1969 Woodstock Festival and Bethel Woods Center for the Arts

The 1969 Woodstock Music and Arts Festival, hosted by Max Yasgur on his 600 acre dairy farm northeast of Bethel, Sullivan County, New York, has become an iconic moment in recent American history. The three day concert was, by many accounts, the defining event of 1960s counterculture. Over 300,000 people came out to see iconic musicians like Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez, Santana, Grateful Dead, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, The Band, and Jimi Hendrix. Today, a concrete memorial marks the location of the sound stage.

In 2006, the sleek Bethel Woods Center for the Arts opened nearby, which features a concert venue and museum of 1960s counterculture. The museum is quite nice, but I got a chuckle out of seeing a bunch of elderly baby boomers holding a corporate event there, complete with waitresses serving hors d’oeuvres. A far cry from the ideals they promoted in their idealistic youth.

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Swan Lake’s Stone Castle

One of five built by Italian-American stone mason Joe Moshini in the 1930s, this tiny stone castle is located at 2669-2673 Briscoe Road in Swan Lake, south of Liberty, New York. It formerly sat in front of the grand Commodore Hotel, which burned in a controlled fire in 1979.

From the 1920s to the 1970s, New York City Jews flocked to Catskill resorts like the Commodore for summer vacations. There were once over 500 resorts and hotels in the area, known as the “Borscht Belt“. The hotel’s garden, and its tiny castle, was reclaimed by nature, but in 2013 a group of volunteers restored it and erected signs relating the history of the site.

Shanley Hotel in Napanoch, New York

Built in 1895 and rumored to have been a brothel and speakeasy during Prohibition, the Shanley Hotel on Main Street in Napanoch, New York has gained a reputation for the unusual. Napanoch is a hamlet in Ulster County along Rondout Creek, which straddles the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson River Valley. James and Beatrice Shanley bought the hotel in 1906 and welcomed many prominent guests, including Thomas Edison and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Tragedy followed, however. All three Shanley children died as infants, as well as the hotel barber’s daughter and Beatrice’s sister, who died of influenza. James Shanley died in 1937. Sal Nicosia owned the hotel from 2005 to 2016, and his son Sal, Jr., has picked up the mantel. Since appearing on shows like Ghost Lab and Ghost Hunters, the Shanley Hotel has capitalized on the paranormal tourism market, offering special rates for paranormal investigations and marketing itself as a “haunted hotel.”

The hotel doesn’t have a website and appeared to be closed when I visited.

Further reading:

Gnome Mountain in High Falls, New York

Ellenville-based artist Sam Tufnell created this colorful display of illuminating garden gnomes in April 2017. He told Hudson Valley One, “I wanted to do something satirical on some level, but a little more playful. The gnomes and the still-lifes are pretty much my reaction to public art, figurative art, high-end art in general; sort of taking things down a notch, ‘de-elevating’ it.”

There are 13, 32-inch tall resin gnomes on the mountain. Each lights up at night in a different color. The gnomes are located on a bluff at the intersection of Highway 213 and Old NY Highway 213, in High Falls, New York along Rondout Creek.

Abandoned Catskill Drive-In

Mountain Drive-In, off NY State Highway 52, east of Liberty, New York, silently sits in ruins like a scene from the Fallout series. A faded sign still advertises “Mountain Fest ’97”, so I assume that was when it closed. According to Cinema Treasures, it opened in 1951 and once had three screens. More info and pictures from 2007 here.

From the 1920s to the 1970s, New York City Jews flocked to Catskill resorts in the summer months to escape the stifling heat of the city. There were once over 500 resorts and hotels in the area, known as the “Borscht Belt“. Many famous comedians and entertainers got their start here. With increasing religious tolerance and the advent of widespread commercial airliners, many families chose to vacation elsewhere and dozens of these establishments now lay abandoned.

Swan Lake Resort Ruins

Also known as the Stevensville Hotel, Swan Lake Resort sits at 1626 Briscoe Road in Swan Lake, south of Liberty, New York. From the 1920s to the 1970s, New York City Jews flocked to Catskill resorts in the summer months to escape the stifling heat of the city. There were once over 500 resorts and hotels in the area, known as the “Borscht Belt“.

With increasing religious tolerance and the advent of widespread commercial airliners, many families chose to vacation elsewhere and dozens of these establishments now lay abandoned. An Orthodox Jewish group purchased this particular hotel in 2015, but it remains unused.