West Park, Ulster County, NY


From post office on US 9W in the hamlet of West Park; 0.9 miles turn west onto Floyd Ackert Road; cross the railroad tracks (where Burroughs met his guests); Left turn on narrow Burroughs Drive; 0.35 go up the hill; Slabsides parking on the right.


April 3, 1837  --  born on his family's farm near Roxbury, New York in the Catskills.

1854 --  at 17 he becomes a teacher; he also wrote nature articles.

1857  -- he marries Ursula North.

1863  -- the family (with son Julian) move to Washington, D.C. and Burroughs works for the US Treasury Department and becomes a good friend to author Walt Whitman.

1871  -- publishes the book Wake-Robin, about birds.

1873  --  returning to the Catskills, Burroughs builds a house, called Riverby, in West Park.

1895  -- he finishes building a rustic cabin, Slabsides, about a mile and a half into the woods on his property. He continues to write numerous books on nature themes.  He becomes very popular with the female students at Vassar in Poughkeepsie who visit him at Slabsides.
He was close friends with Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, and John Muir.

1904  --  he takes part in the American Museum of Natural History's Harriman Expedition to Alaska.

1921  -- Burroughs dies.

1924  --  an association to sponsor knowledge of Burroughs forms.

mid-1960s  --  The John Burroughs Association purchases Slabsides; also forms the John Burroughs Sanctuary.


Slabsides, Burroughs' rustic cabin still stands on a lovely, 220-acre preserve, is open to the public throughout the year. It is a registered national historic landmark.  The cabin itself is unlocked and attended on the third Saturday in May and the first Saturday in October. There are several hiking trails and a beautiful lake on the property-- well worth the trip. Visitors can peer through the windows and see its furnishings much as Burroughs left them.


8/28/04.  We took the short walk downhill to the Slabsides cabin to look through the windows into the cabin interior.  The path to the cabin overlooks a long drop into a ravine area.  We investigated the vegetation along the path and around the cabin (including a swampy area next to the cabin).  From here we took the connector trail down to Sanctuary Pond.  This is a very beautiful area.  There are somewhat high white cliffs and an interesting peninsula gingering its way into the middle of the Pond. We investigated the shores and marshes of the pond and then ate lunch alongside the pond edge.  After lunch we walked down farther to pick up the Peninsula Trail that takes a person to the end of the finger peninsula in the middle of the Pond.  Returned to the car and proceeded to our next stop: Black Creek Forest Preserve.  Participants were Rosemary Santana Cooney and Sarah-David Rosenbaum.  Dr. Patrick L. Cooney.

Dr. Patrick L. Cooney and Torrey Botanical Society (TBS)
* = plant found in bloom  on day of field trip, August 28, 2004

Acer pensylvanicum (striped maple)
Acer rubrum (red maple)
Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
Ailanthus altissima (tree-of-heaven)
Amelanchier arborea (shadbush)
Betula alleghaniensis (yellow birch)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Carpinus caroliniana (musclewood)
Carya tomentosa (mockernut hickory)
Castanea dentata (American chestnut) found by TBS
Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Fraxinus americana (white ash)
Juglans cinera (butternut walnut) found by TBS
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Nyssa sylvatica (tupelo)
Pinus strobus (white pine)
Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus prinus (chestnut oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Rhamnus cathartica (common buckthorn
Rhamnus frangula (European buckthorn)
Sassafras albidum (sassafras)
Tilia americana (basswood)
Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock)
Ulmus rubra (slippery elm)

Shrubs and Subshrubs:
Berberis vulgaris (common barberry)
Cornus racemosa (gray dogwood)
Decodon verticillatus (swamp loosestrife) *
Epigaea repens (trailing arbutus)
Gaultheria procumbens (checkerberry)
Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel)
Ilex verticillata (winterberry)
Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel)
Lindera benzoin (spicebush)
Lonicera morrowii (Morrow's honey suckle)
Mitchella repens (partridgeberry)
Rhus typhina (staghorn sumac)
Rubus occidentalis (black raspberry)
Rubus sp. (blackberry)
Rubus sp. (dewberry)
Sambucus racemosa (red elderberry) found by TBS
Staphylea trifolia (bladdernut)
Vaccinium angustifolium (low bush blueberry)
Vaccinium corymbosum (high bush blueberry)
Vaccinium pallidum (hillside blueberry)
Viburnum acerifolium (maple-leaf viburnum)
Zanthoxylum americanum (northern prickly ash) found by TBS

Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Polygonum scandens (climbing hempweed) *
Smilax rotundifolia (round-leaved greenbrier)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Vincetoxicum nigrum (black swallowwort)
Vitis aestivalis (summer grape)

Acalypha sp. (three-seeded mercury) *
Achillea millefolium (yarrow)
Agrimonia gryposepala (common agrimony ) *
Ambrosia artemisiifolia (common ragweed) *
Amphicarpaea bracteata (hog peanut) *
Anemone virginiana (thimbleweed)
Antennaria sp. (pussytoes)
Apocynum androsaemifolium (spreading dogbane)
Apocynum cannabinum (Indian hemp)
Aquilegia canadensis (columbine) found by TBS
Arabis canadensis (sicklepod)  found by TBS
Arabis laevigata (smooth rockcress)
Arabis lyrata (lyre-leaved rockcress)
Aralia nudicaulis (wild sarsaparilla)
Arctium lappa (great burdock)
Arisaema triphyllum (Jack in the pulpit)
Aster divaricatus (white wood aster) *
Aster spp. (small white asters) *
Bidens comosa (strawstem beggar tick) *
Bidens spp. (beggar tick) *
Boehmeria cylindrica (false nettle)
Caulophyllum thalictroides (blue cohosh)
Cardamine diphylla (crinkle-root)
Chelone glabra (white turtlehead) *
Chrysanthemum leucanthemum (ox-eye daisy) *
Chrysosplenium americanum (golden saxifrage)
Cicuta bulbifera (bulb-bearing water hemlock)
Conyza canadensis (horseweed) *
Daucus carota (Queen Anne's lace) *
Desmodium canadense (showy tick trefoil) *
Desmodium glutinosum (pointed-leaved tick trefoil) *
Desmodium nudiflorum (naked-flowered tick trefoil) *
Desmodium paniculatum (panicled tick trefoil) *
Dianthus armeria (Deptford pink) *
Erechtites hieraciifolia (pileweed) *
Erigeron annuus (daisy fleabane) *
Eupatorium fistulosum (trumpetweed) *
Eupatorium rugosum (white snakeroot) *
Fragaria virginiana (strawberry)
Galium asprellum (rough bedstraw)
Galium circaezens (wild licorice)
Geranium robertianum (herb Robert) *
Geum canadense (white avens) *
Helianthus divaricatus (woodland sunflower) *
Hemerocallis fulva (tawny day lily)
Hepatica americana (round-lobed hepatica)
Hieracium paniculatum (panicled hawkweed) *
Hieracium spp. (hawkweed)
Hypericum perforatum (common St. Johnswort)
Hypoxis hirsuta (yellow star grass) *
Impatiens capensis (orange jewelweed) *
Iris sp. (blue or yellow flag)
Lactuca serriola (prickly lettuce)
Lepidium virginicum (poor man's pepper)
Lespedeza hirta (hairy bush clover)
Linaria vulgaris (butter and eggs) *
Lobelia cardinalis (cardinal flower) *
Lobelia inflata (Indian tobacco)  *
Lycopus sp. (water horehound) *
Melilotus alba (white sweet clover) *
Melilotus officinalis (yellow sweet clover) *
Oenothera biennis (common evening primrose) *
Orchis spectabilis (showy orchid) found by TBS
Origanum vulgare (wild marjoram) *
Oxalis sp. (yellow wood sorrel) *
Pedicularis canadensis (wood betony)
Peltandra virginica (arrow arum)
Pilea pumila (clearweed) *
Plantago major (common plantain)
Polygala verticillata (whorled milkwort) *
Polygonatum pubescens (hairy true Solomon's seal)
Polygonum arifolium (halberd-leaved tearthumb) *
Polygonum cespitosum (cespitose smartweed) *
Polygonum sagittatum (halberd-leaved tearthumb) *
Polygonum virginianum (jumpseed)
Potentilla norvegica (rough cinquefoil)
Potentilla recta (rough-fruited cinquefoil)
Potentilla simplex (common cinquefoil)
Prunella vulgaris (self-heal) *
Rudbeckia hirta var. pulcherrima (black-eyed Susan) *
Rumex crispus (curled dock)
Rumex obtusifolius (broad dock)
Sagittaria sp. (burreed)
Satureja officinalis (wild basil) *
Saxifraga virginiensis (early saxifrage) found by TBS
Sedum acre (golden carpet)
Solanum nigrum (black nightshade) *
Solidago caesia (blue-stem goldenrod)
Solidago odora (sweet goldenrod) *
Symplocarpus foetidus (skunk cabbage))
Trifolium pratense (red clover) *
Tussilago farfara (coltsfoot)
Uvularia perfoliata (perfoliate-leaved bellwort)
Verbascum thapsus (common mullein)
Verbena urticifolia (white vervain)
Veronica officinalis (common speedwell)
Veronica serpyllifolia (thyme-leaved speedwell) *
Viola blanda (sweet white violet) found by TBS
Viola palmata (palmate-leaved violet) found by TBS
Viola rostrata (long-spurred violet) found by TBS
lamb's ears * hort.

Juncus effusus (soft rush)
Juncus tenuis (path rush)

Carex crinita (fringed sedge)
Carex laxiflora type (loose-flowered sedge type)
Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)
Carex sp. (nut or umbrella sedge)
Scirpus cyperinus (woolly grass bulrush)

Brachyelytrum erectum (long-awned wood grass)
Digitaria sp. (crab grass)
Echinochloa sp. (barnyard grass)
Elymus hystrix (bottle-brush grass)
Leersia virginica (white grass)
Panicum clandestinum (deer-tongue grass)
Phalaris arundinacea (reed canary grass)
Setaria faberi (nodding foxtail grass)
Setaria glauca (yellow foxtail grass)
Setaria viridis (green foxtail grass)
Tridens flavus (purple top grass)

Adiantum pedatum (maidenhair fern)
Asplenium platyneuron (ebony spleenwort)
Athyrium filix-femina (lady fern)
Botrychium sp. (rattlesnake fern)
Dryopteris marginalis (marginal wood fern)
Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)
Osmunda regalis (royal fern)
Polypodium sp. (rock cap fern)
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)
Pteridium aquilinum (bracken fern)
Thelypteris palustris (marsh fern)

reindeer lichen
rock trip lichen


May 5, 1946. West Park.

A visit to Slabsides, the rustic cabin where John Burroughs spent much time writing, entertaining friends and studying nature lore. The cabin is situated in the midst of a mixed forest of hemlock, birch, beech, and butternut and has not been disturbed since Burrough's time.

Due to the rain the group was allowed to eat their lunch inside the cabin and observe at first hand the many evidences that Burroughs had a hobby of picking up odd-shaped growths to be utilized in making his cabin comfortable and attractive. We saw bark-covered yellow birch logs used as partitions between the rooms and for the headboards of the beds; a table supported by a sumac tripod; a piece of cypress wood that he had dug up and used as a decorative piece over the doorway; odd-shaped roots used for coat hangers; a log, strangled by bittersweet, used as a part of the structure over the fireplace and other hand-made articles.

Saw the cave where Burroughs kept his food and where the phoebe, about which he wrote, built its nest year after year. Inspection of the plants along the trail to the spring produced

Betula lenta yellow birch
Acer pensylvanicum striped maple
Sambucus racemosa
Arabis canadensis sicklepod
Viola palmata early blue violet
Viola rostrata long-spurred violet - forming large mats along trail

Other blooming plants were
Viola blanda sweet white violet
Dentaria diphylla crinkle-root
Saxifraga virginiensis early saxifrage
Arabis lyrata lyre-leaved rock cress
Caulophyllum thalictroides blue cohosh
Aquilegia canadensis columbine

After informal talks by Mr. Julius Burroughs, son of John Burroughs, and Mrs. Kelly, daughter of Julian Burroughs, the group was invited to go to West Park to see Riverby and the bark-covered study. John Burroughs named the stone house, which he built when he returned from Washington DC following the Civil War, Riverby because it overlooks the Hudson River. Sometime later he built the bark covered study on the same property but a little nearer the river where he could escape visitors and concentrate on his writing. After this place became too popular, he retreated into the forest and built Slabsides which is about a mile from his home on the Hudson.

Leaders Harold N. Moldenke and Farida A. Wiley. Attendance was 46.

May 6, 1951.

The prominent features of the trip to Slabsides were a talk by Julian Burroughs and the finding of great masses of long-spurred violet, two kinds of yellow violet, sweet white violet, and three blue violets, large quantities of crinkleroot, wood betony, columbine, bladdernut, smooth rockcress, showy orchid in full bloom, and a large stand of golden saxifrage.

Dr. Harold N. Moldenke 18


April 30, 1993 p. 99