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Ice Skating on the Hudson River (Photo courtesy of Hudson River Maritime Museum)
Ice Skating on the Hudson River (Photo courtesy of Hudson River Maritime Museum)

River Skating

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Back in the winters when the Hudson River regularly froze over, ice skating on it was a major craze — especially in Newburgh, where the Donaghue family won national and international medals for their speed and endurance. But no feat could beat this one undertaken (and recounted) by patriarch Timothy Donaghue, Sr.:

Timothy Donaghue, Sr.
Timothy Donaghue, Sr.

“The fastest long-distance skating I ever did was in 1872, when Aaron Wilson and myself skated to Poughkeepsie and returned to Newburgh (30 miles) in two hours. We then, with Charles F. June, started at 11 a.m. for Albany, and arrived there at 5 p.m. We lost 15 minutes crossing the ferry track which was open at Poughkeepsie; and at Rhinebeck the ferry was also running, and we had to walk about half a mile. Then we got our dinner, which took us 45 minutes.   

“That left 5 hours running from Newburgh to Albany. The distance to Albany is 84 miles by the Hudson River Railroad. As we had to cross the river from one side to another a number of times, looking for good ice, I think it made the distance more. The ice was not good, but we had a strong wind.”

Wind or not, here’s one record unlikely to be broken.

More in this Series

Intimidation vs. liberation. That’s what the equation can come down to the first time you’re considering carrying everything into the...
Water + wind = speed For centuries, that equation has driven sport in the Hudson Valley. Today it motivates people...
The Hudson Valley’s modern riverside parks (15 of which Scenic Hudson partnered to help create) have become places where people...
Although it stands alone today as a natural wonder, for part of the 20th century Mt. Beacon hosted a man-made...
As a child, Boston filmmaker Kevin Ferguson spent nearly every summer in the Catskills among a clan of Irish immigrants...
It’s rare to see sailboats on the Hudson this time of year. But in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, sail-powered...
As far as Hudson Valley mountain rails go, the Mount Beacon Incline Railway seems to get all the glory. From 1902...
If ever there were a summer to make a splash, this is it. From the Outdoor Adventures section of our website, we’ve...
Back in the days when people could count on the Hudson River freezing over nearly every year, skating on it...
It’s common to see rowers on the Hudson River these days. At least a dozen local high schools, as well...

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Our mission is to immerse you in the storied history, fresh happenings, and coming solutions for making the Hudson Valley greener and more livable long-term.

Viewfinder is published by Scenic Hudson, the celebrated nonprofit credited with launching the modern grassroots environmental movement in 1963. With over 25,000 passionate supporters, Scenic Hudson’s mission is to sustain and enhance the Hudson Valley’s inspirational beauty and health for generations to come. Viewfinder supports that mission, because the better people understand what makes this place special, the more they will invest in protecting it. 

Keep up with the latest stories by subscribing to Scenic Hudson’s monthly digital newsletter, and connect with us on social via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Threads.

Lynn Freehill-Maye
Managing Editor
editorial@scenichudson.org 

Riley Johndonnell
Director Creative Strategies & Communications
rjohndonnell@scenichudson.org

Lynn Freehill-Maye
Managing Editor
editorial@scenichudson.org 

Riley Johndonnell
Director Creative Strategies & Communications
rjohndonnell@scenichudson.org

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We’re always looking for ideas around our main topic areas of Climate Solutions, Land + Air + Water, Plants + Animals, History + Culture, Outdoors, and Community.
  • Journalists and writers who have deep familiarity with New York and the Hudson Valley, we’d love to have you contribute! Please do introduce yourself by email, sharing writing samples and any relevant pitches you may have.
  • Photographers and videographers, we’d love to hear from you and see what you do. Please send along a portfolio with images or footage that showcases your best and/or most relevant work, with an emphasis on anything captured outdoors. 
  • Illustrators, we commission artwork on the regular. Drop us a note with some of the beauty you’ve created.
  • Media Partners & Social Media Influencers, we welcome opportunities to team up on series and campaigns. Reach out with any background about yourselves and your ideas.
  • We love to collaborate with media outlets, especially on episodic series (like these) of interest to our shared audiences. Past collaborations have included radio interviews, panel discussions and other events, original artwork, and e-blasts, all furthering the campaign’s excitement and reach. 
  • We also love to partner with other organizations whose missions align with Scenic Hudson’s. Feel free to reach out with some background on your group and its work.
  • Writers, photographers, and creatives, if you have an idea for a series or content campaign that might be a good fit, drop us a line!

Businesses, please note that as a nonprofit, Scenic Hudson is restricted from advertising or promoting for-profit companies, through Viewfinder or other outlets. While we understand content managers may wish to alert us to your company’s role in a relevant topic, we are unable to add links to businesses to our stories.

  • We love to collaborate with media outlets, especially on episodic series (like these) of interest to our shared audiences. Past collaborations have included radio interviews, panel discussions and other events, original artwork, and e-blasts, all furthering the campaign’s excitement and reach. 
  • We also love to partner with other organizations whose missions align with Scenic Hudson’s. Feel free to reach out with some background on your group and its work.
  • Writers, photographers, and creatives, if you have an idea for a series or content campaign that might be a good fit, drop us a line!

Businesses, please note that as a nonprofit, Scenic Hudson is restricted from advertising or promoting for-profit companies, through Viewfinder or other outlets. While we understand content managers may wish to alert us to your company’s role in a relevant topic, we are unable to add links to businesses to our stories.

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