Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Hudson River

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HUDSON RIVER, or North River, one of the largest and noblest rivers of the United States, and the principal river of the State of New York, is formed by the confluence of two small streams which rise in the Adirondack mountains in Essex county. About the middle of Warren county the river is joined by another of nearly equal size, the Schroon, which also has its rise in Essex county. After receiving the Sacondaga river 10 miles further south, the Hudson flows irregularly in an easterly direction to Sandy Hill, after which it keeps a very straight course almost due south until it falls into New York Bay. At Troy it receives the Mohawk, whose volume of water is greater than its own, and at Kingston the Wallkill, but its other tributaries, though numerous, are unimportant. Its total length is about 300 miles, and the length of its course from Sandy Hill 190 miles. At Glen's Falls, near Sandy Hill, it makes a precipitous descent of 50 feet, whence there are various rapids of different velocities until it reaches Troy. It is tidal nearly up to Troy, and the fall from Albany, 6 miles below Troy, to the mouth of the river, a distance of 145 miles, is only 5 feet. By means of a lock and dam it is navigable to Waterford, a short distance above Troy, but large steamers do not proceed further up than Hudson, 29 miles below Albany, and 116 from the mouth of the river. A short distance below Albany the navigation has been obstructed by shifting sands, the point at which the difficulties are most formidable being the “overslaugh” at Castleton, but extensive operations have been for some time carried on in order to effect a permanent remedy for the obstructions. The breadth of the river at Albany is about 300 yards, and thence to Haverstraw, distant 34 miles from New York, it varies from 300 yards to 900 yards. From Haverstraw to Piermont it expands into Tappan Bay, with a length of 12 miles and a breadth of from 4 to 5, after which it narrows to a breadth of between 1 and 2 miles. The scenery of the river is for the most part varied and beautiful, generally picturesque, and in many places in the highest degree striking and magnificent. In the upper part the views though not tame are a little monotonous, the gently sloping hills, with the variegated colours of wood and cultivated land and the occasional occurrence of a town or village, repeating one another without any marked feature to break their regularity. Below Troy, for a considerable distance, the number of islands renders much care in navigation necessary. Thirty miles from Troy noble views begin to be obtained of the Catskill mountains, towering up on the west bank, the nearest eminence at the distance of about 7 miles. Forty-six miles below Catskill is the large and flourishing city of Poughkeepsie, and 14 miles further down the prosperous city of Newburgh, a short distance below which, at the favourite summer resort of Cornwall Landing, the river enters the Highlands, passing between a series of hills whose frequently precipitous sides rise often abruptly from the water's edge. The views in this part of the river are of a character in some respects unparalleled, and at several points they have an impressiveness and surprising grandeur rarely equalled. The distance through which the river traverses this mountain scenery is about 16 miles, and about 10 miles after it is entered West Point is reached, a favourite landing place of tourists, the seat of the United States military academy, and historically interesting on account of Fort Putnam, now in ruins, built during the war of American independence, at which time a chain was stretched across the river to prevent the passage of British ships. After passing the pretty town of Peekskill the river widens into Haverstraw Bay, at the extremity of which is the headland of Croton Point. Below is the wider expanse of Tappan Bay, upon which stands Tarrytown, famous both historically and from its connexion with Washington Irving, whose cottage of Sunnyside is in the vicinity. At Piermont, where the bay ends, the range named the Palisades rises picturesquely from the water to the height of between 300 and 500 feet, extending along the west bank for about 20 miles, the left bank being level and dotted with hamlets and villas. At the mouth of the river on the west bank are Hoboken and Jersey city, and on the east bank New York city.

By the Erie canal the river is connected with Lake Erie, by the Champlain canal with Lake Champlain, and by the Delaware canal with the Delaware river; and its commercial importance as a means of traffic is not excelled by that of any other river in the world. It was on the Hudson that Fulton, the inventor of steam navigation, made his first successful experiment. The Hudson River Railway skirts the east bank of the river from New York to Troy, whence it bends eastward on its way to Lake Champlain. On the west bank a railway is to run from Jersey City to Newburg, and branch lines from various centres touch both banks at several points. The Hudson has some valuable fisheries, the principal fish being bass, shad, and sturgeon. The attempts to stock it with salmon have not been very successful. Though Verrazzani in 1524 proceeded up the river Hudson a short distance in a boat, the first to demonstrate its extent and importance was Henry Hudson, from whom it derives its name. He sailed above the mouth of the Mohawk in September 1609.