If city folk draw a blank on “Olive,” other than being Popeye’s girlfriend, they think about it the next time they have a glass of tap water. Northwest of Kingston and Woodstock, Olive – which encompasses Olivebridge, Shokan, West Shokan and Boiceville – is home to the astounding Ashokan Reservoir which provides most of New York City with its drinking water. This immense body of water and the Catskill Mountains surrounding conspire to be among the most stunning sights this country, let alone Ulster County, has to offer. The Ashokan Reservoir was completely man-made from 1907 to 1914 whereby small towns were evacuated to create this huge basin of water. It also happens to be one of the most beautiful evening walks or bike rides imaginable.
Olive got its name from a Bible verse — ‘and Noah sent out a Dove from the Ark and when the waters subsided she returned with an Olive leaf in her mouth’ – but it had nothing to do with the flood waters created to make the Reservoir. The name was adopted during the first town meeting in May 1824. This is one for the annals of coincidence!
Homes in Olive enjoy a slightly lower tax structure because of NYC’s large ownership of lands surrounding and protecting the Reservoir, known as the Watershed. Additionally, Olive is in the heart of the Catskill Park — 700,000 acres of protected public and private land. Second-home and full-time owners enjoy the small towns of Olive with their relative seclusion but with access to services.
Olive and the small hamlets that make it up offer a real “getaway” feel.