Editor's Note: This story is from the October 5, 1889 issue of Harper's Weekly. The tone of the article reflects the time period in which it was written.
"A Barge Party - On our next page we have a view of a merry party enjoying a moonlight row on the Hudson River. The barge belongs to the Nyack Rowing Association. The scene is that wide and beautiful expanse of the Hudson which our Dutch ancestors named the Tappan Zee. It lies between Tarrytown and Nyack, and although not beyond the reach of tide-water and subject to the current, it still possesses the attraction of a calm and beautiful lake. Viewed from certain points it loses the impression of a river altogether, and seems a fair and beautiful sheet of water locked in by towering hills. The light-house in the centre of the picture is known as the Tarrytown Bay Light. On the left lies Kingsland Island, and in the background we have the village of Tarrytown, adorned with its gleaming electric lights.
These rowing parties are a source of keen delight to the lady friends of the members of each association. So far the clubs had not yielded sufficiently to the spirit of the age to admit lady members, and if any one connected with the association desires to give his fair friends an outing, he must engage the barge beforehand and make it a special event. As a general thing it is required that some member of the club shall act as coxswain; this to assure safety to the previous craft. The party may then be made up in accordance with the fancy of the gentleman who acts as host. Most of the associations have very attractive club-houses, where, after the pleasure of rowing has begun to pall, parties can assemble, have supper, and if there are lady guests sufficient, enjoy a dance. The club-house of the Nyack Association is a very attractive structure, built over the water, and forms a pleasant feature in the landscape. The members of these clubs are not heavily taxed, their dues scarcely amounting to more than $25 or $50 per year, yet their club-houses are daintily furnished, their boats of the best and finest build, and all their appurtenances of a superior order. So much can be done by combination.
In our glorious Hudson River we have a stream that the world cannot rival, so wonderful is its picturesque loveliness. High upon the walls of the Governor’s Room in the New York City Hall is a dingy painting of a broad-headed, short-haired, sparsely bearded man, with an enormous ruff about his neck, and wearing otherwise the costume of the days of King James the First of England. Who painted it nobody knows, but all are well aware that it is the portrait of one Hendrik Hudson, who “on a May-day morning knelt in the church of St. Ethelburga, Amsterdam, and partook of the sacrament, and soon after left the Thames for circumpolar waters.” It was on the 11th of September, 1609, that this same mariner passed through a narrow strait on an almost unknown continent, and entered upon a broad stream where “the indescribable beauty of the virgin land through which he was passing filled his heart and mind with exquisite pleasure.”
The annually increasing army of tourists and pleasure seekers, which begin their campaign every spring and continue their march until late in the autumn, sending every year a stronger corps of observation into these enchanted lands, all agree with Hendrik Hudson. Certainly it only remains for tradition to weave its romances, and for a few of our more gifted poets and story-tellers to guild with their imagination these wonderful hills and valleys, these sunny slopes and fairy coves and inlets, to make for us an enchanted land that shall rival the heights where the spectre of the Brocken dwells, or any other elf-inhabited spot in Europe.
Thank you to HRMM volunteer George Thompson, retired New York University reference librarian, for sharing these glimpses into early life in the Hudson Valley.
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