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Wallkill River

Wallkill River

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The Wallkill River, a tributary
Tributary
A tributary or affluent is a stream or river that flows into a main stem river or a lake. A tributary does not flow directly into a sea or ocean...

 of the Hudson
Hudson River
The Hudson is a river that flows from north to south through eastern New York. The highest official source is at Lake Tear of the Clouds, on the slopes of Mount Marcy in the Adirondack Mountains. The river itself officially begins in Henderson Lake in Newcomb, New York...

, drains Lake Mohawk
Lake Mohawk, New Jersey
Beaches are provided along the edge of the lakes, spaced to enable residents to walk to the nearest one. Membership in the club is required for owners and renters alike. An issue of exclusion was raised at one point legally, but membership remains a requirement for residents...

 in Sparta, New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

, flowing from there generally northeasterly 88.3 miles (142.1 km) to Rondout Creek
Rondout Creek
Rondout Creek is a tributary of the Hudson River in Ulster and Sullivan counties, New York, USA. It rises on Rocky Mountain in the eastern Catskills, flows south into Rondout Reservoir, part of New York City's water supply network, then into the valley between the Catskills and the Shawangunk...

 in New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, near Rosendale
Rosendale, New York
Rosendale is a town in the center of Ulster County, New York, United States. It once contained a village of the same name, which was dissolved through a vote. The population was 6,075 at the 2010 census.- History :...

, with the combined flows reaching the Hudson at Kingston
Kingston, New York
Kingston is a city in and the county seat of Ulster County, New York, USA. It is north of New York City and south of Albany. It became New York's first capital in 1777, and was burned by the British Oct. 16, 1777, after the Battles of Saratoga...

.

The river is unusual because it flows north between two major south-flowing rivers, the Hudson
Hudson River
The Hudson is a river that flows from north to south through eastern New York. The highest official source is at Lake Tear of the Clouds, on the slopes of Mount Marcy in the Adirondack Mountains. The river itself officially begins in Henderson Lake in Newcomb, New York...

 and the Delaware River
Delaware River
The Delaware River is a major river on the Atlantic coast of the United States.A Dutch expedition led by Henry Hudson in 1609 first mapped the river. The river was christened the South River in the New Netherland colony that followed, in contrast to the North River, as the Hudson River was then...

. It also has the unusual distinction of being a river that drains into a creek
Stream
A stream is a body of water with a current, confined within a bed and stream banks. Depending on its locale or certain characteristics, a stream may be referred to as a branch, brook, beck, burn, creek, "crick", gill , kill, lick, rill, river, syke, bayou, rivulet, streamage, wash, run or...

, due to being impounded
Dam
A dam is a barrier that impounds water or underground streams. Dams generally serve the primary purpose of retaining water, while other structures such as floodgates or levees are used to manage or prevent water flow into specific land regions. Hydropower and pumped-storage hydroelectricity are...

 shortly before the Rondout confluence
Confluence
Confluence, in geography, describes the meeting of two or more bodies of water.Confluence may also refer to:* Confluence , a property of term rewriting systems...

 into a small body of water called Sturgeon Pool
Sturgeon Pool
Sturgeon Pool is a reservoir near the hamlet of Rifton, in the Town of Esopus in Ulster County, New York.It was created by damming the Wallkill River just above its confluence with Rondout Creek for hydroelectricity ....

 near Rifton
Rifton, New York
Rifton is a hamlet in Ulster County, New York, United States. The population was 501 at the 2000 census.Rifton is near the west town line of the Town of Esopus on Route 213.-History:...

, and what reaches the Rondout from there is the lesser flow.

Course



The broad valley of the Wallkill River nestles between the main Appalachian Mountains
Appalachian Mountains
The Appalachian Mountains #Whether the stressed vowel is or ,#Whether the "ch" is pronounced as a fricative or an affricate , and#Whether the final vowel is the monophthong or the diphthong .), often called the Appalachians, are a system of mountains in eastern North America. The Appalachians...

 and the New York-New Jersey Highlands, supporting much local agriculture
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

. In the beginning of its course it drains the eastern section of Sussex County, New Jersey
Sussex County, New Jersey
The County of Sussex is the northernmost county in the State of New Jersey. It is part of the New York City Metropolitan Area. As of the 2010 Federal decennial census, 149,265 persons resided in Sussex County...

, then flows through the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge
Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge
Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge is part of the National Wildlife Refuge system.Established in 1990 by Public Law 101-593, the refuge straddles of the Wallkill River at and just south of the New York-New Jersey border. Most of the refuge is in Sussex County, New Jersey, with the remainder...

 at the New Jersey/New York state line. Most of the New Jersey portion is navigable by canoe.

Then it is heavily diverted as it flows through the rich Black Dirt Region
Black Dirt Region
The Black Dirt Region is located in southern Orange County, New York, USA and northern Sussex County, New Jersey. It is mostly located in the western section of the Town of Warwick, centered around the hamlet of Pine Island...

 of Warwick. Until drainage projects were built here, this region was known as the Drowned Lands
Drowned Lands
Drowned Lands is a name sometimes given to seasonally flooded areas, or to areas flooded by reservoirs. Sometimes it is poetically applied to lands said to have been lost to the sea, such as Lyonesse....

. After lending its name to the town of Wallkill
Wallkill, Orange County, New York
Wallkill is a town in Orange County, New York, United States. The population was 24,659 at the 2000 census.The Town of Wallkill is centrally located in the county. Interstate 84 crosses New York State Route 17 in the southern part of the town. U.S...

, in northern Orange County
Orange County, New York
Orange County is a county located in the U.S. state of New York. It is part of the Poughkeepsie–Newburgh–Middletown, NY Metropolitan Statistical Area and is located at the northern reaches of the New York metropolitan area. The county sits in the state's scenic Mid-Hudson Region of the Hudson Valley...

, it begins to regain its volume as it passes by Orange County Airport
Orange County Airport (New York)
New York’s Orange County Airport is an untowered general aviation airport located 1 mile southwest of village of Montgomery, in the Town of Montgomery, New York...

, Montgomery
Montgomery (village), New York
Montgomery is a village located in Orange County, New York, United States, 60 miles northwest of New York City, and 90 miles southwest of Albany. The population was 3,636 at the 2000 census...

 and through Walden
Walden, New York
Walden is the largest of three villages of the Town of Montgomery in Orange County, New York, United States. The population was 6,978 at the 2010 census. It has the ZIP Code 12586 and the 778 telephone exchange within the 845 area code...

, where dam
Dam
A dam is a barrier that impounds water or underground streams. Dams generally serve the primary purpose of retaining water, while other structures such as floodgates or levees are used to manage or prevent water flow into specific land regions. Hydropower and pumped-storage hydroelectricity are...

s have been built in the past to provide power for local industry
Industry
Industry refers to the production of an economic good or service within an economy.-Industrial sectors:There are four key industrial economic sectors: the primary sector, largely raw material extraction industries such as mining and farming; the secondary sector, involving refining, construction,...

. The largest, in Walden, still is used by New York State Electric and Gas today.

After briefly serving as the line between Orange and Ulster
Ulster County, New York
Ulster County is a county located in the state of New York, USA. It sits in the state's Mid-Hudson Region of the Hudson Valley. As of the 2010 census, the population was 182,493. Recent population estimates completed by the United States Census Bureau for the 12-month period ending July 1 are at...

 counties, it passes by Wallkill
Wallkill, Ulster County, New York
Wallkill is a hamlet , generally identified as coterminous with ZIP code 12589, telephone exchange 895 in the 845 area code and most of the Wallkill Central School District located mostly in the eastern half of the Town of Shawangunk, Ulster County, New York but partly spilling over into adjacent...

, the second community to take its name from the river, and then the striking scenery of the Shawangunk Ridge
Shawangunk Ridge
The Shawangunk Ridge , also known as the Shawangunk Mountains or The Gunks, is a ridge of bedrock in Ulster County, Sullivan County and Orange County in the state of New York, extending from the northernmost point of New Jersey to the Catskill Mountains.The ridgetop, which widens considerably at...

 is visible as it winds past the Ulster County Fairgrounds and New Paltz
New Paltz (village), New York
New Paltz is a village in Ulster County in the U.S. state of New York. It is about north of New York City and south of Albany. The population was 6,818 at the 2010 census.The Village of New Paltz is located within the Town of New Paltz...

, where its floodplain
Floodplain
A floodplain, or flood plain, is a flat or nearly flat land adjacent a stream or river that stretches from the banks of its channel to the base of the enclosing valley walls and experiences flooding during periods of high discharge...

 becomes more noticeable, on the way to its mouth at the Rondout.

The Wallkill tends to cross political borders much more often than it forms them, at least in New York (in New Jersey it divides several townships). Other than the brief segment that follows the Orange-Ulster line, there is only southern Orange County, where it divides the towns of Minisink
Minisink, New York
Minisink is a town located in southwest Orange County, New York northeast of the New Jersey border between the Town of Greenville and the Town of Warwick...

, Wawayanda
Wawayanda, New York
Wawayanda is a town in Orange County, New York, United States. The population was 7,024 as recorded by the 2006 census.The Town of Wawayanda is in the western part of the county, south of Middletown.-History:...

 and Wallkill
Wallkill, Orange County, New York
Wallkill is a town in Orange County, New York, United States. The population was 24,659 at the 2000 census.The Town of Wallkill is centrally located in the county. Interstate 84 crosses New York State Route 17 in the southern part of the town. U.S...

 on its west from Warwick and Goshen
Goshen (town), New York
Goshen is a town in Orange County, New York, United States. The population was 12,913 at the 2000 census.The Town of Goshen contains a village also called Goshen, the county seat of Orange County. The town is centrally located in the county....

 to the east. Two villages, Montgomery and New Paltz, are also bounded by the river in part.

In addition to the town and hamlet
Hamlet (place)
A hamlet is usually a rural settlement which is too small to be considered a village, though sometimes the word is used for a different sort of community. Historically, when a hamlet became large enough to justify building a church, it was then classified as a village...

 in New York, two school districts take their name from the river: Wallkill Valley Regional School District
Wallkill Valley Regional High School
Wallkill Valley Regional High School is a four-year public high school and regional school district in New Jersey serving students in grades 9-12 from four municipalities in Sussex County, approximately forty miles northwest of New York City...

, in New Jersey and Wallkill Central
Wallkill Central School District
The Wallkill Central School District is centered in Wallkill, New York. It has three elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school. As of 2006, the school district has about 3,700 students. The district's offices are located in Wallkill and its current superintendent is Mr...

 in New York (Valley Central
Valley Central School District
The Valley Central School District serves most of the Town of Montgomery in Orange County, New York, United States, and its three villages: Maybrook, Montgomery and Walden. Students also come from adjacent areas of the towns of Newburgh, Crawford, Wallkill, Hamptonburgh, and New Windsor...

 also derives its name indirectly from the river).

History


Native Americans
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 knew the river as Twischsawkin, meaning "the land where plum
Plum
A plum or gage is a stone fruit tree in the genus Prunus, subgenus Prunus. The subgenus is distinguished from other subgenera in the shoots having a terminal bud and solitary side buds , the flowers in groups of one to five together on short stems, and the fruit having a groove running down one...

s abound". At least three prehistoric rock shelters have been found in archaeological
Archaeology
Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

 digs in the region. For the indigenous peoples, it was not only important for its arable land
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

 but for its geological
Geology
Geology is the science comprising the study of solid Earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which it evolves. Geology gives insight into the history of the Earth, as it provides the primary evidence for plate tectonics, the evolutionary history of life, and past climates...

 resources. The river and its valley are abundant in flint
Flint
Flint is a hard, sedimentary cryptocrystalline form of the mineral quartz, categorized as a variety of chert. It occurs chiefly as nodules and masses in sedimentary rocks, such as chalks and limestones. Inside the nodule, flint is usually dark grey, black, green, white, or brown in colour, and...

 and chert
Chert
Chert is a fine-grained silica-rich microcrystalline, cryptocrystalline or microfibrous sedimentary rock that may contain small fossils. It varies greatly in color , but most often manifests as gray, brown, grayish brown and light green to rusty red; its color is an expression of trace elements...

, from which they made spear
Spear
A spear is a pole weapon consisting of a shaft, usually of wood, with a pointed head.The head may be simply the sharpened end of the shaft itself, as is the case with bamboo spears, or it may be made of a more durable material fastened to the shaft, such as flint, obsidian, iron, steel or...

 points and arrowhead
Arrowhead
An arrowhead is a tip, usually sharpened, added to an arrow to make it more deadly or to fulfill some special purpose. Historically arrowheads were made of stone and of organic materials; as human civilization progressed other materials were used...

s.

European
European colonization of the Americas
The start of the European colonization of the Americas is typically dated to 1492. The first Europeans to reach the Americas were the Vikings during the 11th century, who established several colonies in Greenland and one short-lived settlement in present day Newfoundland...

 settler
Settler
A settler is a person who has migrated to an area and established permanent residence there, often to colonize the area. Settlers are generally people who take up residence on land and cultivate it, as opposed to nomads...

s of the region named it first the Palse River, after New Paltz. Later, when it was clear that the river continued well beyond the original New Paltz patent, it took after the Waal river in their native Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

. They worked their way down it from the Hudson Valley in the 17th century, and were followed by the British after the colony changed hands.

Settlers recognized the agricultural possibilities of the Drowned Lands almost as soon as they moved in. Efforts to divert the river and create more farmland appear to have begun as early as 1760. It would take 66 years, however, before a canal
Canal
Canals are man-made channels for water. There are two types of canal:#Waterways: navigable transportation canals used for carrying ships and boats shipping goods and conveying people, further subdivided into two kinds:...

 succeeded in draining the land and making enough available to profitably cultivate.

By that time industry was beginning to harness the river, too, as Jacob Walden established his mill
Watermill
A watermill is a structure that uses a water wheel or turbine to drive a mechanical process such as flour, lumber or textile production, or metal shaping .- History :...

 in the village downriver that would later take his name. Millers in the Black Dirt Region clashed heavily with farmers in what were known as the Muskrat and Beaver Wars for decades afterwards, since the millers needed the water to flow freely while the farmers depended on keeping it diverted. In 1871 the farmers finally won. What industry there was would be confined to Montgomery and Walden where the railroad ran nearby.

In August 1955, the river experienced record-breaking flooding when hurricanes Connie
Hurricane Connie
Hurricane Connie was the first in a series of hurricanes to strike North Carolina during the 1955 Atlantic hurricane season. Connie struck as a Category 1, causing major flooding and inflicting extensive damage to the Outer Banks and inland to Raleigh....

 and Diane
Hurricane Diane
Hurricane Diane was one of three hurricanes to hit North Carolina during the 1955 Atlantic hurricane season, striking an area that had been hit by Hurricane Connie five days earlier...

 brought heavy rainfall to the region. Heavy flooding of the river and its smaller tributaries from the April 2007 nor'easter
April 2007 Nor'easter
The April or Spring Nor’easter of 2007 was a nor'easter that affected mainly the eastern parts of North America during its four day course April 14 to April 17, 2007. The combined effects of high winds, heavy rainfall, and high tides led to flooding, storm damages, power outages, and evacuations,...

 forced a number of road closures and evacuations of homes in its flood plain in central Orange County.

Tributaries


The Wallkill has 69 tributaries in New York alone. Thirty are named.

Moving downriver (south to north)

See also




External links