Cranberry Pickers, Brown's Marsh, Calverton, 1899, by Hal B. Fullerton. (Image from the Harry T. Tuthill Fullerton Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives. Copyright © Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved.)
In the early 1900s, Suffolk County was the third largest producer of cranberries in the United States, behind only Wisconsin and Massachusetts. Many millers along the Peconic River began around 1875 to switch from using the water to power mill wheels to growing cranberries in bogs. Most of Suffolk County's cranberry marshes were located in the Riverhead-Calverton-Manorville area along the wetlands of the Peconic River. The largest cranberry operation was run by Sylvester Woodhull of Riverhead. Other growers included the Perkins Co. of Riverhead, E. L. Brown of Calverton, and George L. Davis of Manorville. In 1897 the Woodhull Marsh produced over 3,000 bushels of cranberries, which sold for $3 per bushel at the time.
A variety of factors contributed to the eventual decline of the cranberry industry on Long Island. The small bogs of Suffolk County were unable to compete with the larger producers in Massachusetts and New Jersey; the descendants of the Suffolk families that operated the bogs were uninterested in carrying on the agricultural business; and the difficulties of weed and pest control intensified when a carcinogenic herbicide, amino triazole, was banned in 1959. During the peak years of cranberry production, however, some 25,000 bushels were harvested annually from the Peconic River-area cranberry marshes.
Visit us this weekend, Sept. 9 and 10, at the 37th Annual Hallockville Country Fair and Craft Show, where the Suffolk County Historical Society booth will celebrate our county's agricultural history and offer a free raffle of framed historic photographs from our Hal B. Fullerton collection. The museum farm's festival features the wares of local craft guilds and artisan vendors, a tractor
pull and display, livestock and farm animals, children’s activities, guided tours of the historic buildings, and more. Click here for more information.