Pratt's Peak

The other day we went up to visit Pratt Rock Park.
The serpentine path leading up to this marvel in stone is off
of Rte 23 in (where else) Prattsville.
Zadock Pratt (1790-1871), the mastermind behind this oddity, made his fortune as a shoe tanner. He also dabbled in farming, building, banking, politics and the pursuit of wife gathering. His fifth and last wife was 50 years his junior! The old studmuffin was all about self-promotion, and these carved images, dubbed the Mount Rushmore of New York, tell the story of his life.

Pratt had a deep admiration for horses and in his lifetime he owned more than a thousand. One of the first images you see when making your way up the trail is this tribute to his equine friends.
As you get closer, a carved hemlock tree is revealed. Tannin, the bitter extract of the plant, is an essential ingredient in the tanning process and provided Pratt with his fortune. His shoe leather tannery became the largest in the world.
Many sculptures can be found along the trail, including a bas relief of his son (killed in the Civil War) and the Pratt family coat of arms. Another curiosity serving to fill a place in Pratt's boulder-etched biography is the odd duo below. The scroll reads "Bureau of Statistics, 1844" which references Pratt's Congressional contribution while in office. The beefy arm gripping a sledgehammer is a tribute to the working man, whom Pratt so esteemed. Legend has it that Pratt met a jobless stonecutter who begged for a handout. Instead, he put the man to work for the next 28 years to carve out Pratt's sculptural dream. I wonder if this "arm of labor" is more a tribute the stonecutter made for himself rather than any ideal. Further up is a bust of the eccentric captain of industry along with his name and birthdate, where underneath he wished to be buried in a tomb hewn from the rocks surrounded by these symbols.

Only a small grotto remains of that idea, however, presumably because the tools available were not up to the job. Water also seeped into the area making it unfit for a burial place. Today it serves as a cozy rest area before ascending to the summit.

The trail leads up and around the carvings to a ledge with a spectacular view of the Schoharie valley. To think that I was standing in the same spot where Zadock Pratt once gazed upon his empire!

My favorite part of the hike is this discovery at the base of
the mountain - a tombstone in remembrance of all the dogs and horses he loved in his lifetime. Nope, no mention of any wives.

More info about Pratt and his rocks can be found here.

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