NEWS10 Special Report: Explore the real Sleepy Hollow - NEWS10 ABC: Albany, New York News, Weather, Sports

NEWS10 Special Report: Explore the real Sleepy Hollow


SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. – "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" was written almost 200 years ago. Inspired by the new television show, NEWS10 ABC's Lydia Kulbida decided to travel down the NYS Thruway, and back in time, looking for the real Sleepy Hollow.

The TV version has Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman waking from a magical spell. Like the original story, the horror is tempered with humor, as Ichabod has to adjust to modern life.

"That used to be a livery stable. Now it's a Starbucks," says

In the Sleepy Hollow of modern times, there are spots where it seems time stands still.

Sleepy Hollow Village Historian Henry Steiner tells us how Washington Irving spent time as a young man in the area, sent here by family in New York City to escape an outbreak of yellow fever.

Visiting with the locals, he heard about Dutch customs and old ghost stories. And even of a more recent legend since the Revolutionary War was fresh in their memories, a Hessian soldier decapitated by a cannonball during the Battle of White Plains a few miles away.     

"In the introduction to the "Legend of Sleepy Hollow", Irving writes ‘I can think of no other place where I would like to go to spend the remainder of a restless and weary life than this tranquil valley of Sleepy hollow."

Washington Irving did just that, after writing "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and other short stories in England, he bought a home here. The home was located in Sunnyside and Irving worked here until his death.

"His works were beloved he was a rock star in America in the early 1800's," explains Henry Steiner.

Now, with the new TV show, people are re-discovering Irving.

The classic tale has long inspired master storyteller Jonathan Kruk in his one man tour-de-force performance.

"The first story by an American to go viral as we say," says Kruk ,"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow still catches and sparks imaginations today."

If you find your imagination stirring during the day, as you walk past the graves of Revolutionary War veterans in the Old Dutch Church burying ground, or taking another glimpse to see if someone's in the window at the Colonial Era Phillipsburg Manor, then imagine Sleepy Hollow after the sun sets.

Michael Lord Associate Director of Education Historic Hudson Valley says "It was just amazing that on a warm night when you've got the haze and the mist coming up everything looks as creepy as you think it would look."

As the sun goes down in Sleepy Hollow, lanterns outnumber streetlamps, casting eerie shadows.

Kruk's one man show of Washington Irving's "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" will chill you to the bone, even before you step into the cool night air.

If you're brave enough, you'll go looking for Irving's grave, by the light of a lantern and a full moon.

Touring the 90 acre cemetery by night gives you a mysterious feeling, as you peer into the mausoleums and a look at the fanciful monuments of the rich and famous.     

However, the spot everyone wants to see, is where Irving is buried.

It has been almost 200 years since Washington Irving penned his mysterious tale the "Legend of Sleepy Hollow", not only has the story withstood the test of time, but visitors from all over the world come to pay their respects at his gravesite.

Sometimes people will leave coins for luck, or even a pumpkin.

But the writer's headstone was once so popular; people would take pieces from it. So many pieces were taken and now, Irving has his third headstone.

He is buried at the edge of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, overlooking the Old Dutch burying ground. That ground is in his tale, where the Headless Horseman tethered his horse.

When all goes quiet in the area, you can almost hear the horseman coming back.

"When you see a smashed pumpkin on the street you really don't know what caused that," says Steiner, "could have been some kid could have been a headless horseman, you never know."

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