The Orange County Parks Department will begin improvements on the dam and both the upper and lower ponds at Algonquin Park in Newburgh on Wednesday, September 4.
During construction, which is expected to last approximately three months, some of the walking trails at the park may be temporarily closed. Orange County Parks has received a $20,000 invasive species funding grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to plan for the elimination of the watercress overgrowth on the pond at Algonquin Park.
The 41-acre park offers an attractive setting for family picnicking amid the shells of Civil War-era Powder Mill buildings. Algonquin Park is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The district takes its name from the old gunpowder mill complex, built by Asa Taylor in 1816 and operated by the Laflin & Rand Powder Company after 1869. It is located along the unnamed Orange Lake outlet brook which flows through the park just above its outlet at Quassaick Creek.
While it primarily produced powder for local residents’ use in hunting and shooting sports, during the Civil War the Union Army procured some higher quality material. In the years before that conflict, local historian Edward Ruttenber claimed the mills were “the most complete and extensive works in the country” when they were under the ownership of Daniel Rodgers.
After production stopped in the early 20th century, developers began building on houses on some of the property. Col. Frederic Adrian Delano uncle of future President Franklin D. Roosevelt, purchased the remaining land, which included the core of the manufacturing operation, for use as a public park. Originally it was to have belonged to the City of Newburgh and in fact was deeded to the City, even though it was not contiguous with the City and is over a mile outside the city limits.
The City of Newburgh maintained the park until the mid-1970s, at which time it became cost prohibitive and it gave up ownership. Eventually, Orange County purchased the property and it remains a part of the Orange County Parks and Recreation system to this day.