Monday, September 21, 2009

The Hudson River

2009 is almost over and I have yet to write that this year is the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s discovery of the Hudson River.

To be factual he didn’t really discover it. Native people had been living near it since about 4000 BC, so old Henry only uncovered the river for the Dutch East India Company in Europe. He returned to his benefactors with beaver pelts, and praise for a vast land with rich resources.

I have lived in or near the Hudson Valley for over forty years and I’ve learned a few things about it I’d like to share in this post.

Three presidents have come from the Hudson Valley. Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt and Martin Van Buren and six Vice Presidents.

The paragons of industry: Vanderbilt, Eastman, Vassar, made part of their fortunes on and off the Hudson River.

Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini, the first declared American Saint did some of her early charity in West Park.

James Fennimore Cooper, William Cullen Bryant and Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote about the river.

John Burroughs studied the region's natural history and attended conferences at Mohonk Mountain House.

Landscape painters Weir, Innes and Cole were artistic evangelists for the river and leaders in the Hudson River school, the only school of painting produced by American Artists.

I once did a documentary on the Hudson River. It took a year to film for we started at Lake Tear of the Clouds in the lee of Mount Marcy where the Hudson begins and told the story of the river through its people and commerce down to Manhattan.

Some facts I remember.

From Manhattan to Troy, there is no drop at all in the surface elevation of the Hudson. The ocean tides run all the way to the Federal Lock and Dam at Troy.

A log dropped into the river at Troy would take months to float down to Manhattan. In some areas for every 8-miles the current and ebb tide carry the log down river, the flood tide could shove it back upriver as much as 7 1/2 miles.

The upriver penetration of salt water, or the salt wedge as it is called, varies with rainfall, but normally it stops near Newburgh, 60-miles from the Battery. It's been as far south as the Battery when in 1968 five inches of rain was dumped into the Hudson drainage system.

Dr. Alistair McCrone, a geologist at New York University has delineated a number of elements found in the bottom mud of the Hudson. Some are: Aluminum, antimony, beryllium, boron, calcium, chromium, copper, iron, gallium, lead, magnesium, nickel, scandium, silicon, titanium, vanadium, Yttrium, and zirconium.

The rocking action of the tides keeps the lower Hudson stirred up like thick soup. Mixing is thorough, and the temperature at the bottom of the river, 100-feet from the surface, may not vary one degree.

The area known as the Tappan Zee, which gives its name to the bridge, has a depth of about 500 feet. This section is nine miles long, two miles wide.

When the bridge was built in the early 1950’s, the bedrock was too deep to anchor the pilings. The Bridge was built on floating caissons settled in the muck of shells and mud and rubble. The “S” shape of the bridge was done to ease the strain of the river's flow.

The Hudson River's 13-thousand 370 square mile watershed reaches into five states. Minor tributaries also rise in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont. New Jersey claims 20 miles of shore.

And now you know. Have a great Monday.


Topher08 said...

Thanks for the History Lesson, I really enjoyed it. Hope you are doing well.

Anonymous said...

Dear Rolland, Coincidentally, someone just mentioned to me the other day while driving down the Henry Hudson parkway, that the Hudson River is not actually a river but a Fijord. I don't think we'll get used to saying the "Hudson Fijord". Although I might give it a try for "truth's" sake.

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