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.
The historic Ulster and Delaware Train Station on the MTHS campus will be open
to the public on a few Saturday afternoons this summer thanks to volunteer Pete Senterman.
See all our events: 2018 Hikes and Events
Our next event: Hotel Kaaterskill Talk and Walk
Watch our blog and Facebook page for further information and to help us shape this presentation.
July 13 (Fri) Hotel Kaaterskill: an Illustrated Presentation by George Harding and Bob Gildersleeve – 7:00 pm in the Ulster & Delaware Train Station. George Harding, great-great grandson of the original owner of the Hotel Kaaterskill has generously donated approximately 50 photographs of the Hotel Kaaterskill, its grounds and out-buildings. The photos were apparently taken in preparation for the sale of the property. George and Bob have been making a careful study of the photos which include interior views of the billiard room, bowling alley, kitchen, theater, a guest room and other surprises. Included is the only photo we’ve ever seen of the wood frame hotel laundry.
July 14 (Sat) Hike to Hotel Kaaterskill Site – 9:00 am – mid afternoon. In connection with the presentation on July 13, join George Harding, Art Fries and Paul LaPierre on a two-part hike and exploration of the grounds of the Hotel Kaaterskill and its Laundry. There are still some open questions that we will try to resolve. Exactly where did the laundry building stand? How many people did it employ? What was the function of the extant stone building sometimes referred to as the Wash House? The morning session will concentrate on the Laundry area. Immediately following the morning session we will climb the carriage road to the Hotel site where we will stop to eat (bring your lunch) and explore the grounds looking to identify the sites seen in the newly acquired photographs. The hike should be considered Easy (morning) to Moderate (afternoon or full hike). Meet 9:00 am at the Mountain Top Historical Society 5132 Route 23A Haines Falls, Kaaterskill Rail Trail parking lot.
As the MTHS Spring issue of The Hemlock left the Mountain Top and headed directly to the printer, I was reminded of a lesson I should have learned years ago. That first rule of journalism is to check and re-check one's facts.
So when The Hemlock reaches your mailbox and you see that the name of Justine's mother is incorrect, please know that we are aware of the error. Justine's mother was Catherine, not Mildred. So apologies from this fact-checker and a promise to be more diligent in the future. Thanks for your understanding. Cyndi
Society receives collection of glass plate negatives.
Gift of Shirley and Gerald Dunn See details here.
DEC Opens Pine Orchard View.
Thanks to DEC for opening the view from the Catskill Mountain House site. (Click the italicized link above for photos.)
If you haven't see the view since it's been cleared get prepped for a winter hike and take a walk to the Mountain House site, or Join Moe Lemier and MTHS on February 10. (See our winter hike schedule.)
Rip will return in the Spring.
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.