400 years ago the Esopus Indians watched the Half Moon sail up the Muhheakantuck River. The Esopus hunted, fished, planted corn, and worked copper. Here they, like us, would have had access to the great river only at the strip of flat shoreline that is now home to the Bob Shepard Highland Landing Park.
Protected by bluffs, our riverfront was an untamed outpost of New Paltz in 1754 when Anthony Yelverton crossed the Hudson River from Poughkeepsie and built a home, store, sawmill, and ferry service on the western shore. Providing access to Hudson River shipping, Yelverton's Landing grew to become New Paltz Landing and finally Highland Landing. From it, goods such as bricks, lumber, furs and farm produce traveled to New York and beyond.
By mid-20th century, the Hudson had become a corridor for heavy
industry. Highland Landing was no exception.
Oil storage tanks replaced the picturesque shipyard, warehouses and piers.
The Town of Lloyd prospered, but the hamlet of Highland moved upland and seemed to forget its river origins.
But not everyone forgot. Some Highland citizens envisioned
their riverfront as a park open to all. They developed the vision,
created plans, arranged funding, and, in a town-wide referendum,
authorized the town to buy the property. After the town took
title in 2008,
volunteers cleared the land, laid down fill and topsoil, and planted grass as visitors stopped by to fish or kayak or picnic.
When the park opened in 2009, it heralded Highland Landing's renaissance and became a portal to the mighty river that Hudson sailed 400 years earlier.