View of Pratt Rock.
One of New York's oddest landmarks. Burial nook is at bottom center.

Pratt Rock

Field review by the editors.

Prattsville, New York

"America's First Mt. Rushmore" was carved into a cliff side south of Prattsville, NY, to please Zadock Pratt, wealthy entrepreneur, congressman and husband of five wives.

Pratt ran the biggest shoe leather tannery in the world and loved to promote himself. The story goes that one day in 1843 a jobless man asked Zadock for a handout. Pratt, who believed in workfare not welfare, asked the man what he did for a living. When the man replied that he was a stonecutter, Zadock pointed to the cliff overlooking his 350-acre farm and told him to start carving Zadock's life story. The luckless laborer didn't stop until Zadock finally died, 28 years later.

Pratt is the Father of the US Bureau of Statistics.
Pratt is the Father of the US Bureau of Statistics.

The carvings -- which include Zadock, his son, a horse, and a brawny arm holding a sledgehammer -- lack symmetry of the Prez heads in SD, and, your could push 'em all up Lincoln's nostril and still have room. But there is a serpentine path up the hill that allows for close-up inspection and a dizzying view of the Schoharie River below. The path is narrow, steep and crumbly, so it probably isn't a good idea to bring your grandmother here, much as it isn't a good idea to take her to another nearby Catskills attraction that we could name but won't.

Zadock planned to be buried in a tomb carved into the cliff beneath his own giant head, but it leaked water whenever it rained so the plan was abandoned. The tomb now makes a handy shelter for changing film or camcorder batteries.

Mr. Big Deal Industrialist had to be buried with the common folk in Benhem Cemetery, downtown. However, Pratt Rock is graced with the common grave of six of Zadock's favorite horses and dogs, all lying beneath a big mound marked with a tombstone near the picnic tables.

Pratt Rock

Address:
Hwy. 23, Prattsville, NY
Directions:
On Hwy. 23 just south of Prattsville. Look for the green sign with the white horse. Park just off the road, and hike up the hill.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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August 28, 2014

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