Meeting of May 16, 2013

Picture 3Meeting at Quigley’s Restaurant
593 Columbia Turnpike
East Greenbush

Attending (17): Peter Brown, April Dowd, Murray Forth, Pat Bailey, Debbie Brown, Jim Leyhane, Terry Brewer, Geoff Brewer, Dick Drumm, Charlie Foote, Bill Dowd, Doris Calamaras, Dean Calamaras, Carole Spencer, Stewart Wagner, Julius Frankel, Debbie Rodriguez.

Guest (3): Paul R. Huey, Bill Nathan, Efrotini Frankel.


• This Sunday, May 18, is the annual Rotary Run at Green Meadow School. President Peter Brown requested help from everyone on Saturday morning putting together the packets at his house on Clove Road; five members volunteered, more are welcome. This year a timing company will be responsible for registrations and timekeeping. Jim Leyhane asked about runners getting a discount for a second race (some run both the 5K and 5-mile). It is possible they won’t need to pay again and probably would not get a second event shirt. All hands are needed to help out for the event, beginning at 7:30 a.m.

• The Lansingburgh club has requested our attendance on Tuesday, June 11, at their dinner for Rotary visitors from Brazil who are touring the area.

• On Thursday, June 13, we will hold our meeting at either Maple Hill High School or Middle School, where Bob Horan will present a program on distance learning. Details to be announced.

• Beginning next Thursday, we will begin scheduling our summer meetings. Our presidential changeover dinner meeting, when Peter hands off to April Dowd, will be held June 27.

• Peter circulated a Nominating Committee form with information about candidates for RI President for 2015-16.

Program: The Excavation of Fort Orange


Paul R. Huey (above), who led the historic 1970-71 excavation of the Fort Orange site, was our speaker. He used a selection of maps from the 1600s to establish the site where Fort Orange — a Dutch trading post — was built on the west bank of the Hudson River on a distinctive curve of land.

He spoke of the difficulties of finding the original site of the fort, since it had fallen into ruin and was buried under succeeding land uses with only two of its four corners still existing in any form.

He used old maps and photos to show how the fort site had changed over the years, with only a sliver remaining and that actually under a road.

The construction in 1970-71 of Interstate 787 and the changes in approach roads and a replacement Dunn Memorial Bridge provided an opportunity for some archaeological excavation before construction resumed.

During the dig, Paul and his crew unearthed remnants of the surveyor Simeon DeWitt’s large house that was built on the site of the old fort and later burned down in a large fire that swept the neighborhood.

Numerous Dutch artifacts were unearthed — porcelain, earthenware, yellow Dutch bricks and red colonial bricks, clay pipes, wampum, etc. An old fort guard building also was unearthed.

Excavation continued throughout the winter of 1970-71 as the state Department of Transportation provided a cover and heat for the archaeologists to enable them to work through the snowy, freezing weather.

Digging was completed in March 1971 just before construction of 787 resumed.

(Photos of Paul Huey’s PowerPoint slides.)

Picture 2The Fort Orange excavation site near the 787 construction project.

Picture 4Workers sift through mud and rubble, looking for artifacts.

Picture 11Historic artist Len Tantillo’s sketch of presumed interior of the fort.

Picture 3Red colonial bricks and yellow Dutch bricks unearthed.

Picture 5Brick fireplace built on top of floorboards of old guard house.

Picture 6DOT shelter allowed work to proceed through the winter.

Picture 7Earthenware fragments, including a skillet handle.

Picture 8Remnants of a Dutch faience plate.

Picture 9Remnant of a James I coin (full coin seen at right).

Picture 10Part of a Dutch pottery pitcher with typical pinched handle.

NEXT MEETING: 6:15 p.m. Thursday, May 23. The speaker will be Kevin Post of the international organization Youth for Christ.


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