It is amazing what you can drive by most of your life without noticing. I was heading over to the Taconic Parkway on Rte 44 out of Amenia, New York, and there at the top of the stretch I noticed an old mile marker on the side of the road. I made a mental note to stop on my way back, and then was astounded to pass two more such stones between there and Washington Hollow a dozen miles away.
I took the school bus every day on this road for years - this was the main transportation artery where I grew up - and somehow never saw these before.
True to my intent, I stopped at the marker shown in the photograph at left on my return trip. It is on the North side of the road just before Washington Hollow between Copperfields and S Road. It declares that passers-by are 12 miles from P. C. House, meaning the seat of county government in Poughkeepsie on the Hudson River.
I blew by the mile marker I spotted to the east in Lithgow, but back on the ridge before Rte 44 plunges south over Delaverne Hill,I stopped for the other stone, shown here at right. It has been encased in masonry, and the face of the brownstone is badly eroded, but I could just make out words to the effect that it was 23 miles from Poughkeepsie.
These are very old stones. I guessed they probably dated from the very late 1700s or early 1800s, and in fact it turns out that they were erected in 1804. What is now Rte 44 became the Dutchess Turnpike in 1806 [though it predates that designation] and near where I grew up was the Shunpike which locals erected to avoid the tolls.
Apparently there are other historic mile markers scattered about Dutchess County. I will now make a point of trying to locate them.