Pieter’s First Trip up the Hudson

In 1635, the trek Pieter and the Van Voorsts made up the Hudson to cut wood in the Highlands must have been a real eye-opener. Wider than any river Pieter had ever seen, as big as a lake in spots, an unbroken wilderness on both sides, painted natives the Dutch called ‘wildenfolk’ coursing downriver at breakneck speeds. But why so far north of Manhattan and the Dutch fort and cluster of houses established some ten years earlier? Because the Dutch colony on Manhattan was beginning to grow, and the most advanced windmill of it’s kind in the world sat ready and waiting (on what later came to be called Governor’s Island) to saw both pine and oak logs into planks for building ships, houses, and factories. And because Manhattan was virtually denuded of trees, save for the forest on the northwest corner reserved for the use of the wildenfolk who by now had mostly congregated up there. And yet why not just cut all they needed right across the two rivers, east and west? Because of the lack of tall straight pine in the lowlands. And the ease of transport of the cut logs downriver.  Of course, the elder Van Voorst might have had other things in mind, like trading the wampum he had procured from the natives of ‘t’Lange Eyslandt for the northern Mohawks’ still-plentiful beaver. And along the way up the Hudson, Pieter got a good education from the old man Van Voorst in the ways and means of both the wildenfolk and Dutch. For a better understanding of the cultures both native and settler see Glossary of New Netherland

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