Austerlitz is a town founded in 1750 in eastern Columbia County, New York and covers 48.8 square miles. It is named after the Battle of Austerlitz and 1,654 called it home as of the 2010 census. The town is comprised of the following hamlets: Spencertown, Morehouse Corner, Red Rock, and Austerlitz hamlet.
The western portion of the town drains via tributaries of Kinderhook and Claverack Creeks to the Hudson River. The eastern half drains via Green River southeast into Massachusetts, where it joins the Housatonic flowing south into Connecticut.
The streams of Austerlitz gave rise to industries such as farming, and mill operations. Saw mills, grist mills, mills for wool carding and the making of cider, shingles and planes enabled the settlers to make a living. Early grave sites and historic buildings still remain.
The Blueberry Festival and Autumn in Austerlitz are two programs growing in popularity each year. Prolific on Harvey Mountain, blueberries were vital in the life of earlier settlers, since their sale helped them pay their taxes.
Summer now brings demonstrations of early crafts, blueberry sweets, a puppeteer, hand-made products and music – all at the annual Blueberry Festival.
During Autumn in Austerlitz, men, women and children welcome you in their 1830’s dress. Home baked goods, games, stories, music, sheep-shearing, and tin-smithing are among family-friendly activities. An attractive yearly calendar presents a pictorial and written account of the architecture, industry, dress and culture of an earlier era.
An 1850’s Church, now a One Room Schoolhouse, makes a wonderful setting for Holiday Sing in December, and a most charming wedding experience not soon to be forgotten. It provides children with a different experience of games, lessons, and stories presented by persons who attended this school.
Pulitzer prize winning port Edna St. Vincent Millay lived at Steepletop, an over 800 acre property which was once a farm. Norma, her sister, inherited the property upon Millay's passing in 1950. She and her husband, Charles Ellis, founded in 1973 a non-profit artist residency program called the Millay Colony for the Arts, to which a small portion of the land was deeded.
The non-profit Edna St. Vincent Millay Society was created in 1978 and now oversees the house and remainder of the property.