The beautiful poem “Rip’s Rock” by Laura Sanderson was featured in Picturesque Catskills by Richard Lionel De Lisser and Catskill Mountain Summer Resorts as published by the American Resort Association.
High upon old Kaaterskill’s crest
Is a rock, where one may rest
Safely hid from hue and cry;
Hen-pecked husband, hither hie.
Come with musket, pipe and prog, ---
Call some other fellow’s dog;
Lest you miss old Hudson’s crew,
Better bring a flagon too.
Grievous ills thy musings mar,
Broomsticks, mops, etcetera;
Spite of time, or place, or name,
Woman’s ways remain the same.
Flee from endless days of work,
Flee from tasks that thou would’st shirk;
Peaceful dream the time away,
Sleep forever and a day.
In this shade of sweet repose
Mortal man forgets his woes
And fulfills his destiny;
Henpecked husband, hither hie.
--- Laura Sanderson
The Rip Van Winkle Tavern, more popularly known as the Rip Van Winkle House, was located in Sleepy Hollow on North Mountain, part of the Mountain Turnpike (also known as Mountain House Road, Old Stage Road and Old Mountain Road) to the Catskill Mountain House. Legend has it that the nearby Rip’s Rock, located uphill and to the left of the remaining foundation, is the very spot where Rip Van Winkle took his twenty years’ nap. As early as 1826 there was a crude shanty on the site, which offered fresh spring water. Travelers, and the horses, often rested here before continuing the strenuous climb to the Mountain House. In 1867 the 3-story Rip Van Winkle House, as seen here, was constructed by William Comfort for Ira Saxe. Despite its association with fanciful legend the Rip Van Winkle House “proved a dismal failure and went through several hands by mortgage before it was finally blotted out.” (“Exit Rip Van Winkle House.” Catskill Recorder. February 1, 1918.) The Rip Van Winkle House was abandoned around 1902, was repeatedly vandalized over the years, finally being destroyed by fire in 1918.
Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving was published to international acclaim in 1819. Set in the Catskills, an amiable Rip wanders off in the woods with his dog Wolf to escape his wife’s nagging and to avert “all kinds of profitable labor” only to encounter a silent group of short, bearded men playing nine-pins. After drinking some of their liquor he falls asleep for twenty years. Upon waking, he returns to his village to learn that his wife has died, the American Revolution has occurred and that he must face the fact that many of his former friends have either died, moved on or simply do not recognize him. The short story is an American classic.
Photo courtesy: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA