Then & Now
West Point cadets and the sex-and-drug ’60s; IBM, Luckey Platt, and ice harvesters; airports, bridges, and those famous ferries. Join us for a look back at the last 100 years of Valley history
(page 17 of 20)
Reprinted with permission from Beacon Revisited by Robert J. Murphy and Denise Doring Van Buren
Then: This year marks the 100th anniversary of the building of the 60-room Beacon Crest Hotel atop Dutchess County’s Mount Beacon. Here, silent movies were filmed (including 1909’s The Red Man’s View by D.W. Griffith). Hollywood stars like Gloria Swanson and Mary Pickford mixed and mingled, danced and dined with the regular folks who took the incline railway — the steepest in the world when it was built in 1902 — to the summit, which offered unparalleled views of the Valley below. In 1919, the hotel hosted a Beautiful Baby Contest (above left). More than 50 tots and their mothers vied for $30 in prizes. Unfortunately, a fire consumed the hotel under mysterious circumstances in 1927. The railway, however, continued to operate until 1978.
Photograph courtesy of Scenic Hudson
Now: All that remains of Mount Beacon’s glory days are a few ruins of the hotel and the railway (at right: the railway’s old wheelhouse). But the mountain today is a popular hiking destination (and still offers those one-of-a-kind views). In the 1990s, Scenic Hudson took over the mountain’s management and installed a new staircase that brings hikers a good way up the slope. Another nonprofit organization is working toward restoring the incline railway.
If you like what you see here, check out www.arcadiapublishing.com, the Web site of Arcadia Publishing. The leading publisher of history books in the U.S., the company generously supplied many of the vintage photographs for this article. Their list includes a large number of titles that profile Valley cities, towns, and other popular locations.
Next: Tuxedo Park
Click on any image below to view more historic photos from 'round the Valley