A history book offers a comprehensive survey of supernatural events in New York’s Hudson Valley.
This substantial work by Matthews takes a broad-spectrum look at the wide variety of paranormal stories that have come out of the Hudson Valley, an area of 7,200 square miles surrounding the Hudson River, extending over 315 miles from the outskirts of New York City to the Adirondacks. For thousands of years in that area, the author points out, “haunted structures, strange lights in the sky and mysterious creatures in the forests are almost taken for granted, or at least the stories are.” The region, bordered by “the Catskills in the west, the Taconic range to the east, the Shawangunks running up from the south and west, and the Adirondacks at the northern edge,” is thickly forested and gnarled with ancient rock formations. The land has been populated by humans for millennia, from the Lenape, Mohican, and “Haudenosaunee (Iroquois)” to the European settlers whose New World towns and industries are immortalized in the Hudson Valley stories of Washington Irving. Matthews sees Irving’s tales as “absolutely foundational in understanding how this region came to be seen, not only by the rest of the United States, indeed, perhaps the world, but also how residents of the Valley came to see themselves.” Consequently, the vivid and enjoyable stories gathered in these pages range far beyond Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and its Headless Horseman. Readers encounter inquisitive extraterrestrials, menacing little people of various kinds, ravenous Native spirits, and of course the king of cryptozoology, Bigfoot (“It was definitely not a bear,” reports one witness, “because of how it was walking”). Throughout all this, Matthews perfectly matches impressive research with a born fieldworker’s ear for the evocative personal interview. Nowhere in these accounts is there either condescension or credulity. Instead, each anecdotal thread is given the serious treatment that makes every chapter thrillingly involving.
An encyclopedic and immensely entertaining history of the Hudson Valley’s long otherworldly tradition.