Anvil That Forged Chain and Saved the Colonies Comes to New Windsor’s Edmonston House
By Edie Johnson
The Historic Edmonston House on Route 94 is now home to a very precious stone of sorts that was formed by molten granite and magnetic iron ore from the mines of the Ramapo Mountains back in the colonial days and formed for use as an anvil. That anvil was used to create “pig iron” links in Tuxedo’s Hidden Valley and later brought by ox carts to the Brewster’s Forge in New Windsor. They may well have stopped at the Edmonston House before going to the Brewster’s Forge since it had a Farrier’s Shop. At the Forge they connected and re-fired to close the links into the chains that were then brought down to West Point and sent by log barges across the Hudson. The process took 17 forge fires, 7 forgings and 7 weldings. Back in the days when large sailing ships came up the Hudson River, they came to the S-Turn at Constitution Island and had to come to a full stop lowering their sails before negotiating the turn. Four colonial forts were situated at each corner of the crossing, Add to that the protection of the chain, 15 additional forts all around the mountain, and a line weighted crates supporting sharpened tree trunks with iron tips stretching all the way from Bannerman’s Island to Plum Point, and the Brits decided it would be suicide to even try the pass.
Fast track to this century, and Sterling Forest State Park Historian and former Park Ranger Doc Bayne. On one of his historical rounds he actually finds the anvil in mud at the bottom of the Moodna Creek where it had been carried by flood waters during one of its many infamous storms. Bayne quipped that his mother, also an historian had give him “this disease” and that “If it was not for this anvil, we might all be speaking English”. With the Edmonston House near the former location of the Brewster Forge, and the perfect site to help tourists and New Yorkers learn the area’s formidable history, especially during the Revolutionary War, it was decided to bring the historic anvil to the stone Farrier Shop behind the house, where it will now teach many about the intelligence and fortitude that these pioneers used to save the colonies, and in this instance without even a single shot fired. Other tools of that time and a replica showing the process are also displayed. The site also housed medical staff and supplies for the New Windsor Cantonment.
Ceremony and Ribbon Cutting Celebrate the Prized Acquisition
A small ceremony with some local officials and about 30 history buffs attended the ribbon-cutting, very fittingly, on July 4, on the 240th anniversary of the chain’s deployment across the River.
Colin Schmitt, Chief of Staff for New Windsor’s Supervisor George Green did the ribbon-cutting honors and thanked Supervisor Green for allowing the anvil to be kept at the Edmonston House. Also present was National Temple Hill Association President Danial Lucia, Esq.
Greg Biasotti, Secretary of the Temple Hill Association, organized the entire event. They thanked NYS Assemblyman James Skoufis for his help attaining the grants over the years that helped make this historic site possible. Skoufis pointed out how special it is to have this artifact which played such a large part in our nation’s freedom.
Orange County Historian Johanna Yaun has collected historic samples from the era, but because of the extreme heat she decided to save their presentation for another day.
The Edmonston House 1042 Route 94, New Windsor, NY, is open to the public every Sunday afternoon from 2 to 5pm.