Ask Westchester, October 2012: Name Origins of the Byram River

Q: I heard that the Byram River was named that because, in the Civil War, it’s where you’d go to buy rum. True?
—Devin F. Landin, Yorktown

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A: Har har; good one. But our April Fools’ Day issue was months ago. Next, you’ll have us believing that the moniker “Cortlandt” derived from an excessive number of tennis and basketball facilities in the area; or that Tuckahoe was so named due to…well, we’ll let that one be. For those unfamiliar with Westchester’s bodies of water, the Byram River flows from the Byram Lake Preserve near Armonk—where there is a school district by the same name—to the harbor at the Greenwich, Connecticut/Port Chester border—where there is a neighborhood by the same name. According to the county archives, the river was originally known as the Armonck but was changed because “Native Americans who traded their furs on the coast for rum would so often approach the merchants on the river with the phrase ‘buy rum.’” So, um, how do you like that? Well, score one for you, Devin—but don’t think we didn’t notice that you were wrong about when it was named. Not that we’re bitter.

Q: I have grown up in Edgemont, and frequent the shops on East Hartsdale Avenue in Hartsdale, particularly the dog groomer there. A few weeks back, I noticed the installation of dog “poop bag” dispensers. This was funny to me because that street has been dubbed “poop alley” by residents as it was notorious for dog owner residents and groomer/vet customers not cleaning up after their dogs (something I find a bit appalling).
With the recent environmental concerns in Rye (specifically how they no longer offer plastic bags at retail stores there, which I learned from your mag!), I think these dog waste bag dispensers are a great addition to East Hartsdale Avenue. But I can’t seem to find out much more about them. The bags seem to be eco-friendly and the signs indicate they have been donated by “Smoochie Poochies.”
I was wondering if you could find out more about these? Are they going to be installed throughout Westchester or are they just limited to Hartsdale?

—Jessie Weitzer, via e-mail

A: We know what you want—some cheesy pun about canine waste tailor-made for you to show all your friends. Well, nah-ah. That’s not what we do. Do you think it’s easy to…wait a minute. “do. Do.” Oh no. We’ve done it again. Doggone it. Wait, we mean…ah crap. Rather, that is to say,…Argh! Forget it. We quit. See you at question three.
Here’s Jenn Valentin, Smoochie Poochies Dog Walking and Concierge owner and president with your answer: “This past spring, as a commitment to the Town of Greenburgh, Smoochie Poochies donated the boxes and continual replenishment of the bio-degradable poop bags. With the parks department having limited resources, the boxes provide complimentary bags for residents, with no cost of upkeep for the town.
“We have a two-year licensing agreement with the Town of Greenburgh, one that we hope to maintain in the coming years. In terms of expanding to other areas of Westchester…we are hoping that the installation in Greenburgh can prove to be a successful test-run.”

Q: What’s going on in Reservoir #3 (southbound Hutch between exits 18 and 16)? It looks like a construction crew drained the reservoir and broke through the little dam that was there.
—Jorge Henriquez, via e-mail

A: How ’bout what’s going on with exit 17 (southbound Hutch not between exits 18 and 16) and its lack of existence? Spooky, right? As for Reservoir #3, our friend David DeLucia, county director of park facilities and the smartest guy in the room when talking about these sorts of things, says, “Reservoir number three is the old New Rochelle Water Company designation for what we now know as Twin Lakes County Park.” We like that name better, too. Currently, the county is reconstructing the dam, spillway, and footbridge. “The lake needed to be lowered to allow the work to take place. It’s scheduled to be finished sometime in November.” And, though the lake is going to end up about four feet lower in elevation due to environmental regulations, you can look forward to “all new native plantings along the new exposed riverbank.” Cool.

Photo this page by Jim Henderson

Looking north up the Bryam River at Port Chester, New York (left), Mill Bridge (center), and Bryam, Connecticut (right)

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