Pratt Rock - New York's Mount Rushmore – Prattsville, New York - Atlas Obscura

Pratt Rock - New York's Mount Rushmore

Prattsville, New York

Believe It or Not, Ripley once called this chiseled mountainside “New York’s Mount Rushmore”. 


A prominent and wealthy New York businessman just about single-handedly established the Upstate town of Prattsville. He also had a mountainside monument built to himself, so that no one would forget it.

Zadock Pratt, Jr. was a true 19th century Renaissance man - the complete package. He was tanner, a banker, a US Congressman, a land developer, town magistrate and planner, a colonel in the New York state militia, and a husband five times over. Not enough hats? Add veteran of the War of 1812, trader in the Canadian provinces, endower and builder of the Prattsville Academy, and instrumental in the founding of the US Bureau of Statistics. So is it any wonder that a man like this would create something like Pratt Rock – “New York’s Mount Rushmore”. 

Pratt had had a long and storied career throughout most of the 19th century, and at the height of his many achievements, in 1843, a stone-cutter sought him out, mostly looking for a hand-out. Instead, Pratt set him to work. The stone-cutter was given the task of carving Pratt’s own life story into a cliff overlooking his 350-acre farm. The stone-cutter started with an image of Pratt and his son, added a sort of folksy-looking horse, then a brawny arm holding a sledgehammer… and he kept carving, for the next 28 years. It wasn’t until Pratt had died that the task could finally be called “finished”.

Pratt had wanted to be buried in his beloved mountainside memorial, but the terrain and leaky site that was chosen didn’t quite work out. He’s instead buried in the cemetery in Prattsville. While Pratts desire to be buried in the mountain didn’t come to fruition for the man it did for his horses and dogs as a number of them were buried there in the rocks of “New York’s Mount Rushmore.”

Know Before You Go

To get to Pratt Rock it’s a short by windy ascent, so wear good shoes. A nice touch, there are some walking sticks left near the picnic area for public use. While you are visiting, you can stop at the nearby Zadock Pratt Museum.

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