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Putnam County, NY

Putnam is small, but has a rich history, much of it rooted in the difficulties of accessibility. Its romantic landscape is reminiscent of the Rhine, with steep, heavily forested heights that boast occasional local castles peering down from the clouds at circling birds and passing sailboats. The Southern Highlands, a wall of solid rock that reached down into the Hudson and stretches northeasterly toward New England have dominated county history. Here Breakneck Ridge and Storm King on the opposite shore stand guard over the entrance to Newburgh Bay. Bordered north by Dutchess, south by Westchester, and n the east by Connecticut, Putnam is linked historically to all its neighbors.

Putnam has no cities. Until recent years, most of its communities have been small hamlets, clustered around modest industries related to mining or local farming interests. The county seat is in the village of Carmel, on the banks of Lake Gleneida, where the 1814 courthouse overlooks the lake. Here a statue of Sybil Ludington by Anna Hyatt Huntington captures the young Revolutionary War heroine as she races her steed on a perpetual mission to warn her father’s troops of the 1777 British raid on Danbury. The nearby village of Brewster, home of the Southeast Museum, contains the County Records Center, housing early records (including some relating to Dutchess) and those of Putnam’s townships.

With twentieth century road building and easier public access by car have come new interest in Putnam’s rich environment and history. Public parks and environment sanctuaries have been created: Hudson Highlands State Park, Clarence Fahnstock State Park and Constitution Marsh. Romantic estates like Dick’s Castle (private) and Russell Wright’s Manitoga, now a public preserve, took advantage of the incredible river and mountain vistas her. Nineteenth century commercial landings have taken on a new role as arts and history centers. Putnam gave new life and a new setting to Boscobel, a Westchester manse dismantled by the Veteran’s Administration and reconstructed here in the 1950’s on a promontory overlooking Constitution Marsh and the river. Restored, refurnished with authentic period pieces and surrounded by eighteenth century gardens, it has become the centerpiece of a growing number of regional historic sites.


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