|Northern Mockingbird (Photo by Alan Wells).|
Birding is never exceptional at this location, but woodland species may be seen year round.
From the Tappan Zee Bridge heading south on Route 9W go .4 miles and then take a right turn (just after a blinking caution light) onto Old Mountain Road. Then take a left at the T-intersection onto Clausland Mountain Road. Go 1.2 miles and turn right into the parking lot of Tackamack park.
This site is actually a complex of three parks: Blauvelt State Park, Clausland Mountain County Park, and Tackamack Town Park. Additional, two other parks, Shuyler Town Park and Buttermilk Falls County Park, abut the properties. Blauvelt State Park (536 acres) is an undeveloped State Park with numerous hiking trails and several small ponds. Recent housing projects in the area have been encroaching on southeastern portion of the park. "Blauvelt " is Dutch for "Blue Field" or "Blue Grassland". The State Park is best known for Camp Bluefields, a military training camp, and its abandon rifle range.
History (based on information from Pat Clyne and Carol Weiss):
|1909||New York purchases land, lincluding 250-acre Molson farm, to build a National Guard rifle range.|
|1910||Camp Bluefields opens for small arms practice.|
|1911||Complaints about range layout; South Nyack residents say bullets are hitting their homes; guardsmen say that the sun is in their eyes;|
|1912||Special overhead screens installed but bullets keep raining down of South Nyack.|
|1912||Palisades Interstate Park Commission given 212 acres on summit of Clausland Mountain by heirs of S.R. Bradley.|
|1913||Property (324 acres) transferred to Palisades Interstate Park Commission. Combined with Clausland Mountain property the park is 536 acres.|
|1913-1918||YMCA rents the land for a summer retreat called Camp Bluefields for NYC working women. The military style camp charged $3.50 for a week's "vacation".|
|1918||Old rifle range turned over to NYS Military Training Commission for ROTC training camp.|
|1919-1925||ROTC members form a "Comeback Club" and build summer homes at Blauvelt.|
|1924||Columbia University uses Bluefields as a summer camp.|
|1927||The Herald Tibune Fresh Air Fund takes over the camp for several summers.|
|1930||The U,S. Army sends soldiers to Blauvelt for training.|
|1942||Soldiers from nearby Camp Shanks train at Blauvelt; also used as air raid post during WWII|
|Present||"Since [World War II]...Camp Bluefields has been left alone to the dual ravages of time and the elements. Rumors about the range being cursed and haunted have abounded, which is not surprising considering its isolated location and state of disrepair...Far from detracting from Bluefields' appeal, the weather-beating merely adds to the mystry of it all". --Orangetown Parks and Recreation Department.|
For additional information on Blauvelt, read the following by Pat Clyne :
|The Curse of Camp Gray Owl (fiction for young adults), Dodd, Mead & Co., 1981.|
|Hudson Valley Tales and Trails, Chapter 7, "From Bullets to Birdsong: The Starnge Story of Blauvelt State Park," The Overlook Press (hard cover 1990, paperback 1997).|
|South of the Mountains. The Journal of the Rockland County Historical Society. "The Blauvelt Rifle Range--Camp Bluefiels," Oct-Dec. 1985.|
Trail Map (29KB)
Elements of maple-basswood, beech-maple and oak-hickory forests. Also contains several pine groves. A short description of Blauvelt SP and its flora can be found on the Torrey Botanical Society web site. Flora of Tackamack Town Park and Clausland Mountain Park can also be found there.
Check the pine groves for yellow-bellied sapsucker and red-breasted nuthatch. Typical checklist, compiled by Alan and Della Wells, 12/20/98.