From the moment of Hendrik Hudson’s trip up the mighty river until today, the Hudson River is one of the most important commercial and recreational rivers in America. Hundreds of cargo ships ply its waters and thousands of pleasure craft skip along its waves. The majestic Hudson transports the goods of America from the inland ports out to the greatest deep water port in the country, New York Harbor.
In the early history of the continent, great sailing ships drove the economy of the Colonies as they transported goods from the frontiers of North America down the Hudson to England and beyond. As America became a nation, the mighty Hudson became the central battleground of the Revolution, with the pivotal battle of the Revolution being fought on its banks in Saratoga. With America growing and its economy booming, the connection between the Hudson River and the western inland territories was made with the Erie Canal and commercial shipping traffic exploded.
The steamship first paddled it’s way up the Hudson River from New York City, marking the beginning of powered shipping in the world. Commodore Vanderbilt established river travel as a viable mode of urban transportation, right here on the Hudson. The D&H Canal, America’s first million dollar venture, terminated on the Hudson at Kingston enabling an endless supply of Pennsylvaina coal to reach the manufacturing colussus of New York keeping the wheels of industry turning.
Even today in this age of instant air travel the Hudson serves as the primary commercial artery between the Port of New York and the regions upstate. Great barges and tankers filled with goods travel up and down the river keeping the Empire State moving and thriving. The traditions of industry first established in America on the banks of the Hudson continue to thrive feeding the Hudson with a continual flow of goods going to market.
All of this activity and industrial momentum would have ground to a halt except for the lonely sentinels of the Hudson River marking the way and warning shipping of the hazards and channels. The many lighthouses of the river have protected shipping insuring safe passage and delivery of both goods and people to their destinations.
Over the centuries, many lighthouses have come and gone, thru fire and flood, thru storm and accident, the lighthouses have stood their ground, sending their beacons to guide the ships and barks plying the waters of the Hudson.
Now, only eight of these sentinels remain on the river. No longer serving their original purpose as aids to navigation, they now mark the passage of the history of America past their lights and horns. They mark the people that dedicated their lives to maintaining their lights, and they mark the people who now dedicate themselves to the preservation of these important and significant structues.