This area was first inhabited
by the Leni-Lenape Indians. An archaeological excavation of an Indian
shelter in Sloatsburg disclosed artifacts dating back over 5,000 years.
(See display at the Sloatsburg Library).
In 1738 Dutch settler, Wynant Van Gelder purchased a tract of land called
Pothat from the local Indians - that tract was to become the village of
Sloatsburg. In 1747 Van Gelder deeded the land to his brother-in-law, Isaac
Van Duzer (Van Deursen). Van Duzer in turn deeded the property in 1763 to
his son-in-law, Stephen Sloat. At that time, there was no inland route for
wagon travel upstate to Albany and other northern settlements. Dutch
settlers like Isaac Van Duzer, Stephen Sloat and others recognized that an
old Indian trail through the Ramapo Pass could be widened and leveled to
form such a route. They began this work and also expanded their homes into
inns to accommodate the travelers along this roadway. The old Sloat home &
Inn at the entrance to Sloatsburg has been preserved and is listed on the
National Register of Historic Places.
This route was fully opened for wagon traffic at about the time of the start
of the Revolutionary War. The British had conquered New York City and were
intent upon seizing Albany. General Washington blocked their access on the
Hudson River with a huge chain stretched across the river and gun
emplacements at West Point. To block the inland route at the Ramapo Pass,
he established a command post at the Sloat home and placed Captain Stephen
Sloat in charge of the troops guarding the Pass. Stephen's eldest son,
Private John Sloat was subsequently shot by a sentry and buried on a grass
knoll that later became the Sloat Family burial plot and eventually the
Sloatsburg Cemetery - also listed on the National Register of Historic
Isaac Sloat, son of pioneer Stephen and brother of Pvt. John was the first
entrepreneur of this area. By 1792 he had constructed a dam across the
Ramapo river with a system of sluice gates and a mill race to provide water
power to run a saw mill and tannery located in what is now downtown
Sloatsburg. Jacob Sloat, a son of Isaac, constructed a cotton mill in
1815. His operation was so successful that it was enlarged several times
and continued to be a major local employer until destroyed by fire in 1955.
It was Jacob Sloat and his industry that put Sloatsburg on the map, becoming
an incorporated village in 1929.
In 1800 the Orange Turnpike Association was formed and until the NYS Thruway
was completed in 1957, the Orange Turnpike - now Route 17 - was the only
major route to upstate New York. Thousand of passengers passed through
"Downtown Sloatsburg" annually. The Glenwood Inn, Taylor's Inn and the
Henry Inn were elegant restaurants and hotels catering to those travelers in
the early 1900's. Commerce flourished in "Downtown Sloatsburg" during that
period. Multiple grocery stores, gasoline stations, departments stores, and
many other stores and services lined "Main Street Sloatsburg" until after
World War II when the concept of shopping malls and other social changes
negatively impacted shopping in local villages. Sloatsburg is now primarily
a remote and environmentally attractive residential area for commuters who
work in other areas.