A Driving Tour of Kinderhook
A HISTORY OF OUR TOWN
A DRIVING TOUR
To utilize this guide, we suggest a drive or bicycle ride through the Town; where once stood Indian castles, lived famous statement, and as legend has it, still rides “the headless horseman.” Starting from a south route (Route 9H) you will find Lindenwald, the retirement farm of Martin Van Buren (8th President of the United States). The Luykas Van Alen House/Ichabod Crane School House and Merwin Lake are all close by. These are of interest from a historical and literary perspective. The Van Alen and Schoolhouses offer a portrait of life in the 18th century and their significance stems from Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Irving visited this area in the early 1800’s and was a friend of Jesse Merwin, the local schoolmaster. Purportedly Irving modeled his character, Ichabod Crane after Jesse. It was a Merwin Lake (found by taking Route 9H to Fisher Road, bearing left onto Merwin Lake Road) where Jesse and Irving spent must of their time.
Continuing past Merwin Lake and running left onto Route 21 (Mile Hill) and left at stop sign, will bring you into the Village of Kinderhook. Unspoiled by the passage of time, the Village of Kinderhook reflects the historic ambiance of years gone by. The original site of the Village (1640s) was situated along the ridge above the Kinderhook Creek, at the intersection of William and Hudson Streets. Martin Van Buren, 8thPresident of the United States was know as Old Kinderhook” and the expression “OK” is attributed to him, as he often wrote “OK” (Off to Kinderhook) on notes to his staff. In the early 1800s the Village center shifted up the hill to its present location. An historical District has been designated, and offers a variety of architectural styles on both residential and commercial buildings. Abundant orchards and rich farmland surround the Village, further accentuating its proud heritage. We encourage you to park and enjoy the variety of shops and sited this village has to offer.
Continuing north on Route 9, bearing right onto Main Street (Route 203), you enter the Village of Valatie. The first records mentioning Vaaltje (Little Falls), as the Dutch called it, are dated March 18, 1616. Valatie sits nestled at the juncture of the Kinderhook Creek and the Valatie (Kill) Creek. Fertile fields, an abundance of woods and the falls attracted Dutch and English settlers to the area. At the beginning of the 19th century, Valatie experienced a tremendous froth due to the emergence of numerous saw, grist, and clothing mills. Extensive manufacturing and electricity generation continued well into the first half of this century. Crowning this history, the Valatie Medical Arts Center is now a testament to Valatie’s past and future. We invite you to shop, dine and enjoy a view of the falls, the natural beauty and power, which seeded Valatie’s Prosperity.
Leaving Valatie, via Church Street – Route 203 to Route 28, you will arrive at the Hamlet of Niverville. About 1713, the Van Alen family constructed a sawmill on the Valatie Kill south of Kinderhook Lake. Little is known of the early growth of Niverville until the early 1800s when litigation resolved the ownership of the area in favor of the Niver family. The construction of the railroad in the 1820s led to extensive commercial development and facilitated the shipping of the agricultural and mill products produced in the Town. While little were built during this period of prosperity. The Hamlet is excellent example of 19th century suburbanization, particularly on Main Street.