directing to original research and commentary from the history community

Saugerties is on the west bank of the Hudson River 100 miles north of New York City. It is the most northerly town in Ulster County, New York State. Easterly Saugerties borders parts of Columbia and Duchess Counties mid-channel in the Hudson. North and northwest it borders on Greene County. The Ulster County Towns of Ulster, Kingston and Woodstock border south and southwest.

Traditionally Saugerties has been measured at 30,000 acres or about 48 square miles between its eight mile frontage at sea level on the Hudson River and a 2200-foot elevation on the great escarpment of the Catskill Mountains. It is divided north-south by the Mount Marion Hills, or "Hoogebergs", with peak elevations at Mount Marion of 740 feet and at Mount Airy of 612.

Midway along the Town's border with the mountains is the Plattekill Clove. This is a break in the mountain wall where a steep, scenic road travels from the 800-foot elevation at the edge of the Hudson Valley to the edge of the 1800-foot continental plateau in the Catskill Mountains in a little over a mile "as the crow flies". Saugerties' width is the closest the Catskill Mountains come to the Hudson River. Saugerties hosts the shortest routes between the tidewater of the Hudson River and the mountains through the Plattekill Clove, and other mountain accesses at the Kaaterskill Clove and at Woodstock.

All of the drainage from the eastern escarpment of the Catskill Mountains feeds into Saugerties' Plattekill Creek. This enters the Esopus Creek on Saugerties' southern border and combines with its drainage of the southeast slopes of the Catskills to enter the Hudson at the Village of Saugerties.

Two additional stream systems water Saugerties. The Hoogebergs drain into the Beaverkill Creek and flow north to enter the Kaaterskill Creek in Greene County. The Sawyerkill Creek meanders south through the broad flats north of the village and drops to the Hudson at its historically important mouth on the northern border of the Village of Saugerties.

Henry Hudson was filling his casks with water from the mouth of the Sawyerkill when he first encountered the Warranawonkongs, a tribe of the Lenne Lenope federation of Native Americans. After meeting Katskills, a tribe of the Mahican federation further up the river he spent three days on his return with the highest chiefs of both of these peoples at Saugerties. A passage from the 1609 journal kept during this voyage characterizes their gesturing from this point to the extent of their lands.

The Sawyerkill Creek had a significance ages before Henry Hudson's "Discovery". South of it was the territory of the Warranawonkong people which ranged to the headwaters of every tributary of the Esopus. The territory of the Katskills encompassed the drained lands to its north.

In 1685 when New York was divided into counties the mouth of the Sawyerkill Creek was used to define the border between the original counties of Albany and Ulster. At this time the means of declaring a true north for surveys was established as a line from the mouth of the Sawyerkill through its source at the "Great Fountain". Thus the aboriginal importance of the geographic characteristics of Saugerties was carried intact into the era of land surveying, making Saugerties literally and measurably "on the map" for ages.

Saugerties was a territory of the third settlement area of the early Dutch Colonial period: Esopus. It gains its name and separate identity as early as the 1680's. It was governed as part of the Commons of Kingston for over 120 years and after the creation of Greene County and the division of the Kingston Patent in 1803 was officially named "Saugerties" and made into a Town in 1811. The village of Saugerties was first incorporated in 1831 as "Ulster" and renamed Saugerties-on-Hudson in 1855.

The purpose of this web site is to create a graphic matrix for interpreting historical references encountered while researching the site-specific aspects of the Great Knot. It places these historical and cultural references geographically in the time when they took form and developed. It is not created as an authoritative History. As a "Matrix" this work is designed to continually evolve as information is learned, evaluated and validated for placement on its pages. The initial statements made are subject to this authentication and the addition of references.

The landscape of Saugerties has changed significantly over its 400-year history. Its importance as a transportation hub has had routes change from footpaths to wagon roads to turnpikes, railroads and thruways. Its shoreline has been progressively adapted for access to the canoe, sloop, steamboat and ocean freighter. Industries have changed the course of water bodies and moved land forms. The passing of a few decades may have seen the removal of a landmark used in centuries of records or the creation of a new one used in the same context. For preservation and legal concerns the precise placement of period landmarks is a necessity.

Saugerties is full of fragments of history begging to be recognized and interpreted. It is a goal of this work to bring a common awareness to all of Saugerties' citizens of the deserted roads, overgrown ruins, quarry pits and mounds, functional realignments of houses, yards and walls and other details of the built landscape that tell the story of Saugerties.

Saugerties has a story that is clearly linked to the land. It is the perfect base for building a site-specific reference to a work of art. So much has been buried in and layered upon it over the past that it is hard to find an inch of surface without something to say that enhances the meaning of the art.

This work will tell this history and link it to aspects of the Great Knot where history is recognizable and retrievable relative to every roadway, lot line and architectural landmark of not only the Town but the greater region it grew out of.

For the first time ever it presents maps of all the earliest land divisions and relates them to the most current property bounds. It shows Saugerties of today relative to past-era roads and existing and lost stone houses and abandoned and lost communities and the work places they supported in a way that an understanding of a present-day location's place in history is more apparent than ever before possible.

The format is mobile-based. Maps and images are filled with information made accessible interactively using every graphic interface currently available to the Internet. Most details can only be seen with extreme enlargement of scalable vector graphics. Much is made into downloadable PDF so pages can be printed for reading the text and the illustrations and maps can be studied by enlargement and pans on a desktop device. All the graphics are made specifically to be digitally enlarged with a computer.

Development of this work for the computer also makes updating, correction and enhancement of the material and republishing and redistributing it economical and ecological.

This graphic work grew out of the experience of creating maps for locating surveyed properties for a 2004-2005 Cultural Resources Survey of the Town of Saugerties under a Preservation League of New York State grant. That material and numerous discoveries made since, in particular the collections of Morris Rosenblum generously made accessible by Dan Lamb, Jr. of Rosenblum and Lamb, PC, has been used in developing the hundreds of interpretive pages that fill this web site.

The original date of the beginning of this digital document is December 26, 2006. The date of this web page is January 14, 2015.

Michael Sullivan Smith