A presentation by noted hydrogeologist Paul Rubin of HydroQuest will highlight, with photographs and commentary, new discoveries that give clues to the 19th century quarrying industry in the Bluestone Wild Forest.
The program will take place on Saturday, March 25, 11 a.m., at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Catskills (UUCC), located at 320 Sawkill Road in Kingston. There is no charge, and everyone is welcome, though attendees are asked to RSVP online at www.catskillmountainkeeper.org, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 845-417-6489.
Rubin made these discoveries while doing field studies in the area. They will form the basis for the forest’s designation as a National and State Historic site. The easternmost unit of the Catskill Forest Preserve, the 3,000-acre Bluestone Wild Forest begins only three miles west of the City of Kingston and encompasses Onteora Lake and Pickerel Pond. It is heavily used by hikers, picnickers, anglers, paddlers and other recreational users. But most users are unaware of the special geologic, historic and cultural features within it that give evidence of the many activities that occurred there.
Rubin has documented previously uncharted archaeological, geologic and hydrologic resources within the forest. He has been mapping wagon roads, quarries, foundations, stone-walled pastures and other unique features remaining from about 1830 to 1905, when the forest was a hive of mining activity. Bluestone quarried here was used to pave cities around the country.
Rubin says that many of those features — including four miles of the Waughkonk Road, originally used as a trail by Native Americans — remain undisturbed.
Based on his work, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has deemed that the “Hemlock Historic Quarry District,” comprising some 800 acres within the Bluestone Wild Forest, is eligible for listing on the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places. The nomination is currently being pursued by several parties looking to achieve maximum protection for the area, which has recently elicited concerns due to a proposed plan to build a concrete and steel slab manufacturing facility on a former bluestone quarry, located on private property bounded on three sides by the forest.
Rubin’s March 25 presentation will be in person at the UUCC and available for livestreaming, with pre-registration, at www.catskillmountainkeeper.org.