Fishkill Ridge
Community Heritage

Reasons to Oppose Mining

   

Dutchess Gravel, Lookout Mountain Many thanks to Ingrid Andersson for calling attention to the Sunday Times-Herald Record article of May 23rd, 2004 titled "History needs bit of help" by Brendan Scott, e-mail: bsscott@th-record.com

In the article Scott reports that Paleo-Indians occupied the caves on the slopes of Lookout Mountain. What's remarkable is this: they lived there about 10,580 B.C.at the end of the last ice age, 8000 years BEFORE the pyramids of Egypt. In 1965 the site was confirmed to be the oldest known site east of the Mississippi.

Orange County has created a 20 acre preserve around the site, but attempts to provide appropriate protection, study, and interpretation for the site have failed.

"Today, the quarry still churns out thousands of tons of dolomite gravel to feed the region's building boom, yards from what scientists say is one of the most significant archaeological sites in the Northeast," Scott states. The "quarry" is Dutchess Quarry and Supply Co. which is also located on the opposite side of the Hudson in Pleasant Valley, Dutchess County.

Although Dutchess Quarry and Supply Co., founded in 1938, may intend to act ethically in this matter, they appear to need whatever guidance they can get. Scott quotes the company's lawyer, Dennis Caplicki, who speaks for the company:
"We're trying to be good neighbors in regards to all this stuff. Our position, historically speaking, has always been that they were demanding more than we thought reasonable."

I took a drive past their quarry in Pleasant Valley at Aborio Road. It wasn't really necessary to get out of the car to do a site evaluation. I only got out to document what I observed with photographs. There were absolutely unprotected mountains of material right up to the edge of the road, towering above the height of standard sized telephone poles. One of the poles was partly buried about three to four feet in the material and on this pole was a sign that read "DANGER DO NOT CLIMB ON STONE PILES". There was no fence or barrier of any kind and no further attempt at signage. I have no doubt this arrangement is legal, however simply following the law is not the same as being obedient to the unenforceable and doing what you know is the right thing to do.

The people who put up the single, entirely inadequate sign acknowledge that danger exists for those, presumably children, who might climb on the piles of whatever that material might be. The right thing would be to put up more warning signs and physical barriers such as fencing to protect children from what clearly constitutes an attractive nuisance. This should be done even though there's no law compelling it and even though no one will use force to see that the right thing is done.

My guess is this company is going to need guidance and oversight to enable them to act ethically in preserving the historic sites at Lookout Mountain in Orange County.

Simply obeying the law is not the same thing as being ethical. Being ethical means doing the right thing, even though it's not required by law.

(The only warning sign, the one I described, appears attached to the telephone pole on the right side of the photo.)

Dig yields 3,000-year-old items Scientists praise Hyde Park sites By Dan Shapley Poughkeepsie Journal. Read article…

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