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Ulster County Station Stops

For all the train buffs eagerly awaiting the release of Glendon Moffett’s* new book on the historic rail lines of Ulster County, (with a working title of Five Historic Railroads of Ulster County), I make this humble offering of station images from my postcard collection. Glendon’s book should be out in early April and will [Read More…]

Oscar Lyons

About a hundred yards east of Cliff Inn, near what is now the Minnewaska State Park Preserve entrance, a black shale unpaved road branched off to the right from the highway and looped back around to the highway about a half-mile later. Midway on the loop Lyons Road went off to the right and dead [Read More…]

The Testimonial GateWay

  Located just 1.3 miles west of the New Paltz village on 299, the Testimonial Gateway has delighted residents and puzzled visitors since its completion in October 1908. Honoring the 50th Wedding Anniversary of Albert and Eliza Smiley, founders of Mohonk Mountain House, the gateway was built from the contributions of 1200 friends of the [Read More…]

Charity Begins… at the Mary and John Arbuckle Farm

A New York Times’ article of 1903 tells of a $12,000 purchase by John Arbuckle of 282 acres of farm land in New Paltz, NY. According to the late Peter Harp’s Horse and Buggy Days, the first purchase by Arbuckle was of the Deyo Farm, and shortly after he purchased the Helena Smedes’ and six [Read More…]

The Fox

Summer: Minnewaska sometime around 1950. We are living at a place called Cliff Inn some two miles down the mountain from the Main Entrance. One day I went for a walk on the Minnewaska property to the Mohonk carriage trail and headed West toward Awosting Falls. To get up to the carriage trail from Cliff [Read More…]

Seal College

Mark and Ray Huling had a trained seal (actually a sea lion) act in the Barnum and Bailey Circus. In the 1920s, both men moved to Kingston where Mark set up the Seal College on Route 28, west of the Esopus Creek. He had four seals and you could visit the college for twenty-five (25) [Read More…]

Delight of the Humble Bee

Previous articles on the stresses affecting our common feral (wild) and domestic honeybee populations discussed the disappearance of entire colonies. The term, Colony Collapse Disorder, sums up a focus of current bee research that has important implications for local agriculture. Although farmers in the Hudson Valley rent hives of pollinators for the apple crop, there [Read More…]

Double Life of the Eastern Newt

It’s Spring and salamanders are on the march. They are looking for love in all the damp places: Woodlands, streamsides, swamps, ditches, leaf litter. However, if you see a bright orange one with two rows of small red dots ringed by black on its back, relax, it may not be looking for love. It is [Read More…]

Winter Tales: Esopus Ice Houses

There were four huge icehouses on the shore of the Hudson River in Port Ewen. The northern most, at the foot of Main Street, belonged to the Burns Brothers. It was built in 1870 on the dock of the Pennsylvania Coal Company. The Brothers were coal and ice dealers in NY City. About a third [Read More…]

Fordyce Post’s Strong Home Town

There are over 3,100 counties in the Untied States. A study about them, done in the mid-1990s titled “Strong Home Towns,” was published in American Demographics magazine. The study defined a strong community as one in which the people are long-time residents, are civically engaged, have deep family roots and ties, have business interests, maintain [Read More…]

Winter Tale: The Horse Shoe

“Your grandfather cut ice at Mohonk.” My father spoke the words without preamble or explanation as we walked along the outside of a huge stone foundation in glorious Fall weather. I knew my grandfather (Louis Yess I) worked, as most subsistence farmers in the area had, doing anything—lumbering, field clearing, hauling, machine repair, construction, fishing, [Read More…]

Span of Time

Walkway Grand Opening Celebration Oct 2–4, 2009

  1974, Fire! Flames rose from the oil soaked railroad ties as charred debris rained down on the buildings, roads, and properties in Poughkeepsie. Our vantage point, on the West shore of the Hudson River, was about a half mile north of the burning railroad bridge. We viewed the fire from the site of Bellevue [Read More…]

Lake Minnewaska Mountain Houses

For most of tourism’s history on the Shawangunk Ridge, the Mohonk Mountain House was one of three Smiley family-owned vacation destinations for the well-heeled. All were set above pristine, glacially- formed lakes and astride the Shawangunk white conglomerate cliffs, each hotel’s magic drawing parched thousands every year to “take the air.” The other two hotels, [Read More…]

The Riordon School

Archery is “taught by Chief Crazy Bull (Ta Tan Ka Witko)—grandson of the heroic warrior of the Sioux, Sitting Bull…” That’s from the opening paragraph of a four-page brochure, Authentic American Archeryproduced by The Raymond Riordon School, Highland, Ulster County, New York, informing prospects this won’t be education-as-usual. Ulster County has had a number of [Read More…]

Promised Land: Father Divine’s Interracial Communities in Ulster County, New York

From the Preface of Promised Land: Father Divine lifted the despairing from the gutter to self-respect, but his methods troubled many observers. He commanded substantial wealth, but he mystified much of the world as to how he acquired it. He had charismatic power, but his talk of his supernatural abilities was difficult for the public [Read More…]

Main Streets

                                          All postcards and images from the collection of Vivian Yess Wadlin.

The Rise and Fall of Cedar Glen

Ruins in Reese Preserve—The last remains of a sad family

The newest park in the Town of Lloyd, the Franny Reese Preserve, provides spectacular views of the Hudson River and Poughkeepsie. But it also contains a mystery. Go a bit further along the trails, and you will come across castle-like ruins and the remains of several other stone structures. Something important must have been here [Read More…]

Hudson Valley Seed Library Fall Workshops

As the bounty of the season rolls in, gardeners’ thoughts transform. Worry over the fate of tender seedlings and the year’s insect pressures is replaced by gratitude as the sweet tomatoes and peppers of late summer fill the harvest basket, as the crunchy cabbages and succulent broccoli of fall take your garden eating into winter. [Read More…]

Honey Bee

Two years ago we discovered a colony of feral honey bees* in a tree at my family’s old homestead in Plutarch (not far from New Paltz). This spring when I checked, the tree was silent. The colony gone. That colony had been about 8 miles from our present home in Highland. Shortly after that disappointing [Read More…]

Swamps, Trails, and Other Things

Esopus: Shaupeneak Trials Coming from the south, Shaupeneak Trialhead is on Old Post Road (a left off Route 9W just north of Black Creek Apartments and Black Creek Road). Then, cross the railroad tracks and it’s on your right. Burroughs Sanctuary and Slabsides While you are in this neck of the woods, go south on [Read More…]