To fully understand the gracious pleasures of southeastern Dutchess County, know this: the Quakers of the Oblong Meeting eliminated slavery nearly a century before the Emancipation Proclamation. “They reasoned that, since God is in every person, they could not enslave God,” recounts Pawling historian Robert Reilly in the town’s historical archives. That level of logical decency, mated with some of the prettiest countryside imaginable and the advantages of proximity to Manhattan, has shaped a region brimming with kindhearted gentility. Try a day trip to this part of the world, and you may well find yourself heading back for a weekend, the better to explore the many good things being done well here.
“GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK”
Edward R. Murrow’s radio broadcasts from London as a war correspondent during World War II where followed by millions of listeners. His unflinching TV news reports on Senator Joseph McCarthy were a turning point in television history. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and left a legacy that stands as one of the cornerstones of broadcast journalism…but, at the end of the day, Edward R. Murrow came home to Pawling, for decades, to live and, finally, to die on April 27, 1965 at the age of 57. His ashes were scattered at his estate, Glen Arden Farm at Quaker Hill in Pawling where the Edward R. Murrow Park at Lakeside Drive and Old Rt. 55 is named after him in the community he loved.
Pawling’s warmth and sweetness may have something to do with the elegance of the natural surroundings. How many towns have a Great Swamp? The 63,000-acre watershed has nine rare species and is a rich source of archaeological finds dating back several millenia. The Great Swamp is gloriously unsuited to development and perfect for hiking, kayaking, bird watching, fishing and otherwise getting away from it all. On October 22 and 23, the Friends of the Great Swamp hold their annual Art Show and Celebration, with art and music and eco-education done right.
If you’re in the mood for an elevated perspective, Pawling also happens to contain a section of the Appalachian Trail with its own rustic Metro North station. Head up into the hills for a moderate hike to Cat’s Rock, with a lush 180-degree panorama of Pawling and western Connecticut.
Or bust out your clubs for a trip around the oldest nine-hole municipal golf course in the US. Established in 1890, the Dutcher Golf Course is surrounded by age-old stonewalls and pretty as a picture. According to Golf.com, it also has no water hazards or sand traps—golfers can experience a downright archaic lack of frustration.
Ready to come back indoors and contemplate some of the finer connections humans can make with the earth? Stop in at Earthlore, where you’ll find minerals, crystals, unique jewelry and sculpture, and fossils. What better keepsake by which to remember this gem of a town?
“People come up from New York and find a friendly, warm feeling in the air, radiating from the merchants and residents alike,” says Pawling Chamber of Commerce President Peter Cris. “The city transplants and the longtime locals meld well together…people who live and work in Pawling are ambassadors for warmth and comfort. Residents feel it; visitors feel it.”
An ambiance like that creates fertile soil for dreams. “I always wanted to open a knitting shop; I’ve been a knitter since I was eight. I’ve been here 21 years now,” says Marie Stewart, owner of the Yarn and Craft Box. “I have customers from all over the area and some who come up from Manhattan, and they all seem happy that I’m able to help them. I teach, too. And every fall, the Dutchess County Sheriffs pick up a pile of scarves and other handmade items we’ve made and take them to the needy and homeless. It’s my dream come true, and I’m living it.”
Stewart’s a fan of the Book Cove, another local dream made real, where the staff know and love both the merchandise and the customers and maintain a full schedule of author events for families and children, the better to raise the kind of thoughtful citizens befitting a town that supports its own public radio station and a resource center that tends to the needs of residents in crisis. “If you need a ride to the doctor, somebody will get you there,” says Cris. “This could be a microcosm for what I like to think is the real American spirit and, hopefully, we’re contagious. After all, we’re the hometown of Thomas Dewey and Dr. Norman Vincent Peale. This is the birthplace of positive thinking.”
Come to Pawling and find out why folks drive long distances to experience the fine wines and homemade baked treats of McKinney and Doyle, where they like to say that the cuisine is serious but the atmosphere definitely lighthearted. Or enjoy an evening at the Town Crier Café, where they’ve been presenting an eclectic array of entertainment for nearly four decades. October offerings include Holly Near, Popa Chubby, and a Celtic Halloween bash.
Outdoors folk will find it’s well worth the journey for the personalized attention at the Pawling Cycle and Sport Shop. Whether you prefer to travel by bike, kayak, skateboard or cross-country skis, you’ll find a staff that shares your passion. Once outfitted with a new toy, there’s no better place to try it out than the Dutchess County Rail Trail. Accessible from the Walkway Over the Hudson, the Trail winds through prime leaf-peeping territory and can take you to two other standout places: Wappingers Falls and Hopewell Junction.
To fully understand the gracious pleasures of southeastern Dutchess County, know this: The Quakers of the Oblong Meeting eliminated slavery nearly a century before the Emancipation Proclamation. “They reasoned that, since God is in every person, they could not enslave God,” recounts Pawling historian Robert Reilly in the town’s historical archives. That level of logical decency, mated with some of the prettiest countryside imaginable and the advantages of proximity to Manhattan, has shaped a region brimming with kindhearted gentility. Try a day trip to this part of the world, and you may well find yourself heading back for a weekend, the better to explore the many good things being done well here.
Still more Dutchess County adventures can be found in Wappingers Falls, where Bowdoin Park—over 300 riverside acres laced with trails, boardwalks and a world-class cross-country course—beckons picnickers and hosts a variety of special events. Among other treats, they’ve been producing an outstanding Haunted Mansion every autumn for 30 years.
Wappingers is home to the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, devoted to “the mystic core of love uniting all wisdom traditions and the transformative power of art to awaken human potential.” Though the Chapel’s wisdom-works and its 40-acre campus are open only by appointment or during one of its scheduled events, getting a taste of the unique work under way there online may entice you to sign up for a full moon ceremony, visionary art party or nature mysticism seminar. At the end of the month, CoSM celebrates the season with “Deities and Demons Masquerade: Egyptian Underworld and the Cult of the Dead.”
You’ll find all kinds of choices for shopping and eating in the Route 9 retail corridor that abuts Wappingers Falls. Alto Music is there, and Starr’s Oak Furniture. There are eateries like Greenbaum and Gilhooley’s (think exquisite prime rib and lobster), and the Kabab Palace, specializing in Indian cuisine. Jam-packed with businesses ranging from the mundane and useful to the specialized and quirky, this area is fun to explore and easy to reach.
Wappingers has an arty streak that may take a little digging to find, but is nonetheless vital. It’s home to the County Players, a Hudson Valley Magazine pick for “Best Community Theatre,” with a 50-year history; next month’s production is “Once On This Island.” Sports folk will enjoy a visit to the Sports Museum of Dutchess County where homegrown heroes are honored in a Hall of Fame. It’s where Nicole and Chris Morris create unique wearable art for Dohrmor.com.
“This is a sweet village,” says Nicole, “It’s walkable. We’ve got nice parks and lots of good pizza.”
In Hopewell Junction, you can experience the first “fiber CSA” in the United States. “Sheerholders” are blessed with fine wool and mohair from a flock of Merino and Cormo sheep and Angora goats, sustainably shepherded by their humans and by Maremma sheepdogs described by their humans as “hearts with feet.” If your creative urges run more toward wood than wool, don’t miss Hopewell’s William Tell True Value Hardware, renowned for a vast variety of unexpected odds and ends.” They have what Home Depot doesn’t,” raves a customer in an online review. Another great source of the unexpected: the Hopewell Antique Center, with its two huge lofts loaded with all sorts of stuff.
Hopewell Junction, like Pawling, prides itself on its unique offerings like “stones that speak” from the neighborhood jewelers at Belizzi, a great combination with the teddy bears, floral extravaganzas, and exotic sweets from neighboring Bouquets by Christine when there’s someone you really want to spoil the right way. Then there’s Frankie’s Superette, that increasingly rare creature, an independent grocery and meat market where they’ve got treats you just won’t find at the supermarket, and a great place to provision for a picnic on that Rail Trail ride.
If you’d prefer to have someone cook for you, Hopewell Junction restaurants offer some exceptional possibilities. How about French cuisine in an 1863 Georgian colonial estate? That would be Le Chambord. Goodfellas prides itself on the widest selection of beer in five counties, with 37 varieties on tap and hundreds of bottled choices, paired with fine American cuisine including burgers you’ll never forget. Zagat’s found the best Italian in the valley at Hopewell’s Blue Fountain in 2009; yet another take on Italian cuisine can be found at Tiramisu, where they’ll serve you up brick oven pizza in a casual Internet café setting.
Bad Ass Coffee of Hawaii
Barbara R White, DO
Clove Branch Gift Shoppe
Dazzles Salon & Day Spa
Earth Angels Veterinary Hospital
Earthlore/Amber Waves of Grain
Empowered By Nature
Erin Galucci LMT
The Futon Store
Groundhog Coffee Shop
Hoon Park, MD
Hopewell Hot Bagels
Jal Day Spa and Salon
Leo’s Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria
Mizzentop Day School
Native Landscapes, Inc.
Reflections on the Falls
- David Cunningham
- David Cunningham