A Touch of History
Although Maybrook was incorporated a scant 78 years ago, its seeds were planted more than 240 years ago.
On September 1, 1735 a “Highway Deed” was prepared for a road from the town of Shawangunk to the Goshen line. The road was to “pass by a meeting house now erecting close by the settlement of Adam Graham.” The meeting house was the Goodwill Church. The highway is the present Route 208.
For many years the road was called Walden Road, but in 1950 the portion passing through the Village of Maybrook was renamed Homestead Avenue in honor of the early owners of homesteads along the old road.
Part of Maybrook is built on a tract of land known as the McKnight Patent and King George III of England supposedly deeded it.
John Blake Jr. purchased another 200-acre track in 1764 that was called The Blake. This was later divided and the Houston Family purchased the southern half of the property. The Blakes trace their descent from Sarah Wells, wife of William Bull. John Blake served as deputy sheriff of Ulster County in 1793. He also was elected to the State Assembly in 1798, served as sheriff from 1800-1805 and was elected to the Congress of the United States in 1805.
A Distinguished Settler
Another distinguished early settler was Colonel John Nicholson who earned his rank during the Revolutionary War. His farm was the northern half of another 200-acre tract. John H. Wiley occupied the farmhouse and farm for many years. The house is owned and occupied by Dr. Robert Rakov and family.
Daniel Jewell purchased the southern half of the tract in 1858. His first wife, the daughter of Cornelius Newkirk, was a teacher in the original one-room school in Maybrook.
The outstanding trotting horse, Dexter was foaled on a farm owned by Jonas Hawkins in 1858. Dexter’s sire was the famed Rysdyk’s Hambletonian, the grandfather of the modern standard-bred. Dexter won 31 of his 40 races and earned lifetime winnings of $67,000, a fabulous sum for that era.
The Birth of the Railroad in Maybrook
The railroad industry felt this valley was ideal for a railroad line in the early 1880s. Surveys were made for a rail line passing up the Wallkill Valley from Hamptonburgh to Montgomery to connect to the existing Erie, Lehigh and Hudson Lines in 1883. This line was never built because plans were published for the construction of the Poughkeepsie bridge in 1887. This would connect the west to the east, opening up the delivery of commodities from all Western portions of the country to New England and from there to Europe.
In 1888 grading was started for a connecting line from Campbell Hall to the Poughkeepsie Bridge. The engineers handling the planning stayed at the Blake farmhouse before moving to the Jonas Hawkins farmhouse. Maybrook was planned and built by those engineers.
Steel rails wee laid on April 8th, 1889 through the newly planned settlement that was called Orange Junction. It was later changed to Maybrook Junction. Eventually, the “Junction” was dropped.
The Orange County Railroad planned for enlarging the railroad yards in 1908 and purchased farms on the East Side of the tracks. Among those farms were the Houston, Blake, Morrison and Bodle farms.
The railroad expansion included construction of an engine house, turntable, coal trestles, a main office building, east and westbound “humps”, and classification yards. It became one of the largest freight terminals in the East. There were 76 miles of track with a capacity of 5,000 cars, car repair shops, machine shops, boilermaking shops, sand house, water tanks and a freight transfer platform that worked around the clock.
Water was supplied from “Indian Lake”, an area that was also used for recreation.
The railroad continued to prosper because of the East-West link right through the phase-out of the smoke-belching steam power to the more efficient and cleaner Diesel power. The railroad center employed nearly 1,500 persons and had a payroll of approximately $100,000 during the 1950s.
Housing Expansion needed for Railroad Workers
In 1917 the Railroad YMCA was built with 78 sleeping rooms, dining and recreation rooms and a gymnasium that served both the high school and village basketball teams for many years. The baseball field, which once hosted the semi-pro Montgomery Farmers, was converted to the Fred Myers Veterans Park. It houses the Little League field, baseball and softball field, plus playground and picnic facilities.
The first store in Maybrook was the RR Company store operated by Albert Tower before he constructed his general store on Main Street in 1896. It later became Greening'’ Store. Glenn L. Watts was another pioneer merchant. He built the Drug Store on Main Street in the mid 1920s. It served as a “hang-out” for generations of kids.
Railroaders entertained themselves at the Yellow Dog Tavern. There were other places of relaxation such as the Red Onion, Green Turtle, Blue Goose and the House of Blazes.
Consolidation Signals Railroad Demise in Village
In 1968 when the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad were consolidated with the Penn Central it marked the demise of the railroad industry in Maybrook. Business in Maybrook slowed, repair shops closed, tracks were taken up, and workers were laid off. When the Poughkeepsie Bridge caught fire in 1973 the few remaining Maybrook trains were diverted to other routes.
The Village of Maybrook was incorporated in October 1925, but there were no municipal services for its 1,000 residents. The first mayor was Walter Greening, operator of a general store. The first trustees were Jacob Burwell and George McBridge, employees of the railroad.
Bullis Serves 13 Terms as Mayor
In 1928 George C. Bullis was elected mayor and served for 13 consecutive terms until 1954. He was elected Sheriff of Orange County that year. Under Bullis’ leadership a water system was developed from an underground supply between Campbell Hall and Maybrook. The water was rated of such high quality it needed no treatment. Central Hudson put its first gas lines of manufactured gas and then converted to natural gas in 1950.
A sanitary sewer system trunk line was started through labor fund grants and completed in 1936. In 1940 a municipal building was erected, providing space for the Village government, firefighting equipment and recreation rooms. The Library was housed in one of the rooms until moving to the new Village office building.
Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus stopped in Maybrook during the glory days of the railroad to feed and water the animals. When the circus came to town the Maybrook School took a holiday to meet the circus people.
New Transportation Center
While the railroad industry and its long history in the Village of Maybrook has faded, in its place is one of the most successful freight hauling companies in the nation – Yellow Freight System.
The company was founded in 1924 as a carrier serving parts of Oklahoma and Kansas in the earliest days. Yellow became a transcontinental carrier in the 1970s and today is a recognized leader in the transportation services industry, employing 32,000 people worldwide.
The corporation’s largest subsidiary, Yellow Freight System, is one of America’s premier brands in the marketplace for business-to-business transportation services, offering a complete portfolio of transportation services throughout North American and worldwide.
The Yellow Regional Carrier Group includes Saia, providing overnight and second-day trucking service in 21 Southern and Western states; and Jevic Transportation, a multi-regional less-than-truckoad and truckload services carrier based in New Jersey.
Transportation.com www.transporation.com is a non-asset-based global network logistics company utilizing the world wide web to provide broad-based products, services and information to small to medium-sized shippers and carriers.
Yellow Freight System’s regional transportation center in the Village of Maybrook provides a great deal of financial support to the village because of its tax base.