Save the caves

Goshen /
| 05 Feb 2024 | 12:38

The town of Goshen has passed a resolution authorizing the supervisor, Mr. Betro, to negotiate the purchase of Orange County lands containing Lookout Mountain (Dutchess Quarry), which contains sacred historical caves. The Tilcon Mining operation, (operational since 1930s), is located along NY17A, directly next to these historical caves.

The Lookout Mountain sacred caves are indeed significant archaeological sites in northern U.S., dating back 12,500 years to the ice age. It is the earliest confirmed site of human habitation. The caves are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and numerous artifacts from the caves are displayed in the Albany Natural History Museum.

Of particular concern are the caves within the quarry that hold immense historical and cultural significance. These caves are not just geological formations; they are repositories of the past, intimately tied to the Native American tribes that once called this land home. The caves are integral components of a fragile ecosystem. If the Tilcon quarry is allowed to expand, it will jeopardize the caves and their historical significance. The continual blasting at this site leaves these caves vulnerable.

Supervisor Betro says the town is prepared to be the historic treasure’s conservator. The town is looking towards planned growth and development matched with land conservation of this site. Supervisor Betro feels that as a community we should do everything we can to ensure these caves, which have existed for over 12,500 years, should outlive us by another 12,500 years. Although the caves are in Goshen, these caves don’t belong to us; they belong only to history, past and the future.

Michael Edelstein, of the Orange Environment organization, has been working to see these caves preserved and protected. Mr. Edelstein believes this can be accomplished by ending the mining operation which threatens these caves, promote the sensitive development of the overall site as an educational and historical monument, and to preserve and promote advance learning from the site. He would like to see the overall site restored and reclaimed.

The Friends of the Ramapough-Lenape Nation are most directly descended from the occupants of these cave complexes. This organization is advocating to save these caves with their rich indigenous roots. It’s crucial to preserve their cultural heritage and respect the historical significance of these caves.

The situation with Orange County’s subdivision of lands containing the historical caves raises critical concerns. The potential sale of lot 3 to the highest bidder, especially with the Tilcon mining operation seeking expansion, underscores the importance of a thoughtful decision by the Orange County government. The town of Goshen’s interest in purchasing the lands indicates a commitment to preservation. It is crucial for all parties involved to prioritize responsible land use and consider the long-term impact on the community.

If you want to help, contact your Orange County Legislature at You can also sign a petition online:

“So much of our future lies in preserving our past,” — Peter Westbrock.

Holly O’Hern