Rip Rises Up

The story of a legendary Valleyite is set in stone — bluestone, to be exact

The Hudson Valley’s laziest legendary resident can’t help but sit still — he’s set in stone! According to Washington Irving’s famous 1819 short story, Rip Van Winkle, the title character — a Dutch villager — lived in the Catskill Mountains and was a notorious do-nothing. While wandering in the woods one day, Van Winkle encountered a group of men he thought were the ghosts of Henry Hudson’s crew. He drank the liquor they offered him and drifted off to sleep, only to wake 20 years later and discover that everything had changed.

Today, Rip Van Winkle sits alongside the summit of the mountain that — at an elevation of 4,050 feet — is the second highest peak in the Catskills. The larger-than-life-sized bluestone carving is the brainchild of artists David Slutzky and Kevin VanHentenryck. Begun in 1995, the sculpture took 14 years to complete — almost as long as Van Winkle slept. Why the wait? The sculptors carved the piece only during a special summer festival; it’s estimated that over the years, thousands of visitors have watched the work’s transformation from a hunk of stone into an intricate rendering of the sleepy villager. You can catch a glimpse of the statue while walking or snowshoeing — but not skiing — along a path near the mountaintop.

Can you name the site of Van Winkle’s final resting spot? If you think you know, send us your answer as a comment in the box below. The first reader who gets it right wins a prize. Happy hunting!

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