There are many unfamiliar sounding words used for names of places in New York. We’re particularly accustomed to them near the Capital Region, for example: Rensselaer, Kinderhook, Voorheesville, and Crailo. Have you heard of Crailo? In Dutch it means Crow’s Wood, but a physical place called Crailo State Historic Site [9 1/2 Riverside Ave, Rensselaer, NY 12144] exists.
It is a museum where you can learn about the Colonial Dutch in the Hudson Valley, and perhaps make more sense of words you may see on a daily basis. When I visited on a Saturday I almost thought the museum was closed. There was no sign of life inside, I actually went around back to check for people, nothing…so I was about to leave when Jeff said, hey let’s look at the front door. Oh right, the front door. There was a bell, we rang it, and someone appeared and unlocked the door! Magic. So even if the place looks closed, remember that tricky detail about front doors. We ended up being the only visitors there, so we had the whole place to ourselves.
You begin with a movie learning about the family who actually owned the land that the house is on, learning what the word ‘patroonship’ means. Afterwards explore the three levels of the home, exhibits include period clothing, decorative items, and archaeological finds from “New Netherland.”
Many of the display are interactive, be sure to test your strength with the yoke in the basement and you will have one more new understanding of the hardships that enslaved people endured.
The museum does an excellent job educating the public on the Dutch involvement with slavery and the triangular trade. Many believed the Dutch were always free and tolerant people and maybe they were more so than other cultures,
however they displaced over 550,000 African people and enslaved them so the empire could enjoy a Golden Age.
The Dutch empire spread all over the world in the 17th century. I wonder if Dutch culture still permeates through these other places as strongly as it does in Albany, for example: wooden clogs, architecture, and tulips.
Fun fact, it is possible that the song Yankee Doodle was written at Fort Crailo. Learn more in the garden out back by reading informational plaques.
Tip: if you plan on visiting Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site across the river, be sure to purchase a combo ticket to get a better deal.