It has been said that Orangeburg is the hamlet created by commerce; a community known for the two rail lines that intersected here, the Erie and the West Shore, that were used for transporting passengers, produce, and products to New York and within Orangetown.
The territory that makes up Orangeburg was part of the Tappan Patent of 1686 and, over the years, was referred to as Orangetown and Orangeburg Station. In the mid-19th century, it was a sparsely populated, highly productive area typified by the farms and pastures that produced and shipped fresh milk, strawberries and tomatoes to the city by rail.
In 1861, the first post office was established in the Erie rail station, discontinued a year later and re-established in 1880.
As electricity began to illuminate Orangetown in the late 19th century, S.R. Bradley established the Fiber Conduit Company in 1893 along today’s Route 303. The company made petroleum-based piping for carrying electric power lines underground, a business that continued until widespread use of cheaper PVC forced it to close in 1972. Bradley also built a power-generating plant in the 1920s, which led to the formation of Rockland Light and Power Company, a predecessor of Orange and Rockland Utilities. Hollings-Smith and Bell & Co. two pharmaceutical companies which manufactured various pills used fo for colic, headaches, and indigestion, operated on Greenbush Road from 1897 to 1971. Horse-racing was another entertainment held at the nearby Orangeburg Fairgrounds.
In the 1930s, the expansive Rockland State Hospital was built here to care for the mentally ill. And in 1942, Orangeburg’s landscape was altered forever by the creation of Camp Shanks, which from 1943 to 1945 processed more than 1.3 million soldiers for deployment to Europe, and processed 290,000 German and Italian prisoners of war.
After the war, the camp became Shanks Village, which provided housing for returning veterans until March of 1956. Soon after, and into the 1960s, what was once Camp Shanks/Shanks Village and centuries-old farmland was sold to make way for housing developments which, thanks to the Tappan Zee Bridge and Palisades Parkway, brought hundreds of new families to Orangeburg.
Orangeburg Fair 1920s - The busy Orangeburg Fair had a number of attractions, including a Ferris wheel and pony rides. But the biggest events were in the tents where homegrown flowers, and homemade cakes, breads, honey preserved fruits and jellies, and other foods and crafts were judged for blue ribbons and cash prizes. Horses were judged for show and speed, and cattle, sheep, pigs, and poultry were also judged for health and development (OHMA)
Camp Shanks Directions, 1940s - To build Camp Shanks, 1,365 acres were seized under the War Powers Act, and affected residents were given two weeks to vacate. It opened on January 4, 1943, and became one of the largest troop-staging areas of World War II. Here, soldiers were trained, equipped, and readied for deployment to Europe. In all, over 1.3 million soldiers were processed here, and over 500,000 were processed again on their return. (Scott Webber Collection)