Proposals for Towns, Farmers and Businesses (Berne)

From Helderberg Hilltowns of Albany County, NY
Back to Berne Today

Proposals for the town of Berne, town farmers, and businesses to give more reasons to visit Berne and to enhance their experience.

Fox Creek<br.>ca. 2003, Jeremy Rue


  • Advertise the natural beauty of the hill towns and the outdoor recreation opportunities.
  • Organize a "Hilltowns Farm and Business Association."
  • Attract folks interested in hiking, fishing, history, and photography.
  • Make the hill towns known for their great variety of trails.
  • Maps and lists of places to visit.

General ideas for the hill towns

"Proposals for Towns, Farmers and Businesses for the Hilltowns" has ideas for the Hilltowns, the farmers, and other businessmen, on ways they can promote farms and farm activities, hiking, and outdoor recreation opportunities, thus giving folks reasons to "Head for the Hills." In the long run, this will help achieve the above goals.


There are many opportunities for expanding the existing system of trails.

  • The towns should encourage the planning and construction of scenic trails for use by hikers, bikers, horseback riding, fisherman, photographers, cross country runners, etc is encouraged. In the fall they might be used by hunters; in the winter by cross country skiers.
  • Promote a system of bike trails though-out the hill towns.
  • Add new trails to connect existing natural reserves.

Warners Lake Trail

There could be a trail from the top of Cole Hill starting at The Long Path and down the hill somewhere and along the tree line on the east side of the Cole Hill valley, across Fox Creek at the bridge on Cole Hill Road and up the old Camp Orinsekwa Lane and along the west side of Warners Lake and on to the Knox (Burke) Preserve. Along the lake it might be used by bicyclists and runners as well as hikers.

Fox Creek Trail

Develop a Fox Creek Trail trail along the banks of Fox Creek.

Huyck Preserve Extension

The Long Path, which crosses Partridge Run NYS Wildlife Management Area near the northern town line between Rensselaerville and Berne should have an extension trail to the Huyck Preserve.

Identify existing resources

Historic mill sites

Survey of historic mill sites to locate and document the conditions of the remains of any historic sawmills and grist mills and dam sites. They were scattered all over the town. A starting point would be the 1854 and 1866 maps of the town which showed various grist and sawmills. Like abandoned cemeteries, these abandoned ruins will eventually be lost. It would be good to know exactly where they were before it is to late.

Family burying grounds

Locate and restore abandoned family burying grounds whose locations are not now known.

Historic buildings survey

Survey of extant historic buildings in the town with a history of each.

Expand existing reserves

Fox Creek Park Expansion

About 1752 Jacob Weidman built a log dam at the top of the Berne falls on Fox Creek to create a mill pond to power the first sawmill. By 1781 his son Peter had built a grist mill below the sawmill. About 1797 the Miner Walden Carding and Fulling Mill was built below the Weidman Mills. It later produced wooden shoe pegs. By 1825 it became part of Simmons Axe Factory. This mill had its own dam, a log structure with stone wing walls. In 1977 one could still see on the Fox Creek Park side of the creek of evidence of fastenings for yet another log dam. Perhaps they are still visible. There are probably a number of foundations of mills and factories along the north side of the creek.

Fox Creek Park should be expanded:

  • To the opposite side of the creek to include all the land along the creek where the old mills stood and their sites would be marked. There would be a trail along the north side of the creek connection the mill sites. A King Post Truss Bridge for pedestrians might connect the two parks.
  • Along the south bank of the creek to connect with the school and Berne Town Park. The page on the Foxenkill has a discussion of this proposal.

Fox Creek stream Improvement and Access

The page on the Foxenkill has proposals for stream improvement and access.

Expand visitor facilities

  • In any district of the town a home owner may operate a Guest House. The definition of a Guest House is a home owner who makes extra bedrooms available in their home for occasional guests. The Guest House is not a business but rather a way to earn extra money for the home owner from time to time.
  • Landowners whose land a trail crosses or who live within say 1000 feet of a trail could be encouraged to build facilities along such trails to benefit users of the trails and to charge for their use: trail shelters, tent camping sites, toilet facilities, picnic tables, fire pits.
  • With special permits, landowners in agricultural districts should be allowed to build cabins for rent by the day or week, and to build facilities for use by recreation vehicle campers.