To Poughkeepsie and Back - Purple Mountain Press


by Glendon L. Moffett

From "In the Beginning":

"Between 1793, when service began, and 1798, Elting's ferry ran on a demand basis rather than on a regular schedule. If you were on the opposite side of the river from the ferry, you had to raise a white flag to signal your desire to cross. Then, depending on many factors, such as weather and time of day, the ferry would usually come for you. However, on May 22, 1789, an advertisement appeared in the Poughkeepsie Journal as follows: `The ferry is now established upon a regular plan, and traverlers to the westward will find it is much to their convenience to cross the river at the above place, as it shortens their journey, and they may be assured they will meet with no detention.'

Noah Elting died in 1813, and his son, Henry D. Elting, continued to operate the ferry. Business continued to improve over the next few years, with wagons sometimes waiting in a line up the hill as far as Bridge Street in Poughkeepsie. About this time a horse boat or team ferry was proposed.

Poughkeepsie, in 1815, was growing rapidly, and the merchants were looking around for new markets, There is evidence that the Village of Poughkeepsie, itself, paid for part of the search. It employed George P. Oakleley, along with others, to explore a route for a road west of the Shawangunk mountains to intersect the Lucas Elmendorf Turnpike at or near War War Sink (now called Wawarsing). This same group of men was also paid by the Village of Poughkeepsie for alteration of the New Paltz Turnpike, which ran from the Village of New Paltz to New Paltz Landing."

Initially powered by paddles, then by oars and sails, then by steam, and finally by diesel, the ferry that crossed the Hudson between Poughkeepsie and Highland provided a valuable service from colonial times to the coming of the Mid-Hudson Bridge in 1930. Still, the ferry hung on a few more years in an unsuccessful effort to compete with the bridge. The author chronicles the fate of the ferryboat Brinkerhoff after the line was abandoned, and the boat was moved to Mystic Seaport, where preservation efforts eventually proved futile.

Glendon Moffett is a trustee of The Trolley Museum of New York in Kingston and specializes in writing books about Mid-Hudson transportation subjects. His first book, Down to the River by Trolley: The History of the New Paltz Trolley Line (1993) is now out of print. Two recent Glendon Moffett books published by Purple Mountain Press are The Old Skillypot and Other Ferryboats of Rondout, Kingston and Rhinecliff and Uptown--Downtown; Horsecars--Trolley Cars: Urban Transprotation in Kingston, New York, 1866-1930.

88 pages, illustrated, 6 x 9, index, 1994
$10.00 paperback--A Purple Mountain Press original

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