Wurtsboro, New York
||The neutrality of this article is disputed. (May 2013)|
|Wurtsboro, New York|
|— Village —|
|• Total||1.3 sq mi (3.3 km2)|
|• Land||1.3 sq mi (3.3 km2)|
|• Water||0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)|
|Elevation||577 ft (176 m)|
|Time zone||Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC-4)|
|GNIS feature ID||0971765|
Wurtsboro is a village located on U.S. Route 209 in the town of Mamakating in Sullivan County, New York, United States, near its junction with New York State Route 17 (which is being upgraded to Interstate standards and will be renumbered as Interstate 86). The population was 1,246 at the 2010 census. Wurtsboro is notable for a store in the business district called the Canal Towne Emporium. The store is well-known, and has a long history in the village. Since 1927 the area has been served by Wurtsboro-Sullivan County Airport. From Spring through the Fall, the area provides a scenic back drop and destination for many motorcyclists in conjunction with several events sponsored by the Wurtsboro NY Chapter of the Harley Owners Group and O'Toole's Harley-Davidson which is located at the foothills of the Village's Main Street. With the decline of the railroads and industry migrating to other locations, Wurtsboro was able to remain a small ‘bedroom’ community. Fortunate are we indeed to have retained our quaint small town charm, as today’s quality of life asset becomes more valuable than the industry of the past. The integrity and pride that founded this village are evidenced today by the recognition of Wurtsboro as one of the most vital and prosperous communities in Sullivan County. Local traditions flourish as a rich sense of volunteerism in our volunteer fire department and Memorial Day, and the celebration of our community on Founder’s Day each year around July 13th. We encourage you to visit our village, and are confident you’ll be glad you did.
Long before the Europeans arrived, our community was inhabited by native Americans known as the Leni Lenape. Called ‘Delawares’ by the Europeans, the Leni Lenape are known to other tribes, in their tongues, as "the old people" and are considered to be one of the oldest tribes in the country. Many anthropologists believe the Leni Lenape are the ancestors of the original people who crossed the Bering Strait and first populated the North American continent. Research and evidence from tribal oral tradition, drawings, and the evidence of Leni Lenape cultural clues in other tribes suggest that this is true. Within the Leni Lenape, different villages dotted the fertile valleys between the Delaware and Hudson rivers. The northernmost groups were referred to as the Muncies and the group that resided in our valley was known as the Mamacottin. As the Dutch settled along the Hudson and searched inland for furs and valuable minerals, they engineered and built the oldest road in America. This roadway, little more than a cart path along the trails of the Leni Lenape, became known as the Old Mine Road. Present day US Rte. 209 follows much of the original course. It is thought that these Dutch settlers were the first to name the area Mamakating. As other Europeans settled in the area, the treaties and land grants for a great deal of the northeast was benchmarked from the Hardenburgh tract. That survey benchmark, still annotated and utilized, can be found in the village near Rte. 209. The original name for the village of Wurtsboro was Rome. It is said that when the ‘Yankees’ obtained a foothold in the hollow (Mamakating valley), they counted all the mountain peaks they could see and with an ambitious view, they called the place Rome. This name was retained until as late as 1812. That same year, the area’s first church was built. This Dutch Reformed church was named The Church Of Rome. With such a romantic original christening, it’s somewhat difficult for our generation to appreciate the importance of renaming the community to Wurtsborough and by later oral use to Wurtsboro! The answer to the riddle has to do with changes in transportation that started right here and helped to make the industrialization of our nation possible. In the early years of the industrial revolution, almost all of the nation’s bituminous coal needs were supplied by England. During the War Of 1812, a fuel shortage arose when a British blockade cut off America’s coal supply. Interest turned towards utilizing anthracite coal, or stone coal as it was known at that time. Anthracite was native to Pennsylvania, but lack of adequate transportation of this coal was a critical deterrent. Three Wurts brothers, (Maurice Wurts was the most prominent), then Philadelphia dry goods store owners, capitalized on this problem by organizing a company that would construct a 108 mile long canal from Honesdale Pennsylvania to Roundout in Kingston. The Delaware and Hudson Canal Company, became the first million dollar private corporation in America! On July 13 1825, New York City Mayor (and canal company investor) Philip Hone used a golden spade to turn the first shovelful of earth during the canal’s groundbreaking ceremony here in the village. With the advent of the canal, products such as coal, lumber, livestock, and other staples were shipped through the area on their way to Albany and New York. In those days, there was a practice of the D&H Canal Co. to rename communities along the canal for their favored officers. Names such as Honesdale, Port Jervis, Hawley, and Wurtsboro were actually created as corporate perks. As steam replaced horsepower, the railroads replaced the canals. While the canal operated until its closure in 1898, the D&H Railroad was in fact a reorganization of the original canal company. In many sections, the railroad bed (now abandoned) parallels the canal. Both can be easily seen by visiting the D&H Canal Linear Park, which is a scenic walkway along the canal towpath from Wurtsboro to Summitville.
The village of Wurtsboro was originally confined to the berme of the canal and several of our current business establishments were active at that time. Notable examples include Danny’s, built in 1814 for the purpose of serving food and providing lodging; and the Canal Towne Emporium, better known in the canal days as Fulton & Holmes’ General Store, selling many items that were delivered by canal barge. Over time, the village gradually extended westward and merged with the old village of Mamakating and in 1830 the name of the post office was changed from Mamakating to Wurtsborough, with Lyman O’Dell (known as the village poet and essayist) acting as the first postmaster. Another economic impact for the area in those early days was derived from the tanning industry that developed here. Hemlock bark was used to tan hides and it was in plentiful supply. In fact, over 80% of all leather goods used by the Union Army during the Civil War were processed in Sullivan county tanning vats. The industry waned as the hemlock in the area was overforested (accounting for the scarcity today) and synthetic tannic acid was developed. In the late 1800’s the Ontario & Western Railroad laid down its tracks on the eastern end of the village. Like the canal, it served to carry merchandise as well as passengers to the area. The O&W was a primary player in the tourism boom during the late 1800’s into the 20th century, as it allowed thousands of New York residents to escape the heat of the city and relax in the clean Catskill mountain air. Eventually, just as the railroads replaced the canals, the interstate highway system replaced the need for railroads in our area.
Acknowledgements: Harold Lindsay Ms. Lawrence, Town Of Mamakating Historian Larry Loenthal, From the Coalfields to the Hudson Copyright (c)2001, Michael J. Roosa and James Arnott. Reprinted by permission of the authors
For more area history, look for these books:
Quinlan’s History of Sullivan County Coal Boats to Tide Water The Old Mine Road The History Of The Leni Lenape From the Coalfields to the Hudson
Wurtsboro is located at (41.577158, -74.484393).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 1.3 square miles (3.4 km2), all of it land.
Wurtsboro is in the Eastern Time Zone. Its elevation is 577 feet.
The Long Path, a hiking trail, goes through Wurtsboro.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,234 people, four hundred seventy nine households, and 330 families residing in the village. The population density was 975.5 people per square mile (378.1/km²). There were 542 housing units at an average density of 428.5 per square mile (166.1/km²). The racial makeup of the village was 93.68% White, 1.86% African American, 0.81% Asian, 1.62% from other races, and 2.03% from two or more races. Hispanic of any race were 4.62% of the population.
There were 479 households out of which 39.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.3% were married couples living together, 13.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.1% were non-families. 27.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.58 and the average family size was 3.15.
In the village the population was spread out with 30.2% under the age of 18, 6.8% from 18 to 24, 30.1% from 25 to 44, 22.5% from 45 to 64, and 10.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 92.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.4 males.
The median income for a household in the village was $38,500, and the median income for a family was $46,359. Males had a median income of $40,385 versus $25,060 for females. The per capita income for the village was $16,698. About 9.7% of families and 10.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.5% of those under age 18 and 1.5% of those age 65 or over.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13.
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- Wurtsboro Board of Trade
- Wurtsboro Community Profile
- "A Main Artery of the 1800s", New York Times, August 25, 2002
- Wurtsboro Airport