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In 1808, James Coolidge planted the first hop yard in Madison County, N.Y. Hops became a major industry in the state.

Categories: History, Industry & Commerce, NYS History, WCNY Vignette

In 1919, the 18th amendment to the US constitution was passed, making the production and sale of Alcohol illegal in all 50 states. This was particularly ruinous for the hops industry. Hop flowers are used almost exclusively as a bittering agent in beer, and in the 1800’s New York provided the bulk of US hop production. The first hop yard in Madison County New York was planted by James D. Coolidge in 1808, and by 1859, New York was the premier hops-producing region in the country, accounting for some 87% of US production. The passage of the 18th amendment spelled disaster for the New York hops industry, though, and most US hops are now grown in the pacific northwest. New York hops are making a resurgence, now, but you can still see the trellises and hop-drying houses from New York’s preeminent hop-producing era all across the central and northern parts of the state.

Video produced by WCNY.