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Open Space Institute acquires historic parcel at Minnewaska State Park

Gardiner, NY - 8/2/2002 - Today, the Open Space Institute announced the acquisition of two strategically located parcels totaling 8.7 acres on the Shawangunk Ridge in the Town of Gardiner, Ulster County. These parcels protect the entrance to the Minnewaska State Park Preserve and also an area known as Trapps Hamlet. Both properties will be managed by the Mohonk Preserve.

The new OSI acquisitions include the Hiram Van Leuven and the Lewis Wynkoop Homesteads. The Wynkoop Homestead contains the remains of the Wynkoop House, one of the few remaining structures of the Trapps Hamlet era. Much of the historic Trapps Hamlet lies on lands of the Mohonk Preserve. The acquisition of the Wynkoop and Van Lueven parcels by OSI further protects the only subsistence community listed on the National and State Registers of Historic Places. Once home to as many as 60 families, the hamlet was abandoned in the early1920's. This vanished community contains over 60 cellar holes and foundations of dwellings, mills, barns, a school, a tavern, a chapel, and other structures; three family burying grounds; and the restored Van Leuven Cabin historic site, located on the lands of the Mohonk Preserve. “OSI was eager to protect these parcels,” said OSI President Joe Martens. “Their historic significance, and their proximity to Minnewaska State Park Preserve and Mohonk Preserve lands, makes the Van Leuven and Wynkoop acquisitions an important addition to the protected open space of the Shawangunk Ridge.”

“The hamlet was a hardscrabble, mountaintop community -- originally settled in the 1700's and in its heyday at the time of the Civil War,” said Glenn Hoagland, Executive Director of the Mohonk Preserve. “Its residents were the berry pickers, millstone cutters, and charcoal makers who eked out a living on this rugged land.”

“Both Hiram Van Leuven and Lewis Wynkoop were long-term Trapps residents,” stated Bob Larsen, the Preserve's Ranger/Historian. “Because life was hard in the Trapps, they turned their hand to many trades. Lewis Wynkoop was a dealer in huckleberries and barrel hoops. Hiram Van Leuven was a farmer, grindstone cutter, charcoal maker, and toll collector on the Wawarsing & New Paltz Turnpike, the first road over the mountain.”

Since 1985 OSI has protected over 17,000 acres on and around the Shawangunk Ridge, including the nearly 4,700 acre Sam's Point Preserve, the 5,400-acre Lundy Estate, thousands of acres of land in the Southern Shawangunks between Routes 52 and 17, and important acreage adjacent to the Minnewaska State Park Preserve and Mohonk Preserve.

More information about life in the Trapps can be found in exhibits at the Preserve's Visitor Center on Route 44/55 in Gardiner, and in outdoor displays at both the Van Leuven Cabin and at the Coxing Trailhead, located off Route 44/55. 

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