Landscape History

  • historic photograph

Landscape History

History is embedded in our landscape, not as some rusting historical marker, but rather as a modern, living picture of history’s current incarnation. In the 1500s, our landscape was probably at least 90% forested; by the mid 1800s, it was nearly three quarters open farmland; today it’s almost two thirds forested. We are still somewhere on that ecological rollercoaster. In other words, the trees, grasses, birds, bees, hillocks and rivulets are all hints of where we’ve been and suggestions about where we may be going. Thus, as we’ve tried to understand what a semi-agrarian landscape could potentially offer nature, one clue is to understand what it has offered nature in the past. Our pages on fields and forests include historical information.

For more information see our landscape history page and the following:

A Chronology of Columbia County Industry - A generalized outline of the evolution of Columbia County industry over the last 200+ years.

A Chronology of Columbia County Agriculture - A similar outline of the evolution of Columbia County agriculture over the past couple of centuries.

A Map of Industry in Columbia County around 1839 - A map derived from Burr's map of the County and showing some early industries.

A Map of Industry in Columbia County ca. 1875 - A map derived from a variety of comtempory sources, including the Beers' map which serves as the backdrop of the map.

“Ecology in the Field of Time” - A chapter we wrote for the book, Environmental History of the Hudson River, summarizing our understanding of the past 200 years of landscape history in Columbia County.

New Lebanon Shaker Land Use History: Preliminary work of land use research around Mt Lebanon Shaker Village.