MTHS Blog

Mountain Top Historical Society
2018 Hike & Event Preliminary Schedule

Check back here at our website for any last minute changes in our schedule as the hikes & events that interest you approach.

April 14 (Sat) Colgate Lake and Colgate Family Homestead. Join Moe Lemire, New York State licensed guide, for a hike to explore the old Colgate Family Homestead. Walk around Colgate Lake during this easy 3 mile round trip excursion. Meet at the MTHS parking area at 9:00 a.m. and return around 1:00 p.m. This is a fundraiser event for MTHS - $10 suggested donation.

April 22 (Sunday) Celebrate Earth Day with the MTHS. Explore Sloan Gorge and Snake Rocks, two Woodstock Land Conservancy Preserves. Hike with Catskill Geology Prof. Robert Titus in the picturesque hidden Sloan Gorge canyon (1.5 miles). Explore an interpreted trail of distinctive Catskill geological features. If there is enough time and interest, an optional hike to Snake Rocks Preserve (1.5 miles) will be coordinated by MTHS VP Adrienne Larys. Snake Rocks is an enchanting mountain top bluestone quarry with panoramic views of the Catskills. Meet at the MTHS Visitors’ Center at 8:30 a.m. for carpooling, or meet at the Sloan Gorge parking area at 9:30 a.m. (2195 Stoll Road). Parking is very limited at both Preserves and carpooling is encouraged. No dogs please at the WLC request for these hikes. Rating: Moderate — rough ground with a few steep sections and rock scrambles.

May 5 (Sat) Campus Clean-up Day 9:00 a.m. - the Mountain Top Historical Society will emerge from its annual winter hibernation into the sunlight of another exciting season of hikes, programs, and special events. A thorough cleaning needs to be done in the Visitors' Center, in the Train Station, and around the grounds. The more volunteers we have there, the quicker the chores will be completed. Looking forward to seeing you then and throughout the summer.

May 12 (Sat) Rochester Hollow Walk 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Led by New York State licensed guide Moe Lemire, Explore the old Homestead, 5.60 miles, difficulty: moderate, meet at the parking area on Matyas Road in Shandaken, this is a fundraiser event for MTHS - $10 suggested donation

May 19th (Sat) Annual Spring Fling - 'Robert Selkowitz - Presentation will be in the Ulster & Delaware Railroad Station on the MTHS campus on NYS rt. 23A in Haines Falls, NY at 7:00 p.m. Car Clubs will be contacted and invited to a Cruise-In beginning at 6:00 p.m. The presentation will include the history of the 1903 run and the birth of macadam stone road building in New York State, as well as mention of the 1908 motorcycle endurance run which came up the Mountain Top. Robert Selkowitz is an artist, his book A Painter's Path through the Catskill Mountains features a series of maps showing where the 50 pastel landscapes in the book were painted. He has been active in the Catskill Region for more than 40 years. Come on over for the first presentation of the 2018 season, our Annual Spring Fling! We are requesting a $5.00 per person donation for the talk. The money we collect goes to Building and Grounds maintenance.

May 26 (Sat) - Tory Fort. Led by Rick Brooks. In 1975, as a Bicentennial Project, MTHS worked with Ed West, Buck Farrell, and our hike leader, Rick Brooks, who led an Edward G. West Associates mapping and survey crew. We visited and West Associates then mapped the location of Tory Fort. The fort was more accurately a small holding area where Native Americans associated with Joseph Brant (seen here in a painting by Gilbert Steward in the collection of the Fenimore Art Museum) held captured Hudson Valley settlers before a long trip to the British headquarters at Fort Niagara where the settlers were turned over for profit.  Meet at the Mountain Top Historical Society Visitors' Center at 9:00 am. The hike should be considered moderate to difficult with some bushwhacking. We expect to return by 3:00 pm
In a recent email Rick gives this update on the route.Joseph Brant Leaving from Byrne Road hiking an existing woods/mill road to the intersection of Canda Creek and the Forest Preserve line then hiking the 1000-1500 feet to the Fort site.  [The] hike ... would allow us to travel through interesting abandoned agricultural fields, a few different forest types, explore the former Holtz Railroad and its associated mill, and experience the Canda Creek.  Our meeting place and time hasn't changed - 9:00 am at the Visitors Center Rt. 23A Haines Falls
Thanks to Rick and Patti Brooks and Bert Winne who led our  successful hike to Tory Fort. Rick led the 1976 crew who surveyed the location Bert drew the original survey map. Both returned to the spot 42 years later.

June 2 (Sat) Dedication – Justine Hommel Highway – 11:00 a.m. on the lawn of the Visitors' Center - Come join the MTHS in honoring Catskill Mountain icon Justine Hommel and celebrate the dedication of the entrance to Kaaterskill Clove, Route 23A as the Justine L. Hommel Memorial Highway. With the sponsorship and great efforts of Assemblyman Peter Lopez and Senator George Amedore, the New York State Assembly and Senate passed bills that officially memorialize Justine’s contributions to New York State and Greene County history. The "Justine L. Hommel Memorial Highway" will be a constant reminder of Ms. Hommel's remarkable contributions to the mountaintop region of Greene County and her life-long dedication to enhancing and preserving the natural splendor of the Catskill Mountains landscape.

June 9 (Sat) Historic Harding Road Walk 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Led by New York State licensed guide Moe Lemire, 7.60 miles round trip, difficulty: moderate, meet at the MTHS Kaaterskill Rail Trail parking lot, this is a fundraiser event for MTHS - $10 suggested donation

June 22 (Fri) Bill Horne Presentation - The Improbable Community – 7:00 p.m. in the Ulster & Delaware Train Station. In 1939, a group of idealists inspired by the spirit of New Deal reform put their vision of American democracy into practice by creating Camp Woodland, a racially and ethnically inclusive summer camp for city kids located in the Catskill Mountains of New York. The camp’s innovative programs profoundly influenced campers for 24 summers from 1939 through 1962. Bill was a camper at Camp Woodland from 1950 through 1960. The impact of his experience at Camp Woodland was one of his primary motivations for writing The Improbable Community.

July 7 (Sat) Annual Meeting. The MTHS will hold its Annual Meeting at 10:00 a.m. at the Train Station. All members of the MTHS are invited to attend.

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. Further details to be announced.

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.

July 28 (Sat) The Justine L. Hommel 3rd Annual Memorial Lecture: Talk by Vernon Benjamin  7:00 p.m. at Twilight Park Clubhouse. Vernon is the author of "The History of the Hudson River Valley: From Wilderness to the Civil War" and "The History of the Hudson River Valley: From the Civil War to Modern Times".

Aug. 4 (Sat) Wittenberg Mountain Hike – Led by New York State licensed guide Moe Lemire. See a part of the Catskill very view get to see and search for the historic "Boy Scout Cave." This 10.3 Mile  Round Trip hike will meet at Woodland Valley Parking at  9am. Bring a bagged lunch, water and wear appropriate hiking shoes for this difficult hike returning by 5pm. there will be a $10 fee to benefit the Mountain Top Historic Society.

August 11 (Sat) Thacher State Park NYS Museum geologist Chuck Ver Straeten and Thacher Park naturalist Nancy Engel will co-lead a 3 hour hike through John Boyd Thacher State Park in Voorheesville. Meet in the Paint Mine parking area, south side of Rt. 157 at 10:30 a.m. for an 11:00 a.m. start. If that lot is full, the Mine Lot parking area is across the street.; The hike will follow the Indian Ladder Trail and Mine Lot Creek through scenic glens, past impressive sinkholes, and other beautiful views and geological features.  Bring a lunch, water and wear good hiking shoes. NO dogs please. Register by calling MTHS at (518) 589-6657 (leave name/phone number/# in party) or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Aug. 25 (Sat) Rip’s Country Bazaar/Open House – The MTHS campus will be filled with tents full of vendors: craftspeople, antique dealers, local food products, flea market items and more. Music for toe-tapping and hand clapping will be provided by John Quinn and the 77th Regimental Balladeers. Food for fun and food for lunch will be available for purchase. The Visitors’ Center will be open for browsing maps, books, brochures, or checking out the Archives. The Ulster & Delaware Train Station will be open for a presentation by Jonathan Palmer from the Vedder Research Library of the Greene County Historical Society. There will be kites and bubbles for kids and wannabe kids. Wildflowers and grass for running around. Rip Van Winkle may even appear! It will be a beautiful day for chatting with friends and family, learning something new about local history, listening to music from the Civil War Era, finding treasures among the offerings of over 35 vendors. The excitement begins at 9:00 a.m. and continues all day! Come on over to the Mountain Top Historical Society’s campus on Route 23A in Haines Falls and join in the fun.

Sept. 15 (Sat) 7th Annual Postcard Show & Talk - 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. @ the U&D Train Station. Talk by John Duda at 2:00 p.m. Food will be available. The MTHS will also be selling ephemera from its attic in a special sale. A $3.00 entry fee will be charged at the door.

Oct. 6 (Sat) 5th Annual Hikefest - Plans for our contribution to the Lark in the Park will develop and be announced as the highly anticipated event comes in to clearer view. Register by calling MTHS at (518) 589-6657 (leave name/phone number/# in party) or by email [mailto:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]

Oct. 6 – Owl Prowl Hike - Led by New York State licensed guide Moe Lemire. Great for Ages 10 and up. Experience the beauty of the forest at night. Hear the evening Woodland creatures. This 3.6 mile round trip hike along the Kaaterskill Rail Trail begins at 6:00 pm and concludes at 9:00 pm and is considered easy. Meet at Society's 1913 U&D Train Station on the MTHS campus route 23A, Haines Falls. A $10/ $5 (kids under 16)  fee to benefit Mountain Top Historic Society.

MTHS does not require membership for hike participation however, we encourage you to join as a member or make a donation to the MTHS to support our work. We do request that you register for each hike. Participants can register on our contacts page or by calling (518) 589-6657. Please leave your name, phone number, and # in your party. Schedule subject to change. The latest information is available on our web site  http://www.mths.org. Notification of changes, including cancellations due to weather will be made on the web site up to the day of any given hike.'

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:

Brookside B&B, Bistro Brie & Bordeaux, Central Hudson Gas & Electric, Chateau Belleview, Claude W Lutz/Fromer Agency, Craig Bates Trucking & Excavating, Inc., Deer Mountain Inn, Elena Suditu Dentist, P.C, Ethel & Orville Slutzky Foundation, GNH Lumber, Inc., Gordon Hunter Mountain Realty, Haines Family Association, Haines Farm, Hotel Vienna, Hunter Chamber of Commerce, Hunter Mountain Ski Bowl, Inc., Kaaterskill Liquors, Karen’s County Kitchen, Kerns Nursery, Last Chance Antiques & Cheese Cafe, Messina's LaGriglia Ristorante, Mountain Propane, Inc., Pancho Villas Mexican Restaurant, Paraco Gas Corp/Kosco Oil, Rosehaven Inn, Scribner's Catskill Lodge, Snow Bird Ski Shop, Snowed Inn, Tannersville Antique & Artisan Center, TREC Management Company, Traphagen's Honey, The Thompson House,  The Woodstock Inn on the Millstream, Williams Lumber and Home Centers, Willow Mixed Media

 




 


As we plan programs and hikes for the 2016 season, we are looking at a need for volunteers to help us keep our Haines Falls campus looking as pristine as it has looked for the past 20 year.
The Mountain Top Historical Society is looking for someone to serve as a co-chair of the building and grounds committee. This is a volunteer, working foreman position. One does not need to be an MTHS board member to fill this position. Board member, Nancy Allen, has already volunteered to be co-chair of this committee. She is interested in the groundskeeping tasks and is hoping to find someone to work with her as a regular inspector of our buildings and facilities with an eye toward maintaining the buildings and staying ahead of any problems.

Dick Haines, who has filled this position for many years, since we first acquired our Haines Falls home, has decided to hang up his lopping shears and turn over the keys to the John Deere. Dick has done an awesome job over the years, keeping the campus looking great and maintaining the buildings on a shoestring budget. He has offered to mentor the new chairpersons and help out as he is needed.
With Dick's help we have created a job description. There is a lot involved in keeping up the property, but we have been building a core group of volunteers who are available to help regularly. It is the job of the co-chairs to coordinate the volunteers and keep the board apprised of buildings and grounds needs.

In addition to looking for a co-chair to work with Nancy Allen, we are always looking for volunteers to help with the tasks of mowing, trimming, clearing sticks and branches.
If you can give a few hours a week or a few hours a month, we welcome the help.

To volunteer or if you'd like more information, please e-mail the director at from our contact page.

Thank you!

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.

 

See all our events:  2018 Hikes and Events

Our next event: Hotel Kaaterskill Talk and Walk July 13 and 14.

-- Chicken Dinner on July 13 at 6:00 U&D Station--Reserve by 4:00 pm Friday July 6.
-- Slide presentation at Jul 13 at 7:00
-- Hike to Hotel and Laundry sites meet July 14 at 9:00 am

We now have the purposes of many Office Floor rooms. See our blog and Facebook page for further information .

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. A $5.00 donation is requested for those not attending the Chicken cutlet dinner.

A special addition to the Hotel Kaaterskill presentation scheduled at the MTHS U&D train station on Friday, July 13, 2018: at 6:00 p.m. we will be serving a chicken cutlet dinner, by reservation. Karen’s Country Kitchen will cater a dinner of homemade chicken cutlet, baked potato, and coleslaw. (Remember the chicken dinner that sparked the kerfuffle between George Harding and Charles Beach???) The $20.00 price will include beverages, rolls, and ice cream for dessert. It also includes a donation for the lecture. Please make your reservation by calling Alisa at 518 589-6657. Leave a message including your name, phone number, and the number of people in your party. You can leave the same information by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We need reservations by 4:00 p.m. on Friday, July 6, 2018.

If you choose not to come for dinner, the lecture will begin at 7:00 p.m. We are requesting a $5 donation.

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.

 

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.
Next opening Saturday July 21.
DETAILS

Justine L. Hommel Memorial Highway designation.

Correction:

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.

 

 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.