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Positively Pawling


Last Updated: 08/13/2013 3:53 pm

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A major key to Pawling’s economic development was the New York and Harlem Railroad, which reached Pawling in 1848, connecting it to the city and to Westchester. The local Sheffield Farms-Slawson-Decker Milk Processing Plant shipped their milk to New York City by train on a daily basis, up until the 1930s. Heinchon Dairy, established in 1923, pastured its dairy cows on East Main Street, processed the milk, and delivered it to the doorsteps of local customers. In 1984, Heinchon expanded, opening the Old Farmhouse Ice Cream Parlor on Route 22, which is still family operated.

By the 1880s, Pawling had become a destination resort, with the construction of Dutcher House right across from the railway station platform, and the Mizzentop Hotel, then considered a high-class country and mountain resort, which boasted views of the Harlem Valley and amenities like steam heat, bowling alleys, a golf course, and telegraph service.

In addition, proximity to major highways such as Routes 84, 684, and the Taconic Parkway enabled eco-tourism to develop, attracting weekenders and eventually second-home owners to join the Pawling community, in particular at the Whalley Lake area southwest of Pawling, according to Town Supervisor Beth Coursen. She also remarks that Pawling is currently updating its Comprehensive Plan, which will continue to proactively protect its environmentally valuable spaces; Pawling was one of the first towns in the country to do so.

The Village Green, due to break ground this fall in the center of the village by the train station, will include a replica of the original Pawling bandstand. It is marked to become the most popular park attraction in Pawling, in addition to Lakeside Park, home of the Harlem Valley Agricultural Fair from 1887 to 1890, and Murrow Park, which is named for wartime broadcast journalist and longtime resident Edward R. Murrow and is home of the Music by the Lake concert series.

The famed Appalachian Trail, which runs from Georgia to Maine, has sections winding through the northern perimeter of Pawling and even claims its own Metro North stop there. North of the train stop lies the 1,043-acre Pawling Nature Reserve, and to the south lies the 6,000-acre Great Swamp, a wetland that extends for 20 miles and offers canoeing, hiking, and the opportunity to observe 200 species of birds, 64 species of butterflies, and various species of endangered plant and animal life, including the small bog turtle.

The vernal vistas in Pawling provide a peaceful backdrop for its music events. The Trinity-Pawling School, established in1907, provides the setting for the annual Pawling Concert Series, which this year has included performances by Chanticleer, Awaddgin Pratt, and Jay Ungar and Molly Mason.

The Towne Crier Café on Route 22 has provided a mecca for musicians unequalled in scope and history in the Hudson Valley for 37 years, enhanced by the culinary creations of Austrian chef Erich Panhofer and pastries by Mary Ciganer.

Billing it as one of the oldest ongoing venues of its type in the country, owner Phil Ciganer says his goal is to provide an “intimate setting that respects the performances above all.” “It’s designed as a club I would want to go to myself,” he continues. Bringing in performers who are established or just starting out, Ciganer has been host to an array of artists way too numerous to name: Leon Russell, Richie Havens, Rosanne Cash, Ani DiFranco, Tom Chapin, Janis Ian, Taj Mahal, Arlo Guthrie, Jesse Colin Young, Paul Winter, and folk father Pete Seeger, to name just a few. The signed photos on the wall prove it.

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