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Recasting Recreation

To paraphrase a mantra of tourism and business developers throughout the world: Happy residents draw visitors. And, I add, businesses. It makes good sense. Residents who like where they live and work usually work and live in very nice places. Who wouldn’t want to visit? It explains why Ulster County has always been a destination. [Read More…]

Winter Tales

Winter. The thought summons dread to many New Yorkers. To others, it’s the best season–invigorating and challenging. Perspective is often missing in today’s revilers and revelers of winter. We are not that encumbered any more by the season’s bluster. This Winter story begins with entries from a set of diaries begun in 1874 by a [Read More…]

275 of History: Going, Going…

By the Casparus Westervelt House as recorded by Tim Harnett By the time you read this, I may be gone. Since I’m still standing now, though, I have some time to share my story. I was built in 1741 in Poughkeepsie, on King’s Highway between New York and Albany. Now, the Americans call this road [Read More…]

The Elverhoj Art Colony And Its Kindred Spirits

The frequency of connections among the places and players in Ulster County’s history–from Gomez Mill House’s Dard Hunter to Gustav Stickley and his publication The Craftsman, from the Roycrofters to John Burroughs and Henry Ford,, and from Sticlkey to the Raymond Riordon School, and dozens of other threads  criss-crossing our paths, all add to our [Read More…]

October – A Murmuration

Waiting at the bus stop just after sunset, I suddenly caught a glimpse of a cloud swirling low overhead. Tiny black specks coalesced then spread apart, like a breath morphing across the sky, quickly disappearing in the distance. Breathless myself, I gazed beyond into the turquoise sky, reorienting my brain: That was a murmuration of [Read More…]

John Burroughs: A Lasting Source of Wisdom

There’s no better time than Fall in the Hudson Valley, and no better guide to the wonders of nature than world-renowned naturalist John Burroughs (1837-1921). Below are listed a few of the many places to learn from him. Burroughs led generations of Americans to see nature and—in seeing and experiencing it firsthand–to love and sustain [Read More…]

The System

Turning On the $pigot On Friday, May 20, 2016, the New York City Water Board voted to raise the cost of water and sewer services for its users. According to a Wall Street Journal article printed the next day, titled “City Water Rates Going Up,” the rate would increase 2.1% effective July 1st. Since 1980 [Read More…]

Caboose Gallery

The Hudson Valley Rail Trail Caboose Gallery in Highland began its second summer of operation on Memorial Day weekend. Housed in a 1926 caboose and located alongside the Rail Trail just yards from Walkway Over the Hudson, it is right next to the Rail Trail’s Haviland Road parking lot. It is open to the public [Read More…]

Kerhonkson

A sign of the times The large green and white New York State DOT “Kerhonkson” sign stood in front of the 1888 Victorian Rhodes house at the intersection of Milton Avenue and Route 9W in Highland for as long as most of us could remember. It directed people to Kerhonkson (NY) via Route 44/55 taking [Read More…]

Beeing Surprised

Vivian Yess Wadlin with Dena Paige, Beekeeper and owner of Mid Hudson Hives While researching for an unrelated About Town article, I came upon an interesting 1908 New York Times story recounting the costs and causes[1] of forest fires in New York State. Among a variety of fire-causing culprits were the honey bee hunters. In their [Read More…]

A Personal Story

When I was ten, I attended my first funeral. I did not know why I was there as the woman in the coffin was unknown to me. She was my grandmother. She had been in HRSH my entire life and no one had ever mentioned her, but as I look back, I recall Sundays when [Read More…]

The Hudson River State Hospital 1871–2015

The Hudson River State Hospital for the Insane, founded by the NYS legislature in 1866, was known through its nearly century and a half to locals by various names including “The Hudson River Psychiatric Hospital,” “Hudson River State Mental Institution,” “Hudson River Psychiatric Center,” “Hudson River State Hospital (HRSH),” and other monikers less publishable, will [Read More…]

Jeanne Wiley: HRSH Student Nurse

I was in school from September 1972, graduating in December of 1974. We went to school through the summers. The nursing school was being phased out, and the final class graduated in 1977. Oh, so many stories! My favorite memory of the students/patients was from our final semester. We took psychiatric nursing every day: mornings [Read More…]

Kingston Streets

Imagine the snarl of commuters (and their vehicles) if the rail crossing on Broadway in Kingston stalled them every day. Fortunately, Broadway now dips below the tracks and you zip through unencumbered by rail schedules. The trolley in the postcard image is gone, but you can still see trolleys at the Trolley Museum in the [Read More…]

Iva’s Accord Roots

Iva Lawrence’s mind is as tidy and organized as the lovely home she and her late husband, Vincent, built. About to celebrate her 97th birthday, Iva speaks with authority about her wonderful neighbors and family. Many regularly drop by to chat or to inquire about this or that—local history, local news—how to make something, or [Read More…]

Unsuspended Admiration: The Mid Hudson Bridge

With its gold-embossed New York State seal, engravings of the first proposed Hudson River crossing and the one constructed, the hand-colored invitation shown below, reads: “The Governor of New York Cordially invites Mr. John F. Wadlin to witness the ceremonies incident to the opening of the Mid Hudson Bridge at Poughkeepsie, New York on Monday [Read More…]

The Flow of History

Ulster County is a place of aqua-plenty. Sometimes, far too much. Most of the time however, water has positively shaped our lives as producers, consumers, recreationists, musicians and artists, students, and lovers of beauty. From its rivers, streams, vernal pools, cave lakes, Binnewaters, canals, and wetlands, we have so much water that we send millions [Read More…]

Mason Bee Update

Mason bees are natives. They are found all over the United States and are excellent pollinators. I’ve been raising them as a hobby for five years and have written about them in previous About Town issues and been interviewed about them by Ulster Publishing. As I write this in February, I have no idea how [Read More…]

Beers Atlas of 1875

A few images from the treasure trove that is Beers 1875 Atlas of Ulster County, NY. The entire atlas has been digitized by Ulster County and others. The atlas contains demographic information for each town; maps with property owners’ names; sites of hamlets, schools, churchs and hotels long gone and some still existing; and etching [Read More…]

‘Villes & ‘Dales

Ulster County is comprised of one city (Kingston), twenty towns (New Paltz, Gardiner, Rosendale, etc), three incorporated villages (New Paltz, Ellenville and Saugerties) and about three dozen designations based on census tracts and postal addresses. Most of these last three dozen, plus other named places and small villages are what we consider “hamlets.” These have [Read More…]