03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

A Visit to Castle Rock

Nothing beats asking what you're supposed to be scouting for, and being told: "Castles."

If you've ever driven along Route 9D in Garrison, New York, you may have seen it from the road: a fairy tale-like castle poking out from the trees at the top of a mountain:

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Built in 1881, Castle Rock was the estate of Illinois Central Railroad president William Osborn, who also owned hundreds of acres of land surrounding property. Since Osborn's death in 1894, Castle Rock has passed down through numerous Osborn generations and is still privately owned by the family. Rumors abound that the castle was writer Frank Baum's inspiration for the castle in the Wizard of Oz (Castle OSborn?).

Castle Rock was deemed a National Landmark in 1977. Most of the surrounding woodland was donated to the State Parks Council and is now open to the public. Several films and TV shows have been shot at Castle Rock, and the owners are very film friendly. I was graciously granted permission to post these pictures to help spread the word, and if you're seriously interested, email me your production interest, and I'll pass along the contact info.

The drive up to the property is a long, windy dirt road that snakes up the mountain, a perfect approach to such a unique place. Note the numerous KEEP OUT signs! This is still private property, and a caretaker living on the premises has had to call the police countless times. Most productions park their trucks at the nearby library and use stakebeds to portage up equipment:

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When you finally get to the top of the hill, you pass under this beautiful stone arch:

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Continue around a bend, and you find a stone gate:

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Pass through and you've reached Castle Rock!

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The front of the castle:

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A tower:

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A different view from the lower level:

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One of many porches:

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The famous spire:

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A basement-level passage:

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This addition was to be a recreation room. Sadly, it was never finished:

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Castle Rock is currently in the midst of some serious interior renovation work. The original door has been temporarily removed for construction. Anyone know what those hooks to the right are (perhaps for tying up horses)?

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This is the front hall, and you can see the extent of renovation work. This is all to be redone within the next year or two, but a clever production company with a budget could easily cover up the work (or even help finish it):

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(pan: click for full size!)

A second room with wood-paneling:

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The living room features a wrap-around porch...

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Head out on the porch and you are treated to one of many gorgeous views of the Hudson...

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(pan: click for full size!)

The full view of the Hudson from Castle Rock:

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(pan: click for full size!)

If you look north up the Hudson, you can see West Point. From this vantage point, it becomes quite obvious why the original garrison was built on this strategic crook in the river:

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Other Castle Rock porches and balconies, all with equally stunning views:

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A lower-level porch:

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No visit to Castle Rock is complete without a trip to the famous spire. I headed up the creaky spiral staircase...

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...up into the spire...

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...which features a full panorama of windows.

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Here is the view from the spire:

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(pan: click for full size!)

Another picture:

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A rare view of the Castle Rock roof:

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Outside, the Castle Rock grounds are tree-lined, shady and peaceful. This road leads over the stone arch I passed under when I first came up the mountain:

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Looking away from the house, the road leads to a quiet spot surrounded by trees...

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At the far end is a fountain that I imagine hasn't been used in quite a while:

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The fountain up-close:

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Finally, I love the break in this little stone wall, leading off into the surrounding wilderness.

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There's a lot more to Castle Rock that I didn't have a chance to shoot, including the Osborn's original spring-fed wooden water tank. You can't find a more unique property than Castle Rock, and the fact that it is located just over an hour from New York City makes it priceless. A special thanks again to Castle Rock for letting me post these pictures, and again, if you're interested, send me an email and I'll relay the contact info.