Founded in 1819, the Hamlet of Andes, nestled in the wooded hills and fertile valleys of the western slopes of the Catskill Mountains, was a thriving self-sufficient village in its early days, with saw and grist mills, artisans and professionals of every stripe, and hotels that were stops on a major stagecoach route.
In 1845, the Anti-rent War, a seminal event in the tenant rebellion in upstate New York was fought in Andes leading to the termination of an archaic form of land tenure akin to feudal serfdom. It happened on Dingle Hill when under-sheriff Osman Steele, at a forced cattle sale, was shot on his horse by a masked “Calico Indian”(one of the tenant farmer protesters, claiming to have been shot at first). Hundreds subsequently were sentenced to death by hanging, though their sentences were later commuted by the next governor.
In the 19th century logging, tanning, sheep and dairy farming flourished, with rafting of spar timber for sailing ships down the East Branch of the Delaware going as far as the Port of Philadelphia.
By edict of eminent domain in the 1950’s, the way was cleared for the damming of the East Branch of the Delaware River, the razing of the towns of Shavertown, Union Grove, Arena and Pepacton, and flooding of the valley to create a reservoir, in order to provide water for New York City (leaving only the village of nearby Andes as a viable community).
Dairy farming predominated in Andes through the 20th century into the 1970s. Though the number of dairy farms in Andes has now shrunk to only a few, you can still see Holstein cows grazing on our picturesque hills, surrounded by rolling corn and hay fields, with horses, beef cattle, goats, sheep making an increased appearance.
Today, sustainable local agriculture movement featuring organic vegetables, meadow raised meats and farmers’ markets, is drawing enthusiastic young people to this new incarnation of agriculture.
For the outdoor enthusiast, Andes offers four seasons of fun and challenges. Hike one of our many trails, kayak on the Pepatcon reservoir, go for a scenic bike ride through our hills, hunt, fish, ski, snowshoe, photograph the natural beauty, or just sit back and watch the quiet splendor from your porch.
“Small is beautiful” could be the motto of Andes: no industrial farms, no chain stores, no clogged roads: in many ways, life as it used to be: clean air, fresh food, beautiful vistas and a warm, welcoming community.