Up the Hudson River by train

During my first trip to NYC, I wanted to spend some time outside the city and in New York State. I chose a trip on the Metro-North Hudson Line and certainly wasn’t disappointed.

On boarding the train at the iconic Grand Central Terminal, the passenger is soon transported through the urban landscape of Harlem and the Bronx and, after a mere 11 miles, the line then follows the Hudson River all the way to Poughkeepsie. The 73.5 mile journey takes passengers along the river through Westchester County and on into Putnam and Dutchess counties and the beautiful Hudson Highlands.

After a 1 hour 46 minute journey, the Metro-North train terminates at Poughkeepsie, ‘The Queen City of the Hudson’.

From the station, it is only a short walk to the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park. The Walkway is a formerly disused rail bridge which once carried freight trains high over Poughkeepsie and across the Hudson to Highland in Ulster County. The impressive bridge has now had its track removed and been converted into the world’s longest pedestrian bridge, providing a 1.28 mile walk which offers views up and down the Hudson River, as well as the sight of freight trains making their way along the CSX River Subdivision.

Having arrived at the Highland end of the bridge, a short walk down wooded back roads leads to the waterfront and views across to Poughkeepsie, prior to making the journey back.

All photos © Edmund Standing 2014

European-American Folk Traditions

When settlers from the British Isles and Germany arrived on the shores of North America, they brought with them not only Christianity, but also a variety of folk beliefs and practices related to every aspect of life and death.

To Appalachia was brought a belief in signs and omens, numerous proverbs, and folk healing practices centred on ‘Granny Women‘. Three fascinating posts on Appalachian folk magic can be read here, here, and here.

To the Ozarks came a form of folk magic very firmly grounded in Protestant Christianity, while holding much in common with other folk religious and magical systems. A helpful glossary of Ozark folk magic can be found here.

Meanwhile, the ‘Pennsylvania Dutch’ brought from Germany a magico-religious systemknown as brauche, or ‘powwowing’. Powwowing is rooted in German esoteric traditions and makes use of both the Bible and material derived from European grimoires. Even today, the practice persists, albeit often still under a veil of secrecy. A good website providing information on the Pennsylvania Dutch traditions can be found here.