Goshen does not have a good connotation for me. Not far from the downtown sits the Mid Hudson Psychiatric Center. For years I visited a family member with extreme mental illness in Goshen. Patients and family members at the State-run Forensics Facility feel bereft of hope and recovery. It’s a sad situation.
But, my relative is out and doing well and I’m eternally thankful. Only now can I visit Goshen with a whole new perspective.
So, upon working in the Orange County village, I was pleasantly surprised to see so many historical markers dotting downtown.
After a suggested lunch at the popular Catherine’s 1991 Restaurant, I took to the sidewalk to discover the area.
I stumbled upon the above sign and learned that Goshen includes harness racing’s most storied quarter-mile homestretch. Their website reads” “Ulysses Grant may have been the best horseman among all our presidents. He slipped away from the pressures of the presidency one summer day in his second term to catch the races at Goshen”.
Still in working order is an old 1940s tote board, idle since 1978, as well as an old barn from which President Ulysses Grant watched the races in 1873. The small stalls are still full with curious horses staring at passersby.
2012 marks the 175th season of harness racing and the 102nd year of Grand Circuit Racing at “the Cradle of the Trotter”. The Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame was established here in 1951.
Inside are impressive collections of history and traditions of an American-born sport. You’ll learn the difference between drivers (they are not called jockeys), gaits like trotting and pacing and a sulky vs. a jog cart.
If horse history doesn’t appeal to you, Goshen’s significance dates back to the 18th century when it held a leading position in agriculture, dairying and the American Revolution.