For a wonderful journey through some local history, pick up a copy of The Gunks: Ridge and Valley Towns Through Time by Ron Knapp and Michael Neil O’Donnell. The book begins with a brief history of local communities in the area, including the history of Lake Mohonk Mountain House, and Cliff House and Wildmere, both once located at Lake Minnewaska, and contains fascinating images that compare pictures of old buildings and landscapes with their present incarnation.
Who would not want to see how the Elting Memorial Library or P and G’s in New Paltz has changed? Or what Majestic’s Hardware, the Tuthilltown Mill, the Town Hall, or the Reformed Church in Gardiner looked like at the beginning of the last century?
The book is very readable and fascinating for anyone interested in the history of the Shawangunk Ridge and the towns that surround it. Although only 96 pages, it is full of fascinating historical information, including how the Smiley brothers altered local communities by bringing tourists to the area who could appreciate the Gunks for hiking, swimming and relaxing. They also contributed to preserving the beauty of the Shawangunk Ridge. As Ron Knapp said, “The Smileys brought a new ethic to manipulate the landscape to nurture mind, body and spirit.”
Seven dedicated volunteer photographers worked hard over a two year period to take pictures that matched the season, time of day and perspective in the postcard images from the past. The results are remarkable. For more information visit www.gunksthroughtime.org. The book is for sale at the Gardiner Library, Mohonk Preserve Visitor’s Center and local book stores. All proceeds benefit Mohonk Preserve.