Welcome to the MTHS website
The Mountain Top Historical Society is dedicated to discovering and preserving the unique and rich history of the Catskill High Peaks. The Society is a not-for-profit organization and maintains a Visitor and Art Trail Center and the Ulster and Delaware train depot (shown above) on our campus in Haines Falls. We are located on scenic Route 23A at the gateway to the Mountain Top and are easily accessible from Exit 20 or 21 of the New York State Thruway.
The Town of Hunter, home to MTHS, has been designated a Preserve America Community.
June 10 (Sat) Presentation by author/publisher Nick Lyons -- Reminiscing about the Laurel House, fishing in South Lake and Lake Creek and fly-fishing in the Catskills -- Nick Lyons is a well-known and well-respected Catskills fisherman. He began fishing during the summers he spent as a boy at the Laurel House which was owned by his grandfather Louis Bernstein between 1929 and 1953 and operated by his uncle and aunt Nathan and Sadie Bernstein. 7:00 p.m. at U&D Train Station. Nick is well known among fly fishers. Learn more about him on this LINK. (A new window will open.)
KRT Rail Trail Is Open
In 2005 I wrote about trails and sites on Prospect Mountain in the afterword for Catskill Mountain House Trail Guide:
A path across this mountain that lies west of South Mountain between the Laurel House and the Hamlet of Haines Falls was among the earliest trails in the region. It became the route of the two railways that served the hotels. Three important locations once accessible from that path deserve special mention. One, the Sphinx, well known to post card collectors, stands guard over the upper clove above Molly Smith’s parking area. As best I can determine, it is on state land. Access to it, however, is either an extremely difficult climb, or a relatively easy approach that requires crossing private property. Very near the Sphinx, is a clearing that takes in the upper portion of Kaaterskill Falls, a beautiful view of the Clove, and the peaks of Round Top and High Peak. No other spot allows all three to be seen at the same time. Also formerly accessible from this path is viewpoint named (like the ledge on North Mountain) Prospect Rock. This Prospect Rock is perhaps the best place from which to see, in a single view, both upper and lower portions of Kaaterskill Falls, but it too is virtually inaccessible except by crossing private land.
Opening these areas could be a real benefit to visitors, and to the Mountain Top community. Recently, there has been renewed interest in a rail trail between the hamlet of Haines Falls and Laurel House Road following the rail corridor and near the trail that was discussed by both Van Loan and Rusk [authors of 19th century trail guides]. Reopening that trail would provide a link between the local community and the beautiful facilities at North-South Lake. -- [Note that at this time, the area of Sphinx Rock is not accessible from the KRT.]
Now, twelve years after I wrote these words and thanks to the efforts of many people and organizations, the KRT is open and NYSDEC has placed a trail sign at the junction of the state trail to the Kaaterskill Falls viewing platform and the Kaaterskill Rail Trail pointing the way to the Historical Society's campus and station. I am very pleased that this has been accomplished and, based on the large attendance at the opening ceremony on May 20, the community is too. Thanks again to all. - RG
From our Archives -
Follow the "From Our Archives" link in the "Preserve" menu on the right to see information about some of the items in our Justine Hommel Archive Room, including recently posted information on the story of Civil War soldier William Young.
MTHS News and links:
In October we shared the sad news that MTHS founding member, long time president and a dear friend and vital link to the society's past had passed away on October 17, 2016.
A memorial service honoring Justine will be held on June 24, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. at the Haines Falls Methodist Church followed by a reception at the Twilight Park Clubhouse.
Clove Road by Justine Hommel -A 2006 article by Justine Hommel.
The Dodd House - Also by Justine an article from the archives of the Hemlock
Around Hunter --A great Gift for a friend or yourself-- is available at the Visitor's Center Click on the link or the book cover for more information.
- Larry Tompkins -- Out Windham Way a wonderful new book from our former MTHS president.
News from our 2016 Annual meeting:
- The society wishes to thank Sidonia Palace who is retiring from the Board for her long service to the Mountain Top Historical Society.
- We welcome Brett Byrne to the Board of Directors.
- We also thank Richard Haines for his service as Vice President and are glad to have him remain as a valued Board member.
- In other changes, we are please that Adrienne Larys will serve as Vice President and that Nancy Allen will take over as Secretary.
- Thank you to the volunteers who staff the Visitors' Center (in addition to board members):
As we begin the 2017 season of events and activities presented by the Mountain Top Historical Society, it is time to pause and take stock of our progress during the past 20 years. In 1996, the MTHS acquired the Ulster & Delaware Railroad Station in Haines Falls and established a campus at the head of Kaaterskill Clove that now includes a barn with exhibit space and a Visitors' Center with a state of the art Archives Room. With the help of generous benefactors and volunteers, our ability to present programs, lead guided hikes, provide information about local history, support research and education on the Mountain Top has grown. We are a stop on the Hudson River School Art Trail and a trailhead on the Kaaterskill Rail Trail. We provide information to over 2500 annual visitors to our area who come into our Visitors' Center.
In order to continue what we are doing, and to consider new opportunities as they arise, we count on your help. We repainted the exterior of the Visitors' Center through a 50/50 grant from the Hunter Foundation. We improved the barn with help from the Greene County Sheriff's Department and with work by George Van Dyke. We have maintained the campus with steady work by a dedicated crew of volunteer groundskeepers. We are now looking at the U&D Railroad Station which was lovingly restored beginning in 1997. Time and weather are taking their toll. The exterior needs repairs and repainting. The roof will need to be re-done in the not too distant future. In addition to the work on the station, our KRT parking lot needs to be improved in order to serve the growing number of visitors to our campus. We have laid the foundation; we invite you to be part of the future of the MTHS.
We also ask for your support in the form of membership dollars and your donations to our upcoming capital campaign. Our annual membership drive will begin in May. Watch for the information in the mail and please respond generously.
Working together, we can continue to discover, interpret, share, and preserve the history of the Mountain Top for ourselves and our children.
To our hikers:
The 2017 hiking schedule can be found at: http://mths.org/hikes.html or by selecting the Hikes link under the Interpret section in the side menus. As always, hikes are subject to change. Please check this site just prior to the date of any scheduled hike.
Thanks to the Kaaterskill Rail Trail Facebook Page for posting this notice.
Please everyone stay on the marked trail, do not cut across the private land to access the trail from MTHS. Please follow Trail up North Lake Road to Featherbed down to the rail trail.
The last section is in the process of being acquired by the Mountain Top Historical Society however it is still PRIVATE LAND, please respect the private land owners and their property.
The grand opening for the new final section connecting Kaaterskill Falls with the MTHS Campus will be opening on May 20th- more details to follow.
Thank you everyone for you help and cooperation in this matter.
Thanks to our business sponsors:
Bruce Feml General Contractor, Bank of Greene County, Brookside B&B, Cave Mountain Brewing Company, C&C Excavating, Central Hudson Gas & Electric, Chateau Belleview, Claude W. Lutz of Hunter and Fromer Agency Insurance, Craig Bates Trucking & Excavating, Inc., Deer Mountain Inn, Dr. Elena Suditu, GNH Lumber, Inc., Gordon Hunter Mountain Realty, Hotel Vienna, Hunter Chamber of Commerce, Hunter Mountain, Kaaterskill Liquors, Karen’s County Kitchen, Last Chance Antiques & Cheese Cafe, Mama's Boy Pizza, Mountain Propane, Inc., Pancho Villas Mexican Restaurant, Rosehaven Inn, Snow Bird Ski Shop, Snowed Inn, Stewart's Shops, Tannersville Antique & Artisan Center, TREC Management Company, The Mountain Brook, The Thompson House, Thorpe's GMC, Inc., Traphagen’s Honey, Vanucchi Associates, Villa Vosilla, The Woodstock Inn on the Millstream, Williams Lumber and Home Centers, Willow Mixed Media