A couple of years ago, I made what turned out to be the excellent decision to visit the town of Sleepy Hollow on the Hudson River, made easier by the fact that the town is very tourism friendly, especially during the autumn season. That trip was spectacular, and really took me inside the mythology of a storytelling in a geographical location. I saw Headless Horsemen reinactors, Halloween parades for excited kids, jack-0-lanterns everywhere. It was like reaching the land of Halloween. I wrote a big blog post about my fandom for the place, the comic, and the TV show Sleepy Hollow at the time. I’m still a fan of all three, by the way.
This past weekend, I visited Sleepy Hollow again, geared toward a different experience, and I’m glad I did. I wanted to know more about the history of the location, the people who created its unusual sense of place, and follow new leads about the settlement of the Hudson Valley in general. The visit was still very Halloweeny, and lovely to see when the trees were turning and the unseasonably mild weather was making the Hudson look even dreamier than usual, but taking a two hour walking tour of the cemetery took me inside the lives of the town and region’s inhabitants over the years, from the 1600’s to modern day.
Even visiting the grave of my childhood hero Washington Irving yielded new information. I must be the last person to learn that his house, Sunnyside, is nearby and open to the public. I sense another autumn trip on the horizon. Or that the stately home Lyndhurst is where the show Dark Shadows was filmed, and is also open to the public. Two trips or do I wrap them into one? Just casually opening the door on local history on a Sunday afternoon posed a challenge to me: just how much do I want my view of the area to grow and change? We can appreciate the myth and the story of Sleepy Hollow, but these layers of history are wholly compelling avenues waiting for us to explore them, too.
Here are some more images from my visit, including the cemetery, of course, the Hudson River, and some of the best apple cider I’ve ever had.