The 14,000 residents of the Town of Kent live about 65 miles north of New York City in Putnam County. More than half of the land here is undeveloped woodland and, because we are in the watershed for the City, that’s how it will remain. These simple facts shape our town’s people and their lifestyles. We are a community of outdoors people who appreciate the lovely place in which we live.
Our wood-covered hills with their gray rocky outcrops and occasional glacier-dropped boulders are crisscrossed by hiking trails. But the countryside’s look is relatively new. Less than a century ago almost all of the land here was pasture for dairy cattle. And much had been cleared for agriculture as far back as colonial times, as a hike anywhere around here will demonstrate:
The woods are full of old stone walls that were once used to control stock, as convenient places to put rocks pulled from tilled land, and to mark field boundaries. These stone walls are only the most visible reminders of the town’s agricultural past. Where there were once pastures and fields, there must have been farm houses and barns. If you know what to look for and where to look, you’ll find the foundations and other signs of hundreds of these structures, most of which have well documented histories often going back to pre-revolutionary times. And then there are the ever-fascinating corbelled stone chambers. The woods in the Town of Kent are home to more than fifty of these, many on public land.
Beyond the relatively recent historical past, the landscape speaks of its much longer history, back even before the first people took up residence here thousands of years ago. The topography of the land and the composition and distribution of the communities of plants and animals we share the land with tell the story of how, over countless summers and winters, our home came to be as we see it today.
Gathering and sharing what we know
Which brings us to this website.
The members of the Conservation Advisory Committee of the Town of Kent are convinced that gathering and presenting the stories of the land – both the natural and human stories – will help residents and visitors see our beautiful inheritance in a new light. In addition to adding depth to our outdoor activities, knowing the stories will lead to a much clearer understanding of our collective responsibility to conserve the legacy history has given us. For ourselves, for those we share our world with today and for those who follow us.
This website serves as our place to gather and publish these stories and to share them with you. We hope what we gather here will encourage you to get outside to enjoy the natural and historical places in the town in ways you may not have done before.