The Most Epic Trail Run In Beacon - Happening Saturday - The Cannonball Run Fundraiser

2nd-annual-cannonball-run-and-fundraiser.jpg

Don't let the name fool you! The organizers of this event - The Beacon Recreation Department - are inspired by all sorts of things. This second annual epic trail run through the University Settlement Park is named after a road race movie (Cannonball Run) starring Burt Reynolds, Roger Moore, and Farrah Fawcett. In this case, though, the run is with your legs - you're jogging, walking or sprinting the 5K or 1-mile trail - and the cannonball is going to be YOU jumping into the pool after you finish the race!

That's right - the Beacon Pool is part of the course! Bonus points for the raffle prize you might win from Meyer's Olde Dutch (burgers and such), Mountain Tops Outfitters, Garrison Art Center, Fishkill Farms, or one of the many more local business sponsors who have stepped up to aid in the run's fundraising efforts. You don't even have to be a runner/walker to enter the raffle!

A Little Beacon Blog is a proud media sponsor of Beacon's Cannonball Run because we are hooked on its mission. The proceeds from the race registrations and raffle tickets go to the Beacon After School Program, which started in Beacon's elementary schools. But if enough money is raised, and another mile marker is hit, then monies will be used toward starting the After School Program in the Middle School. This has been a tremendous program benefiting kids and working parents, and parents who simply want more options for their kids after school.

Read our article to learn more about the program and the race, and see you bright and early tomorrow (Saturday) morning!

Watch for Giant Turtles Crossing - What Do They Do On The Other Side?

In last weekend’s edition of the Highlands Current, the reporting was turned on Beacon beat reporter Jeff Simms, who normally writes up Beacon news for the newspaper. His animal-rescue experience landed him front-page treatment. Normally, his own article would be in this spot. Last week, however, he himself was in ink (not the ink on his arm, but on the page).

While riding his bike down Route 9D from Beacon to Cold Spring on his way to the Current's production meeting, Jeff spotted this snapping turtle gradually making his way across the road. According to the article, Jeff pulled his bike over and attempted to encourage the turtle to go faster or move away from the busy road.

May and June is prime time to see snapping turtles, which are one of 11 species native to New York. In the late spring and early summer, they're on the move, laying their eggs in sandy areas or loose soil, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The DEC issued an advisory last year reminding motorists to watch out for migrating turtles, whose populations are declining. "The reptiles lay just one small clutch of eggs each year, which means the loss of a breeding female can have a significant effect on the local turtle population," according to the advisory. Suffice to say, the turtle that Jeff spotted was on a mission and would not be deterred.

But its slow progress left it vulnerable, so Jeff’s next move was to call in the professionals: Mark Price, Beacon’s own director of the parks and recreation department. Together, they moved the turtle by lifting it by either side of its shell, the method DEC recommends if you need to move one (see the DEC's full recommendation on how to move a turtle to safety).

Exciting times for this Tree City! Beacon is an official Tree City, as designated by New York State’s Urban Forestry Program, which “fosters comprehensive planning, management and education throughout New York to create a healthy urban and community forest and enhance quality of life,” as stated in their mission. Spotting snapping turtles is a reminder that we are surrounded by an an ecosystem of fauna and flora, turtles to treetops, and it's good to keep them healthy!

Scenic Hudson Proposes Increased Parking Spots at Mt. Beacon Trailhead

   Photo Credit:  Concept rendering of Mount Beacon trailhead parking. Copyright © 2017 Scenic Hudson, Inc., All rights reserved.

Photo Credit: Concept rendering of Mount Beacon trailhead parking. Copyright © 2017 Scenic Hudson, Inc., All rights reserved.

If you're a regular visitor to Mount Beacon Park, where you first encounter the steep staircase only to be met with a steep climb up the mountain to breathtaking views of the Hudson Valley, you'll have noted that parking at the base of Mount Beacon is thick. Daily, cars quickly fill up the 39 spaces that are currently available. Scenic Hudson manages Mount Beacon Park, in cooperation with the Mount Beacon Incline Railway Society, and is proposing to increase the number of parking spots from 39 to 77 on the existing surface of the parking lot. (Ie, they don't plan to construct new platforms above or below ground, but to expand at ground level.)

The plans include constructing universally accessible parking and walkways, enhanced walkways and an emergency access gate, a pedestrian connection to Howland Avenue, and increased landscaping to shield the view of the parking lot.

In addition to making increased parking spots in the existing parking lot, Scenic Hudson is proposing to add connections to mass transit. "We've provided a pickup/drop-off area for a future trolley or bus stop," says Scenic Hudson’s Senior Park Planner, Meg Rasmussen.

Beacon's Planning Board is hearing the proposal tonight, Tuesday, November 14, at its regular meeting at the Beacon Municipal Center, 1 Municipal Plaza, and the public is encouraged to attend to voice opinions. The project is filed under 788 Wolcott Avenue. It's a loaded meeting, with several development projects in the agenda. The meeting starts at 7:30 pm, preceded by a training/workshop portion to start at 7 pm. Details about the project have been posted at the City Of Beacon website and can also be found here in our "Easy Access to City Meetings" section. When the video of this meeting posts, we will also add it to this meeting's overview page here at A Little Beacon Blog.

New Discount for Beaconites at Storm King Art Center on Family Membership

storm-king-family-membership.jpg

This Just In!

We're excited to announce a special discount for Beacon residents on the Family Membership at Storm King Art Center. Memberships for a family (up to two adults and up to four kids) are normally $125 per year for unlimited free admission, including workshops and private events. But you can save $15 on the yearly membership, bringing it to $110 per year! Mention "BEACON" when you call (845) 534-3115 or email info@stormkingartcenter.org. Membership includes their everyday free parking for everyone.

This makes going to Storm King an even easier weekend activity for Beaconites and Hudson Valleyers. There are many permanent exhibits, but there's often something new, too: The new accessible house roof exhibit, "The Oracle of Lacuna," was just featured in W magazine. People can walk on and in the house while listening to special audio that details how migration and slavery shaped the surrounding area. It's just one of many exhibits on the 500-acre outdoor sculpture park.

We've got the details for you here on Storm King Art Center's Dedicated Sponsor Page.


Spotlight Sponsor Note: This has been a special message from Storm King Art Center that we couldn't resist telling you about right away. For details on becoming a Spotlight Sponsor, click here.

ZipCar Adds Two Car Rental Spots at Beacon Train Station, Bringing Total to Four

Two more ZipCars have arrived in Beacon. Find them parked at the Metro-North Train Station.
illustration Credit: ZipCar, from their home page. 

ZipCar, a car-sharing program that is available worldwide, has added two additional cars that are available in Beacon. The first two cars arrived here in May 2016, and live in permanent parking spots on Henry Street and near City Hall. The latest two spots are at the Metro-North Train Station, as announced by Governor Cuomo this month, through a separate partnership between Metro-North and ZipCar. The ZipCars taking up permanent residence at the train station, which are given personal names by ZipCar, is a Crosstrek is named Cala, and a Honda Civic named Amanecer.

ZipCar's partnership with the City of Beacon for the spots on Henry Street and at City Hall yields Beacon a monthly fee for use of the two street spots, with the money going into a dedicated fund for parking issues. Metro-North has its own arrangement with ZipCar for the spots at Beacon's and other train stations. "We have been very happy [with having ZipCar available], and believe it is another component of attracting business, tourism and people to the City," says Anthony J. Ruggiero, M.P.A., City Administrator for the City of Beacon.

During the city Workshop meeting on March 14, 2016, about ZipCar first launching in Beacon, Mayor Randy Casale suggested that developers on private property consider making spots in their parking lots available for ZipCar parking spots for additional cars. The access to a car-share could be pitched as a perk to prospective residents of those housing or apartment complexes. Such arrangements could be a third category of ZipCar locations in Beacon in the coming years.

As for the nitty-gritty details of dealing with snow or cases of theft: ZipCar makes arrangements for cars to be unlocked and moved by snow plow drivers. If a ZipCar is stolen, it can be immediately shut down remotely, stopping the vehicle in its tracks.

How ZipCar Works

A person joins ZipCar as a member for about $95. ZipCar pays for gas and insurance, and 180 miles are included with your rental for each day you've booked the car. From that point, an hourly rental or day rate of about $8 to $10 per hour applies.

Reserving in advance is important, as more people are becoming familiar with using ZipCar. Reserving is easy and done via app for iPhone or Android, so these cars can get going quickly. 

Once booked, people can drive it anywhere during their rental period, and must return it to the same parking spot where they picked it up. ZipCar vehicles are locked via a scanning mechanism. ZipCar members use a special card or the app to unlock the car, rendering it drivable. Residents of Beacon who may find it useful are people who don't own a car, or share one car in a busy family, but need to drive to Target or Sunny Gardens for errands.

Outside of our little city, ZipCar might appeal to people traveling to other areas of the country - or world - who want to hop in a car to go somewhere for a few hours or a day. Maybe you're in Paris and want to head to Versailles for the day, but don't want to deal with a train, tour bus, or taxi. Road trip! 

As for the future of ZipCar in Beacon as the program expands, perhaps self-driving ZipCars will play a role. It could be handy if a car could get itself from a parking spot at the train station to a member on the East End of town, who, say, has kids and can't hoof on foot  everyone to the car for a necessary Target trip. Options could increase when and if self-driving cars become the norm... Stay tuned!

Mountain Bikers Make New Trails On Mt. Beacon By Way Of Fishkill Ridge and Points North Of Melzingah Reservoir

Down at the base of Mount Beacon, the city's only bike shop, Peoples Bicycle, will remain open because Tim Schopen, a cycle shop enthusiast and mountain biker himself, bought it. But this trailblazer isn't stopping with keeping the lights on in a Main Street shop. He has buddied up with some mountain biker friends, forming an informal group in 2009 called Hudson Highlands Mountain Bikers (HHMTB). They've dedicated themselves to blazing new trails in the mountains above and around Beacon. Tom Cerchiara, of TEC Land Surveying PC, is a co-founder of HHMTB and has been up in the mountains plotting out trails. The group plans to carve out new mountain biking paths north of the Melzingah Reservoir and on the Fishkill Ridge, specifically from the Gordons Brook Notch up to the Red Casino Trail, between the fire tower and casino ruins.

Photo Credit: Tom Cerchiara

Despite the growing number of rough-terrain mountain bikers that routinely ride in this area, there exist only a few trails on which they can roll, making Beacon less of a draw for a challenging day on a bike. "Right now, the only way up to the top of Mount Beacon on a bike is the access road, which gets boring and is not very fun," says Cerchiara. "This trail will help support future trails on the Fishkill Ridge."

Photo Credit: Tom Cerchiara

Working with the approval and support of New York State Parks, HHMTB looked at the Master Planning Process for Hudson Highlands State Park and Fahnestock State Park, then collaborated with other groups who use the trails, including NY/NJ Trail Conference, horse clubs, hunting clubs, and others. 

And then, recently, a trail on the mountain was vandalized. "This past fall, one of the bike trails we already have up there [at] YKTO ('You Know The One' aka the Melzingah Trail) was vandalized in a way that made it dangerous to riders," Cerchiara recalls. "This is a legal trail that was built many years ago and was included in the Master Plan for the Park in 2010. We contacted State Parks about this and they were very interested in stopping the vandalism and wanted to meet with us about new trails." 

New and Old Trails

The first trail that HHMTB is working on will also serve to connect the existing trails on top of the mountain to the bike trails near Melzingah. The second trail will be on the north side of the access road. "This trail will be a singletrack trail that will provide the opportunity of a quick 45-minute to an hourlong ride," Cerchiara envisions. The HHMTB also intends for this trail to be an exit trail for rides that run onto the Fishkill Ridge, making it a long trail ride to connect any trails on the Fishkill Ridge to the trails on the south side of Mount Beacon. 

Photo Credit: Tom Cerchiara

But that's not all. HHMTB intends to partially re-route existing trails as well. One of them is Broken Bomber, a trail that was based on some left over from the days of skiing on the mountain. It runs from the casino to the Pocket Road trailhead. Another planned re-routing is Dewindt’s Trail, which partially parallels the Casino trail (between the casino and fire tower) on an existing trail that is over 100 years old.

 Photo Credit: Tom Cerchiara

Photo Credit: Tom Cerchiara

Next Steps For Trail Making

The mountain bikers from HHMTB are out in the wild, hiking around, trying to find routes that will work. "Once we find suitable routes, we will be back in contact with the state Parks Department and they will perform an environmental review of the proposed routes. When/if they approve the routes we will begin construction of the trails," says Cerchiara. If all goes well, the approval process will take place during the first half of 2017, and construction in the fall of 2017.

What is involved in trail construction? "Lots of shovel work," admits Cerchiara with a deep breath. "We have to 'bench-cut' most of this trail in. Bench-cutting is when you build a trail cross-slope and literally cut a bench into the slope. Beacon has a lot of rock and is very steep, which means a lot of the trail will be bench-cut and there are a lot of rocks to move and work around." 

If all goes well, the trails may be done by mid-2018. So get in shape now!

 Photo Credit: Tom Cerchiara

Photo Credit: Tom Cerchiara

Historical Hike | Meet Madam Brett, See The Factory Ruins While Hiking The Park

Find this view when you turn right on the trail and go past the mill. Shown in video below.

Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

Linking Beacon’s industrial past with its nature-loving, creative present, Madam Brett Park provides a unique ecological map of our city, including waterfalls, marshes, hunting grounds and habitats. Take in the various sights along boardwalks and dirt trails to see the remains of places that helped to form Beacon as we know it today, and to become an industrial powerhouse known, at one time, as the “hat-making capital of the US.”

The Nuts and Bolts of the Madam Brett Park Hike

A parking lot is off to the left once you go under the old train trestle just off Tioronda Avenue.

The entry point from Tioronda Avenue. Go under the old train trestle.

Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

According to Google Maps, it is two miles from the Newburgh-Beacon bridge via 9D. Start your visit at the park's east end, taking in the scenic Tioronda waterfall from the observation deck. The deck itself was part of the old

sluiceway

(a gate that controlled water flow), and you can still make out some of the foundation which was built across the falls.

A cement wall is part of the sluiceway that you will walk across as part of your hike east, headed toward the small waterfalls.

Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

This foundation is part of the sluiceway that controlled the creek's flow for the mill, and also was part of a structure that pulled trains across the creek. You will be climbing up it! The entry into the creek is worth it.

Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

The trails within

Madam Brett

are a gentle, fairly even mile, scraping the Fishkill Creek and the old

Tioronda Hat Works factory

, adjacent to the park in the large brick building via woodland or gravel trails and a boardwalk. 

The boardwalk along the old mill when you turn west to hike along the Fishkill Creek.

Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

Old ruins of a hat factory, seen as you walk along the boardwalk.

Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

At the entry to the boardwalk, take a look at what remains of the iron-truss Tioronda bridge, built between 1869 and 1873 (a

nd, for safety reasons, mostly torn down in 2006

) with its rare bowstring design. 

Old remains of the Tioronda Bridge.

Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

The twelve acres of parkland is full of all kinds of wildlife. Much of the woodlands surrounding Madam Brett is devoured by flora and fauna - just as it was in the Colonial era, when Madam Brett first laid eyes on the place. The banks, creek, hillside and marshland are home to a diverse set of animals, including predatory birds such as osprey and bald eagle who hunt and nest here, muskrats, and a large selection of fish and amphibious animals. In the spring, striped bass and shad journey up the Hudson to spawn here. Make sure to stop and take in several vistas along the marsh and creek, where the views are serene and plentiful. Listen for the variety of bird calls, and the train that passes now and again along the lazy tidal wetland.

The History of Madam Brett Park

As the trail itself now connects to Denning's Point, so does the history of Madam Brett’s land. Catharyna Rombout Brett (1687-1764) became the first European settler in Beacon, in large part due to the Rombout Patent. After her father, Frans Rombouts (sometimes spelled Francis Rombouts), died in 1691, Catharyna became an heir to her family’s third of a stake in the Rombout Patent. Twelve years later, 16-year-old Catharyna married Roger Brett, a lieutenant in the British Royal Navy who had arrived in the colonies with Lord Cornbury. The newlyweds took up residence in the stately Rombout family home in lower Manhattan. Roger Brett became a vestryman

for Trinity Church for several years as they enjoyed great wealth. However, after her mother passed away in 1707, Catharyna and Roger were left with very little money, an enormous house they couldn’t afford, and thousands of acres in the remote Hudson Valley wilderness. After the Rombout Patent was partitioned among the owning Van Cortlandt, Verplanck and Rombout (now Brett) families, Catharyna received more than 20,000 acres on the lower Fishkill Creek. They mortgaged the Rombout home in lower Manhattan, and - portending such migrations 300 years later - relocated with their sons and slaves to the remote and wild lands of what would become lower Dutchess County. 

The Madam Brett homestead.

After building their Homestead (the original Rombout Patent document is displayed at her historic home), the family got to work. While still relatively wild, Madam Brett saw the plot of land where Fishkill Creek let out into the marshy waters and into the Hudson River as opportunity. It was a popular spot for local farmers and Native Americans to congregate, sell and trade. The family soon built a gristmill on the land that married the creek and the river, and started to lease other partitions of land to farmers.

View Of The Fishkill Creek From The Boardwalk

While this was a very successful venture, tragedy would soon strike again for young Catharyna Brett. During these Colonial times, farmers in the region would ship their produce down the river to Manhattan on sloops run by Roger, a former Navy officer. One day, his sloop was struck by a freak storm upon returning from his delivery in the city, and he drowned in the Hudson. A widow at the age of 31, Catharyna partnered with George Clarke, secretary of the province and former partners with Roger, to make several key land deals in order for Madam Brett to become the sole proprietor of her land and the gristmill.

Running and maintaining the mill became the center of her life. Catharyna also looked out for the locals, to whom she provided food, clothing and servants. Aside from her fellow colonists, she became friendly with the local Wiccopee tribe, allowing them to camp on her front yard and spending time in their village. Her children Thomas and Francis could often be seen playing with the local Sachem (tribe leader) Nimham’s children. This relationship also proved beneficial when, during a financial dispute with Poughkeepsie settlers, Native Americans were sent to attack the Brett family, but the Sachem’s son warned them and the Bretts were able to escape.

In 1748, along with eighteen men, Madam Brett helped create the first river freight building to help ship produce from the local farmers, as well as the meal and flour her factories were grinding out. The building, called the Frankfort Store House, was erected on “Lower Landing,” what is now the Denning's Point area. It helped the village of Fishkill Landing (which would become part of present-day Beacon) become one of the first river ports, drawing the strategic eyes of American revolutionary military minds. (Alexander Hamilton landed just off the Store House as he finished his first entry in the Federalist Papers.) Madam Brett was also the first widow to arrange for a cooperative produce business for colonists.

As the Colonial era wound down and high fashion became all the rage, hat factories took the place of flour mills on Madam Brett’s land. At one point in the 1800s, as many as fifty factories were present around Beacon! The area’s reputation as an industrial powerhouse was strong, and would remain so for another century. 

Extend Your Stay on the Trail

The Dave Miller Connector Trail opened in 2013. It allows travel beyond Madam Brett Park, linking up with Denning's Point as well as the Klara Sauer Trail north to Long Dock Park. If you are up for a long, though not strenuous, walk through the history of Beacon, my wife and I will often walk from the Roundhouse, down Tioronda Avenue, through Madam Brett Park, on to Denning's Point and beyond to Long Dock. This loops back to the beginning of Main Street on the west side, which we follow all the way back. It’s a wonderful, leisurely hike that will take a couple of hours.

Madam Brett was a revolutionary businesswoman and the founding mother of Beacon. She built up a small empire, was a trailblazer in settling farms in Dutchess County and paved a free road through her lands to the river - today’s Route 52. She was one of the few to sell to settlers, allowing them to own their own land for farming (although, owning a keen business mind, she always made sure she had rights to build a mill on the property she sold). The parkland that we know today as Madam Brett Park played a key role in forming the local community, and helped stamp Beacon as an industrial hub, once of grain and later of hats. The park still plays an important role in Beacon, and is now helping to conserve the beauty and history of this region.

Please welcome back contributor

Dylan Price, a writer/filmmaker and avid outdoorsman who moved to Beacon with his wife from Washington, D.C., yet have since moved to Florida. They were attracted to Beacon for the unique mix of nature, art and food.