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Shawangunk, New York facts for kids

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Location in Ulster County and the state of New York.
Location in Ulster County and the state of New York.
Country United States
State New York
County Ulster
 • Total 56.55 sq mi (146.46 km2)
 • Land 56.06 sq mi (145.18 km2)
 • Water 0.49 sq mi (1.28 km2)
335 ft (102 m)
 • Total 14,332
 • Estimate 
 • Density 250.87/sq mi (96.86/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
FIPS code 36-66674
GNIS feature ID 0979486
Shawangunk Town Hall
Town hall, in Wallkill.

Shawangunk is a town in southwestern Ulster County, New York, United States. The population was 14,332 at the 2010 census. The town takes its name from its largest stream, the Shawangunk Kill. The name Shawangunk is from the language of the Lenape people. Kill is an abbreviation of the Dutch word for creek, Killitje. It is pronounce Shuh-Whan-Gung


Shawangunk was first settled by Europeans around 1670. The region was organized as a precinct in 1743, and became the Town of Shawangunk in 1788. The town's name comes from the Dutch translation of the Munsee Lenape. The Lenape pronunciation for the town was "Scha-WAN-gunk." In Lenape, "Schawan," means "it is smokey air." This was given as referring to the nearby Catskill Mountains which were known as the "Hidden Mountains." The mountain ridge that runs from southwest to northeast creates a heavy humidified atmosphere that would make the Lenape believe the area had smokey air. A Lenape linguist, Raymond Whritenour suggests that the name comes from the burning of a Munsee fort by the Dutch in the year 1663. This fort was nearby a creek later known as the Shawangunk Kill and also what is now known as Old Fort Road. The burning of the fort signaled the end of the Second Esopus War and helped spread the name to the nearby ridge by the early 1700s. Present day citizens of Shawangunk refer to themselves as living in Wallkill, Pine Bush, or other hamlets depending on which part they live in. This has been in part due to the large size and growing population of the town.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 56.5 square miles (146 km2), of which, 56.2 square miles (146 km2) of it is land and 0.3 square miles (0.78 km2) of it (0.55%) is water.

The south town line and half of the east town line is the border of Orange County, New York.

The Wallkill River flows through the eastern half of town and lends it its name, which it flows through, while the western (Walker Valley) half climbs the slopes of the eponymous mountains.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 2,128
1820 3,372
1830 3,681 9.2%
1840 3,886 5.6%
1850 4,036 3.9%
1860 2,870 −28.9%
1870 2,823 −1.6%
1880 2,910 3.1%
1890 2,456 −15.6%
1900 2,406 −2.0%
1910 2,548 5.9%
1920 2,087 −18.1%
1930 2,127 1.9%
1940 3,117 46.5%
1950 3,561 14.2%
1960 4,604 29.3%
1970 5,749 24.9%
1980 8,186 42.4%
1990 10,081 23.1%
2000 12,022 19.3%
2010 14,332 19.2%
2016 (est.) 14,063 −1.9%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of 2009, there were 12,652 people, 4,333 households, and 2,557 families residing in the town. The population density was 225 people per square mile . There were 3,754 housing units at an average density of 66.8 per square mile (25.8/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 83% White, 7.9% African American, .2% Native American, .9% Asian, .01% Pacific Islander, 2.86% from other races, and 1.32% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.96% of the population.

There were 3,433 households, out of which 39.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.5% were married couples living together, 8.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.5% were non-families. 20.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.78 and the average family size was 3.21.

In the town, the population was spread out, with 22.4% under the age of 18, 8.5% from 18 to 24, 38.3% from 25 to 44, 22.2% from 45 to 64, and 8.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 134.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 144.3 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $52,366, and the median income for a family was $59,975. Males had a median income of $40,967 versus $29,608 for females. The per capita income for the town was $19,402. About 4.4% of families and 13.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.0% of those under age 18 and 10.5% of those age 65 or over.


Statistics about housing in the town:

  • Total: 4,333
  • Occupied: 3,877
  • Owner-occupied: 3,092
  • Population in owner-occupied: 8,890
  • Renter-occupied: 795
  • Population in renter-occupied: 1,917
  • Households with individuals under 18: 1,465
  • Vacant: 446
  • Vacant for rent: 87
  • Vacant for sale: 66


Something the Shawangunk town and mountain ridge have long been known for is their geology. Rising 2,000 feet above the town are the Shawangunk Mountains primarily consisting of quartz. The mountains were created over 10,000 years ago during the last ice age when retreating glacial ice carved out the Shawangunk Mountains and the surrounding Catskills. To this day the beautiful quartz landscapes can be seen from miles away drawing tourists and climbing enthusiasts from all over the world. The mountainous area is also known for its water bodies of high acidity. Three of the "Sky Lakes," in Minnewaska State Park Presereve are so acidic they cannot support any wildlife. The high acidity is caused by the high quartz makeup of the soil which aids in the runoff of acidic rains. The high acidity in the water does lead to an abundance of rare plant species that normally do not grow in Northeastern New York. Clusters of Quercus illcifolia and Pinus rigida can be found throughout the region.

Communities and locations in Shawangunk

  • Ellenville – Also Part of the Town of Wawarsing
  • Awosting – A hamlet in the northwest part of the town.
  • Bruynswick – A hamlet near the north town line on County Route 7.
  • Crawford – A hamlet in the northwest part of the town, south of Awosting.
  • Dwaarkill – A hamlet north of Red Mills, located on County Route 7.
  • Galeville – A former hamlet in the eastern part of the town, north of Wallkill. Galeville is on the west bank of the Wallkill River. Once home to Galeville Army Air Base, now Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge.
  • New Hurley – A former hamlet on Route 208.
  • Pine Bush – A hamlet in Orange County; the ZIP Code extends into much of western Shawangunk.
  • Red Mills – A hamlet at the south town line and north of Pine Bush.
  • Shawangunk Kill – A small stream in the town.
  • Ulsterville – A hamlet west of Pine Bush, located on Route
  • Watchtower – A census-designated-place (CDP) that is entirely made up of the residents of Watchtower Farms, a printing facility that draws tens of thousands of visitors every year. It is owned and operated by the Watchtower Society (a legal entity of Jehovah's Witnesses) and has been in operation since 1963.
  • Walker Valley – A hamlet in the southwest part of the town on Route 52. Walker Valley is west of Pine Bush.
  • Wallkill – A hamlet at the east town line.
  • Shawangunk Correctional Facility – A New York State prison, north of Wallkill.
  • Wallkill Correctional Facility – A state prison north of Wallkill.

See also

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