Central NY State

Rural New York? If you have only encountered the bustle of New York City this may not sound right, but if you get away from the city you will find that the state is indeed very rural. The North Country is where you will find the higher mountains, but the central part of the state south of Interstate 90  is far from flat and has some charming villages that retain many historic buildings. 



Pepacton Reservoir, Catskill State Park

Yes, there are mountains not that far from New York City. After a drive of only 160 kilometres (100 miles) you can be in the Catskill State Park which has 98 peaks over 914 metres (3,000 feet) high. The park was created from a mixture of public and privately owned land. The Pepacton Reservoir, shown here, runs along the northern border of the State Park.

Main Street, Rensselaerville

The land on which Rensselaerville stands formed part of the huge Manor of Rensselaerwyck which was established by patroons  Van Rensselaer in 1629. Patroons were feudal landowners in the Dutch colony of New Netherland. The town was not settled until after the Revolutionary War when patroon Stephen Van Rensselaer III advertised 65 hectare (160 acre) tracts of land at a fixed rent to anyone who would develop the land. Abundant water power made the town a centre for milling of lumber, grain and wool. In the mid 1800s railroads were built but they bypassed  Rensselaerville and the town went into decline.  As a result it is now a town that time forgot, with preserved 18th and 19th century houses, mills and churches.

Grist Mill, Main Street, Rensselaerville

The first settler in Rensselaerville was Samuel Jenkins from West Stockbridge, Massachusetts who arrived in 1788. The following year he built a grist mill on the site of the present mill structure. His mill was rebuilt in 1830 by Daniel Conkling but burned down in 1879. It was replaced by the current mill in 1880 which remained in operation until 1945. In 1975 the mill was acquired by Rensselaerville Historical Society who restored it to a state where it could grid corn once again and set up a museum of the town’s early history. In recent years the mill has not been operational due to deterioration of the water feed.  The mill is open some days in summer and at other times by appointment.

Shaker Museum & Library, Old Chatham

Other Shaker Museums that we have visited have been preserved Shaker villages, but the Shaker Museum in Old Chatham was different. It was never a Shaker village but was originally a farm. In 1950 the owner of the farm,  John S. Williams, persuaded the Shaker leadership at Canterbury Shaker Village,   Sabbathday Lake, and Hancock Shaker Village to work with him to establish a Shaker Museum on his farm. The museum collection was  acquired between 1950 and 1962 and it is the collaboration of the Shakers in establishing the collection that makes it unique. The Chatham Museum closed to the public in 2009 in preparation for moving the collection and library to Mount Lebanon Shaker Village in New Lebanon, NY. Click Tab 2 to see the Shaker Chairmaking exhibit.





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 Main Street, Rensselaerville, NY, USA


 Grist Mill, Main Street, Rensselaerville, NY, USA
 Shaker Museum, Old Chatham, NY, USA
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 Pepacton reservoir, Catskill State Park, NY, USA

Cayuga Lake from Taughannock Falls State Park

The Finger Lakes are a set of long, thin lakes in the west of central New York state. This rural part of the state is New York’s largest wine producing area. At just under 64 kilometres (40 miles) long, Cayuga Lake is the second largest lake in the area behind Seneca Lake. This picture shows Cayuga Lake at Taughannock Falls State Park. The falls are are amongst the highest east of the Rockies, with a sheer drop of 66 metres (215 feet). The park offers many outdoor activities including hiking, swimming and boating.


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- A rural area with pleasant scenery and historic buildings, a great antidote when you want to recharge your batteries after living it up in New York City.
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