The Hamlet of Andes was founded in 1819. Nestled in the wooded hills and fertile valleys of the western slopes of the Catskill Mountains, Andes was a thriving, self-sufficient village, with saw and grist mills, artisans and professionals of every type. Andes also had hotels serving travelers on a major stagecoach route.
The most notable event in Andes’ history is its role in the 1845 Anti-Rent War, a seminal event in the tenant farmer rebellion in upstate New York. The Rent War led to the termination of an archaic form of land tenure akin to feudal serfdom. Tired of exploitation, tenant farmers dressed in disguises and confronted landowners. One of the landowners was fatally shot and hundreds of tenant farmers were sentenced to death by hanging. Ultimately the Anti-Rent cause was victorious and the tenant farmers’ sentences were commuted. The Anti-Renters gained political support and power, achieved several victories at the State Constitutional Convention in 1847. In Delaware County, the Anti-Rent party became the dominant political party. The bravery of the tenant farmers in Andes ultimately broke the power of the landowners.
In the 19th century, tanning, sheep and dairy farming flourished. As did the timber industry, with timber for sailing ships sent down the East Branch of the Delaware River to its final destination, the Port of Philadelphia.
By edict of eminent domain in the late 1940’s, the way was cleared for the creation of a new reservoir to provide water for New York City by the damming of the East Branch of the Delaware River and flooding its river valley. The Reservoir was named Pepacton Reservoir in honor of one of the towns destroyed. Andes was the only town in the area spared from destruction. Today it benefits from its location on the reservoir as a primary access point for recreational boaters and fishermen.
Dairy farming predominated in Andes through the 20th century into the 1970s. You can still see Holstein cows grazing on picturesque hills, surrounded by rolling pastures and cornfields, along with horses, beef cattle, goats and sheep. Today, the sustainable local agriculture movement featuring organic vegetables, free–range meats and farmers’ markets, is drawing enthusiastic young people to this new agricultural revolution.
For the outdoor enthusiast, Andes offers four seasons of fun and challenges. Hike one of the many trails, kayak on the Pepacton reservoir, go for a scenic bike ride through the hills, hunt, fish, downhill or cross-country ski, snowshoe, snowmobile, 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: family farms, charming locally owned and operated shops and restaurants–in many ways, life as it used to be: clean air, fresh food, beautiful vistas, a warm, welcoming community with no chain stores, no clogged roads or pollution. We look forward to having you join us for a weekend or as a permanent member of our diverse and vibrant community.