Orange County’s location between the Hudson and Delaware Rivers led to its strategic importance during the Revolutionary War. General George Washington spent more time at his Newburgh headquarters than anywhere else during the war, and he considered West Point to be the most important strategic position in America. Fortunately, many of Orange County’s Revolutionary War period sites have been preserved and are open to the public. Enjoy a scenic drive and explore American history, but be advised that some of these locations are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Fort Montgomery State Historic Site
Begin at the Bear Mountain Circle at the crossroads of Route 9W and Route 6. Head north on Route 9W for about one-quarter mile. On the right, find the entrance to Fort Montgomery State Historic Site, where the battle of 1777 turned the course of the war. It is among the very few extant Revolutionary War fortifications. At the Visitors Center, see a 15-minute film and view original artifacts and weapons on display. Check with the site for special events with costumed interpreters, demonstrations of artillery, musketry, music and camp life. Tours of the grounds are self-guided. A hike past historic ruins of buildings and earthworks on trails will lead to beautiful views of the Hudson River. A modern footbridge crosses the Popolopen Creek to connect with the Bear Mountain Trailside Museums and Zoo, the site of the former Fort Clinton.
United States Military Academy at West Point
Approximately 5 miles north on Route 9W, take the first “West Point, Highland Falls” exit. This will lead you through Highland Falls to the West Point Visitor’s Center on Main Street. Although the military academy was
built after the Revolutionary War, you can view related exhibits at the West Point Museum. Bus tours which include stops at some of the beautiful grounds of the Military Academy leave from the Visitor’s Center daily. Ferry service to the fortifications on Constitution Island and its charming Warner House leave from West Point’s South Dock from on designated weekdays from June to September.
Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site
Next, it’s on to our nation’s first public historic site. From West Point, continue north on Route 9W. Along the way, catch two great scenic overlooks above West Point. Approximately 12 miles ahead, take the right-hand Plum Point exit ramp (there’s no exit sign here) just past the Windsor Motel on the right. At the stop sign, turn right at River Road. Proceed to the stop sign at the corner of Washington Street and turn left. At the next intersection, turn left onto Liberty Street. Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site is on the left. The entrance to the parking area is just past the front of the site. Tour the Dutch-style stone Hasbrouck House that was the home to George and Martha as well as his Continental Army Headquarters. He spent more time here than anywhere else during the Revolutionary War. A separate museum on the site features additional exhibits. Enjoy spectacular views of the Hudson River from the front lawn.
Knox’s Headquarters State Historic Site
When departing Washington’s Headquarters, turn right on Washington Street and take River Road south to the entrance for Route 9W south. Take the Quaker Street (Hospital exit) and turn left at the top of the ramp. Down the hill, at the traffic light, turn right on Route 32. Proceed to the Five Corners intersection and make a sharp right on Route 94. At the next traffic light, turn right on Forge Hill Road. Knox’s Headquarters is almost immediately on the right.Once the elegant home of John Ellison, the house was occupied during the Revolutionary War by Generals Knox, Greene and Gates successively.
New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site and the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor
Turn left leaving the Knox’s Headquarters driveway. Turn left again on Route 94. At the Five Corners intersection, turn sharp right onto Route 300 north. About 2 miles ahead turn right into theNew Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site, the site of the final winter encampment of 8000 soldiers, civilians and artisans. It has also recently become the site of the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor since it is here that Washington awarded the first badges of military merit.
Last Encampment of the Continental Army and Edmonston House
Directly across the road from the New Windsor Cantonment is the Last Encampment of the Continental Army (845-561-5073). In addition to replicated 1782 military huts, there are nature trails and an observation tower. Just around the corner on Route 94 south, visit the restored 1755Edmonston House with period exhibits, blacksmith shop, and slave quarters. It was used as headquarters by Generals Horatio Gates and Arthur St. Clair.
There is easy access to the New York State Thruway I-87 and I-84 just a few miles from New Windsor Cantonment via Route 300 North.
Continue your “Revolutionary” adventure and travel to Port Jervis via Route 84 West to Fort Decker, an 18th century stone house near the banks of the Delaware River.
Then follow Route 84 back East to exit 4. Take the ramp for Route 17 East. Take Goshen Exit 124. Turn left off the ramp onto Route 17A heading west. Follow 17A into the Village of Florida where it will turn into Route 94 west. Follow Route 94 into the Village of Warwick where you can visit Baird’s Tavern (845-986-2720),a stone tavern and second oldest home in Warwick, where Martha Washington once stayed.
From Warwick, follow Route 17A east about 7 miles, then turn right on Long Meadow Road. Approximately one mile ahead turn right onto Ironwood Drive for the Sterling Forest State Park Visitor Center. This parkland was originally owned by the Sterling Iron Works, one of the first steel and iron manufacturers in American colonies. They forged the Great Chain that stopped the British Navy from sailing up the Hudson River during the American Revolution. The Sterling Furnace that was used until 1804 to create pig iron still stands at the park.
The Iron Forge Inn
Iron Forge Road
Bellvale (near Warwick)
American cuisine, taproom with bar food, tasting menu Nestled at the foot of Mount Peter in the town of Warwick, The Iron Forge Inn has been famous for its fine country dining for over 50 years. The inn is located on the site of an historic forge in a revolutionary era home built in 1760. Head chef Erik Johansen, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America emphasizes local ingredients as he changes the modern American menu each season. More casual fare is served in the Tap Room which offers a pub menu with seating near the fireplace (the original 1760 cooking kitchen).
293 Route 300
Steak, ribs, chicken, pasta, seafood, burgers
Schlesinger’s is located in the original Brewster House built in 1762. It began as a simple fieldstone house built by Samuel Brewster during Revolutionary times. Its location near the New Windsor Cantonment made it useful for officer’s quarters. Samuel Brewster is mainly remembered in local history as the owner of the forge that made some of the famous Hudson River chains.
For more suggestions of things to do or places to stay call Orange County Tourism at 845-615-3860 between 9am-5pm Monday through Friday or visit www.OrangeTourism.org
- Baird’s Tavern, 986-3236, www.warwickhistoricalsociety.org
- Bear Mountain Trailside Museums & Zoo, 845-786-2701,www.palisadesparksconservancy.org
- Constitution Island, 845-446-8676, www.constitutionisland.org
- Fort Decker, 845-856-2375, www.minisink.org
- Fort Montgomery State Historic Site, 845-446-2134, www.palisadesparksconservancy.org
- Knox’s Headquarters State Historic Site, 845-561-5498,www.palisadesparksconservancy.org
- National Purple Heart Hall of Honor, 845-561-1765, www.thepurpleheart.com
- New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site, 845-561-1765,www.palisadesparksconservancy.org
- Sterling Forest State Park, 845-351-5907, www.palisadesparksconservancy.org
- Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site, 845-562-1195,www.palisadesparksconservancy.org
- West Point Museum, 845-938-3590, www.usma.edu/museum
- West Point Visitor’s Center, 845-938-2638, www.usma.edu
- West Point Tours, 845-938-3590, www.westpointtours.com