The Port of Kingston is in southeastern New York at the mouth of Rondout Creek where it meets the Hudson River about 87 kilometers (54 miles) south of the Port of Albany. Part of the New York Harbor River System, the Port of Kingston is almost 88 nautical miles (139 kilometers or 86 miles) north of the Port of New York. The Port of Kingston is the seat of Ulster County, New York, and it was the State's first capital. The 2010 US Census reported that almost 23.9 thousand people called Port of Kingston home.
Before the future Port of Kingston was populated by European settlers, the Esopus tribe, a branch of the Lenape (or Delaware) Nation inhabited the area. Two early wars almost wiped out the early European settlements. The Lenape were hunters, fishers, and farmers, and their camps were established for those purposes.
When Europeans arrived at the future Port of Kingston, the Lenape traded agricultural products for iron tools. Europeans brought with them diseases that greatly weakened Lenape culture. They also brought violence. During the last half of the 1600s, the Esopus people fought the Dutch settlers from the New Netherland Colony in what was called the Esopus Wars. Mutual misunderstanding and suspicion led to the conflicts. Dutch settlers started the first battle, and the second battle was a continuation of the first, with the Esopus people striking back in revenge. The battles demonstrated the strength of the Esopus, a lesson the British took to heart.
European diseases also took their toll on the Esopus people. Many historians think that the Esopus that the survivors joined with the Ramapough Mountain people after Kieft's War in 1643. The American Revolution added pressure to their population, and many Lenape moved to the west. Today, the descendants of the Esopus tribe live on the Stockbridge-Munsee reservation in Wisconsin. Those who stayed in the Port of Kingston area were moved to the Oklahoma Indian territory in the 1860s.
Around 1615, the Dutch established a fur-trading post at the site of the future Port of Kingston. The Port of Kingston was called Esopus when it was first settled in 1651. At that time, the future Port of Kingston was one of the three major Dutch settlements on the Hudson River in New Netherland. The others were Albany and New Amsterdam (today New York City). The Port of Kingston was fortified in 1658, and it received a charter naming it Wiltwyck in 1661.
Under British rule, the town's name was changed to Kingston. In 1777, the British occupied New York City and Albany. The colony's government was moved to the Port of Kingston. The British reached the Port of Kingston but not Albany, and they burned the city. Fortunately, the residents were aware of British troop movements, and most of them had evacuated the Port of Kingston with the government. Every other year, the Port of Kingston re-enacts the burning of 1777.
In colonial times, the Port of Kingston was an important granary for the colonies. The town of Rondout, which is now part of the Port of Kingston, was an important transportation hub for coal from Pennsylvania that moved on the Delaware & Hudson (D&H) Canal. Later, other goods were transported through the Port of Kingston that included the bluestone used to create the sidewalks in New York.
In 1805, the Port of Kingston was incorporated as a village, and it 1872, it became a city when the towns of Rondout, Wiltwick, and Wilbur were consolidated with Kingston. When deposits of natural cement were found in the valley in 1844, the quarrying industry was born in the Port of Kingston. The Newark Lime and Cement Company shipped cement from the Port of Kingston to destinations across the United States.
The Hudson River was lined with large warehouses in the Port of Kingston for ice that was cut during the winter to be used for refrigeration. Boat-builders located near the port, and the busy Port of Kingston was also convenient to brick-making factories. When the railroads arrived in the Port of Kingston area, its position as a shipping hub basically ended. Port of Kingston industry diversified, and manufacturing blasting components and machine tools became important to the local economy.
Today, fruit orchards envelope the Port of Kingston. Being located near popular Catskills resorts, the Port of Kingston is also a base for tourists. Many historic buildings are preserved in the Port of Kingston, including the 1676 Senate House and the 1852 Old Dutch Church.