Hudson Highlands | Hudson River School

The Hudson River: Hudson Highlands

The Hudson Highlands are mountains surrounding the Hudson River. They played a significant role in America’s military, cultural and environmental history. Henry Hudson and his crew on the Half Moon were the first Europeans to encounter the Highlands in 1609 when they explored the river. Thomas Cole, along with several other artists, began painting the wild landscapes of the Hudson River area, and was especially captivated by the wild beauty that he found in the Highlands. Thomas Champers, Jasper Frances Cropsey, and Frederic Edwin Church are some of the other artists to depict the natural beauty of the Highlands.

During the Revolutionary War, the mountains were of vital strategic importance. The Continental Army maintained control of the region so as to hold the river valley and prevent the British from cutting New England off from the rest of the colonies. The Hudson River Chain, cast at nearby iron foundries, stretched across the river from the fort at West Point, preventing British ships from traveling upriver. The fort is today the site of the United States Military Academy.

In the early twentieth century, the Highlands became the subject of a budding environmental movement, designed to counteract the damage and pollution caused by quarries and logging in the Highlands. Several state parks now preserve the area.

Samuel Colman (1832–1920) Near Cro’s Nest on the Hudson, New York
Oil on academy board, 12 1/8 x 18 inches


Homer Dodge Martin (1836–1897) Highlands on the Hudson
Oil on canvas, 20 1/8 x 26 1/8
Signed lower left: H. D. Martin

Image courtesy of Questroyal Fine Art, LLC