Why Was a Fortress Built Around These Old Rocks on Route 9?
A stone formation is heavily guarded behind a thick, iron fence on Route 9. Why the strong security?
If you've driven south on Route 9 in Poughkeepsie near the new Texas Roadhouse restaurant you may have noticed this peculiar sight. On the west side of Route 9 is a thick, small fence surrounding a rock structure.
For those who have noticed it, you may have briefly wondered why such care has been put in place to protect these old bricks. Well, it turns out the bricks are actually the newest parts of these structures that date back to the early 1700's.
Route 9 was once referred to as Albany Post Road. According to the Hudson River Valley Institute, the route was established in colonial times by the postmaster general as a path to bring correspondence back and forth between New York City and Albany. Travelers had no way of knowing how far they were from their destination, so Benjamin Franklin devised a system of sandstone markers resembling grave stones that were set up along the way. On Albany Post Road, these stones indicated how many miles the current location was from New York City.
The marker in front of the Texas Roadhouse is 77 miles from New York.
In 1928 an effort was put into place to protect these delicate markers that were worn down by rain and wind. Then-Governor Franklin Roosevelt ordered the Dutchess County Historical Society to build stone structures around the markers to keep them from toppling over and breaking. Today, because of the softness of the sandstone, the reddish-brown tablets are mostly worn away and difficult to read. However, many of them in our area are still standing thanks to Roosevelt's perseveration efforts.
If you look carefully during your travels up and down Route 9 you're bound to see more of these old markers still standing. Some are in better shape than others.
After construction of Texas Roadhouse and the new Advanced Auto Parts store in 2016, a heavy fence appeared around the marker for mile 77, further protecting the structure that has stood for over 300 years. Local historians and preservationists are working to protect more of these markers for future generations.