Sep 25, 2017

Driving the Taconic Highway

John and I often drive between Central New York and the New
York City/Long Island area. And, when we don’t take the train, we usually take the NYS Thruway. Why? We have Easy Pass and it is convenient.

This last trip we decided to take the Taconic State Parkway. The Taconic State Parkway is a 104.12-mile, limited access,
divided scenic highway snugged between the rolling hills of the Berkshires and the Hudson. There are no tolls or trucks, so the drive is relaxing. The road was the vision of Franklin Roosevelt and he was instrumental in making it a reality. The hilly route was designed by landscape architect Gilmore Clarke so that it offered the best scenic vistas of the Hudson Highland, Catskill and the Taconic Region. The bridges and now-closed service areas were designed to be aesthetically pleasing.

It was built in four stages starting in 1931 and was completed in its present form in the 1960s and is now listed on the National
Register of Historic Places. It is the second-longest continuous road listed on the register. Only Virginia’s Skyline Drive is longer. Even though the road is limited access it is still easy to visit various important places. At Ghent there is the OMI International Arts Center – an outdoor sculpture park. Just south of Ghent there is a scenic overlook with panoramic views of the Catskills. Further on is the Olana, the home of Frederick Church. It is also considered one of the best places to watch a stunning sunset. 

I appreciate things that are repurposed instead of being torn down or left to decay away. Visit Poughkeepsie where the railroad bridge across the Hudson River is now a wonderful walkway. The Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge was built in the late 19th century to link New York and New England to an extensive, nationwide railway network. The walkway opened in 2009 and is open for pedestrians, hikers, joggers, bicyclists, and people with disabilities. The bridge deck stands 212 feet above the river and is 6,768 feet (1.28 miles) long, making it the longest, elevated pedestrian bridge in the world. There are spaced storyboards that provide interesting information.

The do-not miss stop is the Franklin Roosevelt Home National Park. Remember, if you qualify, get your Senior Park Pass. It is a $80 lifetime pass – the best deal our government has ever offered. It is easy to understand Roosevelt’s comment, “All that is within me cries out to go back to my home on the Hudson
River.” I love the story about the time the Roosevelt’s served Queen Elizabeth hot dogs. She just couldn’t bring herself to pick it up with her fingers so she used her fork. Eleanor Roosevelt’s home, “Val-Kill,” is the only National Historic Site dedicated to a First Lady. We have visited both. I like the serenity of Val-Kill.

There are several scenic stops. However, there are no gas stations
or places to eat so it is necessary to exit the highway, but that offers a great excuse to explore. There is never enough time to do everything. The next time I want to visit Sleepy Hollow and the Headless Horseman Bridge. Washington Irving, along with other notables, is buried in the local cemetery. His stories personify the Hudson River area. Sleepy Hollow is near Kykuit, the John D. Rockefeller Estate, which is another great place to visit.