Around and About Athens, New York, part 1

Enjoyments of Athens, New York

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Memorial Day Weekend 2019 Pam and I visited Athens, first settled in the 17th Century by an ancestor through her maternal grandmother. Click me for more about the Van Loons. Jan Van Loon is 10 generations removed from Pam and her siblings and is one of 1024 (512 pairs) of ancestors. Whatever became of the other 1022 people (and all those in between) Pam was there with me that day to enjoy the experience of walking around town and talking about Jan Van Loon’s connection to herself.

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Founded as Loonenberg, named after the first settler Jan Van Loon. today,Athens is a lovely destination, a historic village on the Hudson River.

We stopped for a very enjoyable latte at Bonfiglio and Bread on 2nd street. As we ambled south on 2nd street Pam spotted someone to talk to and I proceeded with the goal of the Hudson River, visible at the bottom of the street.

I noticed this architectural specimen and turned to capture this side in a good light and was lucky to capture a young co-admirer of its style with whom I assume is her Mother. Athens, developed as a “National Register Historic Site,” is a charming place to stroll and admire.

Southeast view on 2nd Street between Water and Washington streets. Athens, New York

Hudson Riverfront

Yesterday I did a Red Cross blood donation at an elementary school on Hudson Street here in Ithaca. Henry Hudson, the first European to sail up the river that now bears his name, is memorialized this way across New York State so much so it is unusual to find the “Riverfront Park” named as such.

The city of Hudson, in Columbia County directly across the river named its park “Henry Hudson Riverfront Park.”

Looking east toward the entrance of the Riverfront Park, Athens, New York. Found at the east end of 2nd Street.

Peace and Quiet

The Athens Park is a gathering place for the village with a large swath of grass, a short boardwalk, benches and generous shade trees along with river…….

The photograph captions will speak for themselves for the rest of today’s post. Enjoy!!

A sole reader enjoys the solitude and view across the Hudson. A large mid-stream island, Middle Ground Flats, provides a swath of green instead of a view of the city Hudson.

…and a dock.

The map shows a dotted line between this dock in the Athens Riverside Park and the Henry Hudson Riverside park of the city of Hudson. Barely visible in front of the wooded hills is the Hudson-Athens lighthouse.
A pleasure craft motoring south on the Hudson River passes in front of the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse. On the eastern shore is a line of freight cars. Amtrack uses this line for service between New York City, Albany and beyond. We have enjoyed this Hudson River view from the train and highly recommend that trip.
Built 1874, the Hudson-Athens lighthouse guides traffics around the island named “Middle Ground Flats.”

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Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

They came for the beaver, he stayed for the corn

Pam’s Ancestors Jan and Maria Van Loon

June 2018 I shed a 53 year old habit of working for a living for new habits in retirement. Instead of waking at 5 am to work for someone else, my routine became to wake at 5 am for personal projects. From June into September 2018 my morning time was spent researching and documenting family history, also known as genealogy: my own and Pam’s.

It was fitting Pam and I spent the last days of that year (June 2018 through May 2019) harvesting our newly acquired knowledge on the ground, a 3 hour drive from our home, to the site of Pam’s earliest ancestor in the New World, at that time Colonial America. Our visit will be book-ended by another this September to Burlington, New Jersey, on the eastern short of the Delaware river, founded by my earliest ancestor, also in Colonial America and 4 hours from our present day home.

A river setting is a link between our ancestors and the two rivers associated in a number of ways. In driving to Athens, New York, a village on the west bank of the Hudson River 31 miles from the state capital, Albany. Our route from Ithaca to Athens included route 23 that passes through the Catskill Mountain, Delaware County, village of Stamford. The headwaters of the west branch of the Delaware River passes through Stamford.

Founded as Loonenberg, named after the first settler Jan Van Loon. Today, Athens is a lovely destination, a historic village on the Hudson River. The rear of the Jan Van Loon house is in the background.

Henry Hudson and the crew of the Half Moon were the first recorded Europeans to visit both the Delaware and Hudson rivers. The Half Moon dropped anchor in Delaware Bay late August, 1609. They reached the estuary of the Hudson (then called the North or the Mauritius). The goal of Hudson was a route to China. Luring him up was the flow and width of the river, Hudson suspected this land was a island, behind which lay the route to the Orient. He navigated up the river for ten days, passing the future site of Athens.

Historical signage with house. One wall remains of the original house, this is a loving restoration on the original site.

Beaver!!

Hudson was in the employ of the Dutch East India Company and it was the Dutch who laid claim to the length of the Hudson for the purpose of trade. In summary, when Swedish/Finnish colonists on the Delaware proved successful in shipping huge numbers of beaver pelts and tobacco the Dutch took control of the Delaware under force of arms in the interest of controlling this trade.

The Dutch, AKA the Dutch East/West India Companies, had little interest in establishing colonies. Instead huge areas of land, “patents”, were granted to individuals with the underlying goal of providing a flow of shippable goods. It remained as such for many years, until 1664 when England, under the king Charles II, took control of New Amsterdam and, by extension, trade flowing on the Hudson River.

Overview of the Jan Van Loon House, 39 South Washington Street, Athens New York from the Athens Veterans Memorial Park with view of the Hudson River and the lighthouse. Phlox are in bloom!!

Stayed for the Corn

Jan Van Loon (pronounced Van Loan) comes into the picture with a 1676 marriage to Maria in New Amsterdam. When Jan acquired a major interest in the 1688 Loonenburg patent the land was just opening to European settlers and their tenancy was less than secure. Threatened by incursions of Native Americans and animosities between the French and English. They had eight children who reached adulthood, the house of one of them, Albertus, is one of the oldest continually inhabited residences in New York State.

Athens, New York is the present day name of this town on the Hudson River first settled by Pam’s ancestor in the 17th Century. Pam is pointing to the modern window restoration (aluminum double-hung), the roof is cedar shingle (I believe).

Tradition has it Jan Van Loon acquired the land through a payment of 50 beaver pelts and provided services as a blacksmith, though that had to be after a number of years of residence, since he was a first settler. Pam and I are learning more about those early years, but we know Jan and Maria’s interest in the land was not trade. It was to live peacefully and prosper which they, somehow, did to the benefit of all the people around them.

Detail of the modern restoration of the east foundation wall, Jan Van Loon house, Athens, New York, at the juncture of the field stone/brick joint. The front of the house is to the right.
The lighthouse as viewed from the Jan Van Loon House site. Build 1874, the lighthouse was not part of the environment of Jan and Maria Van Loon.

Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Taughannock Gorge Trail late winter hike

sights during a 4 mile hike on icy trails around Taughannock Gorge

Wednesday afternoon this week my exercise was a 4 mile hike around the Taughannock Falls Gorge on the north and south rim trail. I parked at the Overlook and took in a view of Taughannock Falls in the gorge below.

The video and pics are from my Apple IPhone.

I then headed south on the North Rim Trail. It was slow going because the trail was solid ice in many places. Throughout the walk was evidence of the great work of the park maintence crew preparing for spring.

A bridge over the creek transitions from the North to South Rim trails. Here is an overview of the dramatic site below this bridge.

The trail ice forced me off onto the Gorge Road that parallels the trail. Even without the ice, a portion of the trail is closed for the winter due to dangerous conditions. There are interesting sites along this road.

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Walking downhill only this medium-sized bark is visible, the road curves around to bring into view a tiny farmhouse, now abondoned, dwarfed by the barn.

I took a detour to explore a small cemetery just off Gorge Road on a shelf above the Taughannock Farms Inn.

Overview of this small cemetery overlooking Cayuga Lake

The lower falls is another worthy detour before I rejoined the Rim trail to climb up the north side of the gorge.

One of many Rim Trail overlooks. That is the Gorge Trail, below.

In this approximate 4 miles there is a 2088 foot change in altitude (1044 up and down). I took my time for an enjoyable 2 hours.

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Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Kite Surfing Action Series

three shots in one second

For a change of scene we visited Cape Canaveral, the beach at Cherie Down Park were an informal gathering of Kite Surfers was underway. Here is a series of action shots, one second elapsed from first to last.

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Conditions were excellent: good northerly wind, the sun overcast and, it being afternoon, in the west. Surfers stayed relatively close to shore, near their starting point. I had packed the “heavy gun” camera with a tripod.

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Panning the scene (swiveling on the tripod), the camera in rapid exposure mode, I pressed the shutter release and held it down.

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The surfer was captured mid-jump to landing.

Click this link for another view of Kite Surfing

Click this link for a view of Kite Skating on the beach


Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Valparaiso Connections VIII

Captain Arturo Prat and Chilean Naval Tradition

Captain Arturo Prat and the Esmeralda

After reading my last post “Valparaiso Connections VII” why Captain Pratt was so honored by the nation?  

From the starboard side of the Regatta while docking at Valparaiso. On the right is the port with shipping containers, beyond are the Chilean Navy frigates 
Almirante Blanco Encalada and
Almirante Latorre at anchor.

On that morning, May 21, 1879 the two Chilean ships blockading Iquique port were surprised by two Peruvian warships from the port of Callao, the monitor Huáscar and armored frigate Independencia.

View west from La Sebastiana, former residence of Neruda, on Florida Hill.  We look over the city, docks and Chilean Naval Vessels to the Pacific Ocean.


Arturo Prat commanded the Chilean corvette Esmeralda. 
 Carlos Condell de la Haza  was Covadonga’s commander.

CS Almirante Blanco Encalada (FF-15), a modern frigate of the Chilean Navy at anchor.  With the Durante Point lighthouse, several fast fishing boats returning with their catch. 

The Chileans are outgunned by the Peruvians in armored ships.  Condell fled in the Convadonga, pursued by the Independencia.  This was the wiser course and most militarily effective because, following the Convadonga into shallow waters the deeper draft Independencia lost advantage when it ran aground and was lost. 

We did not have time to explore the National Maritime Museum.

Prat stood ground in the middle of the bay, any canon shots simply bounced off the heavily armored Huascar.  The Esmeralda suffered shot after shot until the command of the Huascar, Captain Graf, decided to ram the Esmeralda to force a surrender and safe useless death.

Naval Cadet with friend viewing the ships at anchor.

At the first ram to the stern, as the ships were in contact, Prat ordered an attack, “Let’s board, boys.”  In the confusion only two seamen joined   Prat.  One failed to board, Prat and Petty Officer Juan de Dios Aldea attacked.  Dios Aldea was mortally wounded.  Prat continued to advance alone, to the amazement of the Peruvians, awed at his courage.  Prat was gunned down on the deck of the Huascar. 

He crew watched in horror.  When the Esmeralda was rammed again, this time in the bow, Sublieutenant Ignacio Serrano lead  of 10 Chileans to board for an attack with machetes and rifles.  They were massacred by the mounted Gatling gun, only Serrano survived.  

The example of Prat and his crew is taught today.  Arturo Pratt is the most common street name, as well as plazas, buildings.  Four major warships were named after him.  The current active ship is the frigate FFG 11, the Capitan Prat.  The Chilean naval academy is named 
Escuela Naval Arturo Prat.  His portrait is on the 10,000 peso Chilean note.

Lighthouse on Punta Duprat

Click this link for the first post in this Valparaiso Connections series.

Valparaiso Connections VII

Fertile Land and Saltpeter, spoils of war

Plaza Victoria

This is an answer for those of who responded to my last post Valparaiso Connections VI with “what does that desert in Peru have to do with Valparaiso?”  It starts with the Plaza Victoria at the end of Pedro Montt Avenue.  Victoria, as in victory not Queen Victoria.   At the beginning of the 19thcentury this was a beach, the site of several ship wrecks.  It was set aside as a gathering place by the Mayor, named Plaza Nueva (New Plaza), for a bullring until bullfights a law banned bullfighting on September 1823. The plaza became a place of public executions and, after Chile’s victory in the Battle of Yungay, a place of celebration, formally renamed for the victory.

The Central Valley of Chile is an exception to the topology north through Lima where agriculture and population centers follow river valleys watered by the Andes and surrounded by waterless wastes.  Yungay, is among one of those watered desert valleys.  Located 120 miles north of Lima, Peru at about 8,000 feet just below a summit of the Western Andes, remnants of cultures from 10,000 B.C. are proof of agriculture and human settlement. It was near Yungay, on January 20, 1839 (summer in the southern hemisphere) a force of Chilean and Peruvian dissidents called the United Restorative Army defeated a Peru-Bolivian Confederation Army to end the War of Confederation. The resulting split into different countries of Peru and Bolivia weakened a threat to Chile and Argentina, aimed in large part toward the broad and fertile Central Valley of Chile. The desperation in view in my post Valparaiso Connections VI was in large measure a motivation war, this motivation is still powerful today.

 The subsequent prosperity allowed reclamation of the land of Plaza Victoria from the sea.  For example, in my post Valparaiso Connections V we learned how French immigrants arrived and developed Central Valley wineries in the 19th century.   Around the time of the victory Chacobuco Street was built adjacent to the plaza on reclaimed land, the Plaza Victoria was pulled from the sea.  

The concrete Lions and bronze statue captured in the above gallery, were elements of a round of enhancements to Plaza Victoria begun 1870.

Monument to the Heroes of Iquique

Here we see from the Regatta bridge a monument to the Heroes of Iquique.   The Battle of Iquique, May 21, 1879, is remembered annually as Naval Glories Day (Dia de las Glorias Navales) .

  Click this Link for the Fine Art Photography Gallery.

This monument commemorates the destruction of the Chilean warship Esmeralda.  At the monument peak is Arturo Prat Chacón, captain of the Esmeralda who perished with his wooden ship.  He and the crew were blockading the then Peruvian port of Iquique along with another ship, the Covadonga.

May 1879 was in the initial phase of the War of the Pacific, fought over rich mineral deposits of the Atacama desert.  Today, the Chilean flag is over these barren wastes, seen here flying over a roadside memorial to an automobile accident victim.  The desert is the backdrop, there are no animals or plants here, only red dirt.  NASA uses the Atacama in simulations of the Martian environment. 

There are deposits of the mineral saltpeter, mined by large operations.  Here is the entrance of a World Heritate site we visited while docked at Iquique. 

The mining operation was literally scraping the deposits lying on the ground and processing it into, among other products, nitrogen
fertilizer.  At that time the operation was hugely lucrative, employing thousands in very difficult conditions.  That is a different story. 

Captain Prat faced two armored Peruvian warships, one the iron clad Huáscar.  Over the course of four hours the Esmeralda was overpowered and sunk.  The Huascar and the 22,500 mountain peak at Yungay, Huascarán, are named for an Inca chief.  

The monument honors the bravery of Captain Prat and his crew, all of whom are named on plaques.

After the Huáscar rammed Esmeralda a third time to sink it, the Huáscar captain, Miguel Grau Seminario, rescued Chilean survivors in danger of drowning.  In the meantime, the armored Peruvian warship was lured into the shallows and destroyed.  Although the blockage on Iquique was lifted Peru lost one of its most powerful ships at the cost to Chile of an older wooden ship.

The defeat and examples of the Esmerelda crew and captain brought a wave of recruits to the Chilean forces.  Chile was the victor of the War of the Pacific, vast tracks of the Atacama desert were taken from Bolivia, including the Saltpeter mines, shutting that country off from the Pacific Ocean.  There is a connection between these memories and the Training Ship anchored in the harbor, the sixth ship to carry the name, Esmeralda (BE-43). 

See my posting Valparaiso Connections V for the more recent history of the Esmeralda.


Click this link for the first of the Valparaiso Connections 

Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Valparaiso Connections VI

Memories of Allende and Italy

Memories of Allende and Italy

Ricardo left a blank between the French Memorial Column of the Parque Italia, seen above.  He made of mention of Salvadore Allende Plaza.  The above photograph includes a graffiti inscribed corner of the set of steps, a platform and the area in front, a plaza, dedicated to the memory of Allende and named “Plaza del Pueblo Salvador Allende Gossens” on the 100th anniversary of his birth, 2008.  The structure was not new, it was called “The People’s Plaza”, the name change was pushed through by Alberto Neumann, communist councilor.  So the suppression and torture (see “Valparaiso Connections V”) was not successful in wiping out the ideals, such as they are.  

The accomplishments of the Allende Presidency are another matter.  The Macroeconomic Populism policies he implemented left the economy in tatters.  We have only to look at the current state of Venezuela to see the entirely expected results of this economic model: hyperinflation followed by stagflation and implosion.  The reactionary military coup of 1973 was, in the essentials, a rational response and a rescue from economic and social disaster until the reaction itself descended into madness.

The following series of photographs are from a neighboring country, Peru, are an illustration of the pressures the political elites of Chile are negotiating.  Taken from the road between the port of Mollendo and the city of Arequipa, on a vast, waterless plain.

Migrants from the Titicaca Region formed a cooperative named “Asociacion Las Caymenos Agro Exportadores”.  It is the named scrawled on the small cement brick wall.

Desperate people from rural areas migrate to cities, form associations or regional clubs based on a common origin, and grab land as a group.   

In this case, it is property useless for the named purpose, “agricultural export.”  What they have is a dream. a dream of the government directing water to the area.  

Towards this end, individuals of the group mark out plots using rocks and build structures from concrete brick and metal roofing.  

This small patch of water is the basis of their desperate hope.

This is a more consolidate group of migrate squatters on the road called “1S” near the turnoff for Lima and a place named La Reparticion.

Dreams for a better life, offset by desperate circumstances bring us back to Valparaiso and the Parque Italia adjacent to Allende Plaza.  The park is a small patch of green, some wonderful trees, with statuary and monuments dedicated to people of Italian heritage.

Beyond the sleeper are statues each on a plinth.  The second from the right is a bust of Giovanni Battista Pastene, a gift from the city of Genoa dedicated October 12, 1961.  Pastene was the first governor of Valparaiso (the region, not the city) in the 16th century.  He came to Honduras in his own ship, enter the service of Pizzaro and, as master of the ship Conception, was a maritime explorer.

P

The Italian refugee collectivity of Valparaiso presented this column, in 1936, surmounted by a bronze sculpture of the Capitoline Wolf feeding the infant founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus.  It is a copy of an ancient statue kept on Capitoline Hill, Rome, Italy.


The wife of Allende was of Italian heritage, Hortensia Bussi.  The 
Fire Brigade Sesta Compagnia di Pompieri Cristoforo Colombo, operates today from Independence Avenue.

Here we have a gathering of friends, sharing the shade and beverages on this Saturday summer morning.

Click this link for the next posting in this series Valparaiso Connections VII.

Click this link for the first posting in the Valparaiso Connections Series.

Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills