Photo of the Week
FROM THE SCHS LIBRARY ARCHIVES
“How shall we know it is us without our past?”
– John Steinbeck
THE FAMOUS LONG ISLAND POTATO
by Wendy Polhemus-Annibell, Head Librarian
The Famous Long Island Potato (on a Long Island Railroad Train). (Postcard from the Riverhead Pictorial Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives. Image copyright © Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved.)
Long Island has a long history with potatoes dating back to the 1800s. Potato production peaked in the late 1940s with over 70,000 acres grown on the island by many hundreds of potato farmers. Due to the heavy potato production on Long Island, in 1963 the Potato Association of America held its 50th Anniversary celebration at the Henry Perkins Hotel in Riverhead.
Long Island horticulturalist Edith Loring Fullerton explained in How to Make a Vegetable Garden (Doubleday, 1905) that the best potato crop is obtained by planting sections of the potato that have three eyes, but that “some Englishmen argue the finest crop comes from planting whole, medium-sized tubers.” She experimented with both methods in the early 1900s at the LIRR’s experimental farms in Wading River and Medford, finding that “the whole potatoes sent up more shoots five days sooner, were handsomer, and equally as strong as those from the cut sections.” However, the yield from the cut potatoes was 35 pounds versus only 28 pounds for the whole tubers (both were planted in short rows of equal length). The average size was nearly equal, but the whole tubers yielded ripe potatoes almost two weeks sooner than the cut sections.
Favorite potato varieties on Long Island at the turn of the twentieth century were Green Mountain, Rural New Yorker, Early Rose, and Gold Coin.
Welcome Back! The Suffolk County Historical Society Museum will reopen to the public on Saturday, August 8, with new special summer hours of operation: Thursdays through Saturdays, 10:00 am to 4:30 pm.
- Enjoy a safe, socially-distanced family outing with 15-minute intervals between parties, for an enjoyable, worry-free environment.
- Exhibits are open and provide a safe “touchless” experience for adults and children alike!
- Masks will be required of all museum visitors over age 2.
Due to Covid-19 distancing guidelines, our library will remain closed to the public but remote research services are available. Contact the library for more information: 631 727-2881 x103 or firstname.lastname@example.org