History

NSBTA HistoryIn 1924 there were almost as many cows as people in North Salem. The town was dotted with Holstein “milch” cows and Carlos Paterno raised prized Black Angus. Dirt roads and trails traversed the town and Golden’s Bridge Hounds (GBH) hunt was founded.

In 1940, Master of Foxhounds, R. Lawrence Parish, moved the hounds from Golden’s Bridge to kennels at Rock Ridge Farm – better known today as Stony Creek Farm on Baxter Road. After WorldWar II, a quaint home for the huntsman along with the GBH clubhouse was built further down Baxter Road. The hounds were moved to accompanying kennels where their “voices” can still be heard today. In these early days of riding and fox hunting in North Salem, GBH maintained all the bridle trails.

When the open countryside in Westchester and Fairfield Counties began to disappear, time stood still in North Salem. Riders from neighboring areas came to the town to enjoy the miles of trails and open meadows that were becoming scarce in other parts of the county. As the riding community grew, the Masters and Directors of GBH felt that all those using the trail system should help to support its maintenance. In June of 1970, the North Salem Bridle Trails Association (NSBTA) was formed. This non-profit organization became a separate entity from GBH and has grown from a trail maintenance organization to what we are today.

In 1979 “The Baxter Road Group” formed to preserve a key parcel in North Salem. It included the following members of the hunt: Hearst, Fox, Kraus, McKeon, vonKuhn, Colley and Stanton. The Baxter Road Group purchased the “Race Track” and later donated these spectacular 114-acres to the North Salem Open Land Foundation (NSOLF). The Race Track was where steeple chase races were once held. The viewing stand was perched on the knoll next to the majestic white oak. Fans from far and wide came to enjoy turf racing and marveled at the views overlooking the lake in the middle of the track. Thanks to the Baxter Road Group’s foresight, this property will be open forever for equestrians and naturalists to enjoy. It also got the wheels rolling to expand the NSOLF which continues to acquire and preserve open space in North Salem today.

The original NSBTA executive committee consisted of Mrs. Regina Fox, Dr. Jere Lord, Messrs. Daniel McKeon, Sam Savitt and William Zimmerman, the first three being masters of GBH. Mr. Zimmerman was the first president of the NSBTA, followed by David Kuehn, Charles Dickey, Peter Kamenstein, Kenneth Lippman, Andrew Sternlieb, Katherine Daniels, Joseph Pinto, Stephen Mulligan, and our current president Charlotte Harris.

Members of the NSBTA have participated in some very interesting activities over the years. Back in 1976, NSBTA members were part of the North Salem celebration of the Bicentennial, which was organized by the North Salem Historical Society. Uniforms were made that copied the uniforms worn by the Hussars. We got discarded jackets from West Point, cut off the coat tails and went from there. Dan McKeon was the Duc de Lauzun and Peter Moritz was commander. A proclamation was read and speeches given by dignitaries on the steps of Town Hall. Revolutionary troops were in attendance and a re-enactment of a charge by mounted Hussars was held at the Race Track.

In 1980 members took part in the Tricenntenial of the town of Bedford riding in a reenactment of Rochambeau’s march from Lebanon, CT to Yorktown, VA. The ride was done in stages over a number of years. Upon an invitation by the French, some members also went on to Paris to participate in the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783, which ended the Revolutionary War in America. They rode down the Champs Elysees with heads held high and American flags waving.

The NSBTA has grown from a trail maintenance organization to a community of riders and non-riders who appreciate the rural character of our town and understand how important the bridle trails are in preserving not only the town’s bucolic nature but also the preservation and nurturing of open land. It has also grown to encourage its members to participate in hunter paces, organized trail rides, barn dances and environmental preservation endeavors. Our trail system now covers over 100 miles and we thank the generous landowners who allow NSBTA trails to traverse their property; GBH whose membership contributes to the trail system and the NSOLF whose goal it is to preserve open space. These three organizations work together to preserve and protect what makes North Salem so unique.