Ghosts. Everybody up here knows some. They are invisible to you, but they are still there in the shadows, watching as this new renaissance unfolds. They’re the ones on whose backs this resurgence was built. Without them, we would not be here. When you strike up a conversation, ask about what used to be. Folks are usually all too happy to talk about it.
On the corner in Andes where the yellow blinking light flashes was once a delicious and lively Mexican restaurant called the Cantina. It was always packed and then POOF, gone.
In Roscoe, The Little Store presided for decades hocking all kinds of wares from work boots to cap guns, from greeting cards to fishing rods. It was one of those stores I used to love to poke around in, always finding something fun that harkened back to another time. Like the paddle with the rubber ball attached to it and NECCO Wafers. Just as the hamlet was building strength around it, POOF, gone.
Some spots succumb to Mother Nature’s occasional fury. The Old Blenheim Bridge, a 210-foot, double-barreled, long truss covered bridge spanning Schoharie Creek since 1855, was destroyed by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. Efforts to rebuild it and resurrect this old ghost began in 2017.
Some of the most powerful and haunting ghosts are those of the towns flooded in order to create the six reservoirs that feed the NYC water system. Here are a list of the 24 communities — from which 5,500 people had to be relocated — that no longer exist. Roadside signs commemorate their former sites.
Ashokan Reservoir: Ashokan, Ashton, Boiceville, Brodhead, Brown’s Station, Glenford, Olive, Olive Bridge, Shokan, Stony Hollow, West Hurley, West Shokan, plus part of the Ulster and Delaware Railroad (1915)
Cannonsville Reservoir: Cannonsville (1964)
Neversink Reservoir: Bittersweet, Neversink (1954)
Pepacton Reservoir: Arena, Pepacton, Shavertown, Union Grove (1955)
Rondout Reservoir: Eureka, Lackawack, Montela (1951)
Schoharie Reservoir: Gilboa, Conesville (1924)
The Borscht Belt of the 1950s left a lot of ghosts behind too. Hundreds of summer resorts welcomed thousands of Jewish families every weekend and for longer stints in the summer, with sports, social activities and entertainment.
You will see ghosts as you travel, too. Just look at the landscape and in the woods. Old barns in disrepair, collapsing. Some die out as we use other methods for storing hay. Have you seen the giant marshmallows of plastic-wrapped hay lining hay fields? No barns needed. That and, well, farming has been dying out here. The average age of the American farmer is 58 and rising. In pockets, younger farmers are moving in to work smaller farms. Another part of the renaissance that you are here to see, to support and to eat.
XOXO Farm Girl