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About

A Brief History of Rhinecliff
Rhinecliff’s roots can be traced back to the earliest settlers on the Hudson River. In July of 1686, five partners, Gerrit Artaen, Arien Rose, John Elton, Hendrick Kipp and Jacob Kipp, purchased approximately 1,200 acres along the Hudson from the Sepasco Indians. Two years later, the land at Kipsbergen was among the first granted by New York Governor, Thomas Dongan, to encourage settlement on the several million acres of wilderness between New York City and Albany. Of the five partners, brothers Hendrick and Jacob Kipp were the only two that settled on their land. Jacob created Kipp’s Landing, now Long Dock, and began a ferry service between Long Dock and Cantine’s Landing. And so it was that the rich history of Rhinecliff began.

In 1845 Irish immigrants began coming to America in large numbers after the potato crop failed. Many of them came to the Hudson Valley looking for opportunity and many settled in Rhinecliff. It was near the railroad and they were gainfully employed in that industry. They are credited with laying the train tracks, putting up buildings, and maintaining the trains. They also helped on the large estates and factories in the area.

History of the Rhinecliff Volunteer Fire Company, Rescue Squad and Ladies Auxiliary
The Rhinecliff Volunteer Fire Company was organized in 1914. Originally, the firehouse was located on the site across from Morton Library on Kelley Street, in a small wooden garage. In times of fire, the rim of a locomotive wheel would be banged for a bell. In 1926-1927, a brick building was built on the corner of Shatzell and Orchard Sts. The architect was William J. Beardsly. Later, an addition was built in order to accommodate a new fire truck.

In the early to mid-1900s, The Rhinecliff Volunteer Fire Company was more than a volunteer service. The company was held by the bonds and friendships unique to a small place. The company would throw many annual social events: a carnival in the parking lot of the firehouse, complete with a ferris wheel, a clam bake at the Firemen’s Field on Valley Way Road with legendary card games going on late into the night. They had a baseball team known as the “Dock Rats” and sponsored a Little League team.

The Ladies Auxiliary was formed mainly by the wives of the firemen. In times of trouble, they would prepare food and beverages at the firehouse, take it to the fire scene, and help keep the men on task.

Today, the Rhinecliff Fire Company continues its traditions as a volunteer company. The Hamlet of Rhinecliff is a residential community within the Town of Rhinebeck, located approximately 90 miles north of New York City. It spans approximately 15 square miles and has about 750 permanent residents. In recent years, the population that works in the Fire District has significantly decreased. Currently the Rhinecliff Volunteer Fire Company is comprised of 75 members, of which 25 are active.