Headless Horseman – Sleepy Hollow, NY

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The Headless Horseman sculpture is located on 420 North Broadway at Gordon Avenue in the Hudson River Valley town of Sleepy Hollow (formerly North Tarrytown), New York.

The 18′ high, 11 ton rust-colored metal sculpture was fabricated by the Miglo-Bufkin metal working company using overlapping rusted metal plates. It was erected in 2006 alongside Route 9, not far from the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery’s south entrance. The sculpture cost $175,000 raised through private donations and a state grant.

The sculpture is based on the classic American tale “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” written by Washington Irving in 1819 while he was visiting London, England.

According to “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” which appeared in Irving’s collection of short stories entitled “The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent,”, The Headless Horseman was the ghost of a Hessian soldier who lost his head (decapitated) from cannon fire during a Revolutionary War battle.

Buried at the Old Dutch Church in Sleep Hollow, New York, his spirit arises from his grave and “rides forth to the scene of battle in nightly quest of his head.”

When he encounters a traveler, the Horseman throws a fiery jack-o-lantern at his victim. If someone comes upon the Horseman, their only chance of survival is to cross over the bridge near the Old Dutch Church because, as legend says, the ghost can not cross over water.

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One such traveler was Ichabod Crane, a teacher and newcomer to the village of Sleepy Hollow. When he encountered the Headless Horseman, one dark and lonely night, he fled the scene on his
horse Gunpowder with the Headless Horseman and his phantom mount in hot pursuit.

Ichabod reaches the bridge, and crosses over it. But although Ichabod reached the safety of the other side, the Horsemen rears his horse and tosses his fiery jack-o-lantern head across the bridge. The next day, Ichabod Crane was nowhere to be found.

“If I can but reach that bridge,” thought Ichabod, “I am safe.” Just then he heard the black steed panting and blowing close behind him; he even fancied that he felt his hot breath. Another convulsive kick in the ribs, and old Gunpowder sprang upon the bridge; he thundered over the resounding planks; he gained the opposite side; and now Ichabod cast a look behind to see if his pursuer should vanish, according to rule, in a flash of fire and brimstone. Just then he saw the goblin rising in his stirrups, and in the very act of hurling his head at him. Ichabod endeavored to dodge the horrible missile, but too late. It encountered his cranium with a tremendous crash—he was tumbled headlong into the dust, and Gunpowder, the black steed, and the goblin rider, passed by like a whirlwind.” – Washington Irving

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There is also a 4′ high, semi-circular granite bas-relief sculpture depicting the story or Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman. It is located at the entrance to Philipsburg Manor at
381 North Broadway in Sleepy Hollow, New York. The monument was created by Michael Gressel. In 1974, it was presented to the Village of North Tarrytown (now Sleepy Hollow) by the Centennial Committee in honor of the village’s 100 year anniversary (1874 – 1974).

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NOTE: The TV series Sleepy Hollow depicts the Headless Horseman as Death, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

The Headless Horseman mascot for Sleepy Hollow High School, in Westchester County, New York, earned the nickname “America’s scariest high school mascot”.

The Headless Horseman
420 North Broadway (at Gordon Avenue)
Near the Old Dutch Church
Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591

The Village of Sleepy Hollow (Website)
The Sleepy Hollow Cemetery (Website)
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow – NatGeoTV Segment
In Search of the Headless Horseman – ABC News (Video)
The Headless Horseman Cartoon – Bing Crosby sings (Video)
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow – 1980 TV Movie (Video)
The Headless Horseman Story – Excerpt from Johnny Depp Movie (Video)
Legend of Sleepy Hollow – Disney Clip (Video)

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About

Born in Philadelphia, Jerome Alphonse Holst worked 30 years as a librarian. He has since retired and lives in Greensboro, North Carolina. Mr. Holst is also the author of the children’s books “Norman the Troll,” "Norman the Troll and the Haunted House," and "Gretchen and the Gremlins." In addition, he penned the fantasy novel “The Adventures of Glinda Gale,” a retelling of “The Wizard of Oz" and the reference text “The Encyclopedia of Movie and TV Insults.” .

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Posted in Statues and Carvings

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