A Brief History
Just after the Revolution the western area of the town, called the Hurley Patentee Woods, was subdivided and settlement rapidly occurred, generated in a large part by the discovery of easily worked sandstone called "bluestone” which was ideal for sidewalks and curbing. This industry continued until the late 1890s. In the southern part of town, now the Town of Rosendale, new settlements appeared with the building of the Delaware and Hudson Canal and the development of the cement industry. During that same period the old section of town, depending on its production of grains, fell into a depression as the price of grain sharply declined with the building of the Erie Canal. The local agricultural products quickly changed to raising sheep and cattle, with the emphasis on milk and milk products. Pot cheese (similar to cottage cheese) was produced in such quantity that it was rumored that there were cheese mines in the hills
In keeping with its volunteer militia past, over 175 men from the town volunteered for duty during the Civil War, participating in all parts of the conflict. One resident, Charles Dumond, survived the horrors of Andersonville, while Corporal August Kauss is the only known resident to receive the Medal of Honor.
The Town, was visited by such notables as Governor Clinton, General Washington, Washington Irving, Senator Van Buren, and artist Winslow Homer, who used the area as the setting for several of his paintings and wood engravings of the 1870s.
In 1906 the valley of the Beaverkill, in the Patentee Woods area of the town, was purchased by the New York City Water Department, and the Ashokan Reservoir was created. Eight hamlets, four of them in Hurley, were razed in its creation. William Saxe, a local landowner, purchased two large parcels of land for the resettlement of the refugees. The first settlement became the core of the present hamlet of West Hurley, and the second was along the Esopus Creek and is now called Riverside. Glenford was relocated by T. Sherman Lennox when he opened a general store at the foot of Lennox Lane and the old Boulevard (old Route 28) in 1913.
Today the Town of Hurley is a rural/suburban community, principally noted for its quiet neighborhoods, large farms on the floodplain of the Esopus, and the Historic District with its ties to a very vibrant past. Until recently, nearly all of the 3000 acres of fields were planted in sweet corn which inspired Hurley's annual Sweet Corn Festival for 30 years. Twenty-six stone houses, from one-room cottages to two-story buildings, dot the landscape of the town. The majority of the stone houses are privately owned, but some are opened to the public once each year on Stone House Day.
Prepared in 2005 by David Baker, Town of Hurley Historian, revised May 2021