there, where the process of "Sanforizing" (a process of pre-shrinking cotton fabrics) was invented.  Since the early 1970s, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has owned all of Peebles Island, and the former industrial buildings now house the Peebles Island Resource Center, which is home to historic preservation, conservation, and heritage programs.

Obviously, Peebles Island is certainly rich in cultural and commercial history, but my friends and I were more interested in the natural history of the island this day as we set off to explore the nearly two-mile trail that follows the island's perimeter. It wasn't the very nicest of days for a nature walk, with a slow steady rainfall persisting for most of our visit, but we simply donned our rain gear and set off to enjoy the fabulous views of the Mohawk from the island's steep shale cliffs.

Unlike on our usual walks, we did very little botanizing, aside from noting the preponderance of oaks in the trailside woods and marveling at the tenacity of the trees as they clung to the cliffs.  Mostly, we just delighted in each other's companionship and enjoyed the mist-veiled views.  Here are a few of those views.



Uta said...

What a beautiful area, too bad the sun was not shining for you. We did however enjoy your pictures.

Walking Man said...

One of my favorite spots to visit! Such a beautiful walk and rich in history

Woody Meristem said...

Nice photos of what must be a fascinating place -- it would probably be worth visiting in the spring to see what wildflowers grow there.

The Furry Gnome said...

Those are very interesting cliffs, and some neat exposed roots. A very different place from your usual explorations.