Moms and babies enjoying a sunny day in the Woodstock Waterfall Park
Ladies Picnicking in the Park
The Woodstock Waterfall™ Park, New York park, is a small pocket park located on Tannery Brook Road in the center of Woodstock, NY. Long and narrow, it sits on a ledge overlooking the Tannery Brook Stream. The large boulders jutting out have been sculpted over the centuries by sometimes slow, then sometimes fast turbulent waters. The resulting waterfall is always a spectacle to watch.
The park has become one of the central attractions in Woodstock. Walk to the falls.
Lila & Norman Bacon have given this land to the fine folks of Woodstock, and in exchange, the town had agreed to build a park, with the inspiration that it will be a wonderful and lasting contribution to the communal and environmental quality of life in Woodstock. This dramatically sculpted rock ledge with pristine waterfall, which is the inspiration for this effort, has been a hidden jewel for so many years, and now, it is once again available for all to enjoy. It is with loving hands, that so many Woodstockers have participated in and have touched this wonderful project.
* To bring an educational awareness of the rich history that the Tannery Brook has played in Woodstock, since its early days to the present.
* To inspire communion with nature and the rejuvenating experience if offers.
* To enhance our community through beautification.
* To enhance our community through communal spaces.
* To enhance our local community's business ecology.
* Ben Schachter of the Town Beautification Task Force,
who brought the concept of turning this land into a park to Norman Bacon.
* Jeff Moran, the town supervisor, Cathy Magarelli, Terrie Rosenblum,
then town board members, who supported the concept.
* Mike Reynolds, town highway department, and highway crew,
who did a great job building this park on very challenging terrain?
* Jeremy Wilbur, current town supervisor, and current town board.
* Special thanks to Bill Mckenna and Cathy Magarelli, who gave a special effort.
* Norman Bacon, who donated the land and worked on every aspect of this project from beginning to completion.
Barn on the Tannery Brook Falls
Tannery Brook Falls during a flood.
For much of Woodstock's early history, Tannery Brook literally powered essential elements of Woodstock's economy. By the late 1700s, a sawmill constructed by Robert Livingston operated here. In 1790, a gristmill was added. The earliest known tannery was in operation by 1816. Owned by John Ring and members of the Culver family, the tannery converted hides purchased from local settlers and sold the finished leather to area shoemakers and harness-makers.
The process of tanning in the 19th century was a particularly devastating industry both to the ecology of the waterway and the neighboring forests. Streams became heavily polluted as tannic acid and other solutions were discharged directly into their waters. The local landscape saw its hemlock trees cut and stripped bare as hemlock bark served as the primary source for tannic acid. Despite the impact on the environment, tanning in Woodstock became a major source of much-needed employment. During the Civil War, Orson Vandevoort's tannery employed 30 to 40 workers on this site. Vandevoort, whose home is now the site of the Byrdcliffe Guild, saw profits rise significantly as a result of supplying leather to the war effort. At its peak, Vandevoort's tannery produced 16,000 "sides" of leather a year, requiring1,800 cords of hemlock bark. As the tanning process was refined, with chemical acids replacing the need for hemlock bark, electricity replacing hydropower, rural tanneries began to fade from the landscape. Today, only remnants of the last tannery's foundation remain as a reminder of the time when Tannery Brook was sacrificed for economic gain. Eventually, as Woodstock turned its attention away from what could be taken from the land and toward what others saw in the land, new life and energies found their way to the banks of Tannery Brook. Operating out of the Bovee House further downstream, the Woodstock Library began service to the community in 1913. In a nearby barn once used by the tannery, the Art Students League offered summer classes. Across the stream, where the Center for Photograph now resides (previously, home to the Espresso and Tinker Street cafes and where Bob Dylan once found lodging on the second floor), Clarence and Louise Bolton converted an old barn into a popular eatery known as The Nook.
As Woodstock grew and development upstream lessened the power of Tannery Brook's waters (at one time, two ponds along the stream were deep enough to freeze, permitting ice skating during the winter) that same development presented a new environmental challenge to the stream. Pollution resulted from inadequate sanitation and the Tannery Brook found itself under assault once again. Over the years, trout began to slowly disappear and summer stagnation of the stream presented passersby with a "distinct" odor. In the late 1970s, the Town of Woodstock undertook planning that would, ultimately, bring a sewer system to the village. While system complexity and debate prolonged its implementation, Woodstock's sewer system went online in 1985.
Today, as it flows through the heart of Woodstock, Tannery Brook remains at the center of Woodstock's commitment towards enhancing our environment. The Woodstock Waterfall ™ Park stands as a symbol of that commitment. It is a living reminder that past indiscretions towards our environment can be overcome.
Woodstock Beautification Task Force
Origin of the Park Concept
Presented by Ben Schachter