I pulled into the town of Sleepy Hollow on a Thursday evening, just before the cemetery closed. In the dying light, the stones looked slanted, the trees, twisted and sinister. It wasn’t hard to understand why Washington Irving chose it as the setting for his famous story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. It did, in fact, look like a place where people might be “given to all kinds of marvelous beliefs,” and “sunbeams seem to sleep so quietly, one would think that there at least the dead might rest in peace.”
I started off on foot, but the cemetery was larger than it had seemed at first glance. I began to worry that the gates might shut, and I would be stuck among the stones when the bronze statue of the woman in the chair (rumored to prowl the property each night) woke up.
I climbed back into my car and drove along the looping roads until I came to the famous bridge.
The bridge in the cemetery is a replica. The real site is in town, but this one seemed spooky enough. A dirt path led up to and from it, upon which it was easy enough to imagine Ichabod running, just before he and the horseman disappeared into thin air.
After visiting Irving’s gravestone, I visited the Old Dutch church, said to be the place where Ichabod sought refuge from the Headless Horseman. It is, in fact, a stop on a walking tour that traces the path he took as he fled.