Featured

Grey Crag , Alpine NJ

(total time 40-45 minutes one way- plus time driving to the pillars)

” The greatest show on earth!” . It’s hard to think about a circus and not think about the Ringling Brothers. But it was here in Bergen County that John Ringling met and married Mable (ne’ Burton) and built a huge mansion on the cliffs of the Palisades which they called Gray Crag. Built in 1918, and nestled on roughly one hundred acres, it would be their summer escape for a number of years.

For a little over a decade John and Mable lived and entertained in their glamorous, summer escape on the Cliffs of the Palisades, overlooking the Hudson. The twenty room mansion even sported an elevator (of which ruins are still present). Large parties were common and the Ringling’s were known for their hospitality .

Mable died in 1929 at the age of 54. Shortly afterwards John would loose much of his fortune during the collapse of the stock market in the early 1930s. The house was eventually torn down in the 1950s. All that remains are the ruins which I will detail below.

Mable and John Ringling

Start by parking at the Palisades Interstate Park Commission in Alpine. There are some designated Parking spots for hikers which are free but limited. Once you are in the parking lot head for the trail. If you are facing the police department, you will head to your left. The trail is clearly visible from the lot. I’ve time stamped POIs below.

As you walk keep your eyes to your right and you will come across this odd tree with a concrete block in it. I have since learned that concrete was often poured into rotting trees to keep them from dying. This tree quite possibly may have been one of the Gray Crag estate trees.

Continue walking and as a point of reference you may see this tree to your LEFT. I use the word “may” because it was still standing when I went (12/2020) but may not when you embark on this trip. But if you see this tree, look to your right, and some of the ruins will come into view. It will be about a twenty minute walk from the parking lot. You will start to see clear evidence that there was once something more than just woods.

Pipes and cement foundation blocks

Rotor wheel for an elevator. The elevator was documented to have been at the mansion. All that stands now are these ruins.

Continue walking and be vigilant of the right of the trail. In a few minutes you will see an unmarked trail that veers towards the water. Take this trail heading for the Hudson.

In a few meters you will come across the Bridge.

Cross at your own risk. I do not recommend it as the chasm is steep.

The view did not include the Tappan Zee but must have been just as spectacular.

If you are interested in finding the entrance gates to the estate’s property please keep reading. As mentioned above, the estate was well over one hundred acres and I don’t have directions on how to walk to the entrance although it is entirely possible . The entrance is actually located on the other side of the Palisades Parkway and off of Route 9W north. Remember, the parkway did not exist at this time and would have been a wooded area. I may add walking directions in the near future since there are some foot bridges that would make it a very long yet doable endeavor. For the sake of this blog, return to your car and navigate towards Rt. 9W North in Alpine.

Finding the gates was a comedy of errors for my friends and I and we were left with driving up and down 9W until we saw it. Sadly, there are no landmarks to give you however a friend’s I-phone pinged the GPS area below.

If you drive slowly, heading northbound in Alpine, you will see it on your right, a mere 5 yards from the road and easily visible from the shoulder.

A hidden history of years gone by. Looks large enough for a herd of Elephants. Don’t you think?

I hope you enjoy the walk, enjoy nature, and most of all RESPECT OUR HIDDEN HISTORY.

If you liked what you saw, don’t forget to JOIN MY BLOG or SHARE MY BLOG. Feel free to ask questions, comment, and like my posts so that I can continue to provide more . And lastly, please remember, it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey

Hopper Slave Cemetery & Laroe House, Mahwah NJ

Travel time : 20 minutes from Continental Soldiers park

If you’ve traveled on Rt 202 in Mahwah, you may have passed the Hopper house (AKA Laroe House). The house and it’s family cemetery are easily visible from the road. But to South West of that cemetery is another unnamed burial plot. I stumbled upon it by accident one day and without a marker present was not certain what it was. The fact that it lay separated from the more prominent family plot to its North, raised my suspicions. I researched the area and found out I was right. The area was the segregated cemetery that contained both slaves and recently freed men who worked for the home. And although many don’t think of New Jersey as a state with slave owners, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In all actuality, NJ was one of the last states to free its slaves. This segregated cemetery is a sad remnant from that past.

The land currently belongs to Ramapo College and from what I was able to read, they were in process of having it dedicated however from the day I recently visited, a marker was no where to be seen. The indigenous Ramapough Mountain Indians have also claimed the land as theirs which makes the plot’s actual ownership questionable and its restoration somewhat complicated. If anyone has any information about its eventual dedication please comment below. One thing is certain, I was there in 2013 and the cemetery seemed to be bigger at that time. With the creek not too far from the land, I wonder if some of the graves had literally dropped into the water.

The history of the cemetery is difficult to find. What I was able to discover was that the main house was owned by several prestigious, NJ farming families between the years of 1760 and 1860 . The primary which were Laroe, Hopper, Bogert, and Hagerman . Hopper being the more common name in the area and scattered throughout much of Bergen County at the present day, Hence its name, the Hopper Slave Cemetery. If you plan to visit please be respectful, and offer a moment of silence to these lost souls who were fundamental to New Jersey’s history.

To get to the plot you can park at the Ramapo College Sculpture Gardens, however , as of late that lot was closed to the public. So for the sake of this blog I will give you other directions and ask that you park at Continental Soldiers Park off of Rt 202 in Mahwah NJ. Parking is free.

Once in the lot head towards 202 and head NorthEast. You will be heading towards Ramapo College and away from the Ramapo Reservation. Its a busy road so be very careful. In about fifteen minutes you will reach the Announcement Board of the College. I’ve time stamped it at 10:20. (Ignore the fact that this is reversed, but it should be on your left side). Walk past it and continue on 202.

In about ten minutes you will pass a fire hydrant. Turn left into this area.

A primitive trail will show you the way, but be mindful as you will make an almost immediate left.

A Stone wall will come into view in a few seconds. As will two of the largest stones.

This picture was taken from the Back

There are only three stones which are somewhat legible. In an effort to respect the stones I did not want to take a rubbing, so I could only observe them from a distance.

There were also these two of Gunther and Lonnie Wheeler. I tried to research the names but came up empty handed.

Lonnie and Gunther Wheeler

A majority of the stones are mere Headstones (Stones without any inscription). Some so small you may accidentally trip over one, so please stay off the area and pay your respects from a distance. These were taken from enlarged photographs or by zoomed images.

If you have more time you can also head to the family plot. Simply walk back out to Rt. 202 and continue heading NE. The Laroe house will immediately come into view and its cemetery is to the South and easily visible from the road .

These stones are much more legible.

Some of the stones tell a story like this one of a 15 year old boy which saddened me:

“WILLIE J, …….. AT REST- HIS LAST WORDS ON EARTH WERE GOD BLESS ME AND MAKE ME A GOOD BOY FOR JESUS SAKE AMEN”

Once done, simply return to your car.

I hope you enjoy the walk, enjoy nature, and most of all RESPECT OUR HIDDEN HISTORY

If you liked what you saw, don’t forget to JOIN MY BLOG or SHARE MY BLOG. Feel free to ask questions, comment, and like my posts so that I can continue to provide more . And lastly, please remember, it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey

Camp Bluefield (AKA Tweed tunnels), Blauvelt NY

Total Time: 45 minutes each way (Minus exploration)

One of the tunnels from above.

Nestled in the middle of Blauvelt State Park, are a series of oddly placed, graffiti riddled, tunnels. Having hiked there many times, I often wondered what they were. Some of the tunnels are easily visible in the woods but others are a little harder to see since they are now covered with vines, moss or grass. But be rest assured, they’re there, and if you don’t look, you may even walk right by one without even spotting it.

In 1910, the tunnels were once part of Camp Bluefields. It was a firing range used to train cadets of the National Guard . The tunnels were meant as a way to cross the property without being hit by a stray bullet. What makes this almost comical however, is that the range was built close to a large residential area. Stray bullets would sometimes find their way into the resident’s backyards.

Besides being used to train Cadets, The NYS military museum website (https://dmna.ny.gov/forts/fortsA_D/bluefieldsCamp.htm) also cited it’s use as a POW camp during WW1.

In following years the site was also used as a YWCA summer camp for New York City working women and an ROTC training camp .

During World War II, Camp Shanks reportedly used the property as a training grounds, and as an air raid post . (cite: https://nyacknewsandviews.com/2015/08/iallen_nikebases/). So the area has a lot of history. I will follow this soon with the Nike Missile base tour which is nearby.

How to get there: Park at the Tackamack North parking Lot for Clausland Mountain in Blauvelt. (68 Clausland Mountain Rd). Head into the aqua trail.

Eventually the trail will run into a residential street. Cross the street and catch the continuation of the trail on the other side. Please respect the privacy of the locals in this area as you are literally passing near their homes.

The aqua trail forks shortly afterwards. Continue to your right.

In roughly 10-15 minutes you will be walking OVER one of the tunnels. The key will be to look for these set of steps. When you find yourself walking DOWN these small steps, you’ve crossed over the TOP of one of the tunnels. You will still be on the aqua trail.

However to start exploring the tunnels, make an immediate right after the steps and follow the outside of the tunnels.

You will be OFF TRAIL, so be mindful of where you go. There are many tunnels in the area. Many are about a quarter of a mile in length and can be seen from above ground.

Now, entering the tunnels??

Well, there aren’t any postings that say you can’t. However they are not in the best condition, may be structurally dangerous, and there is a LONG history of vagrants in the area. The tunnels are over a quarter of a mile long and more than a century old, and like I said before, you will be off trail where no one may hear you should something happen. So if you do decide to enter, do so at your own risk, and for sake of this blog I do not want to advise you to enter or give you any information about entering. Needless to say, I have known people who have entered and am sharing those pics here.

There is plenty to see on the outside.

If you look at the base of each tunnel you will also see the posts that held the targets in place.

There are many other ruins to see in the area. Several structures which I believe may have been used to house ammunition are also scattered near each set of tunnels.

Collapsed Tunnel

You never know what lurks around the woods or underground!

I hope you enjoy the walk, enjoy nature, and most of all RESPECT OUR HIDDEN HISTORY

If you liked what you saw, don’t forget to JOIN MY BLOG or SHARE MY BLOG. Feel free to ask questions, comment, and like my posts so that I can continue to provide more . And lastly, please remember, it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey

Ringwood Manor, Ringwood NJ

Total Time (Hard to say, once your in the parking lot you’re there!- The cemetery however, 15 minutes, one way)

Ringwood Manor was first built in 1740, but it took many years and a few changes in ownership before it turned into the 51-room mansion that lies in Ringwood today. Today the manor is a museum, open for tours, but at one point it belonged to General Robert Erskine, who mined iron ore to support the Patriots during the Revolutionary war. He is better known however as the main Geographer and Surveyor-General (map maker) for George Washington . He designed over 200 maps for the patriots and it is reported that General Washington held him as a close friend and visited the estate five times.

Martin J. Ryerson, was the next person to live in the manor, having purchased it in the early 1800’s. It was much smaller at the time (10 rooms). He was reported to have lived there for several years.

http://www.ringwoodmanor.org/history.html

In 1853, Peter Cooper (Founder Cooper Union and an education pioneer) purchased the estate as well as over 19,000 acres, which included the Long Pond Ironworks area (I will be posting about that site in the future). Cooper manged the area with his son Edward and Edward’s bushiness partner, Abram S. Hewitt. They continued to supply iron ore to the Hudson area. If you owned a stove in the NE during that time, your iron was mined here!

Eventually the Hewitts, took over the estate and added several additions in 1864, 1875, 1900, and 1910 until it became the 51 room estate it is today.

In 1938, the Hewitt family donated Ringwood Manor and the acreage to the State of New Jersey where it is now considered a State Park. There are several hiking trails and I highly recommend taking advantage of them after exploring the historical sights.

Haunted??????

For anyone interested in the Paranormal, the house is commonly referred to as haunted. A NY Times article (nytimes.com/1986/10/26/nyregion/gosts-in-ringwood-manor.html) detailed the haunting to three. A spirit of a servant named Jackson White, who was reported to have been killed has been seen on the second floor by visitors on tours.

Guests have also reported seeing Robert Erskine’s ghost sitting on his grave-site , pensively overlooking the pond.

There is also a female apparition known to the locals as ‘Mad Mag’ who rises from a boulder called “Spook Rock”, wailing and moaning, only to vanish into the rock.

The manor site and trails close at 6PM, and it is monitored by video surveillance. Please DO NOT attempt going at night!

I’m going to start this blog with directions to the cemetery. There is a rather large parking lot that’s open all year. I use the following address: 1304 Sloatsburg Rd, Ringwood NJ. I believe parking is free off season however during the season the web site says $5 NJ residents/ $7 out of state residents. When I visited 8/2020 however, I was charged $10 (out of state). Fees are per car, and walking on grounds are free. Please check the webpage as they also offer guided tours at a small charge that supports the upkeep of the manor.

Once you’re in the parking lot, the immediate gardens and ground are pretty simple to explore and for sake of this blog, I’ve included some pictures to wet your appetite below. For directions to the cemetery, when facing the Manor, look to your right. You will see two stone pillars, walk through the pillars and make an immediate LEFT..

Once you make the left keep walking on the path. You will see another set of pillars. Walk through those and you will be entering the BLUE trail

You should be passing a shed to your right.

This a no-brainer, continue walking on the open path, blue trail, and in about ten minutes you will see a small bridge which crosses a brook. Cross the bridge and continue walking.

Simply keep going straight. In about 3 more minutes you will come into the first set of graves.

image from http://www.danbalogh.com/ringman.html

Explore the area as there are many graves scattered about in small clusters.

Some of the graves are mere stubs, be careful as you explore.

Head towards the water, AKA Sally’s pond. You will see the graves of John, Anne and John Hewitt Jr. (Erskine).

The following was cited from NorthJersey.com:

John Hewitt Sr, constructed the first steam engine . His wife Ann Gurnee Hewitt, was of Huguenot family origin. Their son John Hewitt’s grave touched me the most, as he was a noted education advocate and a pioneer for Public education

If you continue back to the main trail you will see another enclosed area.

Here is the grave of Robert Erskine (AKA the forgotten general) and mentioned above as the famous mapmaker.

From the Ringwood manor.org web site, “on September 18, 1780, Robert “caught a severe cold and sore throat, which produced a fever…” He died on October 2, 1780 at the age of 45. This was the same day that Major Andre was hanged in Tappan, and it is believed that General Washington did not witness the event because he was at Erskine’s bedside. He was buried in the cemetery at Ringwood, alongside his clerk, Robert Monteath, who had died in 1778. Edward Ringwood Hewitt later wrote about Erskine’s burial, stating, “It is said that he [General Washington] planted the oak tree which used to stand beside the grave until it was killed by lightning…”.

At the present time there is no tree stub but the graves are both there as well as a memorial plaque.

There are obviously many more graves of less influential people. Read the inscriptions, they tell a story. Such as this one. “Here lies Y body Mical Rynod. born in Ireland, Near Mullengar, Died July 16, 1763, aged 30 years

Dear Minnie, Daughter of “illegible” Patterson, Died April 5, 1867, Aged 1 year 6 months.

If you continue back on the trail you can complete the Blue trail. It’s a simple 3 mile loop but there aren’t any more historical sites that I know of. If history is what you’re interested in, simply turn around and return to the manor. There is plenty to see and make sure you have your camera.

Back of the manor

The front of the manor sports several canons as well a large chain which may be a section of the Hudson River Chain. Chains such as these were used during the American Revolution and cast along the bank of the Hudson River to Prevent British ships from coming ashore. The Hudson River chain was 500 yards in length and documented as having been forged at Iron Works, and so it’s entirely possible that this is a section of that chain.

Chain

There are also many more buildings to see and amazing photo opportunities.

I hear there is a time capsule by the manor but I was not able to find it. Please email me or comment below if you know where! The picture below was taken from a Google search.

I hope you enjoy the walk, enjoy nature, and most of all RESPECT OUR HIDDEN HISTORY

If you liked what you saw, don’t forget to JOIN MY BLOG or SHARE MY BLOG. Feel free to ask questions, comment,and like my posts so that I can continue to provide more . And lastly, please remember, it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey

Sally’s Pond

Cornish Estate, Phillipstown, NY

Travel Time (30 minutes each way) minus exploration of the ruins. This is an in-and-out trail. Not a loop.

In the middle of Cold Spring, NY lies a breathtaking array of structures which were once The 650 acre Cornish Estate, AKA Northgate. Bring your camera and a healthy bit of curiosity. This one is definitely a photographer’s mecca.

The mansion, was build by Diamond merchant, Sigmund Stern in the early 1910’s. However in 1917 the property, as well as the 650 acre grounds, were purchased by Selina and Edward Cornish. Edward Cornish (1861-1938) was President of the National Lead Company from 1916 to 1933. The couple was reported to have lived there until 1938, during which time, both died within two weeks of each other. The mansion was subsequently managed by their nephew until it succumbed to fire in 1956. An attempt was made to convert this land to a power plant in the early 1960’s however, luckily, it was purchased by the state and became part of Hudson Highlands State Park.

The area hugs the Hudson River and there are many trailheads near the Estate; I imagine with outstanding views, however the actual ruins are easy to get to, and much of the trail is paved, so this shouldn’t discourage any “non – hikers” from exploring.

You can google directions for “Cornish Estate trail loop- Phillipstown” or use my coordinates (41.42672, -73.965443). Directions should take you to NYS Road- 9D . The trailhead has plenty of free parking. You will be parked at the Washburn Trailhead. There are several trails that split off of this parking lot. Cornish Estate Trail is one of these trails.

The Cornish Estate trail is clearly marked. You will head to the left.

The trail is easy to follow. It starts off as a graveled path. It is narrow in some spots. If going in the warmer weather bring bug spray.

In roughly 5 minutes (roughly 1/3 mile) the graveled path will end at a paved path. Head to your right. The paved path will continue on a slight incline.

In a little under a mile, about 15 more minutes you will hit a fork in the road. The Cornish ruins were not labeled on the intersection but at the FIRST FORK head to the left.

The ruins will be visible within a few meters to the left of the trail. Although you will see the large mansion, the swimming pool and front steps will be the first thing you see once exiting the trail.

The arched windows are amazing and mostly intact. The structure was apparently very intricate and consisted of many rooms over what appears to be three stories. Documenting the mansion via photography is difficult and becomes more like weaving in and out of a maze.

The blue tiles are still visible in the front of the structure.

One of the most striking feature were the large amount of fireplaces I was able to see. We noted at least seven in the main house.

The Large Arches at the back of the property are beautiful.

Once you complete the ruins, return to the main road heading upwards, and keep your eyes peeled to your right. You will come across another set of ruins. I’m not entirely sure what they are but after doing some research I discovered that the estate had a spectacular greenhouse as well as a barn where prized Cornish Cows were kept. I speculate that this may have been the greenhouse. In the image below I believe this may have been the structure to the left of the house.

The Small door to the left has a set of steps to the basement
Inside of the “Greenhouse or Barn”

There are many more smaller structures on the grounds as well as two small waterfalls which I was not able to find. I strongly suggest exploring, and bring a camera!

I hope you enjoy the walk, enjoy nature, and most of all RESPECT OUR HIDDEN HISTORY

If you liked what you saw, don’t forget to JOIN MY BLOG or SHARE MY BLOG. Feel free to ask questions, comment,and like my posts so that I can continue to provide more . And lastly, please remember, it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey

Cliffdale Ruins, Alpine NJ

Walking time 15 minutes each way ( minus exploration of ruins)

This is a relatively easy hike however if you are fearful of heights please be advised that part of the ruins are on the cliffs of the Palisades. Trust me, it’s a long way down! But if you like ruins this is a must see.

HISTORY: “Cliffdale Manor, built in 1911 was the home of George Zabriskie, one of Bergen County’s wealthiest families and a prominent representative for the Pillsbury Flour Mills.

The mansion was stunning for its day and sported a huge pool leading towards the Hudson River.  The home was built, literally, on the Cliffs of the palisades. The mansion was originally a fifteen room manor. In 1930, and after the George Washington Bridge was built, John D. Rockefeller Jr. purchased this home as well as many others on the cliffs. His fear was that the cliffs would be irresponsibly developed. (Smart guy!). Rockefeller tore down this mansion as well as others in the area. The entire strip along the cliffs, now called “Millionaire’s Row”, have many ruins. Cliffdale is the most intact.

Start your journey by parking at the ALPINE SCENIC OVERLOOK. Be cautious with google directions. For some reason, google maps occasionally directs drivers to the State Line Look out. Do not park there. You want the ALPINE SCENIC OVERLOOK. On the Northbound Palisades Interstate Parkway, it is after exit one. It is the second parking lot you will pass on the right between exits one and two, with the first lot named “Rockefeller” . Alpine overlook will be the second overlook, and is clearly marked “Alpine”. Drive slowly, stay in the right lane, as it’s easy to miss. I’m estimating it to be about 3 miles past exit one. Parking is free.

From the parking lot , while facing the water, head towards your left. You will see the aqua blaze at the edge of the parking lot. Enter into the woods.

The trail is a no brainer. It runs flat and is very well marked. Keep walking and be vigilant of your right. In about one mile , a fifteen minute walk, you should come across a set of curved steps that lead towards the water and the mansion. I’ve time stamped it for you.

The stairs you are looking for, and pictured above, are NOT on the aqua trail but to the RIGHT of the trail. If you continue walking and come across a small set of steps that appear to be heading TOWARDS the Parkway, you have gone too far. Turn around, on the path, and look at the ground while heading towards the water. It may be tricky to see but if you look to the ground, these curved steps , about three meters in length, and heading DOWNWARD will come into view and lead you to the mansion. They are pictured above. Remember, the steps should be leading TOWARDS the water and downwards. Follow them down and you will begin to see the mansion.

What’s left of the mansion appears to be the bottom two floors. With this most likely being a garage, or carriage house.

This is actually the back of the entrance, but the front looks exactly the same

Look to the left of the entrance and you will see the date 1911.

Once you walk in you will notice several doorways which lead to rooms. The rooms have practically collapsed but you can look inside.

Interestingly, there is a second floor. I do not recommend going up. However there is a large room with several windows.

The back of the property between the home and the cliffs of the palisades once held a pool. Its very overgrown so i suggest going in the winter when the greenery has died back. There are remnants there including the wall.

Enjoy the view, and share it with the ghosts of the past! Or go and get a really cool picture.

Check out the star for a point of reference below to see where I am sitting .

View of the Hudson in the back of the property. That’s Yonkers over the Hudson.

I hope you enjoy the walk, enjoy nature, and most of all RESPECT OUR HIDDEN HISTORY

If you liked what you saw, don’t forget to JOIN MY BLOG or SHARE MY BLOG. Feel free to ask questions, comment,and like my posts so that I can continue to provide more . And lastly, please remember, it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey

Orak Estate ruins and Fire tower. Stony Point, NY

Total walking time 20 minutes each way.

The ORAK estate was the summer residence of Mr. George Buchanan, the Vice President of Karo Corn Products Refining Co., the company which manufactured Karo Syrup . Note that Orak is Karo spelled backwards.

Buchanan built his summer home in 1923 and spent several seasons there. In 1939, he died and the property was sold to the NYS Park Commission. The grounds/home was rented to Park employees , after which time it was demolished in 1973. The ruins however can still be seen.

The property ruins are nestled in Harriman State Park. You can copy and paste this google map link (https://goo.gl/maps/e1fp3pgiD6LM8Vpf8) for directions. This will guide you to a small parking area off rt 106 (Kanawauke rd).

PARK BY THIS TRAIL HEAD BUT DO NOT ENTER HERE

You will see a trail head here but DO NOT take this trail. Continue walking NW on that road , RT 106, AKA Kanawauke Rd, for fifteen meters, and you will see another trail entrance.

ENTER HERE

Enter by these gates and follow the Yellow blaze. You will be on a wide black top path.

The trail will split. Head off the main road and onto the small narrow path on the left. In a few minutes you will see a large collection of boulders. Cross over these boulders. You will still be on the yellow path.

In a few more minutes you will see a small stone wall to your right. There’s not much to see here but feel free to explore the wall. In wet weather it fills up with water.

Keep walking up the path after exploring the wall.

In a few more minutes, to your right, you will come across what appears to be a gate house.

Continue on the path. In about three minutes the Orak house ruins will come into view on your left.

From the path, the ruins are not very impressive, but if you explore BEHIND the ruins, you will see the main frame and the house is much easier to see.

There is a second structure immediately after this section. The stone work is much more different, so I’m not entirely certain if it is part of the same structure or a second structure. When I contacted the historical society I was sent the Black and White photo of the house above. From the shape of the house in the picture I believe that the first structure is the original house since you can see the A frame from the back section of the ruins. But you can decide for yourself.

There are also many smaller structures littered on the paths. I’m not sure what they are. If anyone has any information please feel free to mention in a comment or email me.

From these ruins, the yellow trail continues towards both your right and left. If you continue on the path to your right (In the same direction you were originally heading) you can reach and climb the Fire Tower. I plan to post about the fire tower in the future but if you have enough time, estimating about 30 minutes from these ruins, continue on the yellow trail until you see the fire tower. Constructed in 1928, it was utilized until the 1970’s. There is a view of Lake Welch if you’re brave enough to climb.

Enjoy the walk, enjoy nature, and most of all RESPECT OUR HIDDEN HISTORY!

If you liked what you saw, don’t forget to JOIN MY BLOG or SHARE MY BLOG. Feel free to ask questions, comment,and like my posts so that I can continue to provide more posts. And lastly, please remember, it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.

Letchworth Village Cemetery, Stony Point, NY

Total travel time (5 minutes)

For information regarding the actual Village please refer to my tour on “Letchworth Village, Theils NY”. This tour will describe the actual cemetery which is located a few miles from the actual village and in the town of Stony Point.

What is very sad about this cemetery is that graves markers do not consist of names but numbers and a majority of those interred were children. It’s also odd that the actual cemetery is not actually near the village and makes one wonder why?

Since the children housed at Letchworth Village were wards of the state one wonders if their treatment was entirely ethical. We do know that the Polio vaccine was tested here in 1950. (Please copy and paste the LOHUD article below).

https://www.lohud.com/story/news/local/rockland/stony-point/2018/10/04/look-letchworth-village-meet-people-who-impacted-village/1443112002/

There are also allegations of non-ethical treatment of these children. For sake of this tour I will refrain on any of that discussion however wanted to point it out. At its inception, Letchworth was an ideal facility where learning impaired children were taught to be productive members of society and trained in a vocation. Sadly most articles seem to capitalize on it’s less than perfect history. I’ve spoken to a few people who were familiar with the facility when it was in operation and have received nothing but positive information. Google searches, sadly, overwhelmingly report the opposite. I will leave that discussion for you to explore. Needless to say, the cemetery is surreal, tucked away, and out of view. From 1914 to 1967 0ver 900 children were buried in its confines. Their head stones are plain metal markers forged with numbers and lacking dates and/or names.

In 2007 a memorial plaque was erected with the identify of those buried here as well as the epitaph : THOSE WHO SHALL NOT BE FORGOTTEN. But the names do not correlate to any of the numbers on the markers so it would be difficult to tell whom is buried where.

You can google directions on line as they are pretty easy to find. However for some reason Google maps will direct you to the area across the street and not the actual cemetery so while driving please look on both sides of the street. You should be on Cal Hallow road. There is an easy to spot Marker on the road and that will guide you.

There is a small graveled parking lot. Please park and head onto the gravel trail. You will walk about fifteen meters and the cemetery will come into view with the Monument and seating being the first thing you see.

The graves liter a small hill. An overwhelming majority are mere numbers however there are a few scattered which are more conventional and complete with names and dates.

The monument which was erected in 2007 contains the names of the interred but not ages nor dates. There is also no way of determining which grave belongs to which name; However please spend time to pay your respects. There is a small seating area in front of the monument.

Apparently Staff and Clergy are buried here as well
Several duplicates names

I hope you enjoyed this tour, enjoy nature, and most of all RESPECT OUR HIDDEN HISTORY!

If you like what you saw, don’t forget to JOIN MY BLOG or SHARE MY BLOG . Feel free to ask questions/comment/like so that I can continue to provide more posts. And lastly, always remember, It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.

Undercliff Cemetery/ Whack Me Jug Grave, Englewood Cliffs NY

Undercliff Schoolhouse

Total time (30 minutes or 10 minutes depending on the lot you chose)

This cemetery is located at the base of the Palisades Interstate Park in an area which was once part of the Undercliff Colony, AKA “Fisherman’s Village”. The community consisted of Dutch immigrants who fished and mined the nearby area in the early 19th century. Many of the families that are buried here can trace their lineage to either the Undercliff or Bloomer’s beach areas. (If you are interested please look at my posts for Undercliff Bathhouse and Bloomer’s Beach Bathhouse . Both bathhouses as well as the cemetery can be done on the same day).

With the popularity of the Hudson beaches rising, as well as negative sentiment directed towards the quarries in the area, many of the hardworking families of Undercliff were forced out. This cemetery, as well as the bathhouse ruins, are all that remain of their existence.

The cemetery currently contains 17 gravestones, but was reported to be much larger with many of the older graves believed to be submerged by the beach. Of the 17 graves, only 7 are legible, with the oldest dated 1837 (Becker, John) and the most recent dated 1872 (“Our Little Johnie”). Ties to Bloomer’s beach can also be found here with the grave of Julia Smith Bloomer, dated 1837 .

Now let’s talk about Whack Me Jug. Apparently “Whack me Jug” was the town’s fabled alcoholic who ran around the neighborhood towing his jug of alcohol and jumping over it while singing, “Whack me jug” to the amusement of the children in the area. Sadly he is rumored to have died on the beach and was found by the same children that adored him early in the morning, his jug laying beside him. He is rumored to be buried here in this graveyard with his jug- hence the name. I have found some information regarding his actual name ( Jimmy Cunningham) however that particular name is not on any of the graves. I have not found any other information about Jimmy Cunningham. If anyone has any information please include it in the comments below or e-mail me privately. This information was retrieved from the following source, however, I have also heard his name and nickname, referred by hikers who are familiar with the area. (Copy and Paste this link for more info. https://books.google.com/books?id=a2ahXkwF2O8C&pg=PA318&lpg=PA318&dq=wack+me+jug+grave+undercliff&source=bl&ots=tHt2dWUj29&sig=ACfU3U1twIkokV-r6cX9TBBvRoiOrvW1Jg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj-1-vK46LqAhU0gnIEHblKCMUQ6AEwAXoECAwQAQ#v=onepage&q=wack%20me%20jug%20grave%20undercliff&f=false)

To find the cemetery, I would normally suggest parking at the Undercliff picnic lot, however it appears to have been closed since the COVID-19 pandemic and I’m not certain when or if it will reopen. Parking was always free at this lot. Since this lot is not currently accessible by car, you will need to park at the Englewood Boat basin /Picnic area lot and walk to the Underfcliff Picnic parking lot. Parking at the Englewood Picnic area as of 6/2020 was $5 weekdays and $10 weekends.

I’m time stamping some pictures for a point of reference . I parked at 1:05 at the Englewood Boat Basin.

Once you park at the Englewood Boat Basin, head back to the road where you were driving and continue on your way by foot. Walk AWAY from the bridge and stay on the road. The road is safe, as joggers and bicycles access the road along with drivers. I’m estimating the walk between parking lots to be at about one mile (about a 20 minute walk at a leisurely pace).

I will be giving you two separate directions to the cemetery. It is well hidden and it took me several attempts to find it since it is not on a marked trail and there aren’t any historical markers to guide you.

DIRECTION #1

As you walk away from the Englewood Boat basin lot, and and as you head towards the Undercliff Picnic Area lot, keep your eye peeled for this triple rock formation on your left.

If you look around the rock formation you will see a narrow path. Follow the path upwards and in about three minutes you should see the wall that surrounds the cemetery.

If you miss the rock formation and find yourself at the Undercliff Picnic area lot, don’t worry. You can access the cemetery from here as well. If the lot was open to parking, and you were able to park here, this would be your starting point.

DIRECTION #2

Once in the Undercliff Picnic area lot, look for the “shack”. I’ve never seen any food sold here but it appears to have been a snack shack at some time. This is an important reference to help guide you to the cemetery.

SHACK

To the left of the shack (with the Hudson River to you back), you should see some stone picnic tables/ fire pits. Head to the tables. You will be walking up a slight incline. Look around for an UNMARKED path. Follow that path upwards, as if walking away from the Hudson River. It’s a very short walk, but if you’ve found the path you should come across a short foot bridge in about 3 minutes.

Cross the Bridge and you’re almost there

Cross the footbridge and in about 20 meters the wall to the cemetery will come into view.

Information on the names on Headstones which are not legible can be found here (copy and paste but I’m including a screen shot below) : https://books.google.com/books?id=JeXL8dnnFsYC&pg=PA19&lpg=PA19&dq=graves+undercliff+palisades+nj&source=bl&ots=fiMqoK8u3U&sig=ACfU3U21BeLIwR6M-3PtyacR9F-B1q3gQg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiQ2JnqpaPqAhUigXIEHcTQAdQQ6AEwBnoECAgQAQ#v=onepage&q=graves%20undercliff%20palisades%20nj&f=false

Heading back to your car is pretty obvious but if you have some extra time I suggest walking by the shore or taking one of my other Bath house tours.

I hope you enjoyed this tour and please RESPECT OUR HIDDEN HISTORY!

If you like what you saw, don’t forget to JOIN MY BLOG or SHARE MY BLOG . Feel free to ask questions/comment/like so that I can continue to provide more posts. And lastly, always remember, It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.

Traitors Rock, Haverstraw NY

Total Time: 20 minutes each way. However, the trek downwards is difficult and you will be off a marked, main path. The area is very isolated, so for your own safety, please do not go alone.

There isn’t much to see here other than the mystery of it all and since this artifact is well over a century old I consider it historical. Furthermore it details a specific moment during the American Revolution . So if your interested in the unexplained, and are a history buff please read on.

Several years ago while hiking in Haverstraw I came across a large rock on the shores of the Hudson which read, “Andre, the spy landed here, Sept. 21, 1780”. I stumbled upon it by chance. There weren’t any markers nearby and I had no idea what it was. I immediately researched the rock and learned it was called Traitor’s rock . There actually is a marker. It’s just not near the site, but up a steep ravine about 200 meters away (as the crow flies) but a bit more of a distance considering the path switchbacks up the hill.

Keep reading, this gets stranger.

I was also able to find a news articles from 1915 and 1916, which detailed the story of a man who found the rock while cruising the Hudson in his kayak. The article described the rock as a “Mystery”. I apologize for the blurry image of the articles. I had a much clearer copy on my desktop but lost it when the computer crashed several years ago. This was the best image I could find on line and you can purchase the article through the NY Times if you want to do further research. If you’re kind enough to share with me please do!

During that time I had also managed to find a similar article from the 1800’s. I don’t recall which Newspaper and sadly can’t find any information on that article on line. Needless to say, this Rock has been here for some time. I reached out to the historical society who told me that Traitor’s rock is an enigma. It has been there for WELL over a hundred years and no one really knows who carved it, however it is historically accurate in that it designates the date and spot where Major John Andre disembarked his British ship, “The Vulture”.

After disembarking General Andre, walked up the ravine at night and met up at the home of Joshua Hett Smith. The home was demolished in 1929 for the expansion of what is now the Helen Hayes Hospital . There is a marker where the house once stood (41° 13.072′ N, 73° 59.188′) But sadly none of the house remains.

Major Andre’, with help from Smith and his wife, would eventually assist Benedict Arnold in the attempted surrender of West Point to the British; however, would be caught, tried and eventually hung on October 2, 1870. I will post his hanging site in the future.

The boulder isn’t that difficult to find but you MUST go during low tide as it is only exposed at the lowest tide thereby making it totally submerged and practically invisible for most of the time.

I use any address on Riverside Ave, In Haverstraw (Any number 1-10) will do. These are residential homes. Just pass them and the small parking-lot will be at the end of this road. The parking lot leads directly to a bike path. Take this path.

In about 400 meters (about a five minute walk) you will see the marker on the left side . once you reach the marker you have already PASSED the trail which leads towards the water. It is barely visible so back track and keep your eyes peeled. I’d estimate it to be about 50 meters before this marker.

Head down towards the river. It is steep, unmarked, but you will see the trail.

Trail heading DOWN

Once you reach the water, start walking towards the right (If facing the water). You will see this outcropping shortly. At about 50-70 meters. I look for the bowed tree to help me.

That giant rock directly under that tree is Traitor’s rock.

If you have more time I suggest heading back up to the bike path and continue on. If you can find the train tracks there are several ruins scattered above.

Hope you enjoyed this tour! Enjoy the walk, enjoy nature and most of all RESPECT OUR HIDDEN HISTORY.

If you like what you saw, don’t forget to JOIN MY BLOG or SHARE MY BLOG . Feel free to ask questions/comment/like so that I can continue to provide more posts. And lastly, always remember, It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.