Photograph by Holley Meister
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Where in the Hudson Valley...?
Several of you chided us that identifying the “Historic Hardwood” in our November issue was just too easy. Just about everyone who wrote in knew that the massive tree pictured above is known as the Balmville tree, located near Newburgh. And several of you also took us to task (and rightfully so) for erroneously listing the tree’s circumference as 26 inches — it actually measures 26 feet around.
The name of the tree (and the hamlet in which it stands) also resulted from a mistake. During the 19th century, local residents misidentified the tree as a type of poplar called Balm of Gilead (it’s actually an Eastern cottonwood). The nickname “Balm tree” stuck, and the hamlet nearby was subsequently christened Balmville.
Our winner is Sam Rein of Poughkeepsie. For this month’s stumper, turn to page 108. And good luck!
Thank you for your story on the Balmville Tree, which stands opposite my house in Balmville. Not only is the tree a state landmark, but it is a federal landmark, too, as is my house, which was a tavern in the mid-18th century and a blacksmith’s shop between 1777 and 1825. I have always suspected that during the Revolution, the blacksmith and his friends quaffed a prodigious amount of spirits under the tree, as they denounced the tax policies of King George III.
I admired your ability to pack so much information in a short piece and I thank you for it.
Some 46 years ago, as a new driver, and much to the chagrin and amazement of my dates, this tree was a drive-to destination. The return trip usually included a crossing via the Newburgh-Beacon ferry, making for a wonderful afternoon by the time we returned home. It is believed that George Washington stopped to relieve himself at the base of the tree, possibly on more than one occasion, thereby adding to its historical significance.
I’ve passed this tree for 36 years. I first noticed its glorious splendor back in 1971. I was driving my wife, then sweetheart, to her parents’ house when it caught my attention. Years later the main branch fell victim to a terrible storm. When I saw the damage I thought surely that the tree had met its demise. Thanks to the locals who saved it.
Legend has it that the tree grew from George Washington’s walking stick.
In high school, we used to race our cars around it. Very respectfully and quietly, though, so we wouldn’t disturb the old guy.
Mary Strolis Schulz
Finish line friends
Thanks so much for the article on the Marathon Project (“In the Long Run,” Nov.). As I write this, our group is busy getting ready for our trip to Philadelphia, and we’re very excited to finally put all our hard work to the test.
Unfortunately, the article failed to mention the role that the Dutchess County Youth Bureau has played in the success of the Marathon Project. One of our major funding sources, the Youth Bureau has believed in our program from the start, and provided the funds necessary to get the program off and running. Recently, the Youth Bureau committed to providing funds to the Marathon Project for the 2008-09 school year. We are extremely grateful for their generous contribution.
CAPE/DC Marathon Project Coordinator
I appreciate that it must be a difficult job to pick the winners for your “Best of the Hudson Valley” issue (Oct.), when you consider that the region is quite large and has so many wonderful choices. I live in Rockland County, and though I was disappointed to see that there were only two winners in the whole county, I was amazed at how many winners (50) there were in the town of Poughkeepsie. I have to wonder if your “team of experts” got stranded there. It seems somewhat incredible that after spending a full year sampling the region, you determined that three out of the four best places for pizza, between Westchester and Albany, are in Poughkeepsie. Next year, try spreading out a bit more, so there can be a more accurate representation.
In our November “On the Town” (page 25), the folks pictured living it up at the Vassar Brothers Diamond Gala (above) were mistakenly identified in our caption. They are, from left: Charlie and Betty Conklin, and gala co-chairs Randi and Dave Petrovits. Our apologies for the error.