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Ten Minutes with John “WoodMan” Depew

An Arborist and an Artist



Photos by Rana Faure

John “WoodMan” Depew is a native Pound Ridger and the arborist and owner of Mill River Tree Service. You may not know him, but you may have noticed him having a beer at one of the local watering holes dressed in one of his signature shirts with the sleeves ripped-off, or passing by on the road in one of his vintage bombs. Or maybe you’ve noticed his peculiar pieces of wood on display in Scotts Corners and wondered about who might be behind this oddity.

Where did you grow up?
Right here in Pound Ridge. My mom is almost 90 and still lives in the same house on Hack Green where I grew up, and I live with my wife in a house nearby, so I can help take care of her. I went to Pound Ridge Elementary School and Fox Lane Junior High and then, although I wasn’t much of student and we didn’t have much money, my dad sent me to St. Luke’s for high school. 

How did you get into working with trees?
I’ve always loved trees and being outdoors, but really it’s because I needed work. I sold firewood when I was 11. When I was 15, a guy taught me the basic knot you need to do climbing, and another guy sold me my first chainsaw, and I was in business. I started out knocking on doors and asking for jobs. One of my first customers was Hume Cronyn and his wife, Jessica Tandy. I had no idea who they were, I just knew they had a nice house and could use some trimming. When I got home and told my dad, he was blown away that I had landed business from such prominent neighbors.

What is Mill River Tree Service?
We do pruning, removal, and organic spraying and feeding; we don’t do landscaping. I’m proud to have employed eight or more full-time guys for over two decades now. I have an office and a showroom for some pieces of my wood in New Canaan, which, appropriately, has a door on Forest Street. 

What’s the deal with the tree art you‘re now displaying in Scotts Corners? Are you more an artist than an arborist?  I
I’m not an artist. Mother Nature did the artwork. I have a passion for travel, and I particularly love Australia, where I spend about three months a year frequenting the pubs and drinking beer with regular folks and exploring the outback. I find these incredible pieces of Coolabah and other Australian hardwoods, clean them up, truck them a thousand miles or more, and ship them back to the U.S. in a container. I offer them for sale, but I do it mostly for my own enjoyment.

What about your cars?
My daily drivers are: a ’69 Chrysler Newport I call the “Sled” that has the original green paint and which I’ve never washed, and; a ’69 Plymouth Satellite. They both run great. I’ve got a couple of motorcycles, but I don’t get much use out of them anymore. And I’ve got an old lobster boat I keep up in Rhode Island.

Are you Pound Ridge’s version of Crocodile Dundee?
I hope you find me to be a much kinder, gentler, and more humble version of that character. I see where you make the comparison, and I certainly like having a “shout,” which is Australian for glass of beer, at the local pub, but my focus is getting to know good people, and I always shy away from showboating and showboaters. 

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255 Westchester Ave
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Telephone: 914-764-4333
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More information

Every summer, the Seaport Ferry in South Norwalk carries hundreds of hungry passengers to the historic 1868 Sheffield Island Lighthouse for the Norwalk Seaport Association's famous Thursday...

Cost: $65 or $79 per person

Where:
Sheffield Island & Lighthouse
4 North Water Street
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View map »


Website »

More information

Sheffield Island with its historic 148-year-old lighthouse, beaches and wildlife refuge offers abundant summer fun for visitors.  From May through September, visitors can board the...

Cost: $25

Where:
Sheffield Island & Lighthouse
4 North Water St.
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View map »


Website »

More information

Experience the joy of setting sail and shutting off the engine as we sail through Long Island Sound. Sit back and relax or take a turn at the helm, the choice is yours. Sails depart from...

Cost: $20-$40

Where:
SoundWaters
1281 Cove Rd
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View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $15.75-$57.75

Where:
Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival
1601 Rt. 9D
Garrison, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $25 for adults, $20 for military and age 62+, $12 for age 5-12, free for age 4-

Where:
600 Rt. 17A
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More information

Our founder, Cole Palen, grew up next to a great 1930’s Hudson Valley airport dreaming that he would own and fly the machines he saw overhead and spent the rest of his life bringing the...

Cost: $8.00 - $10.00

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Harvest Moon Farm & Orchard
130 Hardscrabble Road
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More information

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Cost: Adults $22 Seniors Ages 65 and up $20 Children Ages 4 to 11 $18

Where:
Hudson River Adventures, Inc
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View map »


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More information

The Pound Ridge Historical Society will open “Modern in Pound Ridge: 20th Century Architecture + Lifestyle” at the Pound Ridge Museum on April 23, 2017. This is a real departure for the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pound Ridge Museum
255 Westchester Ave
Pound Ridge, NY  10576
View map »


Sponsor: Pound Ridge Historical Society
Telephone: 914-764-4333
Website »

More information

Every summer, the Seaport Ferry in South Norwalk carries hundreds of hungry passengers to the historic 1868 Sheffield Island Lighthouse for the Norwalk Seaport Association's famous Thursday...

Cost: $65 or $79 per person

Where:
Sheffield Island & Lighthouse
4 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Sheffield Island with its historic 148-year-old lighthouse, beaches and wildlife refuge offers abundant summer fun for visitors.  From May through September, visitors can board the...

Cost: $25

Where:
Sheffield Island & Lighthouse
4 North Water St.
Norwalk, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Experience the joy of setting sail and shutting off the engine as we sail through Long Island Sound. Sit back and relax or take a turn at the helm, the choice is yours. Sails depart from...

Cost: $20-$40

Where:
SoundWaters
1281 Cove Rd
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View map »


Website »

More information

The King of Navarre and his lords have sworn off the pleasures of life to pursue their studies, but can their oaths hold up when a princess and her ladies come to town? Men and women test their own...

Cost: $15.75-$57.75

Where:
Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival
1601 Rt. 9D
Garrison, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

The Faire is a rollicking romp through Elizabethan England complete with 16th Century games, rides, arts, crafts, food, music and dance – set within the majestic groves of Tuxedo Park, New...

Cost: $25 for adults, $20 for military and age 62+, $12 for age 5-12, free for age 4-

Where:
600 Rt. 17A
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View map »


Website »

More information

Our founder, Cole Palen, grew up next to a great 1930’s Hudson Valley airport dreaming that he would own and fly the machines he saw overhead and spent the rest of his life bringing the...

Cost: $8.00 - $10.00

Where:
Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome
9 Norton Rd
Red Hook, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Apple Picking Has Begun! Picking Hours: Our orchard is open daily from 9am - 4:30pm. Festival Weekends 10am - 5pm: 9/9-10 9/16-17 9/21-24 9/30-10/1 Pizza Party at...

Where:
Harvest Moon Farm & Orchard
130 Hardscrabble Road
North Salem, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

Cruise through history and the majestic beauty of the Hudson River We specialize in Weddings and Private Charters Elegance for all affairs 2 Hour narrated sightseeing cruises Customized cruises...

Cost: Adults $22 Seniors Ages 65 and up $20 Children Ages 4 to 11 $18

Where:
Hudson River Adventures, Inc
90 Front St
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View map »


Website »

More information

The Pound Ridge Historical Society will open “Modern in Pound Ridge: 20th Century Architecture + Lifestyle” at the Pound Ridge Museum on April 23, 2017. This is a real departure for the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pound Ridge Museum
255 Westchester Ave
Pound Ridge, NY  10576
View map »


Sponsor: Pound Ridge Historical Society
Telephone: 914-764-4333
Website »

More information

Every summer, the Seaport Ferry in South Norwalk carries hundreds of hungry passengers to the historic 1868 Sheffield Island Lighthouse for the Norwalk Seaport Association's famous Thursday...

Cost: $65 or $79 per person

Where:
Sheffield Island & Lighthouse
4 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Sheffield Island with its historic 148-year-old lighthouse, beaches and wildlife refuge offers abundant summer fun for visitors.  From May through September, visitors can board the...

Cost: $25

Where:
Sheffield Island & Lighthouse
4 North Water St.
Norwalk, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Experience the joy of setting sail and shutting off the engine as we sail through Long Island Sound. Sit back and relax or take a turn at the helm, the choice is yours. Sails depart from...

Cost: $20-$40

Where:
SoundWaters
1281 Cove Rd
Stamford, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

The King of Navarre and his lords have sworn off the pleasures of life to pursue their studies, but can their oaths hold up when a princess and her ladies come to town? Men and women test their own...

Cost: $15.75-$57.75

Where:
Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival
1601 Rt. 9D
Garrison, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

The Faire is a rollicking romp through Elizabethan England complete with 16th Century games, rides, arts, crafts, food, music and dance – set within the majestic groves of Tuxedo Park, New...

Cost: $25 for adults, $20 for military and age 62+, $12 for age 5-12, free for age 4-

Where:
600 Rt. 17A
Tuxedo Park, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

Our founder, Cole Palen, grew up next to a great 1930’s Hudson Valley airport dreaming that he would own and fly the machines he saw overhead and spent the rest of his life bringing the...

Cost: $8.00 - $10.00

Where:
Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome
9 Norton Rd
Red Hook, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Apple Picking Has Begun! Picking Hours: Our orchard is open daily from 9am - 4:30pm. Festival Weekends 10am - 5pm: 9/9-10 9/16-17 9/21-24 9/30-10/1 Pizza Party at...

Where:
Harvest Moon Farm & Orchard
130 Hardscrabble Road
North Salem, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

Cruise through history and the majestic beauty of the Hudson River We specialize in Weddings and Private Charters Elegance for all affairs 2 Hour narrated sightseeing cruises Customized cruises...

Cost: Adults $22 Seniors Ages 65 and up $20 Children Ages 4 to 11 $18

Where:
Hudson River Adventures, Inc
90 Front St
Newburgh, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

The Pound Ridge Historical Society will open “Modern in Pound Ridge: 20th Century Architecture + Lifestyle” at the Pound Ridge Museum on April 23, 2017. This is a real departure for the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pound Ridge Museum
255 Westchester Ave
Pound Ridge, NY  10576
View map »


Sponsor: Pound Ridge Historical Society
Telephone: 914-764-4333
Website »

More information

Every summer, the Seaport Ferry in South Norwalk carries hundreds of hungry passengers to the historic 1868 Sheffield Island Lighthouse for the Norwalk Seaport Association's famous Thursday...

Cost: $65 or $79 per person

Where:
Sheffield Island & Lighthouse
4 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Sheffield Island with its historic 148-year-old lighthouse, beaches and wildlife refuge offers abundant summer fun for visitors.  From May through September, visitors can board the...

Cost: $25

Where:
Sheffield Island & Lighthouse
4 North Water St.
Norwalk, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Experience the joy of setting sail and shutting off the engine as we sail through Long Island Sound. Sit back and relax or take a turn at the helm, the choice is yours. Sails depart from...

Cost: $20-$40

Where:
SoundWaters
1281 Cove Rd
Stamford, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

The King of Navarre and his lords have sworn off the pleasures of life to pursue their studies, but can their oaths hold up when a princess and her ladies come to town? Men and women test their own...

Cost: $15.75-$57.75

Where:
Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival
1601 Rt. 9D
Garrison, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

The Faire is a rollicking romp through Elizabethan England complete with 16th Century games, rides, arts, crafts, food, music and dance – set within the majestic groves of Tuxedo Park, New...

Cost: $25 for adults, $20 for military and age 62+, $12 for age 5-12, free for age 4-

Where:
600 Rt. 17A
Tuxedo Park, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Food prices

Where:
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View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

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