Great Swamp (New York)

The Great Swamp in eastern Putnam and Dutchess counties is one of the largest wetlands in the U.S. State of New York.

Geography and ecology

The Great Swamp, also known as the Great Patterson Swamp,Cite web|author=Town of Patterson|title=Patterson in the 18th Century|year=|publisher=Patterson Historical Society|accessdate=2008-09-22|url=http://www.historicpatterson.org/Exhibits/Exh18Century.php] is located in eastern Putnam and Dutchess counties, in the U.S. State of New York. The swamp covers almost 6,000 acres of land in the Putnam County municipalities of Southeast, Patterson, The Town of Pawling, and the Village of Pawling, and the Dutchess County municipality of Dover, making it one of the largest wetlands in the state. The swamp is located at the northern end of the intruding suburban development from Westchester County and New York City to the south, [cite web|author=|title=Eastern: The Great Swamp|year=2008|publisher=The Nature Conservancy|accessdate=2008-09-22|url=http://www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/newyork/preserves/art13513.html] Roughly 40,000 people live in the 63,018 acre watershed, which is divided into two sections at Pawling. North of there, the water flows from the Swamp River into the Ten Mile River, which leads it into the Housantonic River, and in time, the Long Island Sound.cite web|author=|title=The Great Swamp|year=1997|publisher=Friends of the Great Swamp|accessdate=2008-09-24|url=http://frogs-ny.org/AboutSwamp.shtml] South of Pawling, the river flows southward in the Croton River, [cite web|author=C.J. Hughes|title=Just Beyond New York's Suburbs, a Genuine Swamp|year=2006|publisher="New York Times"|accessdate=2008-09-24|url=http://travel.nytimes.com/2006/06/30/travel/escapes/30trip.html] eventually into the East Branch Reservoir, one of New York City's drinking water reservoirs. The swamp itself is designated DP-22 by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.cite web|author=|title=The Great Swamp Watershed Fact Sheet|year=1997|publisher=Friends of the Great Swamp|accessdate=2008-09-24|url=http://frogs-ny.org/FactSheet.shtml] The largest single body of water within the swamp is the Ice Pond, accessed by a steep dirt road.cite web|author=Jim Utter|title=Birds in the Great Swamp|year=1998|publisher=Bedford Audubon Society|accessdate=2008-09-24|url=http://www.ns.purchase.edu/eco2/WhereToBird.htm]

The swamp is home to about 180 species of bird, including 100 that breed there. The red-winged blackbird is one of the most commonly observed, while the bittern, sora, and marsh wren are often not seen. The large size, wide range of habitat, and river dynamics are what make the swamp so suitable for wildlife. Several areas, ponds, and preserves have concentrated wildlife. The Sharparoon, an 1800 acre reserve off New York State Route 22, was home to one of the first breeding grounds for ravens within the county. Other commonly seen species include turkey vultures, red-tail hawks, swallows, swifts, black vulture, redstart, veery, indigo bunting, Louisiana waterthrush, northern waterthrush, winter wren, black-throated green warbler, willow flycatcher, and alder flycatcher. Throughout other areas, the wood duck, mallard, Canada goose, great blue heron, and belted kingfisher are seen nesting in various bridges. The swamp is part of New York Important Bird Area #89. [cite web|author=|title=Important Bird Areas of New York|year=|publisher=Audubon New York|accessdate=2008-09-24|url=http://ny.audubon.org/PDFs/IBAMap.pdf]

Early history

In and around Patterson, layers of underground clay suggest the swamp was once a large and shallow lake. While it is unknown exactly when man first inhabited the region, it is estimated that Archaic people existed there for about 8,000 years. Artifacts found at the Rosebud Site off of New York State Route 311 suggest occupations in the swamp date back to the Woodland period. Archaic hunters were drawn to the wetland because of its vast array of plants and vegetables, as well as migratory waterfowl and fish. According to Horace Hillery in an article entitled "The Great Swamp", "The Indian-Dutch treaty of 1617 said furs from The Great Swamp in Patterson were most desirable. The Indian Cemetery at the mouth of Haviland Hollow was probably near the Indian winter trapping camp."cite web|author=Judith Kelley-Moberg|title=Prehistoric and Historic Events Shaped by the Great Swamp|year=|publisher=Friends of the Great Swamp|accessdate=2008-09-24|url=http://frogs-ny.org/History-1.shtml] The Great Swamp was sold to Lt. Gov. Nathan Gold of Connecticut in 1707,cite web|author=Town of Patterson|title=Patterson in the 18th Century|year=|publisher=Patterson Historical Society|accessdate=2008-09-24|url=http://www.historicpatterson.org/Exhibits/Exh18Century.php] and thereafter, the first white settlers fought over ownership of the eastern side of the wetland. This tract of land is known as The Oblong, and until 1731, was part of Connecticut. In consideration of a separate piece of land further south, Connecticut surrendered to New York, and the state gained ownership. [cite book|author=William J. Blake|title=The History of Putnam County, N.Y.|year=1849|publisher=Baker & Scribner|accessdate=2008-09-24|page=p. 89] Between 1744 and 1757, Pine Island, a ledge in the middle of the swamp, served as a camp for a set of counterfeiters who printed thousands of 20 Shilling Rhode Island notes.

Referring to the the swamp being an obstacle in building early roads, Horace Hillery wrote in 1933 that:

"Between 1745-52 two important north and south highways were laid out. One ran the entire length of the high ridge that marks the center of the 'Oblong'. The other ran through Carmel and Ludingtonville. These two highways were to become two of the most important north and south highways in the state. Two east highways were laid out: one from De Forest Corners to Carmel, the other from the Oblong road on Quaker Hill west through Patterson to Ludingtonville and then north to join the main highway."

ee also

*New York State Route 311
*Putnam County, New York
*Dutchess County, New York

References

*gnis|967248|The Great Swamp


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