The Centennial Legacy

 From a letter dated 29 November 1921, from William Monney to Herbert East

Did you hear anything down in Boston about the goings-on out by Lefferts Corners? I doubt it– nothing that happens there gets heard of anywhere. I wouldn’t have heard myself, up here in Burlington, but I was on business in Albany so I did the decent and stopped in to say hello to cousin Josh.

Between you and me, I also wanted to show off what came of my Grampy Art abandoning the ancestral homeland– a motor, a proper suit of clothes, shoes– because Lord knows he got enough grief for it.

According to Josh, it had been a pretty lively fall. There was a big landslide in October that killed a bunch of folks, which I seem to remember actually made the papers, then there were Revenuers poking around, and to cap it all, someone went and blew the top off Tempest Mountain. No, I never heard of it either, but it’s a local landmark.

I don’t have much in the way of details, since I hardly speak Bumpkin anymore, but it seems someone brought in several trucks full of workers and explosives, and I guess a big grudge against that mountain. If they meant to start a mine, that’s a funny way to go at it.

Josh tells me they lit out again the next day. They should have asked the locals– everyone there knows there’s no gold nor even coal in those hills.

Albany Evening News, 20 April 1934, page 3


It was announced yesterday that the National Recovery Act will be funding the establishment of a nature reserve in the Catskill Mountains, providing employment to at least seventy-five men for the rest of the year.

In a statement given out by the Governor’s office, an area of 40,000 acres was made over to federal control. Described as otherwise unproductive, the new Cone Mountain Reserve will be held in a state of nature which it is hoped will allow the surrounding communities to profit from hunters’ trips and possible forestry.

Fit sober men wishing to be employed in this pursuit should apply at the Federal Building.

Albany Evening News, 4 June 1934, page 18


State Police have removed the last of the squatters from Cone Mountain Reserve. While most of the hillbillies in the area were willing to accept relocation, one known only as Old Amos had fiercely resisted until last Sunday. Offers of cash and title to land elsewhere were unattractive to the man, despite all his neighbours packing up.

He is believed to be responsible for persistent pilfering from the food supplies of work crews, and is said to have shot in the direction of work crews at least twice.

“The gentleman insists that he was not shooting at the NRA gangs,” said Sergeant Lyle Overton when contacted by reporters. “He claims he was protecting them from some kind of dangerous animal– probably gin goblins.”

Albany Times-Union, 23 March 2008, page 2


After years of lobbying, the Cone Mountain Wildlife Management Area is going under the hammer. The last questions of jurisdiction, which has been swapped between US Fish and Game and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for decades, were ironed out last month, allowing legislation to pass which will see the region sold.

The area, established in 1934, has been operating at a deficit since the early 1990s. Competition from lumber mills in Maine, Vermont and Canada put an end to logging concessions in the late 1940s. Demand for hunting permits has been on a downward spiral almost as long, a situation officials blame on poachers.

“There’s no other reason for the small population of deer and other game animals,” said Anita Rousseau with New York Environmental Conservation. “Compared to other, better-managed WMAs, Cone Mountain is a desert.”

Despite outcry from a handful of protestors, state officials announced that the land will be sold for development as soon as arrangements can be put in place. A release from the Governor’s office indicated that the expected revenue from the sales will allow a reduction in income tax in the next state budget.

Country Living, May 2016, pp. 45-46


The tree-lined slopes of the Catskills are beckoning to those looking for an escape from the bustle of big city life. Residents of The Chateaus At Lefferts Corners may think they have travelled to another continent when they see the magnificent community nestled between Cone and Thunder Mountains after a pleasant drive through Walden and Ellenville. In developing the community, Suydam/Waite spared little expense in reproducing the sensibilities of historic French and German architecture.

Driving through the stone posts that mark the entry to the community, one is greeted by a gingerbread fantasy main street, shopfronts striking a careful balance between the corporate branding of Starbucks and Sbarro and the old world charm of Cruikshank illustrations. Passing through the business district takes one on an adventure of winding roads, where every turn reveals a glimpse of one of the three unique designs of home set well back in mature stands of pine, fir, hemlock and maple..

“Building The Chateaus At Lefferts Corners took us a long time,” said Charles Malone, the director of Client Satisfaction for Suydam/Waite, “because we wanted to make sure we got everything right.”

We interviewed Malone in his home office, from which the rooftops of the business district could be seen. He lives in a Mary Rose, the cozy 4,300 square foot split level which is the mid-range of The Chateaus offerings. If the built-in cabinets and glass-bed fireplace are anything to judge by, the long construction period was worth the wait.

Construction on the community began in 2010. Malone admitted that there were three changes of prime contractor over the course of the project, but put this down to an unwillingness or inability to meet the high standards his company demanded for The Chateaus At Lefferts Corners.

Almost half the properties were occupied or spoken for at time of printing. If you want to put a deposit down for your own backwoods hideaway, contact Suydam/Waite through their online website.

Shandaken Dispatch, 25 October 2020, p. 9


A dispute has been simmering since last spring between county authorities and the HMO directors of The Chateaus At Lefferts Corners centered on a rash of pet disappearances. Recently, alleged bear sightings have added urgency to the problem.

“We just want the county to do its job,” said Sylvia Malone, chair of the HMO. “They have the resources, and obviously the bear had to come from outside our community.”

Senior Ulster County administrator Tonya Siddiq does not agree. “The deal Suydam/Waite struck with the state puts Lefferts outside our purview. They don’t have to pay taxes, so they have to deal with their own problems. They hire private security to act as cops, they can hire pest control.”

Caught in the middle are the residents of The Chateaus At Lefferts Corners. Jim Bramblethorpe, one of those who claims to have seen a bear in the area, says he is worried about the attacks escalating.

“A lot of us have kids that are used to running around in the backyard. If this animal is brave enough to grab cats and dogs, how long can it be before it takes a kid?”

Siddiq dismisses the possibility of a bear in the area. “There hasn’t been a bear seen anywhere around here in a hundred years. If bears had moved in, the first place they’d show up would be dumps. Apart from that picture, there is no hard evidence, and that picture hardly counts.

The picture Siddiq refers to was taken by another resident, Imelda Smith, when out for an early-morning jog. Due to the age of her phone and the poor light conditions, what supporters claim as a bear can also be dismissed as a shadow of foliage.

This does nothing to reassure Bramblethorpe. “I know I saw something, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Bigfoot.”

The Town Crier (, week of 21 June 2021


Residents of The Chateaus At Lefferts Corners are reminded that the dry weather has forced the state to issue a fire ban. Your Community Directors Group will be asking the Town Constables to watch for compliance with the ban among residents.

Backyard BBQs are still allowed, but fire pits and bonfires should not be lit. With the Fourth only two weeks away, it is important to point out that fireworks may not be used while the ban is in place. The night of July 4th, the Drones of Patriotism light show will be staged over Memorial Park.

CNN Breaking News, 6 July 2021


Victor Blackwell in studio: This summer’s dry weather has been a nightmare for firefighters in California and Oregon. Now New York is experiencing that nightmare for itself. With that story, here’s Janice Florek.

Janice Florek on location, a parking lot backed by a stand of trees. The fading light is copper coloured, reducing the contrast of the white letters on red emergency vehicles: Thank you, Victor. I’m speaking to you from Lefferts Corners, a vacation town which finds itself on the edge of an inferno.

Voice over images of a forest fire seen from the air at night; orange and yellow streamers punching through encompassing black. The Thunder Mountain Fire is believed to have been started by careless use of fireworks on July Fourth. It has spread through the tinder-dry forests surrounding the town at an incredible rate.

Image changes to show a modified airliner disgorging a vast cloud of red retardant across the grey-yellow grass of a hillside; the thin caption indicates the scene is from California on 18 June. Efforts to fight the fire are hampered because a lot of the equipment which is usually in the area has been sent to help with the massive California fires.

Live shot on Janice Florek. There are several sooty smudges on her sleeves and on the hi-vis vest she wears. Small pale clumps of light ash drift across the shot. At this moment, the wind is helping to slow the advance of the fire toward the town, and firefighters are trying to cut a break which they hope…

Her gaze elevates a little, no longer focused upon the viewer, but somewhere behind the camera. The view turns, now taking in the scenic main street, the hills behind it, and the massive backdrop of slate grey smoke. An SUV with red and white flashers on the roof comes down the street, its speed made more alarming by the way it weaves across the entire width of the roadway. Just a moment, Victor… it looks like we have something new developing.

Muffled shouts as un-miked emergency personnel start reacting to the approaching truck. Almost to the parking lot, it cuts over hard while breaking. The passenger side wheels are airborne for a moment, landing back on the sidewalk as the truck comes to a rest. The driver’s door opens, and a man in firefighting gear staggers out. He holds the right side of his bunker coat with his left hand, almost like one who has thrown on a robe to answer a mid-bath doorbell. His right arm dangles loose, the fingertips brushing his leg lower than his knee. With the camera unzoomed, it is hard to make out his facial features. He seems to be bald, the double-reddened sundown light glinting from the hairless temple above a wide staring eye.  Oh my god. Is he… Victor, I don’t know how well you can see this, but the man who was driving that car seems terribly injured. He.

Half his face.

Camera turns back to Janice Florek, who is staring open-mouthed. His face. Um.

I apologize to sensitive viewers. That was… we didn’t expect blood. The injured man is being helped by his colleagues, and I’m sure they’ll make sure he gets the best care.

In the background, a man is talking at a frantic speed. He is hard to understand, not only because he is away from the microphone; there is a gargling element to his speech, as if his mouth is never quite empty of fluid.

…so memy! A fuching aree of em! We gogga run! Run naow!

Janice Florek tracks the progress of the speaker with her eyes until she would have to look away from the camera. She refocuses.

I was told that we could expect an update on the situation any time in the next ten minutes. The big question on everyone’s mind is whether there will be a full evacuation or if the fire break will…

Janice Florek falters again, distracted by a chorus of shouts. Shouts become screams, through which a screech of primate rage pierces. The camera pivots a moment after Janice Florek’s face becomes a mask of shocked surprise, and the blurring almost conceals that she is also turning, her microphone thrown high and wide.

The blinking lights of the abandoned SUV pass into frame, but do not steady nor come into focus. There are a couple of scrambling figures in bright yellow turnouts, and a third form which is plainly not human. It gallops with a jackrabbit fore and aft gait directly toward the camera. It and the focal plane pass each other. In a moment that can only be seen in later freeze frames of the footage, there is a face that could almost be mistaken for human, but for the exaggerated canine teeth and huge mad eyes, one pale, the other dark. The dusty whiteness of the low forehead and gaunt cheeks is starkly contrasted by the dark sheen of blood on the chin.

The camera’s view pitches suddenly upward, showing the red sky for a moment before coming to rest on the pavement. The abandoned microphone picks up a chaos of screams of human fear and agony and inhuman bellowing. There is a sudden torrent of feet passing the camera, unshod, pale and boney above, yellow callus below stained with black ash. There is no counting how many go past in the few seconds before sound and picture are cut. The blackness is replaced almost instantly by the image of the studio. 

Victor Blackwell: Ah… we seem to have lost Janice. While we try to regain that feed, here’s Chad Myers to help us understand why climate change is making so many forest fires so big.

“The Centennial Legacy” ©2021 Dirck de Lint. It is inspired by “The Lurking Fear” which may be read at