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The Mine Hole - TravelStorys

Piermont on the Hudson

Location Trip Time Travel Type
New York 1 hour

The Mine Hole

You are now in the area of Piermont known as the Mine Hole. This stretch of Piermont Avenue, along the Sparkill Creek, is named after nearby passageways that were cut into the rock on the north side of Piermont Avenue to access cool spring water and perhaps also to remove stone for building local gristmills. Just ahead, you’ll see an entrance to one of these passageways tucked into the greenery on the hill side of the road. Look for a concrete-and-stone structure with metal bars across the opening.   It is not known who mounted a sign over the mine entrance. It quotes a poem, based on a Longfellow poem, that reads: O Traveler, stay thy weary feet Drink of this fountain cool and sweet It flows for man and beast the same Then go thy way, remembering still The well beneath the hill   The Mine Hole neighborhood is a place where African Americans and other people of color established their homes long before the Revolutionary War. In the book True Stories from Mine Hole, its residents were described as "a colorful, fun-loving, gambling, numbers-playing, bootlegging, religious, colored, Indian, Italian, sloven, dignified, ambitious and surviving folk." While segregation was common elsewhere in the country in the 1920s and ’30s, in Piermont the bars and restaurants were for all. Children went to school together, and everyone shopped at the same stores.   We invite you to meet three of the people who lived here during that time: Yummie, Brook and Dot. They all survived the Jim Crow era and faced the cruelty of the Ku Klux Klan.   "Yummie's place" was a rooming house along the creek where men would come to gamble. When a cross was burned up on the hill, the card players at Yummie’s remarked that they thought they had left that "crap" down South.   Brook held a rare position in the paper mill. Because of his muscular, six-foot frame, he became the foreman in the stock house. He was proud of his status as the first and only person of color at the foreman level in a plant that had 1,200 employees.   Dot was a faithful member of the St. Charles A.M.E. Zion Church. She and her sisters had a table at the Mission Society's Annual Sister's Tea. The tea was a time for church women of color to be as elegant as their white lady bosses. The tables were beautiful, with lace tablecloths, flowers, candles and a silverplate service. Finger foods were served on platters. A plate with a doily held a little change, inviting others to add to it. To pour tea meant you were a classy leader. Dot was one of the pourers.   St. Charles continues as an active congregation on Valentine Avenue today.   The people of the Mine Hole worked hard in the mill and in construction. They provided muscle for the highways, bridges and many of the Piermont buildings that stand today. Some of those with Mine Hole roots include educators, a human rights commissioner, a Pulitzer Prize nominee, social workers and policemen. Leonard Cooke, an author of the previously mentioned True Stories from Mine Hole, holds an honorary doctorate.

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