Hiking Mt Taurus in the East Hudson Highlands

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Flag of United States  , New York
Tuesday, July 20, 2010


This hike passed an old quarry on the way up Mt Taurus.  There were several overlooks where you could see the Hudson River, Cold Spring, Breakneck Ridge.  Returning on the north side of the mountain, you can visit the ruins of the Cornish Estate.  We checked out the barn and outbuildings,by the reservoir and saw the pump house by the stream.  I passed on the house ruins and was sorry that I did after I read the following article and saw photos of the house when it was still standing and not in disrepair.

The following was taken from the website of Rob Yasinsac:  http://www.hudsonvalleyruins.org/yasinsac/cornish

One of the great collections of
ruins in the Hudson Valley lies on publicly-accessible land in Putnam County. Although the layout
of property is well-known to hikers, the early history of the estate is nearly
unknown to historians. In 1917, Edward Joel Cornish and his wife Selina Bliss Carter Cornish acquired
650 acres in Cold Spring from Sigmund Stern of Chicago, who built the estate. What is known is that
the mansion, garage, swimming pool, gardens and other outbuildings existed at
the
time of purchase by Cornish. Who designed them remains a mystery, and until photographs
appeared  in April 2010, the public at large did not know the original appearance
of the mansion and grounds.



Edward Cornish (1861-1938) was President of
the National Lead Company from 1916 to 1933 and lived in New York to be near the
company offices. Cornish and his wife Selina,
formerly of Omaha, NB, died within two weeks of
each other in May of 1938, and the estate seems to have lain abandoned more or less since then.
Edward Cornish, perhaps desiring to protect the estate in perpetuity against the
nearby rock blasting on Mt. Taurus,  wished to donate his Cold Spring
property to New York State upon his death. State parks commissioners rejected
his offer, claiming the mountainous terrain was not suitable for a public park,
and that it was already protected by restrictions against quarrying..



A few decades later, the estate became a focal point of conservation efforts yet
again, when the Cornish heirs sold the estate in 1963 to Central Hudson Gas and
Electric. The regional utility giant briefly contemplated building a power plant on Breakneck Ridge, a fact
largely forgotten by historians as this effort was overshadowed by Con Ed's
prolonged and publicly-waged effort to build a similar plant across the Hudson
River at Storm King. By the end of the 1960s however, the ruins of Cornish
estate became part of the newly formed Hudson Highlands State Park and the plans
for the power plant was dropped by Central Hudson G & E..



All that remains of the structures
on the estate are their stone walls. The building interiors are completely gutted
and window frames and woodwork have all been destroyed. According to a local newspaper article, Cold Spring Fire Department
records show that there
was a fire in the fall of 1956, which destroyed the interiors of the mansion. 



In addition to the mansion, other surviving
structures include the swimming pool, the greenhouse, and the pump
house below to two picturesque waterfalls. At the north end of the 650-acre estate
stands a large stone cattle barn. Another large building, possibly a garage,
and another small farm building stand in ruins there as well. Even an old wagon rusts
away between the barn and the reservoir. Cornish raised
prized Jersey cows here and. newspaper articles of the 1920s chronicled the
record-setting milk producing efforts of Cornish's dairy cows, including one
named "Fon Owlet." 



Further past the reservoir is Lake Surprise,
site of an old but still active summer camp. Also,
the Catskill Aqueduct slices through the Cornish property, separating the farm
parcel from the residential section, and an early
20th-century pump-house can be seen along that trail.



OOne of the great collections of
ruins in the Hudson Valley lies on publicly-accessible land in Putnam County. Although the layout
of property is well-known to hikers, the early history of the estate is nearly
unknown to historians. In 1917, Edward Joel Cornish and his wife Selina Bliss Carter Cornish acquired
650 acres in Cold Spring from Sigmund Stern of Chicago, who built the estate. What is known is that
the mansion, garage, swimming pool, gardens and other outbuildings existed at
the
time of purchase by Cornish. Who designed them remains a mystery, and until photographs
appeared  in April 2010, the public at large did not know the original appearance
of the mansion and grounds.



Edward Cornish (1861-1938) was President of
the National Lead Company from 1916 to 1933 and lived in New York to be near the
company offices. Cornish and his wife Selina,
formerly of Omaha, NB, died within two weeks of
each other in May of 1938, and the estate seems to have lain abandoned more or less since then.
Edward Cornish, perhaps desiring to protect the estate in perpetuity against the
nearby rock blasting on Mt. Taurus,  wished to donate his Cold Spring
property to New York State upon his death. State parks commissioners rejected
his offer, claiming the mountainous terrain was not suitable for a public park,
and that it was already protected by restrictions against quarrying..



A few decades later, the estate became a focal point of conservation efforts yet
again, when the Cornish heirs sold the estate in 1963 to Central Hudson Gas and
Electric. The regional utility giant briefly contemplated building a power plant on Breakneck Ridge, a fact
largely forgotten by historians as this effort was overshadowed by Con Ed's
prolonged and publicly-waged effort to build a similar plant across the Hudson
River at Storm King. By the end of the 1960s however, the ruins of Cornish
estate became part of the newly formed Hudson Highlands State Park and the plans
for the power plant was dropped by Central Hudson G & E..



All that remains of the structures
on the estate are their stone walls. The building interiors are completely gutted
and window frames and woodwork have all been destroyed. According to a local newspaper article, Cold Spring Fire Department
records show that there
was a fire in the fall of 1956, which destroyed the interiors of the mansion



In addition to the mansion, other surviving
structures include the swimming pool, the greenhouse, and the pump
house below to two picturesque waterfalls. At the north end of the 650-acre estate
stands a large stone cattle barn. Another large building, possibly a garage,
and another small farm building stand in ruins there as well. Even an old wagon rusts
away between the barn and the reservoir. Cornish raised
prized Jersey cows here and. newspaper articles of the 1920s chronicled the
record-setting milk producing efforts of Cornish's dairy cows, including one
named "Fon Owlet." 



Further past the reservoir is Lake Surprise,
site of an old but still active summer camp. Also,
the Catskill Aqueduct slices through the Cornish property, separating the farm
parcel from the residential section, and an early
20th-century pump-house can be seen along that trail. ne of the great collections of
ruins in the Hudson Valley lies on publicly-accessible land in Putnam County. Although the layout
of property is well-known to hikers, the early history of the estate is nearly
unknown to historians. In 1917, Edward Joel Cornish and his wife Selina Bliss Carter Cornish acquired
650 acres in Cold Spring from Sigmund Stern of Chicago, who built the estate. What is known is that
the mansion, garage, swimming pool, gardens and other outbuildings existed at
the
time of purchase by Cornish. Who designed them remains a mystery, and until photographs
appeared  in April 2010, the public at large did not know the original appearance
of the mansion and grounds.



Edward Cornish (1861-1938) was President of
the National Lead Company from 1916 to 1933 and lived in New York to be near the
company offices. Cornish and his wife Selina,
formerly of Omaha, NB, died within two weeks of
each other in May of 1938, and the estate seems to have lain abandoned more or less since then.
Edward Cornish, perhaps desiring to protect the estate in perpetuity against the
nearby rock blasting on Mt. Taurus,  wished to donate his Cold Spring
property to New York State upon his death. State parks commissioners rejected
his offer, claiming the mountainous terrain was not suitable for a public park,
and that it was already protected by restrictions against quarrying..



A few decades later, the estate became a focal point of conservation efforts yet
again, when the Cornish heirs sold the estate in 1963 to Central Hudson Gas and
Electric. The regional utility giant briefly contemplated building a power plant on Breakneck Ridge, a fact
largely forgotten by historians as this effort was overshadowed by Con Ed's
prolonged and publicly-waged effort to build a similar plant across the Hudson
River at Storm King. By the end of the 1960s however, the ruins of Cornish
estate became part of the newly formed Hudson Highlands State Park and the plans
for the power plant was dropped by Central Hudson G & E..



All that remains of the structures
on the estate are their stone walls. The building interiors are completely gutted
and window frames and woodwork have all been destroyed. According to a local newspaper article, Cold Spring Fire Department
records show that there
was a fire in the fall of 1956, which destroyed the interiors of the mansion. 



In addition to the mansion, other surviving
structures include the swimming pool, the greenhouse, and the pump
house below to two picturesque waterfalls. At the north end of the 650-acre estate
stands a large stone cattle barn. Another large building, possibly a garage,
and another small farm building stand in ruins there as well. Even an old wagon rusts
away between the barn and the reservoir. Cornish raised
prized Jersey cows here and. newspaper articles of the 1920s chronicled the
record-setting milk producing efforts of Cornish's dairy cows, including one
named "Fon Owlet." 



Further past the reservoir is Lake Surprise,
site of an old but still active summer camp. Also,
the Catskill Aqueduct slices through the Cornish property, separating the farm
parcel from the residential section, and an early
20th-century pump-house can be seen along that trail.

After the hike, we walked across Rt. 9D to Little Stony Point where there is no camping, swimming or fires allowed but there is a little sandy beach.

After about 5 1/2 hours on the trail, I was starved - even after a granola bar and some peanuts, so we went to Cold Spring and got a recommendation from the ladies who ran the natural foods restaurant that was closing for Whistling Willie's.  The food was quite good.  Otto had a arugula and something salad and shared his calamari with me.  I pigged out on a portobella burger (no meat just mushroom) with sweet potato fries.  We had draft beers;  Otto opted for the Hawaiian wheat beer and I had a Belgian white.
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Comments

Martha Horning on

This is one of my all time favorite hikes. Thanks for sharing!

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