Author & Speaker, Robi Josephson  


~ Publicity ~

The Trapps at Time & The Valleys Museum

by John Conway -Sullivan County Historian, Oct 23, 2015

For nearly two hundred years beginning before the Revolutionary War, there was a small isolated community buried deep in the Shawangunk Mountains of Ulster County where rugged men and women scratched out a meager living. The place was known as the Trapps.

The name comes from the Dutch word, Trappen, meaning stairs, which roughly describes the appearance of the gap in the mountain in which the community is nestled. The name has a bit of a mysterious ring to it, but it does not begin to do justice to the mysterious nature of the place itself. A handful of families lived in the Trapps for more than a century, and over the years folks with names like Burger, Enderly, Harp, and Van Leuven did whatever was necessary to survive. The men peeled bark for the tanneries, logged acres of timber for charcoal and cut ice for refrigeration.

WALLKILL VALLEY ALMANAC (Wallkill Valley Times Supplement)
Your 2015 Guide to the Valley
Hard-Knock Life in a vanished Shawangunk Mountain Hamlet--
An Unforgiving Land.
Book brings vanished mountain hamlet to life.

by Shantal Parris Riley

US Route 44/55 is a spectacular drive over the Shawangunk Mountains of Ulster County, New York. As the road climbs west from the Wallkill or east from the Rondout Valley, homes and building give way to a realm of forest and stone. The Trapps mountain hamlet was located in this lofty realm extending on both sides of the modern highway. So begins "An Unforgiving Land: Hardscrabble Life in the Trapps, a Vanished Shawangunk Mountain Hamlet," written by local authors Bob Larsen and Robi Josephson.

Published in 2013 by Black Dome Press, the book ventures back in time to take an up close look at life in The Trapps and the pioneering people who made it their home... Read more...


by Brian Freeman, Dec. 4, 2014

Gardiner... Drivers who traverse U.S. Route 44 State/Route 55 through the Mohonk Preserve, may not know that just off the highway are reminders of a pioneer lifestyle that lasted well into the 20th century.

About 200 to 300 people from 40 to 50 families lived here in an isolated hamlet known as the Trapps, said Robi Josephson, who coauthored the book “An Unforgiving Land” with longtime Mohonk Preserve ranger and boundary man Bob Larsen.

[Video & Photo] The Van Leuven Cabin has been restored as an exhibition space to show how the cabin was used originally. It is owned and maintained as a small museum by the Mohonk Preserve.

The hamlet spanned land across the Mohonk Preserve, Minnewaska State Park Preserve and properties owned by private owners, she said.
See the video and

Deep in the Mountains, an Unforgiving Land revealed.Book

Review by Anne Pyburn Craig, BSP Reporter, Mar. 8, 2014

Robi Josephson and lifelong Mohonk ranger and cultural historian Bob Larsen have meticulously pulled together an account of the early settlement of the mountain hamlet from old newspaper accounts and public records and crafted a book that reveals much about not only the Trapps, but the shaping of nearby places like Rosendale, Kerhonkson, Ellenville, and New Paltz. They trace the impact of the Smiley brothers, the Shawangunks’ most successful hoteliers, on the lives of the mountain-dwelling regular folks – and the impact those regular folks had on the resort/preserve/state park that is today the region’s defining feature, and it’s a thought-provoking read. Read more...

Local History Books

by Vivian Yess Wadlin, Winter 2013

"...Robi Josephson and Bob Larson have researched and brought us the unvarnished hardscrabble life of the Shawangunk Ridge with the perseverance and dedication matching the settlers themselves. The book is describe by Glenn Hoagland, Executive Director of the Mohonk Preserve, "... as the definitive chronicle of the Trapps, and its vanished community."" Read more...


Bob Larsen and Robi Josephson write new book on Trapps Hamlet

by Erin Quinn, Dec. 7, 2013, 6:30 am

[Photo: Local historians Bob Larsen and Robi Josephson on the foundation of the old Enderly farmhouse near Split Rock in the Trapps region of the Shawangunks.]

The release of the gripping and provocative nonfiction book An Unforgiving Land, by local authors Bob Larsen and Robi Josephson (Black Dome Press), positions a hardscrabble, subsistence post-Civil War mountain community in stark contrast to today’s thousands of acres of breathtaking land under the protection of the Mohonk Preserve and Minnewaska State Park for modern-day conservation, recreation and one of the “Earth’s last great places.” Read more...

New book rediscovers saga of ‘the Trapps’

by Jim Planck Columbia-Greene Media, Dec. 14, 2013

Shawangunk—One of the areas often considered as part of the greater Catskill Mountains region is the Shawangunk Ridge, also known as the Shawangunk Mountains, and even more often just called the Shawangunks.

For New York State’s tourism district purposes — whether in the 19th, 20th, or today’s 21st century — the Shawangunks are always grouped under “The Catskills” heading, and with good reason — the social and business interaction of the Shawangunks has always been part and parcel of the greater Catskills identity, as the presence of the famed Mohonk Mountain House still attests. Read more...


Meet Me in the Library, December 2013 Page 21
Meet Robi Josephson, Writer of Local History

by J. A. DiBello

It could have been the towering grayish white cliffs, the treacherous thrill of a defying hairpin turn on US r44/55 or even an inviting pass through a mountain range known as the Shawangunks. Whatever the lure, the Shawangunk mountain range bellowed a seductive invitation to Robi Josephson, then (late 60's) freshman college student at the State University of New York, New Paltz. She was from the City, as in New York City, Queens and was absorbing the sensuous thrills of her first climb through the Labyrinth to Sky Top. "The Labyrinth was then part of freshman orientation..."

New Release!!

Steven Hoare, Editor

An Unforgiving Land
Hardscrabble Life in the Trapps, a Vanished Shawangunk Mountain Hamlet

by Robi Josephson & Bob Larsen

For about 150 years, colorful characters abounded in this “region where the Maker of Mountains went mad,” their stories echoing even today across a high hollow nestled between Lakes Mohonk and Minnewaska. The Trapps hamlet is all but gone now; only a few vestiges of this proud and independent community remain. The rest has vanished along with the way of life that sustained it, but Robi Josephson and Bob Larsen breathe life into this vanished place and the people who once called it home. This long-awaited book, the result of their combined fifty-year odyssey and Bob’s groundbreaking research, extracts history from Shawangunk Mountain ridges and ravines, from libraries and archives up and down the Hudson Valley, and—most significant of all—from interviews with the last generation to be born and raised in The Trapps. Press Release...

~Direct Links for above ~
~ Sullivan County Democrat, The Trapps at Time & The Valley Museum, Oct. 23, 2015
~ Wallkill Valley Times, ALMANAC: Your 2015 Guide to the Valley,
"Hard-Knock Life," March 5, 2015 (cover & pp3, 5-7)
~ Daily Freeman
, "Trapps Story Chronicled in Unforgiving Land," December 4, 2014
~ BlueStone Press
, "Deep in the mountains, an Unforgiving Land revealed," March 8, 2014
~ About Town
, "Local History Books," Winter, 2013
~ New Paltz Times,
"Bob Larsen and Robi Josephson write new book on Trapps Hamlet," December 7, 2013
~ The Daily Mail, "New book rediscovers saga of the Trapps," December 14, 2013
~ Delaware & Hudson Canvas, "Meet Robi Josephson: Writer of Local History," December 2013, Page 20
~ Press Release from Book Publisher Black Dome Press, "New Release!! An Unforgiving Land..." Oct. 13, 2013

Updated 8-28-17