Mountaindale, NY
A Vibrant Town
A photographer I met introduced me to a friend, Barb, who then invited me to visit her hometown called Mountaindale, a hamlet in the town of Fallsburg, NY. She did this after seeing what I do, which is basically run around in my county and beyond on weekends looking for things to shoot. So one Sunday afternoon Vi and I went.

Apparently, she and her townspeople had recently done massive renovation on -- get this -- the whole town! With the combined efforts of community members from young and old alike, the whole town was transformed.

Decrepit-looking, boarded up buildings on Main Street were restored to their former frontier glory days complete with ranch-style porches. A circular maze was painted on an open pavement called the “Meditation Labyrinth”. Nearby is a concrete highway beam that didn’t pass inspection now serving as a footbridge atop a creek called the Sandburg Creek Riverwalk. A satellite dish is turned into a bird bath. Steel sculptures and murals by local artists adorn parks and building walls. A train museum sits atop where the old O&W tracks used to be, beside where the old Mountaindale Train Depot used to stand in the center of town. A small-scale replica of a vintage train engine sat nearby. Park benches are placed all over town and not a corner or alleyway is spared from the restoration.

Being a Sunday when we went there the place was quiet. There was occasional traffic -- one car slowed down and its passenger waved at my camera -- but most of the time we could hear our own voices echo on building walls as we crossed the streets here and there while our friend, Barb, gave us the tour.

But we did meet a few of the townspeople -- Janet, a yoga instructor who upon seeing us quickly engaged us in conversation, Sherwood who if I remember right did many of the masonry and carpentry during renovation, and our friend’s husband who had vintage camera equipment in his shop window. All in my view seemed forward and swelling with pride in a warm, open, and welcoming way of their town.

In short, a town that at one time seemed destined to become a ghost town as, sadly, some in the region do, is now instead becoming vibrant, quaint, and scenic with lots to do.

Seeing the change that occurred in Mountaindale made me think about community. Some individuals spend their entire lives trying to accomplish something big on their own in order to perhaps at their final breath claim that they lived a life worth living. Write a book, build a skyscraper, or maybe spearhead a movement.

All well and good. But maybe there’s a less burdensome way.

Becoming an avid member of the community and keeping in spirit by helping and contributing here and there for the community as a whole to accomplish a great many things might do the job just as well in making life fun, meaningful, and well worth living.

You will see what I mean when you visit Mountaindale.

Click on a picture to enlarge.
Main Street.
Murals on a former one-room schoolhouse are by Mountaindale resident, Michael McKee of Moydan Art.
One of many iron sculptures by a local artist, Peter Mott.
Satellite-dish-turned-birdbath beside a park bench at the Sandburg Creek Riverwalk Nature Trail.
Meditation Labyrinth. The idea is, as you traverse the maze starting from the circle’s outer rim, by the time you reach the center, your mind would have cleared.
Sandburg Creek Riverwalk.
Sandburg Creek.
View from the bridge.
The bridge is actually a concrete highway beam that didn’t pass safety inspection.
A row of restored buildings on Main Street.
No corner or alleyway is spared from the restoration.
Inside Janet's Yoga studio.
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