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History hikes in Hurleyville and Barryville

John Conway
Posted 4/21/23

Hurleyville’s Milk Train Trail and Barryville’s Minisink Battleground Park are the venues for two more in a long line of popular History Hikes, this time to again commemorate national …

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History hikes in Hurleyville and Barryville


Hurleyville’s Milk Train Trail and Barryville’s Minisink Battleground Park are the venues for two more in a long line of popular History Hikes, this time to again commemorate national Celebrate Trails Day on Saturday, April 22 and Sunday, April 23. Both hikes are sponsored by the non-profit history education group, The Delaware Company, and both begin at 2 p.m. 

Designated as the fourth Saturday of April, Celebrate Trails Day is an annual spring celebration of America’s trails, started by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy in 2013. The celebration encourages people across the country to get outside and enjoy the nation’s exceptional trails and trail systems. In 2022, more than 11,500 participants took part in 150 Celebrate Trails Day events across all 50 states and the District of Columbia according to the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. 

This columnist, your Sullivan County Historian, has been hosting and narrating these History Hikes for the past several years, and will once again do the honors at both events this weekend. 

The History Hikes are intended to get people outside in order that they might enjoy the incredible scenery, and experience the majestic beauty nature has bestowed on this area. The two very different hikes this weekend are scheduled on consecutive days so that everyone might be able to participate, regardless of stamina or mobility issues, while learning some local history at the same time. 

Saturday’s hike on the eastbound side of the Milk Train Trail, just off Main Street in Hurleyville, is on paved, level ground, and is suitable even for those with some mobility issues. Hikers will gather at the east side trail head by the basketball courts adjacent to the municipal parking lot and proceed toward South Fallsburg. The hike will be fully narrated, and will last about 90 minutes. 

The historical topics covered on the Hurleyville History Hike will include the impact of the railroad on the farms and resorts of the Hurleyville area, the 1907 Hurleyville train wreck, the Smith Hill Cut, the native American Lenape tribe, their language and their culture, the tanning industry, and more. 

Both farming and the tourism industry in Sullivan County owe much to the railroad, and in fact, Hurleyville did not really exist until the arrival of the Midland Railroad in the 1870s. Now, the very thing that established the community in the first place has been reincarnated as a trail that is the linchpin of the revitalization of that community today. If you haven’t been to Hurleyville recently, you are in for a bit of a surprise. 

The Highland History Hike at the Minisink Battleground Park on Sunday will be over one of the several trails maintained by Sullivan County’s Department of Public Works at the park. The terrain is mostly, but not entirely, smooth, but features several fairly significant elevation changes. Hikers will gather at the Benjamin Tusten Pavilion just off the parking lot, and the hike will begin after a brief introduction there. 

Topics to be covered on Sunday’s saunter include the Battle of Minisink itself-- the only Revolutionary War battle fought in the Upper Delaware River Valley-- as well as the establishment of Cushetunk, the first permanent European settlement in the region, the Native Americans who were here for thousands of years before that, and the timber industry that provided affluence to the settlers and helped build America after the Revolutionary War. 

The Battle of Minisink, fought just north of present day Barryville on July 22, 1779, was a prime example of the Revolutionary War as a civil war, as it pitted neighbor against neighbor. Men who had for years depended upon each other for their very survival suddenly found themselves on opposite sides in a bloody battle that resulted in heavy casualties. The Battle of Minisink is taking on additional significance as the 250th anniversary of America’s war for independence approaches, and the Battleground Park will be the focal point of several events in celebration of that years long celebration. 

After the long winter season, these History Hikes present participants with an opportunity to improve their mood, boost their energy level, and exercise their mind as well as their body. There is no need to register for either hike; those interested in participating should just show up. There are no rain dates scheduled, and in the event of severe weather, the hikes will be canceled. Any necessary updates will be posted on The Delaware Company’s Facebook page. 

John Conway is the Sullivan County Historian and a founder and president of The Delaware Company. Email him at jconway52@hotmail.com.  


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