Monsey Memories: The Old Village of Piermont
The Village of Piermont is located on the banks of the Hudson River on the eastern edge of Rockland County. According to the Village’s website, Henry Hudson himself would likely have disembarked at this point on his way up the river in 1609.
“The Sparkill provides the first natural break in the Palisades and would have invited exploration. This break, and the creek that ran through it, provides a passageway to the interior, making it an ideal place for commerce and trade. The first commercial settlement grew up along the creek, which was then called Tappan Slote. The area around the present-day Rockland Road Bridge was the first settlement of a few buildings, including a gristmill. A dam had been built at this location to provide power for the millwheels, and the millpond exists to this day,” it says.
In 2001, an article appeared in the Journal News that went back and looked at the history of the Village in greater depth.
“The history of Piermont is one of contrasts that have taken it from an early Dutch settlement to a major railroad and manufacturing center and country resort to today’s village of restaurants and, art galleries, boutiques and condominiums.”
The article goes on to reference a book authored by one Julie Jackson called “Piermont: Three Centuries,” an updated version of Piermont’s 1976 Bicentennial history in 1996.
“Piermont was a trading center before the era of the steamboat and the railroad,” said the author. Unladen sloops (a one-masted sailboat) would enter the Sparkill Creek at high tide and sail in as far as the Silk Mill at Rockland Road. After being loaded with furs and produce, they were towed back out to the Hudson River where crews would sail them to New York City.
“Eleazer Lord of Piermont, who became president of New York and Erie Railroad in 1832, was the man responsible for building the present Piermont Pier as the terminus of the rail line and renaming the village Piermont—or the pier at the foot of the mountain.
“The Erie Railroad, which first opened from Piermont to Goshen in 1841, was the longest rail line in the world by 1851, extending to Dunkirk on Lake Erie. Dignitaries on that first full-length celebratory excursion included President Millar Fillmore and Secretary of State Daniel Webster.
“At the height of its prosperity in the 1920’s, the railroad ran as many as 43 trains a day through Piermont. By 1940, there were only three trains a day. In 1966, train services stopped, and the right-of-way was deeded back to the Village. In the late 1960’s, the tracks and the ties were removed.
“In the 20th century, a group of paper mill entrepreneurs turned Piermont into a factory town. The Piermont Paper CO. evolved into the Robert Gair Co., which then became the Continental Can CO. Also, Federal Paperboard and Clevepak are other paper companies located in Pierpont. When the last of the riverfront industries closed about 15 years ago, the developers moved in and developed modern condominiums and shopping hubs in the now nearly three-and-half-century town.