Rope Walk – Palmyra

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3681 North Creek Road
Palmyra, New York 14522
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marker closeup - rope walk


Rope Walk
Here rope was manufactured in 500 foot lengths, it was used on the Albany Schenectady R.R.


By the State Education Department — 1937

What was there

rope walk (factory) circled in red - 1858 Palmyra map

A rope walk is the historical term for a long building or covered plot of land where materials such as hemp were woven into rope.  This rope walk used locally grown hemp and has been described as follows:

“The building in which the ropes were twisted was a low building about ten feet high and perhaps twenty feet wide, made of rough hemlock board and the roof was covered with shingles. This building was about fifteen rods long.” (Palmyra: Wayne County History – 1907)

Rope manufactured here was used on railroads and the Erie Canal towpath.

Pardon Durfee (b. 1770, d. 1828) established and ran this rope walk until his death.  Edward Townsend took over the operations of the rope walk through the 1850s at which time operations were curtailed.  Martin Butterfield bought the farm and the long building served for a time as a tobacco shed, a cheese factory, and was eventually torn down.

Hemp is an annual plant grown from seed. Although it will grow in any soil, it does best in soil that is capable of growing high yields of corn. Fiber hemp is sown thickly; the stem of the plant remains small, smaller than a little finger. The fiber crop is cut before or at time of flowering.

hemp harvest - rope walk (1)

Hemp was grown commercially in the United States until the 1950s, but can no longer be grown legally – essentially because industrial hemp and marijuana both come from the cannabis plant.  There are many differences between them but the government chose to lump them together and prohibit all cannabis crops.  Learn the difference here: Industrial Hemp vs. Marijuana or here.

What is there now

An agricultural field (most recently – corn) with New York Central Railroad tracks running east/west on the southern boundary. The land is POSTED. Please don’t trespass.

overview of land looking west - rope walk

More information

  • One rod is equivelant to 5.5 yards, which means the rope walk was about 250 feet in length.
  • Article – current property owners restored this and other Palmyra markers.
  • “At this factory a very large and long rope was made and taken to Wilkes-Barre, Pa., to haul the cars on the Lehigh over the ridge. The rope was made in the Winter and had to be carried on a sleigh which had to be made on purpose for it. It took six horses to draw the load.” (Palmyra: Wayne County History – 1907)
  • Patent granted to Townsend and Durfee for improvements in rope making machinery in 1831.
  • Hemp For Victory”: US Government Propoganda Film encouraging farmers to grow hemp (1942)

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We would like to thank the following for helping us with this entry: Kelly Lucero


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