You may wonder why I care about the Old Post Road. There are two reasons. First I lived near the Post Road as a youth and I often road my horse along it on my way to swim in Kinderhook Creek (Jamie’s creek) after chores on a hot summer night. At the time, I never thought about the significance of the road, which was even then, little more than a one lane dirt track with not enough room for two cars to easily pass each other.
The second reason is that the Post Road plays an important role in my next book about Michael and Abby. Michael is the grandson of Sarah. He lives with his parents in a tavern near a small settlement on the Post Road near Spuyten Duyvil Creek, now known as KingsBridge, just north of upper Manhattan. The story is set in 1671 and Michael and Abby are attempting to move sawmill equipment ten miles up the Indian trail that became the NY – Albany Post Road, to the small settlement of Hastings and then east to Nepperhan Creek, now known as Saw Mill River.
Imagine trying to move heavy equipment on a muddy road with only a horse. They can’t use a wagon; the trail is not wide enough. Where do they sleep? What do they eat? How do they stay warm and dry? There is no settlement where they are going and they will be totally alone except for the natives who may or may not be friendly.
Stay tuned for more insights into my next story. Want to help? Send me your ideas on how they may cope with the Wilderness. Maybe you will see yours ideas in print.
History of the Post Road
It’s hard to imagine a time when there were no roads, no houses, cars or even horses. Yet, back in the mid 1630’s, the time during which the story of Sarah takes place, there were only two settlements in the Hudson River Valley; one was near Albany and one on lower Manhattan. There was nothing in between except for Indian settlements. Many of which were connected by a dirt path that wound its way through the forests, often along the Hudson River, across the various creeks and small rivers from Manhattan to Albany and farther north.
The need to communicate between colonies increased as settlements began to spring up along the banks of the Hudson River. In 1672 the Post Road was officially established and as early as 1673, riders were carrying royal dispatches through a northern wilderness from New York to Albany.
The trail was marked, as riders made their way along the Indian path, by blazing trees until the route was easily followed. In 1753, nearly a century later, stone markers were placed at one mile intervals along the full length of the route. In 1786, the first stage coach service between New York and Albany was established. It ran once a week and cost 4 pence per mile..