Rip’s Retreat Roadside Attraction, c.1950s

Washington Irving deliberately kept the exact home of Rip Van Winkle a secret: his classic 1818 short story was just set somewhere in the Catskill Mountains of New York.

But the widespread popularity of his tale saw many villages and towns in the area began to name check the long sleeping, hen pecked husband. Rip Van Winkle day tours, garages, diners and hiking trails soon cropped up in the Catskills.

There was even a short lived Rip Van Winkle Airways based in Tannersville. The 1950s were the heyday of the Catskills as a vacation destination, and in the small village of Haines Falls, you could visit Rip’s Retreat.

Opening in 1954, this roadside attraction recreated ‘the fabled land of Rip Van Winkle’, complete with Dutch Colonial cottages, a bowling green and re-enactors in traditional costume demonstrating Old Dutch arts and crafts.

Someone dressed as Rip Van Winkle would show you his ‘actual’ cabin and the spot where he fell asleep for twenty years.

There was also a puppet theatre telling the tale, and what claimed to be ‘the world’s largest Dutch shoe’. The attraction was located by the North Lake State Park campground, and the Department of Environmental Conversation bought the land, and demolished Rip’s Retreat in the 1960s, leaving no trace of it behind.