Ryecliff LookOut Tower on Ramapo Mountain

Jane Neill-Hancock

Wayne, United States

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Artist's Description

If you visit Ramapo Mountain State Forest and take a walk on the private paved road through the forest rather than one of the hiking paths, as you come to the curve in the road that will descend down the mountain to Ramapo Lake, you come upon a HUGE stone tower. This photo does not show the grand size and imposing architecture – it is almost a shock to you since you have been walking down a narrow road in the midst of a dense forest for some time to then come upon this immense stone tower.

The history of the property and tower is as follows:
In the 1920s Clifford MacEvoy began buying up property and deeds to form the Bergen Country Hunting and Fishing Club. At about this time, a small pond located on the property called “Roten” pond (Dutch for muskrat), was dammed up to form the much larger Ramapo Lake, and some small parcels of land surrounding the lake were sold to private buyers for building lots, one including a television celebrity, lawyer and noted author.

In 1924, at the top of the mountain he built a granite, brick and stucco manor house, designed by Mr. MacEvoy for his wife and his daughter. He named the estate RyeCliff after his wife’s maiden name, Ryerson, and his first name, Clifford.

The house includes a screened in porch, a large living room as well as a family room, each room with hand-hewn chestnut beams, a stone fireplace—interesting in their craftsmanship—and breathtaking views of Ramapo Lake and the surrounding mountains (and sunsets) to the west.

At some point around 1920 – 1928 a tower was added to the top of the mountain. It was originally a water tower erected on the site of what is now the Wanaque Reservoir, built in the early 1900s by Clifford MacEvoy. Mr. MacEvoy relocated the tower to Ryecliff and enclosed it in mountain stone so as to blend in with the house itself as well as the natural environment. The Observation Tower stands 65 feet (19.8 m) high at a ground elevation of 825 feet (251.5 m). Its five stories include two floors with toilet and, on the fifth floor, the room contains a fireplace. A hatch on the fifth floor leads to a roof with incredible views of Ramapo Park and Lake, the Wanaque Reservoir, mountains to the west and to the east, New York City.

Nestled at the top of the mountain, however the private Ryecliff estate, complete with Tennis court, guest house, horse stable, private pond, and of course the Tower that can be seen for miles around. The Rycliff estate has recently been put up for sale.

What I find sad about this beautiful tower is all the wires, antennas and satellite dishes on it. It is a beautiful structure but marred by all these. There are also awful rusty awnings on some of the windows. YUCK. it is such a lovely and historic tower – too bad someone can’t petition to remove all this garbage on it.

other of my photos from this forest are below

The Road Through The Forest
by Jane Neill-Hancock

The Little Blue Shed
by Jane Neill-Hancock

Little Gazebo On The Side Of The Mountain
by Jane Neill-Hancock

Artwork Comments

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  • Jane Neill-Hancock
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