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The words of Max Yasgur, on whose farm the Woodstock Festival took place during three steamy August days during the summer of 1969, delighted the hundreds of thousands of young people who had gathered on his meadows to hear the legendary rock and folk music artists of the era. "I'm a farmer. I don't know how to speak to twenty people at one time, let alone a crowd like this..." reveals a different aspect to the festival, and its later reincarnation into the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, that is now explored by the new exhibit being assembled at the Sullivan County Museum. The land on which the stage was erected was cleared by early Scottish immigrants nearly a century and a half earlier. This exhibit will follow this, and subsequent, families whose own stories preceeded that of Yasgur.
Trouble at the Fallsburgh Tunnel
Sixty years after their construction, the tunnels along the route of the New York, Ontario & Western Railway began showing their age, the resulting deterioration causing serious problems for the railroad company. Throughout the spring of 1930, railroad workers worked at the tunnel below South Fallsburgh, relining the northern portal with a new ceiling of curved steel plates to help keep rock and dirt in place, and to prevent water from dripping onto the tracks below. Earlier, during the winter of ’29 – ’30, pools of water dripping from the leaky ceilings had formed on the tunnel’s floor, completely covering the tracks and eventually freezing, threatening derailment of trains. Throughout the cold weather, section crews had to continually remove the ice from the rails with picks.
Johnny Darling tales, compiled by Charlie Hick, past Town of Callicoon Historian
"One day Johnny Darling came to Thumansville to call on "Squire Harding," who is in addition to being justice of the peace was post master and druggist, too, for he needed some medicine for his wife who had been ailing. A crowd soon gathered around the stove in the Harding store and post office to listen to the yarns that they were sure Darling would spin.
"They had not to wait long. John was soon entertaining the crowd and all but forgot Harding's bottles. Talk got around to oxen and strong oxen in particular. John told the crowd of a yoke of oxen he once had and how he took them to plow in a stumpy field. During the plowing the plow caught a hardwood stump squarely in the center, split it open, took the plow with Johnny hanging on the plow handles through the split in the stump when it closed with a snap to catch the coat tail of the swallow tail coat John Darling always wore when he plowed and held him fast. This yoke of oxen was unusually strong and Darling claimed it to be the strongest he ever owned."
The Town of Tusten was part of the Town of Mamakating from 1743 to 1798. In 1798 the Town of Lumberland was formed from Mamakating which included the Towns of Tusten and Highland. In 1853 Highland and Tusten broke away and each became a town of its own. Tusten was one of the first areas in the county to be settled. The first settlement originated around 1757, founded by the Delaware Company under the authority of the State of Connecticut. It was located on the Delaware River at the mouth of Ten Mile River. Little is known about these settlers other than Indians wiped them out in 1763.
A later settlement grew at this same spot when vast amounts of lumber began the journey down the Delaware from the holding bank located here. For over a century the rafting industry was a successful enterprise throughout the Delaware Valley from Deposit to Port Jervis. Another area industry was the quarrying of blue stone. Stone harvested in the region was transported from here across the river to the Erie Railroad by ferry scow.
The community that formed here was named Tusten, in honor of Colonel Benjamin Tusten, Jr., who had two claims to fame. He was among the first doctors in this country to introduce inoculation for small pox and he died in the infamous Battle of Minisink in 1779. Col. Tusten was tending 17 wounded soldiers under a ledge of rock when overtaken by Captain Brant, a Mohawk chief fighting for the British and his band of Indians and Tories. Although Col. Tusten’s disabled men pleaded for mercy, they were killed along with Col. Tusten. In 1853, when the new town separated from Lumberland, it was also named Tusten.
Samuel Hankins, Sr. became a most prominent man of the area. He operated a sawmill, conducted a tavern for the accommodation of rivermen, as well as being a steersman of wide repute. The Erie Railroad erected a station about a mile above the village where its tracks crossed the Delaware from Pennsylvania to New York. This station was first called Delaware Bridge then Tusten Station.
For many years the Tusten community was considered the seat of the town. It became the most important business community in the town that shared its name. Tusten peaked during the mid 1800’s. It boasted a sawmill, a gristmill, a brickyard, several stores, a church, a school and a post office. However, with the end of the timber and stone industries, the community steadily declined until it was essentially abandoned.
The Town of Tusten did not fare well in the twentiety century. The trees by then were gone and the local supply of bluestone used up. Automobiles and trucks took business away from the railroad and motels and large resorts of other areas attracted the summer visitors.
Sullivan County Historical Society History Preserver Award 2011
Allan Wayne Dampman
May 26, 1926 - October 14, 2016
Allan Dampman, a modest and gentle man, is a person of ideas with an imaginative, common sense mind, followed by a resolve and patience in pursuing whatever goal he sets. The choice by the Sullivan County Historical Society of Allan as this year's History Preserver reflects not only the important work that he has performed for the Society and his involvement in commemorating the Revolutionary War battle above Minisink Ford, but also his long tenure of involvement within the whole county community and the significance his contributions have made.