How Ellenville was named
The story of how Ellenville got its name begins in 1823, the year the village got its first post office. It had been known as Fairchild City, after a prominent landowner. During a meeting to discuss the name, a visiting Ellen Snyder asked, “Why not name if after me?” Unable to agree on any other choices, the residents decided to call it Ellenville.
Scenic and Historic
Route 209, which runs through Ellenville, is one of the oldest “sanctioned” (by the king and queen of Holland) public roads in the United States. The Leni-Lenape Indians used it to travel between the Hudson and Delaware valleys. It was a trading route and a stagecoach road at different points, and has been called Minisink Road, the Old Mine Road, and Kings Highway.
Completed in 1828, the D & H (Delaware and Hudson) Canal, went through Ellenville. The 108-mile waterway was built mainly to transport coal and other goods from Pennsylvania to New York. Lock number 31 was located near what is now Towpath Road. The last boat traveled the canal in 1901, its usefulness replaced by the railroad line, which ran alongside it for almost 30 years.
Both the D&H Canal and railroad had a transformative effect on Ellenville. Early industries that helped Ellenville grow through the 19th century include: glassmaking (the Ellenville Glass Company); pottery (Ellenville Pottery); tanning, and knife-making (the Ulster Knife Company). The tradition of high-end collectible knives is now maintained at Canal Street Cutlery.
Resorts and Recreation
The O&W Railway helped develop the resort industry in Ellenville. Then, as now, people were attracted to Ellenville’s vibrant community, exquisite setting, and quiet beauty.
Sam’s Point is a popular hiking peak in the Shawangunk Mountains. It was given this name more than 250 years ago for Samuel Gonzalus, a hunter and trapper who, it’s said, was trying to evade capture by pursuing Indians. He jumped from the rock’s edge, but was saved by landing on tree branches below.
Boy and the Boot
Ellenville is home to not one, but three “Boy and the Boot” statues. Two are on public display; one inside the Terwilliger House Museum, and the other outdoors in Liberty Square, next to the post office. While the back story about the boy remains a mystery, the statues were created in 1875 by the J.L. Mott Iron Works in New York City. Henry Brodhead, the company’s paymaster, lived in Ellenville. Scores of these statues are on public display in towns across North America.
FDR Visits Ellenville
On August 21, 1931, Franklin D. Roosevelt announced his run for presidency in the former Wayside Inn in Ellenville, right across from the Hunt Memorial Building. Addressing the crowd as “my friends and neighbors of Ellenville,” Roosevelt’s keynote speech touched on his family’s long link with Ulster County, the importance of state parks, the beauty of the Catskills, and the challenges and advances of the time. When Eleanor Roosevelt arrived, she was greeted by the women of the village, who were all “dressed to the nines.”
The Roosevelts’ connection with Ellenville did not end there. Eleanor came to the village again on April 30, 1957 to give a speech. During the Great Depression, FDR was personally involved in the design and style of the Ellenville Post Office, as well as others in the Hudson Valley. Originally intending to build it of brick, FDR was swayed by the post master’s plea to utilize local stone instead. Don’t miss the mural inside painted by Guggenheim Fellow Louis Bouche.