HIGH TOR
Rockland County, NY
564 acres


Directions:

Located off Route 202 and Central Highway, Haverstraw and South Mountain Road, New City.

US 87
TZ Bridge
Palisades Interstate Parkway -- North
Exit 12 left and then right onto Route 45
right South Mountain Road (passing over Central Highway)
Pass Zukor Road
left/right Haverstraw Road/Knapp Lane (Parking?)
or:
9W north
left Haverstraw Road (north of Route 304)
The highest points on the Palisades are High Tor (elevation 832 feet) and Little Tor (710 feet).


Description:

Picnicking, hiking and swimming facilities.


Geology:

The highest headland in the Palisades. High and Little Tor comprise the major part of South Mountain, which is the northern extremity of the Palisades. Elevation is 827 feet. The highest peak on the Palisades.

Views of the Hudson River, Dunderberg Mountain, Haverstraw, Indian Point nuclear plant in Buchanan.

Part of the headwaters of the Hackensack River.


History:

The summit was used by colonists as a signal point during the American Revolution. Later it was the site of an airplane beacon (the remains of the tower still being visible).

The land was the property of Elmer Van Orden.

1942 -- on the death of Van Orden, his heirs offered the property for sale at $12,000 dollars. Under the leadership of the Rockland County Conservation Association, the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, and the Hudson River Conservation Society, monies were collected to purchase the land and then give it to the Palisades Interstate Park Commission. (Binnewies, 2001:217-218)

Conservationists saved the area from the trap rock quarriers. The ridge became state property in 1943. Maxwell Anderson wrote a 3-act play entitled "High Tor" in 1936 which dramatized the area's natural beauty and history. The owner, Elmer Van Orden, refused to sell his land for quarrying purposes. In 1942 when the owner died, local groups rallied to save High Tor. The Hudson River Conservation Society and the Rockland County Conservation Association raised $12,000 for the purchase of the land. High Tor was presented to the Interstate Park in 1943.

Other groups supporting the land acquisition were:
The American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society
The Blooming Grove King's Daughters of Washingtonville
The Columbia County Historical Society
the Cornwall Garden Club
The Fort Orange Garden Club
The Garden Club of Englewood
The Garden Clubs of Orange and Dutchess Counties
The Hastings Garden Club
The Historic Society of Newburgh Bay and the Highlands
The Little Garden Club of Kingston
The Little Garden Clubs of Tarrytown
The New York Historical Society
The Rufus King Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution
The Ulster Garden Club

Archer M. Huntington donated his 470-acre estate which included Little Tor. In total he donated $1,000 dollars and in addition his 474 acre property adjacent to the Van Orden property, as well as the 72 room English Tudor mansion there. It was said that Samuel Katz, son-in-law of show business great Adolph Zukor, had the mansion built for his girlfriend. (Binnewies, 2001:218, 255)

During World War II the Commission granted the use of Huntington house to the United States Naval Armed Guard Center as a recreation center. (Palisades Interstate Park Commission 1960:61-63) The mansion was later demolished.

High Tor Vineyards, which operated on a scenic mountain site in Rockland County back in 1949, was one of the east's most prominent wineries. Its owner, Everett Crosby, tried to get New York to change its laws and do away with the expensive $1,000-per-year licensing fee. He was unsuccessful and his winery went out of business. (From: Grapes of the Hudson Valley: Where Wine Making in America Began; http://www.hudsonriver.com/winehist.htm) Everett Crosby wrote The Vintage Years: The Story of High Tor Vineyards. A 54-acre vineyard acquired by The Scenic Hudson Land Trust, Inc. was added to this 500-acre park. The property is managed by the Palisades Interstate Park Commission.


Trails:

The Long Path goes through here.

In a shallow hollow, the white-blazed Deer Path descends to Route 9W.

7/08/02 -- Parked at the parking lot for Little Tor State Park. Took the Long Path heading east. Pass a power cut; 1st path on the left; pass 2nd path on left and first path on right (a sign is here -- 2 miles to the site of the historic Youmans-Van Orden House and High Tor vineyards); 3rd path on the left (a small informal path); looks like a temporary parking area on the right; dip in the path (wetland species); 4th path on left (to Little Tor), but I pass it by heading for High Tor (here also is the second path on right); second dip in the path with wetland species; bunch of boulders on the right; finally get rid of the gravel and now on reddish soil; an open area on the left approach High Tor; High Tor on the left.

It was a terribly hazy day, but from High Tor I did manage to see West Haverstraw (north to south): Haverstraw Marina; the swimming pool and park at Bowline Point; the Cornell Steamboat Company Dock and Emeline Dock; along with Route 9W. Continued on the path and found a nice diabase cliff on the right with some interesting plants. Turned back and returned the way I came out.


PLANT LIST:
Dr. Patrick L. Cooney
* = 7/08/02 = date plant found in bloom


Trees:
Acer pensylvancium (striped maple)
Acer rubrum (red maple)
Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
Ailanthus altissima (tree of heaven)
Betula alleghaniensis (yellow birch)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Betula populifolia (gray birch)
Carpinus caroliniana (musclewood)
Carya glabra (pignut hickory)
Carya tomentosa (mockernut hickory)
Castanea dentata (American chestnut)
Catalpa speciosa (catalpa)
Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Fraxinus pensylvanica (green ash)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree)
Ostrya virginiana (American hop hornbeam)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus prinus (chestnut oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)
Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust)
Sassafras albidum (sassafras)
Tilia americana (American basswood)
Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock)
Ulmus americana (American elm)

Shrubs and sub-shrubs:
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)
Chimaphila maculata (striped wintergreen) *
Clethra alnifolia (sweet pepperbush)
Euonymus alatus (winged euonymus)
Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel)
Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel)
Ligustrum sp. (privet)
Lindera benzoin (spicebush)
Mitchella repens (partridgeberry)
Rhus typhina (staghorn sumac)
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose)
Rubus hispidus (swamp dewberry)
Rubus occidentalis (black raspberry)
Rubus phoenicolasius (wineberry)
Rubus sp. (blackberry)
Sambucus racemosa (red elderberry)
Staphylea trifolia (bladdernut)
Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry)
Vaccinium pallidum (hillside blueberry)
Viburnum acerifolium (maple-leaf viburnum)
Viburnum prunifolium (blackhaw viburnum)

Vines:
Amphicarpaea bracteata (hog peanut)
Celastrus orbiculatus (Asiatic bittersweet)
Ipomoea sp. (wild potato vine)?
Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle)
Menispermum canadense (moonseed)
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Smilax rotundifolia (round-leaved greenbrier)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Vincetoxicum nigrum (black swallowwort)
Vitis labrusca (fox grape)
Vitis sp. (grape) green under; ficus like lvs

Herbs:
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)
Ambrosia artemisiifolia (common ragweed)
Anaphalis margaritacea (pearly everlasting)
Apocynum cannabinum (Indian hemp dogbane) *
Aralia nudicaulis (wild sarsaparilla)
Arctium sp. (burdock)
Arisaema triphyllum (Jack-in-the-pulpit)
Artemisia vulgaris (common mugwort)
Asarum canadense (wild ginger)
Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly weed)
Aster divaricatus (white wood aster)
Barbarea vulgaris (common wintercress)
Chenopodium album (pigweed)
Circaea lutetiana (enchanter's nightshade) *
Collinsonia canadensis (horsebalm)
Commelina communis (Asiatic dayflower) *
Corydalis sempervirens (pale corydalis) *
Cryptotaenia canadensis (honewort)
Desmodium nudiflorum (pointed-leaf tick trefoil) *
Desmodium paniculatum (tick trefoil)
Desmodium rotundifolium (round-leaved tick trefoil)
Epipactis helleborine (helleborine orchid)
Erechtites hieraciifolia (pileweed)
Eupatorium rugosum (white snakeroot)
Galium circaezens (wild licorice)
Geranium maculatum (wild geranium)
Geum canadense (white avens) *
Hieracium sp. (hawkweed) *
Hieracium venosum (rattlesnake hawkweed)
Hypericum gentianoides (orange grass)
Hypoxis hirsuta (yellow star grass) *
Impatiens sp. (jewelweed)
Krigia biflora (two-flowered Cynthia) *
Leonurus cardiaca (motherwort)
Lespedeza sp. (bush clover)
Linaria vulgaris (butter and eggs) *
Lycopus sp. (bugleweed)
Medicago lupulina (black medick) *
Monotropa uniflora (Indian pipe)
Oxalis sp. (yellow wood sorrel) *
Paronychia canadensis (forked chickweed)
Penstemon digitalis (beards tongue) *
Plantago major (common plantain)
Plantago lanceolata (English plantain) *
Polygonatum pubescens (hairy true Solomon's seal)
Polygonum cespitosum (cespitose smartweed) *
Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese knotweed)
Polygonum lapathifolium (nodding smartweed)
Polygonum virginianum (jumpseed)
Potentilla simplex (common cinquefoil)
Prenanthes trifoliata (tall rattlesnake root)
Prunella vulgaris (self-heal)
Pycnanthemum incanum (hoary mountain mint) *
Rumex obtusifolius (broad dock)
Solidago caesia (bluestem goldenrod)
Symplocarpus foetidus (skunk cabbage)
Thalictrum dioicum (early meadowrue)
Trifolium pratense (red clover) *
Triodanis perfoliata (Venus's looking glass)
Verbascum thapsus (common mullein)
Veronica officinalis (common speedwell)
Viola sp. (violet)
Viola sp. (lance-leaved type violet)

Rushes:
Juncus effusus (soft rush)
Juncus tenuis (path rush)
Luzula multiflora (wood rush)

Sedges:
Carex laxiflora type (sedge)
Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)
Carex vulpinoidea (fox-like sedge)
Cyperus lupulinus (flatsedge)
Scirpus atrovirens (dark-green bulrush)

Grasses:
Anthoxanthum odoratum (sweet vernal grass)
Dactylis glomerata (orchard grass)
Danthonia spicata (poverty grass)
Elymus hystrix (bottle brush grass)
Leersia virginica (white grass)
Lolium perenne (English rye grass)
Panicum clandestinum (deer-tongue grass)
Panicum sp. (panic grass)
Phleum pratense (Timothy grass)
Poa compressa (Canada bluegrass)

Ferns:
Adiantum pedatum (maidenhair fern)
Athyrium filix-femina (lady fern)
Dennstaedtia punctilobula (hay-scented fern)
Dryopteris marginalis (marginal woodfern)
Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)
Polypodium sp. (rockcap fern)
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)
Pteridium aquilinum (bracken fern)
Thelypteris hexagonoptera (southern broad beech fern) not winged all the way
Thelypteris noveboracensis (New York fern)

Other:
Sphagnum sp. (sphagnum moss)

Botanist Troy Weldy found basil mountain mint and Torrey's mountain mint on High Tor.  It is said the populations here are some of their largest in the state.  (New York State Conservationist, February 2003:9)