In a drenching rain one afternoon in September, 1885, two men stood on the rear platform of the New York, Lake Erie and Western Railroad’s Buffalo Express as it chugged noisily through the quiet woods beside the little Ramapo River.
As the train rattled past the thirty-five milepost from Jersey City and began to grumble at the steeper grade, one of the two leaned far out and waved ahead to the conductor. “All right,” he shouted, “signal to stop-now!” With a squeal of brakes, the train slowed down, and the two men jumped off. An instant later, the train had picked up speed and vanished between the hills.
The two men were Pierre Lorillard and his friend Bruce Price, the architect. Turning up their collars, for they had neglected to bring raincoats, they clambered up the embankment above the tracks and trudged off through the mud. Before them rose a wild, heavily wooded hillside. Only a tiny brick schoolhouse and an orchard showed that mankind had ever been there. By the time the two men had reached an open wagon awaiting them on a dirt road, which straggled past this little building, they were soaked to the skin. “We will go up the old lumber trail to the lake,” ordered Mr. Lorillard. The driver of the wagon protested that the road was too rough. Shrugging, Mr. Lorillard took the reins himself. An hour later, after three miles of boulders and thickets through which the wagon barely squeezed, they reached the top of the winding ascent and halted on a ridge overlooking a lake. This would have been at the top of what is now Tower Hill Road. At the north end were some cleared fields and a hut. Pointing there, Mr. Lorillard said: “That is a good site for the clubhouse. Don’t you think so? And we can have a row of cottages between there and here.”
Such was the beginning of The Tuxedo Club. Two weeks later, Bruce Price had an army of men on the spot, and eight months after that, so swift was the work, the clubhouse was ready for its opening on May 30, 1886. In the years from that date to this, more history has been made in Tuxedo than in all the previous centuries. For until Pierre Lorillard conceived the idea of the club, the Tuxedo region had been a backwater whose history meandered quietly through the years with only an occasional event to give it color.
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