The bustling commercial centers of Boiceville and Ashokan/Shokan have everything a traveler needs – restaurants, markets, pharmacies, a bank, grocery store, Olive’s Country Store and Cafe, gas stations, and other amenities and services, even a chocolate factory! There are tennis courts at Onteora Central School, art studios that welcome guests, and a library just down the road that’s hopping with programs, history, and activities. The 11-mile Ashokan Rail Trail runs along the stunning Ashokan Reservoir with trailheads at West Hurley, Shokan, and Boiceville.
But just beyond the Byway, on the other side of the trees, lies an inland lake that has defined these communities, and the entire town of Olive, for 100 years. It is the Ashokan Reservoir and it holds billions of gallons of water destined for New York City taps. Constructed between 1907 and 1915, the Ashokan was the first of six Catskill region reservoirs the City developed to slake the thirst of a growing metropolis. The reservoirs are linked by water delivery tunnels deep beneath the earth which carry water to other reservoirs in Putnam and Westchester Counties. All by gravity.
It is a system that is, without question, an engineering marvel.
Ashokan But the Ashokan Reservoir required the destruction or relocation of 12 hamlets (part of Boiceville was moved, and many of the homes in Ashokan were moved here from the basin) and the displacement of 2,000 people and the dead from 32 cemeteries. It is an amazing story, whose repercussions continue to be felt today. Learn more at the Olive Free Library and its local history museum and research room. Or follow the NYC Water History Itinerary from one end of the Byway to the other.
What else makes Boiceville and Ashokan/Shokan special?
Olive Day. This Byway Signature Event happens every September and includes music and dance, frog jumps, vendors, and lots to eat and drink. Olive Day takes place at the beautiful Davis Park (45 Watson Hollow Road, West Shokan), with a swimming pool, playground, and basketball court; and Avery Park (Bostock Rd and Route 28, Shokan), with basketball and tennis courts and a playground.
Public art. The Emile Brunel Studio and Sculpture Garden just east of Boiceville is listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. Brunel, a French artist, and photographer, created seven concrete sculptures and totem poles on a Native American theme. They can be seen from Route 28. At Fabulous Furniture in Boiceville, a handmade furniture studio, the artist has also created wildly colored and fancifully composed metal sculptures from auto parts and other found objects. Pull off the Byway and check it out!