Pine Island, New York

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Pine Island is a hamlet in the town of Warwick in Orange County, New York, United States. It is the largest community in the Black Dirt Region, which is famous for its "black dirt onions." It gets its name from its slight elevation over the surrounding land. In the days before the nearby Wallkill River was rerouted to control flooding, it would often be an actual island for a period in the spring.


Pine Island is known for its black dirt. This rich soil is the result of constant flooding during the retreat of glaciers during the last ice age, about 12,000 years ago. The "muck," as it was called, plastered shallow lakes that today make up the fields, or "flats." Much the same as a peat bog, these areas are known for their prolific fossil production, particularly those of ancient mastodons. Into the 1800s the swamps still lingered, surrounding what is greater Pine Island.[1] It was then that these lakes were first drained to be utilized for their superior growing capabilities. The Wallkill River winds through this region and drops a mere 11 feet. When flooded, small islands emerged, Pine Island being the principal one.

When locals first tried to alter the route of the river, obstacles lay in river bed obstructions and man-made dams for the purpose of water-powered mills. Farmers wanting to eliminate the constant threat of flood could not afford to pay the local mill owner to lower his dam, so they dug a series of ditches and canals to drain the "Drowned Lands."[2]

Between 1829 and the turn of the century a series of votes, rulings, arrests, injunctions, dam destructions and repairs ensued during what became known as the Muskrat (dam destroyers) and Beaver (dam builders) War.[3]


Pine Island is part of the Warwick Valley Central School District. Faced with declining town-wide school enrollment and a budget gap, the Warwick school board voted to close Pine Island Elementary, the smallest of the four district elementary schools, at the end of the 2010-2011 school year.[4] Pine Island students now attend Sandfordville Elementary School. Books from the closed school library were donated in 2013 to the Rhame Avenue Elementary School in East Rockaway, New York to replace those damaged by Hurricane Sandy.[5] The school building is now used for community programs such as the Warwick Community Kitchen.[6]


  • St. Stanislaus R.C. Church - Founded in 1912, the parish marked its centennial on June 23, 2012 with a mass celebrated by Cardinal Timothy Dolan.[7]
  • St. Peter Lutheran Church - Founded in 1901 by Volga German immigrants, the church was rebuilt in 1918 following a fire on Christmas Eve, 1917.[8]
  • Black Dirt Distillery [10]
  • Pine Island Park
  • Scenic Farms Golf Course - a 9-hole golf course and driving range

Notable residents

See also


  1. "The History of the Black Dirt Region". Pine Island NY Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved 22 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Snell, James P. (1881). "Drowned Lands of the Wallkill". History of Sussex and Warren Co., NJ.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Snell, James P. (1881). "Drowned Lands of the Wallkill". History of Sussex and Warren Co., NJ.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Warwick Votes to Close School
  5. Library Collection from Pine Island Elementary School to be loaned to Rhame Ave. Elementary School in East Rockaway
  6. Troop 407 Girl Scout Opens Soup Kitchen in Pine Island
  7. In Step With Tradition
  8. Saint Peter Lutheran Church - Center for Volga German Studies
  9. 'No Reservations' Needed at the Quaker Creek Store in Pine Island.
  10. Local alcohol enterprises on tap for Hudson River Ventures' Eldridge
  11. Fellowships; A Genius in the Vegetable Patch

External links

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