Explore the Battenkill Valley of Washington County, Virtually

An exciting new activity is here just in time for fall: the Battenkill Scenic Drive through Washington County.

This self-guided driving tour is part of the “New York Back Story” tours developed by folklorists and cultural ethnographers who know you want to hear from local storytellers. On this tour you will explore the Battenkill Valley of Washington County, New York, traveling west to east as you trace the river towards its source in the Green Mountains of Vermont.

There are ten stops, each taking you to different spots along the Battenkill, where you will hear from Washington County artists who draw inspiration from this river. Curated by Todd DeGarmo of The Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library, this project was funded by the NY State Council on the Arts and the Robert W. Gardiner Foundation.

Artists’ Inspiration

Painter Harry Orlyk was inspired by the reflected light in the Dionondahowa Falls. He says that the most beautiful thing about the falls is how different reflected lights correspond with different times of the day. These different lightings motivate Orlyk to make a different painting daily, to appreciate the ever-changing nature of the light.

Like Harry Orlyk, artist Leslie Park was inspired to paint waterfalls. Park’s work is unique, however, because she decided to copy the effect that the light at Center Falls had on her. She incorporates Rustoleum, a metallic silver paint, into her waterscapes so that viewers passing by will experience the same moving lights that hikers at the actual site experience.

Another artist inspired by the waters of Washington County is photographer Cliff Oliver. The purity of the water inspires Oliver to capture the beauty of the river from different angles. He discusses the influence of the Battenkill on his photography and urges us to each do our part to protect it. Oliver finds trash in the river discouraging, but one man’s trash is another man’s inspiration.

Found-objects sculptor Jack Metzger finds “lost” objects in the Greenwich environment around Riverfront Park and gives them a new purpose. He looks at these pieces almost like artifacts because they have lived in the region for so long that it is like a part of the county. With every new sculpture, Metzger tries to bring the history of Washington County to life for his viewers.

Nature has inspired these and other artists featured along this tour, and you can enjoy those same serene scenes along to Battenkill while hearing from them – all on your own schedule! This self-guided tour will take you about an hour, but there are plenty of great restaurants and shops to enjoy along the way.