The Schoharie Creek At Burtonville
Burtonville, one of the first settlements in Montgomery County was originally part of the Stone Heap Patent. Judah Burton settled here shortly after the Revolutionary War, building a dam and mills on the creek calling it Burton Dam. The community's name was changed to Mudge Hollow and then to Burtonville in 1837.
The name Schoharie is derived from an Indian word To-Was-Sho-Hor meaning "drift wood" and is descriptive of the river's tendency to carry along and deposit trees and other objects during times of high water. The valley, formed through the actions of Pleistocene (ice age) glaciers and continuous water erosion, is composed primarily of sedimentary shale and limestone. This rock, unique to eastern and southeastern New York State can be found throughout the Schoharie Valley in the form of shale cliffs and escarpments. Another unique geological characteristic of the Schoharie region is the flat horizontal span of shale bedrock referred to locally as a dance floor. Polished smooth by the action of glaciers, and example of dance floors can be seen here over the north side of the lower bridge.
This place has been used as a ford (crossing point) by both Native Americans and European settlers. A shallow, swift flowing river, the Schoharie at Burtonville was an ideal site to settle because of the limitless power that could be harnessed from the creek. In 1785 the first mills were erected by Judah Burton just upstream from this place. Water power to the mills was channeled through the creation of a large mill race which diverted water from the river to several mills erected between 1790 and the early 1900's. The race, called a power ditch, was built of stone with dry masonry techniques. The stone used in building the mills, race, and dwellings in the village itself was quarried from the creek.
The first bridge across the creek was erected at Burtonville in 1790. A later covered wooden bridge was destroyed by flooding in 1814. This flood also destroyed the mill which had been erected by Judah Burton in 1785.
Burtonville today is a quiet residential hamlet. The creek here is used for recreation (predominantly fishing and swimming) and is known for its clear waters and abundant wildlife. The village supports fire and emergency medical services as well as the environmental and community cultural organization, the Schoharie River Center.
Built in 1857, the former Methodist Church is now the Schoharie River Center. It was one of two churches in Burtonville, having at one time 90 members. The community also supported two hotels, two stores, black smith shops, and its own school and post office.
In the late 18th and through most of the 19th century this community was a booming area with a tannery, saw mill, grist mill, carding machine and fulling mill, nail factory, woolen factory, sash and blind factory. Hay forks and light wagons were also made in Burtonville. Stone mill foundations are visible along this side of the creek to the right.
The Schoharie River Center, a non-profit organization, thanks the Decentralization Program of the New York State Council for the Arts, for support for this sign. Appreciation also goes to the Mohawk Valley Heritage Corridor Commission for their assistance.