On Saturday, November 14, I joined a group of history-minded individuals in a hike guided by Bice Wilson through the archeological remains of The Hills, an African American community that existed between the 1790s and the early 20th century. In her book, Freedom Journey, Edythe Ann Quinn estimates that the population of The Hills reached its peak in the 1860s, with about 200 people living in numerous dwellings. Most of these homes were located along Stony Hill Road, which begins off Lake Street in West Harrison and disappears into woods. As recently as one hundred years ago, these woods were still home to people who remembered the heyday of The Hills.
What remains for people today is a fascinating and lovely series of trails, stone staircases, foundations, and ruins set in woods whose steep ravines and varying topography make time travel seem possible. The noise of I-287 and the sight of West Harrison's rooftops fade away the deeper one treks into the Silver Lake Preserve, a county-owned property open to the public. As you can see in the pictures below, our group enjoyed a crisp November day and made our way from Liberty Park in White Plains, through the Silver Lake Preserve (part of Harrison), and back into White Plains along Buckout Road.
Those interested in learning more about The Hills' past, as well as how to see what remains today, can contact me at the White Plains Public Library.
Members of the group stand around one of the underground stone structures in Silver Lake Preserve. We theorized about the construction of the structures and learned about methods of stone construction.