Middle GateAll Roads to the River: The 1799 Columbia Turnpike and Historic Toll Houses

The Roeliff Jansen Historical Society’s summer exhibit is open for the summer every Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 4 pm. The exhibit includes large colorful panels that explore the story of the Columbia Turnpike and its impact on the history of Columbia County.

Two original toll fare signs, on loan from the Red Lion Inn and the Hendrick Hudson Chapter, National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution, are on display. Original documents related to the founding and development of the Turnpike are also on display. The exhibit also includes a large replica of a toll gate.

Open every Saturday and Sunday through Labor Day from 2 to 4 pm, the museum is located in Copake Falls, NY, adjacent to the Post Office.

“We’re excited to acknowledge the enormous importance of the Columbia Turnpike and its role in the development of early Hudson and Columbia County,” said Peter Cipkowski, President of the Roeliff Jansen Historical Society. “The turnpike was the first in Columbia County and became part of a giant network of roads designed to promote commerce after the American Revolution.”

Two toll houses still stand on either end of Route 23 in Columbia County – both listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Known as the East Gate (Hillsdale) and the West Gate (Greenport), they marked the beginning and end of Columbia County’s first turnpike, established in 1799 by the New York State Assembly. “Local folks are on a mission to help find a way to rescue and reuse the Greenport and Hillsdale tollhouses ,” Cipkowski said. “The buildings are irreplaceable cultural resources and can hopefully be put to good use.”

Toll SignThe Columbia Turnpike created a commercial trade route to and from the City of Hudson, an emerging center of commerce in the early nineteenth century. Prominent families along the pike adopted stock which provided an outlet for their goods, particularly livestock, wool, rye, and wheat.

The museum is located at 8 Miles Road, opposite the Copake Falls Post Office and Taconic Wayside Inn in Copake Falls, NY. The summer exhibit is open every Saturday and Sunday until September 3 from 2 to 4 pm.




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