Open Space Institute and Mohonk Preserve Announce Protection of Historic Parcel in Gardiner, N.Y.

Photo Credit: Jerry Monkman
Open Space Institute and Mohonk Preserve Announce Protection of Historic Parcel in Gardiner, N.Y.

NEW YORK, NY- February 7, 2006 - Today, the Open Space Institute and the Mohonk Preserve announced the preservation of a historic site in Gardiner that will help protect more of the Trapps Mountain Hamlet the only vanished, subsistence settlement listed on the National and State Registers of Historic Places. The site protected by OSI and the Preserve was originally the homestead of Hiram Van Leuven.

“Hiram Van Leuven was a long-term Trapps resident in the 1800s,” stated Bob Larsen, the Preserve's ranger/historian. “Because life was hard in the Trapps, they turned their hand to many trades. Hiram Van Leuven was a farmer, grindstone cutter, charcoal maker, and toll collector on the Wawarsing & New Paltz Turnpike, the first road over the mountain,” added Larsen.

The Mohonk Preserve has been working for decades to preserve the historic Trapps Hamlet. To fulfill that goal, the Preserve has collaborated on several occasions with the New York City-based Open Space Institute (OSI), which has protected more than 18,000 acres on and around the Shawangunk Ridge. In securing state and federal historic designation for the hamlet, the Preserve also worked closely with nearby residents and hamlet descendents.

“Our partnership with the Preserve over the years has been one of the most rewarding collaborations. Our goals for land conservation are very much in sync,” said OSI president, Joe Martens. In December of last year, OSI donated the 3.5-acre parcel to the Mohonk Preserve, in order to ensure that the site would be interpreted and made accessible to the public.

OSI's land acquisition affiliate, the Open Space Conservancy, acquired the parcel for $38,500 with funds from the Lila Acheson and DeWitt Wallace Endowment, a permanent fund that was transferred to the Open Space Conservancy in 2001. “The Trapps Gateway has always intrigued us because of its human history. People here lived on the land and eked out an existence that's almost impossible to imagine today,” said Martens.

Home to as many as 60 families by the time of the Civil War, the Trapps Mountain Hamlet was abandoned in the early 1920s. This once-thriving community contains over 60 cellar holes and foundations of dwellings, two mills, barns, a school, a tavern, a chapel, and other structures; three family burying grounds; and the restored Van Leuven Cabin historic site, located on the lands of the Mohonk Preserve.

“People are coming to realize that the ridge has many traces from earlier people's lives on the ridge, dating back to Paleo Indian rock shelter encampments and spanning more than 10,500 years of local history,” said Glenn Hoagland, executive director of the Mohonk Preserve. “An important part of the Preserve's mission is to protect this heritage and actively interpret it to the public as we do in our Visitor Center exhibits and through interpreted hikes to the restored Eli Van Leuven cabin the last remaining Trapps Hamlet structure on Preserve lands,” Hoagland added.

Over 30 years ago, the Mohonk Mountain House and the entire Preserve landscape were designated a National Historic Landmark.

Located in five Ulster County towns, the Mohonk Preserve is the largest member- and visitor-supported nature preserve in New York State. The Preserve protects over 6,500 acres of the northern Shawangunk Ridge and receives 150,000 visitors a year. Through field research, land management, and environmental education, the Preserve aims to protect the ridge forever and to promote a wider understanding of the value of nature in everyday life (

The mission of the Open Space Institute is to protect scenic, natural, and historic landscapes to ensure public enjoyment, conserve habitats, and sustain community character. OSI achieves its goals through land acquisition, conservation easements, special loan programs, and creative partnerships.

OSI has protected nearly 100,000 acres in New York State. Through its Northern Forest Protection Fund and Conservation Loan Program, OSI has assisted in the protection of 1.4 million acres in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey and North Carolina.

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The homestead of Hiram Van Leuven, circa 1890. Hiram Van Leuven is standing on the right and his wife is in the rocking chair. Also pictured are Eli Van Leuven and his wife Kathy.
Photo by Roger Van Leuven
Recent photo of Van Leuven property.
Photo by Jennifer Garofalini

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