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The Township of Roxburyall 90 square miles of it! — offers some of the most stunning vistas in the Northeastern United States. Nestled in Western Catskills, this bucolic corner of Delaware County offers perhaps the broadest diversity of recreation, history, architecture, outdoor sports, cultural and artistic enrichment, and peaceful contemplation that you'll find anywhere in the Catskills. Unlike many long treasured destinations, the Town of Roxbury has held onto its unspoiled character and authentic charm. Visit here and the pace of rural life soon settles in. You can catch a really deep breath, stop and take in the deep quiet, and feel yourself reinvigorated in the clean brace of mountain air and the mountain's sweeping sense of time.
In addition to the rural vistas and farmland you'll see along the township's two-lane roads, there are three distinct areas within the township itself: the village hamlets of Roxbury and Grand Gorge, and the Denver/Vega Valley.
As you reach the quiet village of Roxbury, you might think you’ve been transported back to the 19th century. The entire hamlet is on the National and State Register of Historic Places, a feast of 19th century architecture with walking tours available. Roxbury also provides many other pleasures — golfing, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, kayaking, gallery hopping — with plenty of culinary choices right in the heart of the hamlet to keep you fueled for your “perfect Catskills day.”
At the heart of the village is Kirkside Park's gorgeous 11-acre “lawn”scape. Now restored to its 19th century easy-going splendor, with adirondack bridges spanning the East Branch of the Delaware River and gravel paths meandering through its meadows, it's the ideal spot to fish, picnic, ponder, build a snowman or throw a frisbee, all within a stunning mountain backdrop. Summer Saturdays, the Roxbury Nine vintage base ball club, with their baggy 1898 uniforms and 19th century style of play is often out in force in the park. And every Labor Day weekend, the entire Roxbury community hosts “Turn of the Century Days” turning the clock back to 1898 in their fin-de-siecle finest. Heritage tourism is alive and well in the hamlet of Roxbury: you can even arrive here in true nineteenth century style -- via railroad!
Heading north on Route 30 out of the hamlet of Roxbury, you'll see a sign pointing you to John Burroughs Memorial Field and his burial place, Boyhood Rock, as well as Burroughs' beloved summer cottage, Woodchuck Lodge. Heading north, you're retracing the ancient path carved by Leni Lenape natives centuries ago through "The Long Woods."
In a few miles, you'll enter the busy crossroads hamlet of Grand Gorge, located at the intersection of two centuries' old thoroughfares, now State Routes 30 and 23. Grand Gorge boasts a vibrant, service-oriented business district based on old-fashioned service — someone will still pump your gas, clean your windshield, and point out their favorite place to eat. Whether you want to shop, grab a bite, or get your car serviced, you can get things done in Grand Gorge. Beneath its friendly unassuming character is a beehive of crossroads commercial activity: you can do your laundry, get a hair cut or find someone to rebuild your kitchen — and have a home cooked meal while you do it.
Founded by an industrious Scotsman, John More, in the 1780s, the hamlet was long named "Moresville" for this prolific, hard-working farming and mercantile family. Grand Gorge’s quintessential character as a bustling commercial crossroads began in those early settler days, when families travelling the turnpike put down roots at the intersection created by the “grand gorge." The arrival of the railroad in 1872 kept this Catskills hub at the heart of commercial and tourist traffic. In 2000, a community-minded group of Grand Gorge residents formed the Grand Gorge Community Action Group to initiate community improvement projects. In partnership with the Town of Roxbury, the group is helping with a major Main Street Revitalization that will recreate the look and feel of Grand Gorge decades ago while creating a visually appealing experience for residents, shoppers, and visitors.
Heading south on Route 30 from the hamlet of Roxbury, take a left and head east on Scudder Hill Road (County Route 8). You'll wind up the hill for a mile or so and suddenly come upon its crest. Whatever the season, prepare to have your breath taken away as you meet the splendid panorama of the Denver Vega Valley. You'll understand in an instant why many generations, from 18th century farm settlers to second homeowners, have longed to put down roots here. Once home to the rural communities of Denver and Vega, the valley was more populous a century or so ago, when farming was a way of life.
Today the valley still offers imposing vistas of farmland, pasture and, once again, woodlands. Generations ago, the valley settlement was known as Batavia and the Batavia Kill still winds its way down the valley, gurgling in summertime and roiling noisily when the snow melts. Long timers still take their bearings along the Denver-Vega Road (County Route 36) from the names of family farms, some of whom are still settled here. Aside from the popular townhouse community of Roxbury Run, there is a lot of wild space to be savored here for hiking or fishing. Many "second homes," discretely tucked away in its hills and dales, have become permanent homes to those lured by the valley's charms.
High up in the valley is the solemn and austere landmark, the First Old School Baptist Church, its elegantly square symmetry now the ideal setting for chamber music concerts and intimate performance events. Across the road is the Vega Cemetery, one of the loveliest rural graveyards of the dozens you can scout out in the Roxbury township. Further up the road is yet another valley landmark, The Vega Hall. Once home to the Grange, it now hosts the Sunbonnet Quilters group and other community events. It's the election day polling place for the 300 or so lucky residents who call the valley home. Be sure to take in the valley on any visit to Roxbury: its vistas will be forever part of your Catskills lexicon.