Learn about Rosendale cement at Riverport Wooden Boat School

Gayle Grunwald poses for a photo in the Widow Jane Mine. She is wearing a lab coat from A.J. Snyder II’s cement laboratory. (Lauren Thomas | Almanac Weekly)

Gayle Grunwald poses for a photo in the Widow Jane Mine. She is wearing a lab coat from A.J. Snyder II’s cement laboratory. (Lauren Thomas | Almanac Weekly)

Have you ever wondered about those caves in Rosendale – the ones that give off chilled air when you drive by, as if from an invisible air conditioner? Century House Historical Society trustee Gayle Grunwald will present a lecture titled “Kilns, ‘Caves’ and Mushroom Cans” to elaborate on the history of Rosendale’s unique geology. Sharing rare photographs from the historical archives, she will describe the processes of making the natural cement mined in the region.

Grunwald will also go into the post-industrial uses of the caves: Think mushroom-growing. Then think mushroom clouds. Back in the Cold War era, when the caves were no longer being mined, it was recognized how ideal they would be for underground storage of vital records – and even people. “It was thought that if you exercised proper planning and had money, then if the ‘big bomb’ was dropped, the whole atomic incident could be looked at as an inconvenience – that you could come out and everything would be cool,” she says. “Can you imagine a few thousand people coming down the road in Rosendale to go into the caves?”

The talk will take place on Wednesday, June 1 at 7 p.m. in the Riverport Wooden Boat School, located at 50 Rondout Landing in the Rondout District (suggested donation $5). Riverport is owned and operated by the Hudson River Maritime Museum, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, which has coordinated with Century House to conduct a guided tour of the A. J. Snyder Estate and the Widow Jane Mine, a home of Rosendale natural cement, on the Saturday following the talk. The tour – limited to 30 people – meets at the A. J. Snyder Estate, located at 668 Route 213 in Rosendale, on Saturday, June 4 and will run from 1 to 3 p.m. Tickets cost $15, and can be purchased online at www.hrmm.org/store/p52/6%2f4%2f16_tour_of_snyder_estate_and_widow_jane_mine.html. Dress for the big chill.

 

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