Editor’s Note: In preparation for Warren County’s bicentennial celebration in 2013, town historians, historical societies and others were asked to write short histories of their respective towns with a focus on people, buildings and events that were important over the past 200 years. A souvenir magazine was created with the material but, unfortunately, there wasn’t room for it all. The Warren County Historical Society has decided to print some of the information that was omitted from the magazine in this Rewind column. Thank you to all the people who contributed information and photographs.
Warren County Historical Society Presents …
The Digital Version * * * “REWIND”
June 16, 2013
WARRENSBURG: Important Places – The First Hundred Years
- An aerial view of Warrensburg from a Richard Dean post card, circa 1960
The Town of Warrensburg was formed on February 12, 1813, one month before the formation of Warren County. Therefore they, too, are celebrating their bicentennial in 2013, and they are a month older than the county in which they are found. Warrenburg has been an important industrial center in the county and a tourist center as well. The huge old homes found around Warrensburg are testament to the wealthy industrialist who helped develop Warrensburg as an important center in Warren County.
Old Schroon River Bridge at Warrensburg.
In the early days Warrensburg was known as “The Bridge” because it had the only bridge in the county crossing the Schroon River. In the mid 1800’s another bridge was built on the site and was called the “Plank Road Bridge” because of the plank road between Lake George and Warrensburg, which was an important improvement to travel by stage coach. In the early 1900’s a trolley bridge was built adjacent, and the trolley operated between Glens Falls and Warrensburg. The first trolley crossed the bridge in 1902. The trolley was called the “Yellow Kid” and the trip took approximately one hour.
Ashland Park 1950s. Photo from D & M Moeller.
Beginning in 1873, the area north and west of Hudson Street was known as Ashland Park. Each summer an agricultural fair along with horse and stock car races, stage shows, various contests, a parade and spectacular fireworks were held. Various organizations in town sponsored the annual festivities. Horse racing continued to be popular.
B. P. Burhans
Burhans Tannery The first sole leather tannery in Warren County was the Warren Tannery in Warrensburg. It was built in 1831 by H.S. Osborn and Company. The original owners did not succeed and the tannery was taken over by H.J. Quakenbush in 1834. It went through various joint ownerships of “Quakenbush& (Thomas) Gray.” In 1836 Colonel Benjamin Peck Burhans moved to Warrensburg from Ulster County where he was in the manufacturing of sole leather. At that time the firm of “Burhans& Gray” was established. And although the name changed to “Burhans, Gray & Co.” it continued for the next 25 years. In 1860 Col. Burhans bought out Gray, whereby the company changed to “B.P. Burhans and Son.” Although Colonel Burhans died in July of 1875, his heirs continued to run the tannery for ten years until it closed in 1885. The tannery had a capacity of about 3,500 hides per year.
Glen Bridge Over Hudson – old postcard, from Internet.
The first Glen Bridge was built in 1816 and was at the boundary line for the towns of Warrensburg, Johnsburg, Chester, and Thurman. As a result of melting ice and snow, the bridge was swept away in 1843 and again in January of 1903. Chester took over Warrensburg’s share of the bridge when the boundary lines were changed in 1860. The covered bridge swept away in 1903 was replaced with an iron bridge with a cost of $9,000. The current steel bridge was constructed in 1958-59.
The Grandmother Tree In 1813, as Warrensburgh and Warren County were being established, this great white pine was already 139 years old. Today the huge pine stands over 165 feet tall and is greater than four feet in diameter and holds more than 4,000 board feet of lumber. The tree is in what later became Pack Forest. There are many stories about how it was saved, but the one that is repeated over and over is that in 1870 Mrs. Margaret Woodward, whose husband’s family had moved into the area in 1796, was promised a set of pewter ware by her husband. Times were hard, and money was scarce, so he decided to fell the tree and raise money for the gift. Mrs. Woodward found out and said that she would do without the gift rather than have the tree cut. Some tell about china, silverware, etc., but the story always ends up the same, the tree remained, a monument to the woman who decided that continued life was more important than worldly goods.
The Grist Mill, located on River Street overlooking the Schroon River, was built in 1824 by Dudley Farlin. He sold it the next year to Nelson J. Warren. After running it for a number of years, he sold it to William B. Farlin in 1845. In 1846 it was sold to Burhans and Son. In 1886 the heirs of B. P. Burhans sold the business to Thomas J. Smith. Upon his death, it was sold to D. E. Pasco and sons. In 1976 it was purchased by Nancy Fitler, who turned into a restaurant. The structure and much of the machinery was kept intact. Following several successive owners Shane Newell added a visual history of the milling process.
- The Grist Mill Restaurant finds a home in the actual gristmill that stood on the banks of the Schroon River in Warrensburg. Much of the original mill machinery still can be found in the building.
Warrensburg Pulp Dam on Schroon River.
Schroon River Pulp Co. This company was started in 1892 along the Schroon River. At that time they made ground spruce wood pulp. The dam was 175 feet wide and 24 feet high. The flume was 230 feet long and produced 2,000 horsepower. It later became the Warrensburg Wood & Paper Corp.
The Warrensburg Academy was built in 1854 at a cost of $4500. This was a two story structure built of stone by stonemason Peter Buell. In order to finance the school a stock company was organized which became incorporated about 1857. The enrollment was from 75 to 160 pupils. However the District schools continued in session as only those who were able pay tuition could afford the Academy. The first principal was Rev. Robert Clapp of Chestertown. In 1888 through the encouragement of Albert Emerson the Warrensburg Union Free School and Academy was established, providing free education thru high school for Warrensburg children.
High School and Richards Library.
On December 7, 1897 Warrensburg Free School became a high school under the New York State Board of Regents. About this time the old Free School and the Academy building proved too small to care for the ever increasing number of students. After much heated debate and voting it was finally decided to build a new structure.
One of the earliest industries in Warrensburg, the Empire Shirt Company stood on the west bank of the Schroon River. In recent years it was renovated and today houses several businesses, offices and a restaurant.
Empire Shirt Factory In 1879 Louis Weinman and Louis W. Emerson built and established the Empire Shirt Factory. In 1882 James A. Emerson, at the age of 19, became the sole owner. At that time the company employed about 100 hands and manufactured about 25,000 dozen shirts per year. In 1891 J. P. Baumann & Son bought into the company, enlarged the building and started producing ladies shirt waists. By 1896 they were producing 500 dozen shirt waists and 200 dozen robes daily, employing over 800 people.
High Rock was blasted away circa 1931 to make way for the improved Route 9 just south of Warrensburg. Legend has it that the huge rock was a meeting place for Native Americans on the trail between Canada and Lake George.
The High Rock, a glacial erratic, from the last Ice Age approximately 10,000 years ago, was located on Route 9 at the site of the current National Grid facility. It has been said that Native Americans used to meet there and used it as their council rock. This massive boulder was a tourist attraction, until the State of New York dynamited the rock to widen Route 9 in the 1930’s.
The Warren County Home was located on the west bank of the Schroon River in the town of Warrensburg. A total of 200 acres were purchased, 70 acres in Warrensburg and the remainder in the Town of Bolton. Originally a wooden building, a stone addition was added. By 1884 there were about 64 residents at a cost of about $1.54 per week per person. The farm, which was located in the Bolton section, was manned by the residents, supplying most of their needs.
- The Schroon River in Winter
© June 16 2013, Warren County Historical Society.
The above article was originally was prepared by Sandi Parisi, Warrensburg Town Historian, to be used in the bicentennial souvenir magazine. Photos are courtesy of the Warrensburg Historical Society and Mrs. Parisi. Some photos from internet. One photo credit to Don and Marjory Moeller. County Home (Alms House) credit Warren County Archives.