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BETHLEHEM AND THE HUDSON
The Hudson Fulton Champlain Quadricentennial invites us to remember Bethlehemís history and
anticipate its future. Bethlehemís association with the Hudson River played a significant role
in the townís development. Ready transportation for people and produce, full of fish, providing
ice and recreational opportunities, the Hudson is a significant natural resource.
After Henry Hudsonís journey in 1609, early settlement of what was to become the Town of
Bethlehem began along the Hudson, Normanís Kill, and Vlomanís Kill. In 1649 the name
Bethlehem referred to the settlement at the confluence of the Hudson and Vlomanís Kill. One
of the townís earliest extant homes, the 1720 Parker-Winne House on Creble Road, is located
within 100 yards of the Vloman and reflects Dutch style architecture. In the 1630ís the
Normanís Kill was sprouting sawmills.
As the town grew inland and established hamlets at the cross roads, the Hudson River
provided transportation for farmerís cash crops. Barges at Winneís Dock at Cedar Hill shipped
oats, hay, apples and ice southward to New York City. People continued to travel on the
Hudson. Van Wiesí Dock became the bustling terminal of the Hudson Steamboat Company in 1835.
Passengers disembarked here for the bumpy stage coach ride to Albany.
Later, ice was an important commodity, harvested from the Hudson in winter, much of it sent
south in the summer. George Best operated the Best Ice Company and its enormous ice house at
todayís Henry Hudson Park. His stately home can still be seen on Barent Winne Road on the way
to the park. Vloman Kill water was later flooded into the flat area where the ballpark is
today, creating cleaner, purer ice for consumption.
Fishing on the river was an important subsistence activity for early Bethlehem residents
and is still enjoyed by many today. Shad, striped bass, eels, sturgeon, and sunfish are some
of the catch.
Today, the Hudson River is an important transportation route and recreational outlet. The
Port of Albany, on land formerly in the Town of Bethlehem, ships everything from generators
to cocoa beans. People take part in boating and fishing, walking and hiking river side
parks. The Hudson River and its tributaries will continue to enhance Bethlehemís quality of
life into the future.
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