Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Walk Through History

Doodletown was an isolated hamlet on the Hudson River, a slowly dying village that became a bit livelier in summer when throngs came to Bear Mountain State Park. The park was growing, buying up acres and acres of the old abandoned iron mine lands there and many residents were ready to move on. The old quarries were shut down,and many Doodletowners loved the park more than the average visitor could imagine-- The park was a good employer for residents and people also loved the land. A few wanted to stay forever, but eventually sold to the park. Some dismantled their own homes so they could cart the lumber and materials to their new homes nearby. While they felt sad, they didn't feel the outrage that non-residents felt about the park absorbing the town. with it's growing number of abandoned buildings, it was only a matter of time. Many were planning to move on anyway, since by then, Doodletown was better suited for use as a summer community. Winters could be brutal and it was a long walk to the train station, and another walking journey beyond for those who had to go to school. At one time residents depended on small deli grocers to deliver food once or twice a week. (Most of the businesses in Doodletown vanished in the 1940s,except for the nearby munitions plant which was going " Full Blast " at the time.) Doodletowners really depended on their Victory Gardens to get them through hard times during WW2. After the war the government de-activated the munitions depot, and many jobs were lost. The hamlet finally got electricity in 1946, and residents bought appliances and television sets. Life was pleasant during the 50's, but people were moving on. The last homes were taken down in the 1960's.
All that remains of Doodletown today are three cemeteries, lots of walls, foundations, steps... wisteria that once covered the porches of Victorians and humble cottages now grows rampant. All has returned to nature. It isn't a ghost town, it's alive with hikers and former residents who still enjoy a ramble through the place where they grew up. Sadness is mixed with being grateful that no part of their hamlet was paved over for a parking lot, but that it has become a hiking trail with many historic markers ... a popular place to wander and imagine what it was.