ALPINE BOAT BASIN
Alpine, Bergen County, NJ


Directions:

Take US 9W to exit 2. Follow road past park headquarters to Alpine picnic area.


History:

At the end of the parking lot is a gravel path leading past a white house on the left. This is Cornwallis's HQs. At the time of the Revolutionary War it was a riverside tavern that served riverboat captains and their crews.

Following the defeat of the British in the Battle of White Plains, the British decided to attack Fort Lee just south of the present-day George Washington Bridge. Washington had crossed the Hudson River at King's Ferry. His troops encamped in and around Hackensack. Washington and his staff established their own headquarters at Peter Zabriskie's house on the village green.

In November 1776 Lord Cornwallis led 5,000 British and Hessian soldiers across the Hudson River from Dobbs Ferry and scaled the cliffs at Closter Landing. Cornwallis preceded the troops and paused briefly for food and shelter at the tavern.

There is a monument marking the place where Cornwallis and his men began the ascent of the steep cliff.

Twenty flatboats went up along the east bank of the Hudson River under cover of darkness on the 15th of November 1776.

The British forces met the route of the retreating Americans at Liberty Pole Tavern (on their way to New Bridge), three & one-half miles from Fort Lee, and six or seven miles from Closter Dock Landing.

It would have been in Cornwallis's best interest to push forward to cut off the American retreat at Liberty Pole Tavern. Then the British were too self-confident to listen to the Tories and their calls to block off the New Bridge area, the key to the peninsula between the Hackensack and the Hudson Rivers.

Washington came back to the Zabriskie mansion the night of the 20th after a day of panic-stricken flight by his troops from Fort Lee. Thousands of rain-soaked soldiers huddled together on the west bank of the Hackensack River.

1909 (September 27) -- in conjunction with the week-long Hudson-Fulton celebration, one thousand participants met at the old tavern here to witness the dedication of the Palisades Interstate Park. The Cornwallis Headquarters were now the Alpine Headquarters of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission. 43 Participants included New York State Governor Charles Evans Hughes and New Jersey State Governor J. Franklin Fort. 35 musicians attended the celebration, brought to Alpine by PIP Commissioner Perkins's private yacht. (Binnewies, 2001)


Geology:

red sandstone at waterfall at Alpine Basin


Trails:

You can take a walk up the Palisades Cliffs traveling north past Grey Crag and Ruckman's Point to Forest View and the Women's Memorial and then down the Palisades Cliffs and south to Twombley's Landing and back to the Alpine Boat Basin.

Ruckman's Point is at 520 feet high, and old "pitching place." In the old day lumbermen used to pitch trees off the cliff.


September 15, 1990/leader: Aubrey O. Hampton, Jr.

The group walked along the shore path for about one mile south of the boat basin, and identified many trees, shrubs, grasses, and other plants. A few of the trees and shrubs seen were:

Amorpha fruticosa (false indigo)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Castanea dentata (American chestnut)
Celtis occidentalis (American hackberry)
Paulownia tomentosa (princess tree)