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Fork in the Road

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The following is part of a series that will run over the next few months submitted by the Somers Historical Society depicting Somers in the 19th century. 

SOMERS, N.Y. - If you lived in the hamlet of Somers in 1905, you might have needed to pick up a friend from the train at Purdys Station. So you hitched up the buggy and drove east on the Croton Turnpike (Route 202) to the fork in the road by the “Old cobblers shop” where you bore right on Purdys Road (Route 116). Hopefully, the mud was not too bad and the train on time.

At the corner of the fork was the home of Ruth Tompkins (1844-1922). Next to her house (behind the buggy) was the “Old cobblers shop” that served for 67 years as the home of the Somer’s library. In 1963, the library moved into the Tompkins house.

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Lastly, in 1982, the library moved into a grand new building in Reis Park.

The Croton Turnpike, which was created in 1807, went to the left at the fork and then to Croton Falls and beyond. In the early 19th century, a toll was collected at the Somers hamlet and yet again at Croton Falls. Many of the tolls collected were from cattle driven along the road (sheep were free).

Road signage in 1905 was haphazard. No speed limits, no curve signs, no traffic signals, no highway reflectors or guard rails. Nothing. Finally, in 1930, New York State gave through-roads route numbers. The Old Croton Turnpike (North Somerstown Road) at the fork became Route 202 and Purdys Road became Route 116. Route 116 went past the Purdys Station and beyond, to the

Connecticut border. In 1934, the U.S. government created the U.S. Highway System, and N.Y. Route 202 became forever Route 202.

When the roads were dry and the sun warm, it must have been wonderful to ride in a horse-drawn market wagon past the fork on the way to Somers hamlet to deliver some produce. A kind of bucolic peace.

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