The Town of Hurley is in the northeast part of the county, west of the City of Kingston. Much of the town is inside the Catskill Park. Located within the town is a hamlet and census-designated place also named Hurley.
In the Spring of 1662, Peter Stuyvesant, Dutch Governor of Niew Amsterdam, established the village of Niew Dorp on the site of an earlier Native American Settlement. On June 7, 1663, during the Esopus Wars the Esopus Indians attacked and destroyed the village, and took captives who were later released. England took over the Dutch Colony on September 6, 1664. On September 17, 1669, the village, abandoned since the Esopus Indian attack, was resettled and renamed Hurley. It was named after Francis Lovelace, Baron Hurley of Ireland. In 1708 two large land patents from the New York Colonial government expanded the bounds of Hurley northward to near the present boundary with the Town of Woodstock and southward to the old boundary of the Town of New Paltz.
The southern section was quickly settled by farmers and the villages of Bloomingdale and Wagondale (now Creeklocks) were established. The discovery of limestone suitable for cement made this a valuable economic area and the village of Rosendale became its center. These villages and the surrounding area became the core of the Town of Rosendale, established in 1844.
Old Hurley, the central part of the Town, remained an agricultural community of close-knit families. Farming the Esopus Valley they supplied grain to the growing colony, New England, and the American Revolutionary forces. In October, November, and December of 1777, Old Hurley was the military headquarters for General George Clinton's Continental forces and the temporary capital of New York State.
Old Hurley's Main Street is part of the National Register of Historic Sites due to its well-preserved stone houses which have served as residences for more than 300 years. Some are open to the public once a year in July on Stone House Day and one contains the Hurley Heritage Society's museum.
The northern section of the Town was a forested wilderness until the discovery, in the 1830s, of a fine quality shale. Known as Blue Stone, it was used in the construction of road curbing, sidewalks and building facades. West Hurley, Glenford, and Ashton were villages established by the quarry industry. In 1917, New York City's need for a dependable water supply resulted in land condemnation and the flooding of the valley to create the Ashokan reservoir. The flooded villages of Glenford and West Hurley were resettled on the shores of the reservoir, but Ashton was never relocated.
The construction of the Ashokan Reservoir inundated many communities in 1912.