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By Charles R. Nichols
I've been asked to add a few words to the new web site now and again about old Philmont. I certainly qualify by age, if not by talent. To quote an old Irish truism, "Now then, let's begin at the beginning!"
Welcome to Philmont The beginning of Philmont, however, is hard to pin down. The fine signs that welcome the stranger at two entrances of the Village proclaim 'Established in 1892'.
Certainly the Village was Incorporated in 1892, but people were living in this area well before that. From the native peoples that inhabited it during Henry Hudson's 1609 visit and before, through many small disagreements (the French & Indian War, the American Revolution, the War of 1812, etc.) there were people in the village area, and documented evidence of their military service is to be found.
Records show that people were here when the great Patents were granted in the late 1600s and early 1700s.
The Ellis history of 1878 mentions that George P. Philip first used waterpower to power his mill by building a dam in 1845, creating a 36 acre reservoir. To ensure adequate water in the dry season, a 56 acre 'Upper Reservoir' was created a mile or two upstream. It was, of course, the available fall of water -- the vertical distance from Barton's Mill level to Agawamuck Creek (not to be confused with the High Falls) -- that first enticed manufacturers to the hamlet. The extent of the fall, and the ability to create diverter dams to distribute the water needed for powering the mills, eventually caused quite a goodly number of these enterprises to be constructed.
The requirements to house, feed, and supply other wants to the workers built up the village. The Harlem Railroad started in 1852. Opening the Post Office in 1858 also helped growth. The Civil War created a mini-boom in the mill village.
So all things considered, probably the provable date of 1892 is the one to use. However, there is no doubt that the use of the High Falls on the sign is an appropriate symbol of what really created Philmont.