Monday, September 15

Sleepy Hollow, New York

Autumn weekend in Sleepy Hollow, New York

From the listless repose of the place, and the peculiar character of its inhabitants, who are descendants from the original Dutch settlers, this sequestered glen has long been known by name of Sleepy Hollow ... A drowsy, dreamy influence seems to hang over the land, and to pervade the very atmosphere.
Washington Irving, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

It's nearly autumn and time to start planning a few weekend trips for Fall Festivals, haunted houses, pumpkin picking and peak leaf-color drives.  I am a fall fanatic, I just love everything autumn.  So of course Washington Irving’s book The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is one of my favorites.
Washington Irving
"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is a short story by American
author Washington Irving, contained in his collection of 34 essays and short stories entitled The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.  The book was written while Irving was living abroad in Birmingham, England.

I have always wanted to visit the little town described in Irving’s book and one beautiful autumn weekend I did.  There is so much to see and do in the area you may want to plan a longer trip than just a long weekend like we did.

Sleepy Hollow is a village in the town of Mount Pleasant in Westchester County, New York. It’s located on the east bank of the Hudson River, about 30 miles north of New York City
The village is known as the setting of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", written by Irving in 1820, who lived in neighboring Tarrytown and is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.
Originally incorporated as North Tarrytown in the late 1800’s, the village officially adopted the name of Sleepy Hollow in 1996.

My daughter and I made the trip and had just a wonderful autumn adventure.  Here’s what to see and do to follow along the lines of Irving’s book:
Early morning Farm Market in Patriot's Park
Patriot’s Park:
Early Friday morning we drove into Tarrytown and the Sleepy Hollow area.  First up was the farmer’s market in Patriot’s Park.  This is the marshy area where Ichabod first encountered the headless horseman, but has long since been drained and turned into the park. Historical signs are plentiful, but one of our favorites is the “Andre Captured” marker.

My daughter Alexis and the Andre Historical Marker

This monument marks the spot where, on September 23, 1780, John Paulding, David Williams, and Isaac Van Wart captured British spy John André.   At this same location Ichabod was waylaid by the Headless Horseman near the tree where André was hanged.  The massive tulip tree is no longer standing.

“About two hundred yards from the tree a small brook crossed the road, and ran into a marshy and thickly-wooded glen, known by the name of Wiley’s Swamp. A few rough logs, laid side by side, served for a bridge over this stream . . . It was at this identical spot that the unfortunate André was captured, and under the covert of those chestnuts and vines were the sturdy yeomen concealed who surprised him. . . .In the dark shadow of the grove, on the margin of the brook, Ichabod beheld something huge, misshapen and towering. It stirred not, but seemed gathered up in the gloom, like some gigantic monster ready to spring upon the traveler. . . He appeared to be a horseman of large dimensions, and mounted on a black horse of powerful frame.” -The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

We purchased fresh hot coffee and an apple pastry from the farm market before starting our tour of the area and sites.
Sleepy Hollow town sign

Of course the trip would not be complete without photos in front of the town’s Sleepy Hollow sign!
And really cool is most of the street signs in the area have the Headless Horseman on them!

Cool street signs have the Headless Horseman on them!

Washington Irving’s Sunnyside:
After walking around the town square and finishing our coffee we headed to Washington Irving’s home Sunnyside for a tour. Washington Irving’s home tour includes the house, grounds, outbuildings and extensive gardens.

That's me and my daughter Alexis at Washington Irving's home: Sunnyside

Sunnyside, originally a Dutch farmer’s home, has been meticulously restored and filled with Irving’s possessions including his writing desk and walls of books.

Sunnyside, home of Washington Irving

It just so happened that a fall festival was taking place while we were there, so the upstairs area of the home was closed to tours.  But because we had come so far to see the author’s home and area the book was written about, (and our faces showed such disappointment) the curator of Irving’s Sunnyside took us on a private tour of the upstairs (yea!).

Gardens at Sunnyside

Legend Weekend At Sunnyside:
Family fun festival at the home of Washington Irving, author of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip van Winkle". Puppet shows, games for children, 19th century magic shows, reading of stories by Irving. Daytime children's programs.

Legend weekend at Sunnyside

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery:
Back in the main area of Sleepy Hollow we took a tour of the 90 acre Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.  I would highly recommend this 2 hour cemetery tour.  This cemetery is the supposed resting place of the Headless Horseman in Irving’s book.

Irving family graves

Irving's grave marker, very modest

There are also numerous other real life stories connected to the graveyard, and many very famous people buried here.  

Washington Irving is there of course, but also Andrew Carnegie, Walter P. Chrysler, Brooke Astor, Elizabeth Arden, Thomas J. Watson of IBM, Samuel Gompers, and many others. And many of the gravestones are extremely elaborate, beautiful and a few very strange.

 While walking through the cemetery grounds, you’ll also see many of the surnames Irving used for his book.

“Indeed, certain of the most authentic historians of those parts, who have been careful in collecting and collating the floating facts concerning this spectre, allege that the body of the trooper, having been buried in the church-yard, the ghost rides forth to the scene of battle in nightly quest of his head; and that the rushing speed with which he sometimes passes along the Hollow, like a midnight blast, is owing to his being belated, and in a hurry to get back to the church-yard before daybreak.” -The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

The Old Dutch Church:
We toured The Old Dutch Church also mentioned in the book, and is the location where the unfortunate Ichabod sought refuge. This church has been in continual use since 1690.

The Old Dutch Church and Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

In the evening there's a reading of The Headless Horseman which was very good.   The dramatic retelling was done by Jonathan Kruk by candle light and accompanied by spooky organ music.

Photo is from the Historic Hudson Valley website

If you happen to be at the church or in the graveyard after dark, keep in mind that "...the Headless Horseman... it was said, tethered his horse nightly among the graves in the churchyard." 

Headless Horseman Bridge:
We also stopped by the thought to be site of the original headless horseman bridge. The precise location of the old, timber bridge where Ichabod was unseated by a pumpkin is lost to time but would probably have been located east of the current Route 9 near The Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.  Because the newer bridge is made with rough-hewn boards, they clatter like hoof beats under the wheels of modern automobiles.

Possible site of the Headless Horseman's bridge

The Old School House:
This too is not longer in existence.

Phillipsburg Manor:
Frederick Philipse, the builder of the grist mill and manor house, was also the builder of the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow.

Old Phillipsburg Manor

The historic Dutch manor and mill have been restored to its appearance in the late 17th to early 18th century.  Philipsburg Manor is also a living history museum where you can experience Sleepy Hollow’s agrarian past.
This is Dutch manor beside whose millpond Ichabod Crane strolled with the local girls. 

Horseman’s Hollow Haunted Trail:
One of our favorite things on the trip besides Irving’s Sunnyside was the haunted trail.  Oh my gosh this was great and one of the best haunted houses or haunted sites we have ever visited.
We were not allowed to take photos during this event, so I used one from the Historic Hudson Valley website.
Photo is from the Historic Hudson Valley website

Philipsburg Manor transforms into a terrifying landscape ruled by the undead, the evil, and the insane. There were zombie British soldiers, voodoo slaves, a witch's coven, a mad knife murder, school house full of the dead, and more. As you begin walking the haunted trail, you stumble upon scary scenes of a town driven mad by the Headless Horseman. Elaborate costumes and the work of award-wining feature-film makeup artists make it all too real and very scary!

Lynhurst Mansion:
We did not have time to tour this mansion or see the pumpkin display but reviews say it is well worth the visit.  Lynhurst is also home to The Great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze.
And since we did not visit Lynhurst this trip, this photo is from the Historic Hudson Valley website.

The Great Jack O' Lantern Blaze at Lynhurst Mansion

There's more than 5,000 individually hand-carved, illuminated jack o' lanterns in this elaborate walking trail. Stroll through an historic, 18th-century riverside landscape and discover a breathtaking display of jack o' lanterns!

Sleepy Hollow in Pop Culture
  • Sleepy Hollow is the location for the book The Hollow by Jessica Verday.
  • Sleepy Hollow appears in "The Tale of the Midnight Ride", a third season episode of "Are You Afraid of the Dark?".
  • Sleepy Hollow is a 1999 film by director Tim Burton and based on the aforementioned short story.
  • Sleepy Hollow is the setting of the television series Sleepy Hollow, though in this series, Sleepy Hollow is greatly expanded from a small village to a large city with a population of 144,000, as indicated by a sign at the beginning of the pilot episode. Several exterior shots of the actual village are incorporated into the series.
  • Dark Shadows Fans of the 1960's television series Dark Shadows will recall that Lynhurst in Tarrytown served as the Collinwood Estate in the feature-length film House of Dark Shadows (1970). Sleepy Hollow Cemetery’s receiving vault made a cameo in that same film as the Collins family mausoleum.

Johnny Depp and the movie Sleepy Hollow, directed by Tim Burton

As I said I am a Fall fanatic, but I'm not the only one in my family.  We all seem to love autumn.
My nephew Jeremy Sony is a playwright and does fabulous work.  One of my favorites (of course) was his rendition of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow called "Ichabod: Missing in Sleepy Hollow".  We went to see the play live and I just can't say enough about this work. This play was also selected as the winner of the 2013 Playhouse Nashville playwrights contest.
Here is a little more about the play form Jeremy's website, :
A re-imagining of Washington Irving's classic tale, Ichabod: Missing in Sleepy Hollow adds a new chapter to Irving's legend and picks up right after The Legend of Sleepy Hollow "ends". Shortly after Ichabod Crane disappears, his students, led by the fearless Hanna, meet their new school mistress, Abigail Seymour. Abigail is more focused on teaching than chasing ghosts---that is until she has her own run-in with the Horseman. As she and the students race to retrace Ichabod's final night in Sleepy Hollow, we discover new revelations, gain clues on who the Headless Horseman could be, and meet all the original Irving characters.

My nephew Jeremy's Play

The weather has cooled off here in central Ohio and it's really starting to feel like fall on our little farm.  I have been busy harvesting the last of the vegetables in my garden and stockpiling firewood. Another cold bitter winter is forecasted  for our area, yikes!

Happy autumn,

More Information:


Other Travel Ideas:



Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing about Sleepy Hollow, New York, love it!

Anonymous said...

So jealous that you've been to Sleepy Hollow. I need to go there at some point (and now that I'm writing a Robin Hood play, it's an excuse to go to England!). Great blog! Jeremy

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

Thanks Jeremy, now England, there are so many authors to chase there!! But another one (and closer to home) I really want to visit old haunts of is Edgar Allen Poe!

Anonymous said...

Omg you need to write a book. I read it three times! Kathy

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

Thanks bunches xoxox. Means a lot to have kind words from my sis about my blog, hugs

Anonymous said...

I love reading about your experiences and adventures. I hope you keep up the travel writing! Marshel

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

Thanks Marshel!