By James Nani, Record on-line.com, link to original post
NEW WINDSOR – To get to one of Orange County’s best hidden beaches – one with a distinguished history pedigree – just drive between the car dealership and the bowling alley.
New Windsor’s 102-acre Kowawese Unique Area at Plum Point, open from dawn to dusk, has a history that dates back to when the Woarenecks, a Native American tribe associated with the Lenape Nation, lived on the banks of the northern corridor of the Hudson Highlands.
In 1685, Scottish immigrant Patrick MacGregorie decided to build his log cabin on the site and put a trading post nearby, making it the first place settled by Europeans in Orange County.
During the American Revolution, a 14-gun battery was set up on a bank of the park. The guns fired on British ships sailing up the Hudson to burn down the City of Kingston in 1777.
Later, the landscape was radically reshaped when sand and gravel was mined there and hauled off on barges until the 1970s. Visitors walking through the wide trails of the park now might still be able to make out a 50-foot-high rusty well pipe that was once completely covered in rock.
In the late 1980s, New York bought the Kowawese site for $13.3 million to pre-empt construction of 530 riverside condominiums. It was still inaccessible until 1995, when a sturdy, two-lane concrete bridge was built over dual railroad tracks.
Now, nature has reclaimed Plum Point, with new growth covering the berms of gravel left from years ago. Bald eagles winter in the area and, depending on which quiet trail you hike, you’re likely to see black walnut trees, white oaks and cottonwoods that leave that park covered in white fluff in the spring.
For most visitors, though, the draw of Kowawese will be the beach, where you can bask on warm summer days, launch a canoe and kayak or enjoy a picnic. Barbecues and benches are scattered around the park, and anglers often throw their lines in the Hudson, hoping to pull in striped bass, white perch and herring.
The area is great for those looking to not travel far in order to enjoy sun on the beach, or a casual stroll through the woods.