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Author Robi Josephson brings firsthand knowledge of Mohonk along with archive photos and her years of historical research and blends it into a wonderful & rich history of Mohonk, Ulster County, NY.

From the book's Introduction: Mohonk: Mountain House and Preserve focuses on the human history of two places of remarkable beauty in the Shawangunk Mountains of Ulster County, New York: Mohonk Mountain House, a 251-room hotel located at Mohonk Lake, and the Mohonk Preserve, a bordering yet independent nature preserve. The Shawangunk Mountains (pronounced "shon-gum") are a series of parallel ridges midway between the Hudson River and the Catskill Mountains...

 

Interview, August, 2008
Robi Josephson, author of MOHONK: Mountain House and Preserve,
Arcadia Press, 2002.
Photo: Author Robi Josephson (r) pictured autographing book for Lauren Yeaple


When did you first visit Mohonk Mountain House or the Mohonk Preserve?

I came to SUNY New Paltz as a freshman in September 1969. It was quite a change moving from the suburbs of New York City to a college set in the Mid-Hudson Valley. I first hiked from the Mountain House up the Labyrinth, a path designed through boulders, to the tower on Sky Top as part of freshman orientation. I remember being in a very long line of students inching our way up to the top. There's a photograph in the book of our class stalled along the path. After much encouragement--and some hand holding--from our student counselors, we all made it to the top. The hike up Sky Top had been an annual rite of passage for New Paltz freshmen for many years but ended soon after.

Where did the idea come from for this book?

Fast forward to 2002. Two librarians at the Haviland-Heidgerd Historical Collection of Elting Library in New Paltz had just come out with the Arcadia picture history book on New Paltz. Marion Ryan (now retired) and Carol Johnson urged me to submit a proposal. After some initial research, I narrowed my proposal to the two Mohonks.

How did you choose the images?

This book was only possible with the generosity of those who permitted me to use images from their collections, including the Mohonk Mountain Archives; the Mohonk Preserve's Visitor Center and Daniel Smiley Research Center; the Haviland-Heidgerd Historical Collection; Historic Huguenot Street; and many local people. It was a true collaborative process, with images chosen that helped tell the story of these two remarkable places.

How long did it take you to finish the book?

It took six months to gather the images, write the captions, and organize the material. I turned everything over to Arcadia in July 2002 and the book came out in October.

What was the most fun working on the book? The hardest part?

The answer to both is the same--choosing the images! I looked at several hundred images, out of which 220 were chosen. Organizing the images into chapters and figuring out where to place each image on the page was also a lot of fun but much easier.

What's next?

While working on the Arcadia book, I became fascinated with the Trapps hamlet, a vanished mountain village whose people lived south of Mohonk Mountain House. In 2004, I teamed up with Bob Larsen of the Mohonk Preserve to write a history of the hamlet. Since the 1990s, Bob has been researching the families and their hardscrabble life up on the mountain. They survived by subsistence farming, logging, stone quarrying, barrel hoop shaving, charcoal burning, and huckleberry picking. The book will be published by Black Dome Press--I'll keep you posted.
Thank you, Robi--we anxiously await your next book!

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