Legends and Lore of the Hudson Highlands



My heart is on the hills. The shades

Of night are on my brow:

Ye pleasant haunts and quiet glades,

My soul is with you now!

I bless the star-crowned Highlands …!

George Pope Morris, Hudson Highlands Song-Writer & Poet 1860


The Hudson River, an arm of the sea flowing both north and south, takes a twist and turn on its odyssey to the ocean. An ancient arc of convoluted mounts embracing mighty metropolitan New York City makes us pause in wonder. Every hill has a story to tell. Here the local heritage helped shape the United States. This is the legacy of the Hudson Highlands.

Standing over one thousand feet above the river, these “aspiring mountains” reach about fifty miles north of Gotham to form the city’s natural boundary.  Buttresses vaulting from water to sky, they offer brooding beauty and a profusion tales. A billion years old, they once stood taller than the pointed Rockies. They make up the core of the Appalachians. They are the worn-down great grandfathers to the larger neighboring Catskills, Adirondacks, Berkshires and Poconos.

These Highlands nurtured three revolutions; in government, industry and the environment. Further, they inspired a radical new school of painting. They gave haven to Native hunters, colonial trappers, anxious pirates, and revolutionary spies. These hills still seclude industrialists, iconoclasts and spirited imps.

The wonder of living in the Hudson Highlands has been mine for over twenty-five years.  They provide an enchanting sanctuary, a sympathetic community, and a large part of my livelihood. Performing as a professional storyteller I’ve carried tales from here to entertain and educate people far from this cottage above Cold Spring on Hudson. People listen and immediately sense the mystery, the history of these storied mountains. The Hudson Highlands always lead to wonder.

These hills are legendary for concealed treasures, crenelated castles, and curious ghosts.  They have engrossed among many Henry Hudson, George Washington, Washington Irving, and Pete Seeger. The ultimate offering lies in their beauty, especially when autumn’s elementals put forth a colors ethereal and profound.

My immersion in these storied hills blesses and confounds.  Tracking down tales of the Hudson Highlands got me fairy-lead. The primary sources proved elusive, rare and conflicted.  The real story of the lies in layers of fact and fiction melded inextricably.   This stretched my quest to collect and collate these tales postponing the book release date. Fortunately, The History Press staff understood. They encouraged me to hone in on tales reflecting the essential feel of the region.

This book draws together historic fact and folklore, from primary sources and local legends to create a story map of the hills flanking “America’s first river.”  The sixty images contained in this slender volume give but a glimpse of the land’s singular character and distinguishing charming. Look here for an anthology of stories shorter than Washington Irving’s “Sketchbook” but richer than a hiking guide. All my efforts still leave behind some gold in these lore-laden hills.

“Legends and Lore of the Hudson Highlands” will engage locals and tourists, hikers and historians, river lovers and dreamers.  Enter now these pages for an expedition to mine the treasures, and climb to the viewscapes for a sense of the guardians a majestic river en-route to the mighty city.


Jonathan Kruk,

Lake Valhalla Highlands,

Cold Spring on Hudson, New York

Ships anywhere in the US for $3



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