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"It was so good to view the River from the point of view of those who live and work and play around it."Talk back on the boards.

Map of the Hudson Rover
Science and Health:
Bill Moyers on the Hudson
More on This Story:
Hudson River History

BILL MOYERS: It's quite a river, the Hudson, flowing from near the Canadian border down past New York harbor to the Atlantic... And it's quite a story we report in AMERICA'S FIRST RIVER, from the American Revolution to the epic battle between Jack Welch, former Chairman of General Electric, and people up and down the Hudson who fought him tooth and toenail over PCBs dumped in the river by GE. The good news is that the Hudson is no longer on the list of America's most endangered rivers.

The bad news is that many of our other famous rivers are still in trouble...

The 19th-century Hudson
Discover the Hudson (Again)

Compared with other famous rivers — with the Missouri or the Mississippi, the Hudson is a small river. Just 315 miles long — 71st among America's rivers. The Hudson flows from the mountains in upper New York State, down to New York City where it disappears into the Atlantic Ocean. It is a river celebrated for its history, its commerce, but most of all, its beauty.

Fanny Kemble was a British actress and travel writer- one of thousands of Europeans who flocked here in the 1830's to taste the splendor of the New World. They lined up and paid their money for the American Grand Tour! The great attraction — the highlight — was a ride up the Hudson on the new steamboat! Click on the picture to read her praise of the Hudson.

20th-century Hudson
America's First River

It was the center of population for one thing. The nearly 3 million people who lived here were centered in northern New Jersey. Half the population lived east of the Hudson, half lived west of the Hudson. The supplies of meat were grown in New England. The grain, the wheat, came from areas to the south. So economically it divided. Then, of course, the Hudson Valley itself was one of the richest granaries in the Colonies. So, it began as a river of economy. When the war came along it became strategically very important. -- General David Palmer

Old West Point
America's Best Defence: West Point

If you envision North America and the thirteen colonies along the eastern seaboard, they were all right on the ocean or along the rivers. People didn't live inland. There were a few trappers and settlers beginning to move inland, but the American people lived near the water. There were no roads as we know them today, none of the major rivers were bridged, so traffic, economy, population movement was along the rivers. And the British thought, the British in England and the British commanders over here, that if they could control the Hudson River, they could put down the rebellion. The Americans agreed with them.
--General David Palmer

Dave Palmer is from Texas, West Point Class of '56. He taught history there; served in Vietnam and in Germany and in the Pentagon. And for five years, was Superintendent of the Academy.

20th-century Hudson
West Point Now

200 years of history are alive here, even among the dead. If West Point were a religious school instead of a military academy, the religion would be history. --Bill Moyers

A list of America's most endangered rivers has just been published by American Rivers, in time for Earth Day. First on the list — Lewis and Clark's mighty Missouri, touching seven states. Then there's:

  • The Big Sunflower River in Mississippi
  • The Klamath in California and Oregon...
  • The Kansas River
  • The Powder River in Wyoming
  • The Altamaha in Georgia
  • The Allagash Wilderness Waterway in Maine...
  • The Canning in Alaska
  • The Guadalupe in Texas
  • The Apalachicola River in Florida.

But all is not yet lost. What happened on the Hudson can happen elsewhere, if people love something enough to fight for it. See a list of Hudson River Groups.

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