April 05, 2004
This view north across the Hudson Highlands of New York State was taken from Bald Mt. in Bear Mountain State Park (see topo map link below). The rugged landscape, only 60 km (37 mi) north of New York City, is developed on very old (Precambrian) and very resistant metamorphic rocks. These rocks are estimated to be between 1.1 and 1.3 billion years old, deformed along with the rocks of the Adirondack Mountains during the Grenville Orogeny. The narrow and winding course of the Hudson in this area is fascinating, especially considering the fact that the river is actually an estuary here, having already reached sea level at Newburgh, NY, several miles to the north. The river is significantly wider, and the shorelines more gently sloping, both north and south of the Highlands.
This interesting geomorphology played a significant role in the outcome of the Revolutionary War, where just south of the present day Bear Mt. Bridge, the colonial forces built a chain floating on large logs across the Hudson to halt the advance of the British fleet into the interior of the territory. Several forts were built along the river in the highlands (the US Military Academy at West Point is just around the bend in the river at the top of the photo), and communications were accomplished by a series of signal fires at the tops of the peaks along the river. The names of the town of Beacon and Beacon Mountain just north of here recall that history.