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Servicing our part of the Shawangunk Ridge, also known as the Shawangunk Mountains or The Gunks, is a ridge of bedrock in Ulster County, Sullivan County and Orange County in the state of New York, extending from the northernmost point of New Jersey to the Catskill Mountains.
The ridgetop, which widens considerably at its northern end, has many public and private protected areas and is not heavily populated, boasting only one settlement of consequence (unincorporated Cragsmoor). While in the past it was chiefly noted for mining and logging and a boom-era of huckleberry picking, as well as the fires set to create favorable conditions for further growth. Today it has become known for its outdoor recreation, most notably as one of the major rock climbing areas of North America. Also known for its biodiversity and scenic character, the ridge has been designated by The Nature Conservancy as a significant area for its conservation programs.
The English name, Shawangunk, derives from the Dutch Scha-wan-gunk, the closest European transcription from the colonial deed record of the Munsee Lenape, Schawankunk (German orthography).
Lenape linguist Raymond Whritenour reports that schawan is an inanimate intransitive verb meaning "it is smoky air" or "there is smoky air". Its noun-like participle is schawank, meaning "that which is smoky air". Adding the locative suffix gives us schawangunk "in the smoky air".
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