Sylvan Glen Park Mohegan
(Click on pictures to view full-size photo)
Quarries: The park is the site of the largest single industry known to the Town of Yorktown. After generous deposits of granite with unusual rich mellow tones of coloration were discovered in the area, quarries were established, probably as early as the 1850s. It was not until after the turn of the century, however, that the site was exploited to its fullest. The period of greatest activity was from 1900 to 1940. The quarries were operated by various owners - all of whom called their product Mohegan Golden Granite. The last owner, operating the quarries throughout the period of greatest production, was Grenci and Ellis, Inc. Granite from the Mohegan Granite Quarries was used in the construction of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the main entrance to the City Bank-Farmers Trust Co. building at William Street and Exchange Place (NYC), the New York State Office Building - including the carved Great Seals of the State and City of New York (NYC), the Arlington Memorial Bridge (Washington, D.C.), the Westchester County National Bank (White Plains), the Memorial to (poet) Eugene Field (NYC) and many other buildings, mausoleums and memorials. Barracks and commissaries were built to accommodate the hundreds of laborers attracted to the area. In full production during the 20s, it was not unusual to have two $1,000,000 jobs running at the same time with two hundred men employed for a total weekly payroll of $15,000!
Stone Walls: Built for practical purposes - to clear land, divide property and keep livestock from grazing fields - stone walls became an important historic landscape feature in the Northeast. With suburban sprawl many are disappearing. The examples of single layer, rubble and laid walls within the preserve are now protected for hikers and photographers to appreciate.
Leather Man: A cave on the site is said to have been a stopping place of the Leather Man on his trips through upper Westchester. Once verified, a trail to the cave will be added.
Lime Kiln: An 1800s lime kiln is also located within the park boundaries but will not be opened to the public until archeological studies are completed.
Artifacts: Various small artifacts from farm life and the quarries remain on the site. Hikers are asked to respect the history of the site and leave these artifacts where they lie for others to enjoy. Your photos of these items will provide lasting evidence of your discoveries. The Yorktown Historical Society is interested in any documented historical information you can add to this history.
This Fall, Yorktown will dedicate a large parcel of land in Mohegan Lake as a new town park. The site, which will be a nature preserve, is a treasure not only to environmentalists, but also to history enthusiasts. Included in the 180 + acre park is the Mohegan Lake Quarry, foundations of an 1800s farmhouse and barn, beautiful examples of early stone walls and an 1800s lime kiln. There is also a cave on the site which is said to be one used by the Leather Man on his travels through Westchester County. The Mohegan Lake Quarry which operated from the 1890s to 1940, provided granite for St. John the Divine Cathedral, the New York State Office Building in NYC, the Schwab mansion, the State Armory and the Roosevelt Memorial in New York. It is also written that Mohegan Lake Quarry provided the granite blocks used in the construction of the Shrub Oak Methodist Church. Ornamental pieces, such as the eagles on the Arlington Memorial Bridge in Washington, D.C., were carved with finger-grip hammers by quarry workers. Columns and cornices were carved with the aid of steel shot and water, shaped with pneumatic hammers and polished with steel discs at the site. Some equipment, cables, building foundations , discarded columns and polished blocks remain at the quarry site for hikers to view.
The lime kiln, pictured above, was discovered by Yorktown Parks Department employee John Schroeder. The structure was identified as a lime kiln by Carl Kriegeskotte of Bedford. Built into the side of a hill, the kiln is 15 feet high and over 20 feet in length. The chimney has a four-foot diameter opening. The kiln was built with quarried stone, presumably from the Mohegan Lake Quarry. Surrounding the kiln are piles of oyster shells. Shells were heated in the kiln to produce slaked lime. Additional research must be conducted to learn the specific use of the lime produced from this kiln, but traditional uses of slaked lime in the 1800s would have included the creation of building materials (mortar, cement and whitewash), the treatment of waste materials, the purification of water and the tanning of leather. Lime was also used in the production of farm fertilizers, glass, cast iron, medicines and bleaches.
by Judy Shepard
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