Tag Archives: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Spooky Stories

2016-10-29-002Before we leave behind Halloween, I attended two story-telling events that were great.

The Historical Society had Linda Ford, formerly of Sleepy Hollow, come in and tell spooky stories for the season. Linda now lives in northern Florida, and you can take the girl out of Sleepy Hollow but NEVER take the Sleepy Hollow out of the girl.

Linda retold The Legend of Sleepy Hollow as well as told stories that I had never heard before. They were great. She told a story by Ray Bradbury, who had given her permission to tell it years ago, that I later found out scared a friend of mine out of her wits when she first read it. The sanctuary of home, of that place where we are invincible and nothing can harm us, is turned upside down after a long, scary walk through a hollow that turns out to be the place of relative safety, as the woman who arrived home unfortunately found out.

I got a chance to talk with Linda for a few minutes. She misses living in Sleepy Hollow but, like all retirees–and younger people of normal means–are discovering, the taxes in Westchester are too high to be affordable. I cannot own a house here, which is why I only rent. (Actually, I’ve rented everywhere I’ve ever lived, except when I was in2016-10-20-001 my parents’ house.) She would love to return to the area, but would have to live a few hours away. Thankfully in that regard, there are some options. She did, however, have some wonderful things to say about the southern storytellers with whom she had met and discussed their craft.

The following Sunday, I attended a storytelling session with David Neilsen, formerly Major André, who did a wonderful telling of stories in the Washington Irving Memorial Chapel in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Whereas Linda Ford told her stories from memory, Neilsen read his from a book, but his reading was very dramatic.

My favorite story was the one where the students are gathered in the cemetery trying to raise the dead on Halloween and a young British boy shows up and talks with them. They believe that he is a ghost and call for him to go back to where he came. He does–the parking lot, where his parents were anxious to leave. He explains that there are so many interesting people you can meet in the cemetery–like the group of high school students who were killed one Halloween night by a runaway truck.

Two different storytelling techniques, both exceptional in their own way.


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Filed under Holidays, Sleepy Hollow

Update: the Search for the Headless Horseman Bridge Site

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The Sleepy Hollow Cemetery’s Headless Horseman Bridge

A few months ago, I said that I was going to start exploring the site of the Headless Horseman Bridge. The bridge that claims to be the site of the Headless Horseman Bridge (on North Broadway/Route 9) isn’t, but more on that in a moment. The bridge in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery also claims to be the Headless Horseman Bridge, but it isn’t, either. I haven’t, as yet, gone out walking along the Pocantico River banks to see if I can find any evidence of human construction. Instead, I started my research at the Historical Society.

Tarrytown Map

Map courtesy of the Historical Society

There is a map of Sleepy Hollow that shows how North Broadway/Route 9 was straightened in the 19th Century, long after Washington Irving had written his famous story. Where the road used to come down the hill and then curve around the Old Dutch Church–crossing the Pocantico River before reaching the church–is clearly marked on the map. The new (current) road crosses the Pocantico right in front of the church. Ironically, the old stretch of North Broadway/Route 9 is called “New Broadway.” I found this out last Saturday when I volunteered.

Anyway, I re-photographed the section on the map that I’m talking about. (Blowing up the existing photograph didn’t work.) The dotted line indicates the new stretch of road, and the new (current) bridge across the Pocantico is clearly not crossing in the same spot as the old bridge, which is marked, “Bridge where Icabod Crane had his encounter with the Headless Horseman.” The place where the old and new roads converge is right in front of the Old Dutch Church, which is marked as a 3-sided square with a 3-sided dome.

Sleepy Hollow Bridge

The Headless Horseman Bridge as Irving saw it (Photograph courtesy of the Historical Society)

Disney, always taking artistic license with whatever they touch, in The Adventures of Icabod and Mr. Toad shows a covered bridge that Icabod is crossing as the Headless Horseman pursues him. This could not be farthest from the truth. The bridge that Washington Irving saw over the Pocantico didn’t even resemble the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery bridge. There is a photo of the bridge as Irving saw it. Again, it’s from the Historical Society’s archives. The shape is radically different from the cemetery’s and the Disney versions.

I’ll continue to update as I find out more.


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Filed under History, Sleepy Hollow