Unless you stumble upon Livingston Manor in mid-June during its annual Trout Parade, it’s hard to grasp what this otherwise sleepy town in northern Sullivan County is all about. But a Main Street sign “SMALL TOWN — BIG BACKYARD” best explains why this little spot, two hours northwest of Manhattan, is a big draw for nature-loving second-home owners.
Livingston Manor, or “the Manor,” as locals call it, is the birthplace of American fly-fishing. The hamlet in the Town of Rockland, population 1,200, has two world-class fishing spots — the Beaverkill River and the Willowemoc Creek. And it’s next door to Roscoe, known as Trout Town, USA.
MIND YOUR MANOR: Livingston Manor, two hours away from NYC in Sullivan County, is where you’ll find the covered Van Tran Flat Bridge and serious trout fishing.
A second-home seeker can net a Livingston Manor fixer-upper for less than $100,000. Ten miles north in Lew Beach, a private enclave of more than 70 homes developed by Larry Rockefeller, has private fishing access to the Beaverkill River and clubhouse amenities.
There’s nothing like standing in the river, early in the morning, feeling the pressure of the water, listening and smelling the river, being present. And if you get that tug on the end of the line, it’s an incredible way to start the day.
The Manor, situated at the doorstep of Catskill Park, off Route 17, is the kind of town where you can find gun ammo and bait and tackle at the Fur, Fin and Feather Sport Shop on DeBruce Road. And local, organic produce, milk, eggs, American farmstead cheese, fresh-baked goods, meadow-raised meats, fresh Beaverkill trout, and honey and maple syrup at the Main Street Farm Market & Cafe.
Demand for second homes is robust and prices are still low. You can buy a three-bedroom cottage with one bathroom on 1.3 acres of land for $110,000, or a four-bedroom, 2 1/2-bathroom Ranch, near the historic Van Tran Flat Bridge, with access to good trout fishing on the Willowemoc Creek, for $199,000. Or you can reel in a three-bedroom, 2 1/2-bathroom, post-and-beam on 20 acres, with 6 miles of private fishing access and membership in the Beaverkill Stream and Mountain Club, for $895,000.
The Manor and surrounding small towns are devoid of chains and fast-food joints. Main Street sticks to what small towns do best: There’s the Robin Hood Diner, Pronto Pizza, Cafe 43 and Peck’s Market. Morgan Outdoors is a big lure for sportsmen. There are a smattering of mom-and-pops like Willow and Brown, Mountain Bear Crafts and other galleries and gift shops for those who appreciate local offerings. Will Hardware is a mainstay, and Manor Pharmacy just opened last summer. Big-box stores and major supermarkets can be found 15 minutes north on Route 17, in Liberty.
The Catskill Arts Society, which occupies a 4,000-square-foot building on Main Street, has a gallery, event space, a digital arts lab, and it offers classes. Every August, the Shandelee Music Festival’s Summer Sunset Concert Series draws big names in chamber music, and the brand new state-of-the-art Bethel Woods Center for the Arts is 25 minutes away.
And don’t forget the new Catskill Brewery on Old Route 17, which has great tasting lagers and ales and manufactures high-end craft beer incorporating local ingredients. The venture is the first craft brewery in the greater Catskills Region and will offer tours and a tasting room where visitors can sample its suds, visit the gift shop and learn how beer is made.
The resilience of this community is deep-rooted because this is where fly-fishing began, and it’s as important to the American psyche as baseball and hot dogs.
Kellie M. Place
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