You are currently browsing the daily archive for June 15, 2008.

First of all, my hat’s off to Jim, Harold, and Jed–all of whom correctly identified the “mystery towboat” as Buchanan 12 approaching Haverstraw. “Haver,” by the way, is Dutch for “oats,” so, approaching oats straw.

Thanks to Jed, here’s a vessel in KVK with an intriguing name for this past week: Ice Fighter in KVK, paradoxical given our heat wave and its port of registry–Monrovia.

New York place names–like those in many locales– are intriguing. Not quite 50 miles north of the Battery is World’s End, just north of West Point;  Target Point and Storm King appear along the port side. Along starboard are Magazine Point, Little Stony Point and Breakneck Point with Pollepel Island (aka Bannerman’s Island) dead ahead. Maybe it was the cartographer in some cases, but someone decided each of those names. According to my favorite resource for place names, the 1940 Guide to the Empire State, the Federal Writers’ Project book on New York, the island was named for Polly Pell “who had two suitors, a farmer and a young minister. She preferred the former; her parents favored the latter. One day the minister took her sleigh-riding on the river; the ice broke and they fell in. The young farmer raced across the ice, jumped in, and brought them safely to this island. Polly embraced the young farmer so ardently that the minister saw the futility of his suit and married the couple then and there.” Now I suspect that minister turned pirate.

By the way, from where this foto was taken, World’s End, the Hudson is deepest, dropping to 180-200 feet.

One of my favorite place names is Danzkammer Point, north of Newburgh.  No, it’s not bad-mouthing someone named ‘Dan” as a “scammer” by someone who doesn’t know how to spell. Rather . . . it’s Dutch for “dance hall.” Kammer in Dutch means chamber or room, as in “slaapkamer” for sleep room, bed room. I’ve no idea about the double “m” on the chart. Anyhow, Henry‘s Dutch saw the Indians dancing there around fires, and so that event lives on in this Newburgh place name.

Speaking of dance halls, Coney Island this coming Saturday is one big “danzkammer” . . . for mermaids and all who dance with them around camp fires or amid bioluminescence. For me, this can’t be missed. The dancers above and below are from a Calder statue. Anyone guess where? Which Calder?

So, finally. . . what are your favorite place names along whatever river you know best? most ironic? most mysterious? I’d love to start a series on place names. Max at “sailing south africa” had a great example here with “house of sin.”

Photos, WVD.

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June 2008