Buttermilk Falls and Ellenville
April 17, 2011
Chances are you’d miss the falls if you didn’t know it’s there. Buttermilk Falls is tucked neatly into a narrow fold just 60 yards off the highway. If your head isn’t turned as you drive by at 55 mph you’d never see it, even if, like us, you’ve lived in the region and driven on that highway many times. I only learned of the waterfall from a local bookstore. So, needless to say I went there right away to take pictures.

Buttermilk Falls is in the village of Ellenville in the town of Wawarsing in “slightly upstate” New York. Initially, I thought the falls was Nevele Falls because of the guide book I used. At least one other web site also calls it as such. (Nevele is “eleven” spelled backwards -- so-called because according to lore the falls was discovered by eleven schoolteachers in the 1800s during a party.) A friend who grew up in the area informed me of the correct name.

Ellenville is 90 miles northwest of New York City and 90 miles southwest of Albany and sits between the Catskill Mountains to the northwest and the Shawangunk Mountains to the southeast. So it probably became a tourist destination in the early 1900s because you can say it is pretty much in the middle of nowhere.

Taking pictures of late seems to be taking a new turn for me. Whereas before, I’d rush to a location, take pictures, then hurry back so I can process the pictures on my computer, lately I often feel an urge to go to a quiet place and bring my camera along. It could be a park in New York City or a lake in the Catskills. Sort of like, standing behind my camera mounted on my tripod amidst the grandeur of things brings a trance that shuts out the rest of the world which I now look forward to regularly having.

And maybe that’s what photography should be like. Unless you’re a photojournalist constantly running for cover in a war, maybe photography should be less about building a portfolio, finding photographic challenges, and looking for terrific captures to show off, but more about taking in the view, taking the mind away from the hustle and bustle of life, and then taking some pictures.

If so, then my discovering Buttermilk Falls couldn’t have come at a better time.

Click on a picture to enlarge.
Nevele Falls in Ellenville, NY. There's a trail on the left which I followed all the way to the falls.
A wall of a previous dam -- according to the book -- blocks the view of the falls when up close.
But there's plenty of good spots to take pictures from including the bridge on the highway itself.
Even with the directions I had I couldn't find the falls. I was supposed to turn into Chapel Street (which the book calls Chapel Road) and park there but nowhere was the falls.
When I made a u-turn on Chapel Street to head back was when I saw it. Nevele Falls was straight ahead when coming out of Chapel Street.
I proceeded to Ellenville to take pictures of the town.
Ellenville Depot. In the early 1900s this used to be a train station where tourists from the city would disembark. Automobiles weren't widely used then (nor were they dependable) so passengers would continue on in horse carriages to different destinations in the Catskills and the Shawangunks. It is now home to a local business. (source: http://www.wawarsing.net/ page 1, page 2)
A curious relic of a van was parked beside Ellenville Depot. The purple building in the back and the green Ellenville Depot to the right reminded me that I may still be in hippie country.
An antiques store beside Ellenville Depot.
The Hunt Memorial Building in downtown Ellenville was completed in 1918. It is located where the old inn, The Hoornbeek Tavern, used to be. The inn was where important town meetings were held including the decision to name the town Ellenville after one of its women residents named Ellen. In 1982, a man named Seymour Friend bought the building. It is now owned by the Village of Ellenville.

source: http://www.huntmemorial.com/history.html
Ellenville owns three copies of the statue,
U.S. Post Office in Ellenville.
Shops on Canal Street.
Even Radioshack electronics store is housed in a barn-like structure.
Route 52 which hugs the western side of the Shawangunk Mountains facing Ellenville.
View along Route 52 on my way home from Ellenville heading towards Cragsmoor.
BACK TO: Home Gallery