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Piermont Pier - TravelStorys

Piermont on the Hudson

Location Trip Time Travel Type
New York 1 hour

Piermont Pier

Welcome to Piermont’s most famous tourist attraction: its park-like pier! It’s hard to believe that this was once a booming railroad town. Indeed, the town would not exist today were it not for the New York & Erie Railroad, which built this pier in the late 1830s.  Back then, Piermont was named Tappan Slote. Such was the railroad’s influence that the town was renamed by the rail company’s first president to reflect the newly constructed pier and the mountain that overlooks it. In contrast to today’s bucolic scene, the pier area — once 90 acres of filled wetlands — housed a vast industrial complex that serviced over 30 locomotives. In fact, the New York & Erie Railroad, the more important of Piermont's two railroads, was the first major railroad in the nation. In its heyday, it was the longest in the world, essentially opening access to the western United States. Built 4,000 feet into the river, the pier served as the railroad’s eastern terminus for steamboats arriving from New York City. Fancy yourself a passenger arriving at the pier by steamboat and boarding the train to take the 447-mile ride to its western terminus — Dunkirk, on Lake Erie. In May 1851, President Millard Fillmore and 300 dignitaries stood before 2,000 people at the momentous opening of the railroad. As part of the celebration, Secretary of State Daniel Webster enjoyed the entire ride from a rocking chair attached to a flatcar, with a steamer rug and jug of high-quality Medford rum. Piermont lost its role as the railroad’s terminus in 1862, as a route through the port of Jersey City became favored instead. The railroad shops, roundhouse and other infrastructure remained in operation for another six years and were ultimately destroyed by fire.  The pier today lives a new life as a spectacular "rail to trail” while still recalling its past in other significant ways. Considered hallowed ground by many, it is referred to as Last Stop USA. This was the embarkation point for almost a million and a half World War II GIs who fought in Europe — many who never returned. Before you leave the pier, take a moment to read the plaque by the flagpole honoring these soldiers. In further commemoration of our troops, don’t miss the Rockland County Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Day Watchfires, held every May 30th since 1987. Massive logs are piled 30 feet high and lit for a 24-hour period, symbolically lighting the way for soldiers lost in all U.S. wars and conflicts.  The pier also serves as a base for the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory field station. It was once a supply station for research vessels. For decades, the original building housed instruments for monitoring local river chemistry and water quality. Check out the newly renovated space here at the end of the pier, which now hosts world-class research, offering opportunities for students, educators, and science-curious residents. Related Weblinks: [href=http://www.piermonthistorysociety.org/the-pier.html]More history of Piermont’s pier[/href] [href=http://www.piermonthistorysociety.org/erie-railroad.html]More history of the Erie Railroad[/href]

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