Friday, August 6, 2010

Pine Bush to Port Jervis was a short ride but a very hilly challenge. This area is right in the middle of the Shawangunk Ridge that follows the Delaware river south. On the east side of the river is New Jersey and Pennsylvania is on the west side. Port Jervis is where New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey meet. Passing small towns along the hilly ravines, I am constantly encountering historic signs marking the Dutch presence in the area going back to the early 17th century. The Delaware and Hudson Canal Company operated a shipping business in this area that was responsible for bringing coal into New York City. The riverways once again turned what would be an arduous overland journey into a more practical affaire. I am not far from New York city at my present location but the geography would never reveal it. My journey by bicycle is moving south and I chose to avoid going into New York city as the challenge was a bit overwhelming. From my latitude, the only direct way into the city would be to bus my equipment east and then afterwards ferry to New Jersey.

Lincoln's long inaugural train route made one last stop after Poughkeepsie (in Peekskill) before going on to New York city. When he arrived, the "New York Herald" journalist, Henry Villiard reported that Mr. Lincoln appeared fatigued and not interested in engaging in political conversation. He always appears measured in his comments and tries to say nothing that is 'inconsistent with the Constitution'. I think the New Yorkers were rather curious to see the president-elect and they themselves seemed measured in their reactions as well. The locals were a little suspect of this rustic man from Illinois and Mrs. Lincoln tried to see to it that her husband was dressed correctly and carrying himself well. Walt Whitmann made it a point to see Mr. Lincoln and George Templeton Strong wrote in his diary, "the great railsplitter's face was visible to me for an instant, a keen, clear, honest face, not so ugly as his portraits..."

After delivering his speeches, visiting the Astor House and dealing with all of his political obligations including the emerging infighting within his party,- Lincoln's train journey took him south to Trenton and Philadelphia. This is the direction I am heading towards next,- and I hope not too slowly, as I make my way over, around, and through the Catskills.

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