The Dryden Historical Society is creating a program for the public to learn about the history of Hammond Hill and Crosby Cabin for this upcoming spring.
Historical society volunteer Gina Prentiss said she hopes to have a wide variety of perspectives on the histories of both areas at the program.
“What I’m hoping will be [taking place] is that we will do a bit of history about Hammond Hill in general, which has to do with the lay of the land and how it became state land, and the first farms that were there and how people got them,” Prentiss said. “We hope that we will have some of the people that we’ve already identified that live there or can tell us more about the background of their family there. I hope to contact somebody from [Department of Environmental Conservation] that could talk more about today’s trails…and skiing areas and why they need more marked trails for more skiers and horseback riders, possibly.”
Hammond Hill is located in the towns of Caroline and Dryden and was first used by its original settlers as an area of subsistence farms before the state persuaded the settlers to sell their land and move and resettle elsewhere, thus becoming the public recreational land that it is today.
Prentiss also said she hopes to have someone from the Crosby family come and speak about the history of Crosby Cabin. The cabin is located on Cornell University Botanic Gardens property on Hammond Hill in the Town of Dryden. It borders state-owned land near the Park Preserve and Six Mile Creek. The cabin is constructed of chestnut logs, has a stone fireplace, parquet flooring, heavy plank doors and shutters.
Prentiss said the historical society does not know much about the building other than that it was used as a hunting cabin on a recreational camp.
She said the fact that it was built with chestnut logs adds a unique feature to the cabin.
“Usually, hunting camps, around this area anyway, are pretty primitive things,” she said. “There’s nothing beautiful about them. They were meant to be used in a very short period of time and temporary and overnights and things for hunting. There aren’t that many that I know of anyway, or that other people know of, that are as well-thought out and as well-built as this one. This was meant to stay for a family to come to for a longer period of time than just hunting season.”
She said it is a can’t-miss site for almost everybody who treks through that area.
“Everybody who goes on that hill, whether you’re a skier or a horseback rider or a hiker or a walker, or whether you’re looking for beautiful native wildflowers, which abounds up there, or whether you’re a birder, you’ve come upon that,” she said. “Everybody would look at this and say, ‘Gosh, that’s a shame that’s going to be abandoned and let it go down.’”
The program will not be held on-site at the cabin because the roof, floor and area surrounding the stone fireplace are in need of repair, and the fact that the land is owned by Cornell University. Prentiss said if the program receives enough interest they could not only host the program on-site, but also garner urgency from the public to mend the cabin.
“It all will be with Cornell’s permission, because that is Cornell’s land and Cornell owns the Crosby Cabin,” she said.
“I would hope that a program with a little background and a little introduction to how that area is being used now, and an introduction to the interesting building materials and this building that’s interesting…would possibly lead to a consortium of interest that would take it on and maybe just keep it from going down, or at least document it properly before anything more happens to it.”