COPAKE FALLS–Friends of Taconic State Park has announced that the Copake Iron Works historic site in Taconic State Park has been designated a Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area Site. The recognition, awarded through the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area in partnership with the National Park Service, recognizes the Copake Iron Works as a nationally significant cultural and natural resource of the Hudson River Valley.
With the designation, the Copake Iron Works joins about 100 other historic places, including Olana State Historic Site, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, and the Walkway Over the Hudson.
Friends of Taconic State Park has worked since 2008 to preserve, stabilize and interpret the Copake site, one of the most intact examples of 19th century industrial ironmaking in the Northeast. The state acquired the abandoned Copake Iron Works in 1926 as part of the creation of Taconic State Park. The site remained an industrial ruin until 2008, when Friends of Taconic State Park was formed. The stabilization and preservation work carried out by the Friends since then has been guided by the March 2000 report entitled “The Copake Iron Works at Taconic State Park – A Report on its Historical Significance and Development Potential,” written by Larry Gobrecht, state historian at Peebles Island, and Tom Scofield, Taconic State Park manager from 1985 to 2000.
Established by 19th century industrialist Lemuel Pomeroy in 1845 at the base of the Taconic Ridge in Copake Falls, the ironworks operated from 1845 until 1903. Components of this intact 19th century industrial complex include the rare blast furnace, the blowing engine house, a machine shop museum with original equipment and artifacts, an original condition ironworkers’ residence, a Carpenter-Gothic style office building, and the elegant residence of Isaac Chesbrough, one of the first ironmasters for the site. A three-mile loop trail circumnavigating the Copake Iron Works Historic District and Bash Bish Falls State Park has been extensively interpreted with signage designed and installed by Friends of Taconic State Park with assistance from the New York State Bureau of Historic Sites.
Deborah Cohen, a founding board member of the friends group said, “With this important national designation Friends of Taconic State Park can tell the story of the Copake Iron Works to a far wider audience than we could ever hope to reach without it. We are especially grateful to Commissioner Aldrich for his constant advocacy on our behalf which included nominating the site last spring.” J. Winthrop Aldrich, retired state deputy commissioner of historic preservation, was instrumental in helping the Copake Iron Works achieve National Heritage Area designation.
Bill Pomeroy, founder of The William G. Pomeroy Foundation and descendent of Copake Iron Works founder Lemuel Pomeroy said, “This national designation will help foster heritage tourism to the area, allowing visitors the opportunity to appreciate the past, while providing economic benefits for the future.”
Self-guided tours of the Copake Iron Works Heritage trail can be enjoyed year round. Docent guided tours of the Copake Iron Works Museum are offered weekends from May to November.
More information about the Copake Iron Works historic site can be found on the National Heritage Area website http://www.hudsonrivervalley.com/sites/Copake-Iron-Works-Historic-Site-in-Tacon/details. For information about Friends of Taconic State Park, visit www.FriendsofTSP.org.