Less than two hours from New York City tucked away in a valley in the southwest corner of Ulster County, New York, between the unique ecosystem of the Shawangunk Ridge and southern Catskill Mountains, lies the Village of Ellenville within the Town of Wawarsing. The town includes the hamlets of Spring Glen, Cragsmoor, Greenfield Park, Napanoch, Wawarsing, and parts of Kerhonkson. You must visit to truly appreciate this area’s natural beauty!
The Ellenville-Wawarsing Chamber of Commerce promotes economic development, tourism, networking, and public events to make the Town of Wawarsing a better place to live and prosper. Popular activities include hiking, mountain biking, fishing, hang gliding, catching a live show at the Shadowland Theatre, dining at one of our unique restaurants, stopping at Cohen’s Bakery to buy a loaf of their famous pumpernickel raisin bread, or just relaxing and enjoying the fresh mountain air.
The Chamber hosts annual events such as the Blueberry Festival in August and the Wawarsing Wassail in December. Other events, hosted by Chamber members, include Run Like The Wind 5k & 10k races (benefits local charities) and Wings & Wheels for Warriors (benefits disabled American veterans) both in May along with the spectacular 4th of July Parade and Fireworks show.
Earliest settlers of the area were, of course, Native Americans. In this area, they were the Esopus, a clan of the Lenni-Lenape. The land had passed from Lenape possession by the early 1700’s. The name Wawarsing is from the Lenape place of "Wawarsinck", meaning "where the streams wind."
Our greatest legend involves Sam’s Point. Trapper Sam Gonsalus, ended up being chased on the top of the mountain ridge (now Cragsmoor) by a group of Lenape who came upon him. He ran until he reached the end of solid ground then leapt from a high cliff. The tribe assumed the fall had killed him, but the branches of a fir tree caught and sheltered Sam. That cliff has been called Sam's Point ever since and its panoramic view on a clear day is just magnificent.
The Town of Wawarsing was established in 1806 and the Village of Ellenville was incorporated about 1856. Formerly, the village was called Fairchild City, or just "The City". Earlier in 1823, Charles Hartshorn urged the community to apply for a post office. Leaders could not settle on a name until Ellen Snyder offered her first name. Her charms swayed the men, and “The City” became Ellenville.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, the Town of Wawarsing was a robust commercial center. The Rondout Creek powered mills and factories in Napanoch. The D & H Canal, built for carrying coal from Pennsylvania to the Hudson River, opened the valley to trade: glass, pottery and other factories. Eventually, the canal ceased operations in 1898 after the O & W railroad had opened and flourished.
In the 20th century trains and autos brought tourists to appreciate the natural beauty, wonderful air and pure water. Hotels and bungalow colonies were built in this eastern end of the Borscht Belt. As more people arrived and settled here, a local airport and hospital, which President Lyndon B. Johnson dedicated in 1966, were constructed.
The Ellenville Downtown Historic District is distinguished by noteworthy architecture including the Terwilliger House, which is the local history museum of the Ellenville Public Library. Permanent and changing exhibits preserve and illustrate our history. Other classical buildings include the Hunt Memorial Building, home of the Chamber office and located in the center of the village in Liberty Square with its famous Boy with the Leaking Boot statue, various houses of worship, the former canal ticket office and railroad stations throughout the town. Naturally, the town also has many interesting geographic sites that include the Rondout Reservoir, waterfalls, ponds or lakes, streams or lookout points.
We invite you to visit and stay to explore and enjoy our wonderful spot just 90 miles from New York City!
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- Ellenville-Wawarsing Chamber of Commerce, Inc.
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- © 2019 Ellenville Wawarsing Chamber of Commerce
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