The Mountain Top is a mountainous area  in the High Peaks region of the legendary Catskill Mountains. Four of the five highest peaks in the Catskills are located here.  In the Town of Hunter, Hunter Mountain at 4,040 ft. is the second highest peak in the Catskills and the western most extension of the challenging ridge known as  “Devils Path.”

A little further north, Blackhead, Black Dome and Thomas Cole are the third, fourth and fifth highest peaks in the northernmost Blackhead Range which transverse the Towns of Jewett and Windham.  On the east, the mountains are bounded by an escarpment trail, easily traveled by foot, with views that reach 100 miles up and down the Hudson River Valley.

Early in the nineteenth century, American literature and art were captivated by the Catskill’s mysterious lure and dramatic scenery. American literature starting with James Fenimore Cooper celebrated the natural wilderness found here. The legendary fellow, Rip Van Winkle, popularized by Washington Irving, took his 20-year nap in the Catskills. America’s first school of art, the Hudson River School, was inspired by the waterfalls and spectacular views seen from the high peaks of these northern climbs. In the mid-nineteenth century,  presidents and the country’s elite came to the Mountain Top wonder at the views below.

 

 

The Catskill Mountain House (right), opened in 1824, prospered through the nineteenth century.  Steamships, stagecoaches and later railroads brought hoards of restless city inhabitants escaping the oppressive city heat for the coolness and tranquility of the mountains.  The advent of World War I and the automobilecurtailed the summer tourist trade. Tourism was revived by the ski industry in the late twentieth century when the beauty and adventure of the Catskill High Peaks in winter was discovered and promoted.

 

 

The Mountain Top Historical Society is located on Route 23A, also known as the Rip Van Winkle Trail. This is the site of the old Loxhurst Hotel (left) built in the late 19th century.  The property underwent several transformations and was used as a dude ranch in the later half of the 20th century when the Red Barn to the rear of the property was built. The main hotel building housed La Cascade restaurant (aptly named for the nearby Falls).  A fire destroyed the building and in  the mid-nineties the property was gifted to the Mountain Top Historical Society.  A building that once served as the laundry was moved to the front of the campus and fully renovated in 2005 for use as a Visitor Center.  The  Visitor and Art Trail Center’s porch and decorative features are reminiscent of the late 19th century Victorian style when traveling to the Mountain Top was both popular and fashionable.

 

The Mountain Top Historical Society is dedicated to discovering , preserving, interpreting and sharing the unique and rich history of the Mountain Top region in Greene County, NY. The Society is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1974 and engages in activities and programs that enrich understanding and foster appreciation of the Catskill High peaks.  We encourage the study and preservation of the Mountain Top’s art, literature, history, culture, folklore, legends in a variety of ways.

  • Annual  Open House – Free event featuring entertainment, lectures and exhibits held  on the fourth Saturday in August on the MTHS campus.
  • Educational Programs – We maintain an on-going collaboration with our local schools to help students understand the history of the area.
  • The Hemlock – Our quarterly publication includes historical sketches, updates on our activities and other areas of interest to our members.
  • The Popular Hiking Series –  May-October  MTHS’ seasoned hike leaders explore the region, enriching  the hiking experience with local folklore and history.
  • Scholarly Resource – Materials and information have been supplied to writers and researchers from  the National Geographic, The New York Times, the Smithsonian and other publications.
  • Summer Lectures – Monthly programs feature experts on interesting topics such as the grand hotels, railroads, native Americans and indigenous plant and animal life.
  • Workshops – Conducted by scholars and professionals in genealogy, the humanities and other areas of interest.

MTHS Officers and Directors

 

Vice President and Acting Chairperson: Adrienne Larys

Corporate Secretary: Dede Thorp

Treasurer: Peter Swords

Membership Secretary: Joanne Ainsworth

Directors:

Terms expiring in 2020: Joanne Ainsworth, Richard Haines, Cyndi LaPierre, Moe Lemire, Johanna Titus, Elaine Warfield

Terms expiring in 2021: Lynn Carlson, John Curran, Debbie Fromer, Mara Lehmann, Peter Swords, Dede Thorpe, Art Fries

Terms expiring in 2022: Brett Byrne, Steph Monteleone, Bob Gildersleeve, Adrienne Larys, Gary Slutzky, George VanDyke

 

Hours:

The Visitor and Art Trail Center is open weekends May-Columbus Day 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. and Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons 1-4 p.m. April-November. We are closed December-March.  Please call 518-589-6657 to be sure someone is there when you arrive. The Railroad Station is open by request and we are happy to accommodate group visits if you call ahead. If we are closed, please take a brochure from the Information Booth and enjoy your self-guided tour around the campus.

Location:

The Mountain Top Historical Society is located in Haines Falls on Route 23A in Greene County, NY along one of New York State’s most beautiful scenic byways. The 20-acre campus sits at the top of Kaaterskill Clove, the site of New York State’s second-highest waterfall. The beauty of the clove and waterfall drew artists and writers of the 19th century, launched the Hudson River School of art and today, continues to draw thousands of visitors every year.

Directions:

From the North — Exit 21, I-87, NYS Thruway. Make left onto Rt. 23B, continue toward Catskill and take ramp on right to Route 9W south, at the fourth traffic light go straight onto Route 23A toward Palenville. After the light in Palenville,  travel 4.5 miles to reach MTHS Campus and Art Trail Interpretive Center on the right.
From the South— Exit 20, I-87, NYS Thruway. Left at exit , then right onto NY32. Bear left at NY 32A (blinking light) then left onto NY 23A at the light in Palenville. Travel 4.5 miles to the MTHS Campus and Art Trail Center on the right.

 

Visitor and Art Trail Center 

 Visitors' CenterSituated directly on Route 23A, this building serves as MTHS’ headquarters, provides visitor information and houses the Hudson River School Art Trail Interpretive Panels. The panels help visitors understand how nature and many painting sites still accessible today inspired the 19th century Hudson River School artists.

 

 

 

Ulster and Delaware Train Station:

Built in 1913 at the end of the era when 20 million vacationers visited the Mountain Top. Out of 25 rail stations once found in the county, this is the only restored station. The building cannot be seen from Route 23A. Follow the asphalt road from the Visitor Center parking lot, past the outbuilding and make a right at the intersection of the three roads.

 

Red Barn:

Once used as horse barn, now used seasonally for art shows and exhibits. Located at the rear of the property on the northwest side of the campus, behind a grove of trees. Follow the asphalt road from the Visitor Center parking lot, past the outbuilding and go straight at the intersection of the three roads.

 

 

 

The Pond:

A calm and tranquil place to walk, located near the Red Barn on the northwest edge of the campus. Follow the asphalt road from the Visitor Center parking lot, past the outbuilding and go left at the intersection of the three roads.