Current River Conditions

Natural and Social History

Photo Galleries

List of Native Plants and Animals

Bronx River Stories

Histories

Gators in the Bronx!

The Old Snuff Mill

Jumpin' Jupiter!

The Mile Square

What's an Alewife, Anyway?

Water for Concrete

Paddling Back in the Day

1895 Tragedy in a Bronx River Swimming Hole

William Hart, the Bronx River Cowboy

Cowboys on the Bronx

Brittannia Rule the Bronx

The Old Drovers Inn

Look Out for the Little People!

Happy Birthday Bronx River Alliance

The Witch Canoe

Woodlawn Brook

The Mighty Kensico

The Battle of White Plains

Launching the Golden Ball

The Left Bank of the Bronx

Awaiting the Alewife

The Boltons of Bronxdale

Ann Hanson, the Bronx River Stevedore

Aunt Sarah Held the Bridge

Jerry, the Bronx River Sea Lion

How the Bronx Got Its Name

Lloyd Ultan's History of the Bronx River

The Wishing Rock

When Dinosaurs Ruled the Bronx?

Big Brown Joe Plugs the Pipe

Ungrateful Old Scrooge

Jonas the Peacemaker

Beaver Tales

Why the Beaver?

Bronx River Parkway Reservation

The Pudding Rock

The Rocking Stone

Edgar Allan Poe and the Bronx River

Shipbuilding on the Bronx

The First Canoes on the Bronx

There Were Bears in There

McAdam's Bronx River Driveway

The Mid-Bronx Ride of Paul Revere

The Many Names of Van Nest

The Frozen Water Trade

Colonel Burr Burns the Blockhouse

Beavers on the Bronx

Songs

Greenway Stories

River Restoration Stories

Video

The Boltons of Bronxdale

One of the greatest industries along the Bronx River may have had its origin in a duel.

The Boltons were a prominent old family in Lancashire, England in the early 1800s, when the town of Bolton-le-Moors grew into a prime location for the textile industry, eventually hosting over a dozen bleaching and dying factories. Family legend has it that after James Bolton fought a duel over the attentions of a young lady, he fled to New York thinking he had fatally wounded his rival. Ever the sharp-eyed businessman, he soon saw an opportunity beconing here. America’s new cotton mills were turning out abundant textiles, but there were few who knew how to turn the newly-woven fabrics into finished cloth fit for fashionable clothing.

Even though word came that his opponent was alive and not pressing charges, James decided to remain in New York and set up his business here. After a brief visit home, he returned in 1818 and set about to search for a good location. He was drawn to Bronxdale where the waters of the “never failing” Bronx River could be depended upon to power his mills, as well as supply plentiful clean water for bleaching and dyeing operations. Together with two partners he organized the Bronx Bleaching and Manufacturing Company in 1823, built what we call the “Twin Dams” along today’s Mitusubshi River Walk by the Bronx Zoo, and set about turning “grey goods” from the mills of Massachusetts into crisply bleached cloth and smartly dyed fabrics. His nephew, confusingly also called James, came over in 1829 and set up his own factory on the west bank of the river turning out cotton tape.

The Bolton mills, locally known as “the Bleach,” remained in operation until 1889, when they moved to West Farms. Little trace remains of them today, nor of the grand stone house the Boltons built by the corner of Boston Road and Bronx Park East, but the family saved its cornerstone, eventually taking it to their new home in Connecticut.

Stephen Paul DeVillo