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.

We maintain a Visitor and Art Trail Center and the historic Ulster and Delaware train depot (shown above) on our campus in Haines Falls.

Visit us at 5132 Route 23A in Haines Falls, NY at the gateway to the Mountain Top.

 The Town of Hunter, home to MTHS, has been designated a Preserve America Community.

 Featured Link: A favorite part of our collection to many local residents is the collection donated by Wilma Kohler. It includes one of our favorite photographs of photographer John Rusk and a signature quilt from 1846.

 

To become a member or donate to sustain the work of the MTHS click here.

 


 


Upcoming Events:  

 

 

 

 

 

See a full list of our 2021 events and programs with details here

 


Read the current issue of our quarterly publication The Hemlock.


 MTHS News and links:

  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.

Included are posts on:

one of several letters from Civil War soldier William Young. Donated by Odile Dwyer.

A collection of glass plate negatives. The gift of Shirley and Gerald Dunn See details here.

 



Mountain Top Historical Society

5132 Rt.23A Haines Falls, NY 

518-589-6657

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Mountain Top Historical Society 2021 Hikes / Walks / Events

 

 

Hikes/Walks are limited to 12 guests--Please follow instructions below to pre-register for all events.

Before setting out on your adventure, assess your fitness and skill level. Don't overestimate your abilities; match the trail with your abilities and the experience you are looking for to ensure you have a safe, enjoyable visit.  For information about parking as well as hiking and outdoor advice from the DEC click here.  

May 16 (Sun.) 1:00 p.m.  Hike – Mountain Top Arboretum. See Spring Unfolding in the Mountains. Explore the hiking trails at the Mountain Top Arboretum and the Deer Mountain Inn with Nancy Allen. Listen for the sound of peepers and observe the blossoming of spring ephemerals. Round trip about 4 miles. Easy trails with some steeper inclines. Meet Nancy at the Arboretum parking area at 1 p.m. come prepared for muddy conditions (boots that keep the feet dry) and with bug spray. Bring water and snacks. Well-behaved dogs on leash welcome. The exact route will be determined by the conditions on the day of the hike. Hard rain cancels.


June 5 (Sat.) 10 a.m. Hike – National Trails Day on the Kaaterskill Rail Trail led by Michelle Yost and Pete Sentermen. Pete will discuss the history of the railroads at the Mountain Top, and Michelle will transition into the modern day trail and its future. The KRT was first a footpath connecting the Catskill Mountain House and other hotels to Haines Falls. By the 1880’s the old footpath had made way for a rail corridor which, at its peak, saw two competing passenger rail lines following parallel tracks toward the Catskill escarpment. Thousands of vacationers arrived each summer via the newly- constructed rail lines to see the picturesque scenery and stay at the many boarding houses, hotels, and resorts such as the Laurel House. Hike will extend to the viewing platform over Kaaterskill Falls. Easy, 3 ½ miles, wear sturdy shoes and bring water. Meet at U&D Train Station at 10 am.

July 10 (Sat.) 10 a.m. Annual Meeting. Please join us for the Annual Meeting of the MTHS at which directors will be elected and updates on the work of the Society will be presented. Location to be determined, possibly at the U & D Train Station, or in the Visitors' Center Conference Room with access via Zoom. 

July 17 (Sat.) 10:00 a.m. – 3 p.m.  *FULL* Hike- “In the Footsteps of Sanford Robinson Gifford”.   Join geologist Robert Titus for a journey back into the Ice Age, whose landscapes were the subjects of the artists of the Hudson River School. This hike will locate spots along the Blue Trail where Sanford Robinson Gifford sketched, and we’ll examine evidence of glacial activity at each location. Moderate, four miles. Bring water and lunch. Return by 3 p.m. Meet at Laurel House Road parking lot. Registration instructions below. Dogs welcome if owners comply with Park rules.
Please note that our July 17th hike with Robert Titus "In the Footsteps of Sanford Robinson Gifford" is full. The good news is that Robert will be leading the hike again in October during our annual Hike Fest.

August 4 (Wednesday) 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. U&D Train Station on MTHS Campus, Route 23A Haines Falls, NY “Wednesday Workshop: Local Railroad History”. An informal workshop with Bob Gildersleeve. To register email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or cal(518) 589-6657. Postponed -- Date to be announced.

Because of the new Covid restrictions we will require masks for all participants whether vaccinated or not. We plan to have windows in the station opened and therefore recommend that everyone bring a fleece in case the evening is cool. WE WILL HAVE TO LIMIT ATTENDANCE SO YOU MUST REGISTER.

  • We’ll tour the 1913 U&D train station that is now owned by the Mountain Top Historical Society, see what was done to return it from its modified and deteriorating condition as a private home back to its original state as the premier station on the Kaaterskill Branch of the U&D.
  •  We’ll discuss the history of the two Ulster and Delaware stations in Haines Fall as well as the competing Catskill and Tannersville station.
  •  We’ll also check out timetables and get a glimpse of the boxes of countless business records from the station that have recently been donated to the society and other memorabilia.
  • We’ll discuss the option of becoming a docent at the station.

 If you are interested in the stations at what the railroad companies like to call Haines Corners, if you're interested in the rail lines in general we hope you will join us.

August 21 (Sat.) 6pm Sojourner Truth's "Ain't I a Woman" Speech Performed by Rev. Deb Zuill with introduction by Dr. Kimberly Johnson. This event will be held outdoors under a tent at the historic U&D Railroad Station. Refreshments will be served. $5 suggested donation. This program is supported by a grant from The Bank of Greene County.

Sept. 18   (Sat.) 10:00 a.m. – 12 noon. Talk and Walk – The Mountain Top Arboretum and the Mountain Top Historical Society present a two-day event with Dr. Michael Kudish, expert in forest history. Dr. Kudish will discuss “Burn Index: A New Way of Looking at the Catskill Land Use History”. The program will begin with a lecture at the Arboretum’s Education Center, followed by a walk into Spruce Glen as an example of non-burn forest composition. One mile, easy. See below for continuation of program. Suggested Donation Free for MTA and MTHS members, $ 10 for non-members.


Sept. 19 (Sun.) 9:00 a.m.  Hike – Dr. Michael Kudish will lead a hike on the escarpment trail at North/South Lake to a Pitch Pine stand as an example of burned forest composition. Meet at Mountain Top Historical Society’s parking area. ~ 1 mile, moderate – some elevation change. Bring water and snack. No Dogs.


Sept. 25 (Sat.) 10:00 a.m. Hike - Ceremonial Stone Landscapes (CSL).

Join NYS DEC outdoor guide Glenn Kreisberg from Overlook Mountain Center in Woodstock, NY, for a hike to visit a Manitou Hassennech (spirit stones) site in Spruceton Valley. These landscapes consist of dry stacked stone cairns, stone rows, effigies and alignments, all possible expressions of an ancient Native American belief system linking the world above with the world below. Moderate, two miles. Bring lunch or a snack and water. **Meet at trailhead at 10am,  located at the very end of Spruceton Rd. In Google Maps, you can enter "Westkill Trailhead Parking." The approximate address is 2679 Spruceton Rd, West Kill, NY 12492. Spruceton Rd. is also Rt. 6 in West Kill, which you turn onto from Rt. 42. Go to the end of the road and you will see a trailhead.

Sept. 25 (Sat.) 10:00 a.m. - 3 p.m. 9th Annual Postcard Show & Talk – at the U&D Train Station. MTHS campus. Food will be available. The MTHS will also be selling ephemera from its attic in a special sale. A $3 entry fee will be charged at the door. 

 

Oct. 2 (Saturday 1pm) Camp Jened Marker Unveiling A marker to commemorate Camp Jened, a summer camp

for people with disabilities in Hunter that operated until 1977, will be unveiled. A key group of people from the camp went on to become pivotal activists in the national disability rights movement as documented in the 2020 Academy Awards nominated documentary "Crip Camp." Their efforts, along with many other activists, eventually led to the passage of the ADA, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. 300 Ski Bowl Road in Hunter. 

HIKEFEST 2021

The Mountain Top Historical society presents Hikefest 2021 from Friday Oct. 8 to Saturday Oct. 9. Hikefest begins Friday night with a Zoom presentation on the history of the Hotel Kaaterskill by Robert Gildersleeve. Saturday there are two hike options: one to the grounds of the former Hotel Kaaterskill and the other to sites along the Kaaterskill escarpment trail that inspired the art of Sanford Robinson Gifford, a member of the Hudson River School of Painting. See below for more details. Register by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.or calling 518-589-6657. 

Oct. 8 (Friday) Hotel Kaaterskill Grounds History Zoom Presentation, 6:20 – 7:15pm. To prepare for our exploration of the Hotel Kaaterskill Grounds on the hike scheduled for October 9, Robert Gildersleeve will host a Zoom meeting to discuss the history of the Hotel. To receive the link to participate in the meeting, you must register by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   We recommend that you log in to the meeting at 6:20 so that we can admit you and be ready to start at 6:30.

Oct. 9 (Sat)

Hike One: Hotel Kaaterskill Grounds, 9am-3pm. Led by Paul LaPierre, Pete Senterman, and Bob Gildersleeve – The Hotel Kaaterskill, said at the time to be the largest mountain hotel in the world, was started as a result of the legendary “Chicken War” between Philadelphia lawyer George Harding and Charles L. Beach, the owner of the Catskill Mountain House. Since then it has sparked our interest and the interest of our members and friends. About two years ago, Scott Koster discovered a survey document from 1883 in the collection of the Free Library of Philadelphia. The survey has provided so much additional information that we decided to revisit the site. Meet at the Historical Society’s U&D train station on the MTHS campus in Haines Falls at 9:00 a.m. We will then carpool to North-South Lake State Park (entrance fee per car or free with Empire Pass) to begin our walk to the Hotel Kaaterskill site. This is a moderate hike of about 4 miles round trip with an elevation gain of about 400 feet. Planned return at 3:00 pm. Bring a lunch and water. Sturdy shoes and long pants are recommended. More details see this description. 

Hike Two: "In the Footsteps of Sanford Robinson Gifford" 9 am – 2 p.m. Join geologist Robert Titus for a journey back into the Ice Age, whose landscapes were the subjects of the artists of the Hudson River School. This hike will locate spots along the Blue Trail where Sanford Robinson Gifford sketched and we'll examine evidence of glacial activity at each location. Moderate, four miles. Bring water and lunch. Return by 3 p.m. Meet at Laurel House Road parking lot at 9am. Dogs welcome if owners comply with Park rules.

 
Oct. 10 (Sun) 2pm – The 2nd Annual Community Reading of Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle Join Community members of the Mountain Top for a live reading of Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle. Get to know the "true" story behind sleepy Rip, his dog Wolf and the mysterious ninepin bowling Dutchmen. READERS WANTED! Sign up to be a reader by e-mailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.or call 518-589-6657. Cider and cider donuts will be sold by donation to benefit the Mountain Top Historical 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 programs. We do request that you register for each hike or program as indicated. 

Instructions for registration

Participants can register on the contacts page of our website www.mths.org or by calling (518) 589-6657. Please leave your name, phone number, # in your party, and day of hike or program. 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.

2020 Hike & Event Schedule
We regret that this seasons events have had to be canceled.


April 26 Canceled  Tea and Talk, “Temperance and Prohibition in the Catskills” with Sylvia Hasenkopf, a Hudson Valley Historian and research specialist,  Diane Galusha, President of the Historical Society of the Town of Middletown, and Johanna Titus, Mountain Top Historical Society Board Member. This three-part presentation includes “Temperance at Twilight” – the story of two of the most prominent women in the Temperance Movement, “Leggs Diamond, Robin Hood of the Catskills” – follows Mr. Diamond in the Capital Region, and “Cat-Stills” - Prohibition vignettes and elder stories of the greater Catskills. Then enjoy Stefania Jozic’s wonderful tea buffet. Door Prizes. $ 25 per person. RSVP by Thurs. 4/23 by calling (518) 589-6657 leave a message with name, phone number & how many in your party, or leave same info by email at www.mths.org contacts page. This program will be held at the Washington Irving Inn, Route 23A, Tannersville. Seating limited.

May 2 Canceled (Sat.) 2:00 p.m. Talk – “Hotel Kaaterskill – A Vivid Look Back” – A joint presentation of the Greene County Historical Society and the Mountain Top Historical Society, by Jonathan Palmer, GCHS and Bob Gildersleeve, MTHS.

A newly discovered 1883 Floor Plan with infrastructure details in the collection of the Free Library of Philadelphia (see more details) and 1920’s interior and exterior photos donated to MTHS by George M. Harding will help us to get a better picture of the enormous wood frame hotel that dwarfed the older Catskill Mountain House just a mile away. The presentation will help prepare us for an optional hike to the Hotel Kaaterskill grounds where much of the foundation of the hotel, its annex, and out-buildings remain. The program will be held at Beattie-Powers Place, Prospect Avenue at the top of Bridge Street, Catskill, NY. To reserve seats RSVP to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

May 3 Canceled - Since this hike was meant to complement the May 2nd talk we will wait until the talk can be rescheduled.  Hike – Hotel Kaaterskill grounds.  We will walk along the historic roads developed in the 1880’s for the Hotel Kaaterskill to the grounds of the Hotel and trace out the location of the Hotel, its Annex, stables, and other buildings. Thanks to the stewardship of New York State much of the foundation of these structures remain to allow us to visualize this famous hotel. Meet at the Mountain Top Historical Society, Route 23A, Haines Falls. This is a moderate hike of about 4 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 400 ft. Planned return at 3:00 pm. Bring lunch and water. Sturdy shoes and long pants are recommended.

May 15 (Fri.) 7:00 p.m. Talk – N.Y. Celebrity, award winning Radio Broadcaster and Author, Chuck D’Imperio, will discuss his latest book Open House: 35 Historic Homes in Upstate NY. Chuck has written numerous books and articles about all things N.Y. Whether it’s the food or the homes, the people or their graves, Chuck never fails to inform, amuse and delight. Refreshments.
 $ 5 donation suggested.

May 16 (Sat.) 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. (also June 13, 27) First session postponed until June 13 Program – Catskill Nature and Landscape Photography. Join local photographers Francis Driscoll and Elaine Warfield for some landscape, nature, wildlife, and architecture photography in our beautiful Catskill Mountains. Relatively easy walking distances. Any skill level, phones and cameras welcome. 3 dates are planned but you decide how many sessions you’ll attend. We’re planning some beautiful, out of the way spots, plus creeks, waterfalls, vistas, and maybe even some wildlife. Meet each date at the MTHS Train Station.  If you choose to print any of your images, we’ll display them at a special showing during the MTHS Open House on August 22, 2020. Please use the registration instructions below, and indicate that you are interested in the Photography workshop and which date or dates. Bring lunch and drinks. Sunrise / Sunset option available depending on interest. For questions call Elaine: (518) 965-8601, or Francis: (518) 821-1339 $ 10 donation suggested.

May 17 (Sun.) 1:00 p.m.  Hike – Mountain Top Arboretum. See Spring Unfolding in the Mountains. Explore the hiking trails at the Mountain Top Arboretum and the Deer Mountain Inn with Nancy Allen. Listen for the sound of peepers and observe the blossoming of spring ephemerals. Round trip about 4 miles. Easy trails with some steeper inclines. Meet Nancy at the Arboretum parking area at 1 p.m. come prepared for muddy conditions (boots that keep the feet dry) and with bug spray. Bring water and snacks. Well-behaved dogs on leash welcome. The exact route will be determined by the conditions on the day of the hike. Hard rain cancels. Registration instructions below.

June 5 (Fri.) 7:00 p.m. Talk – “Forestry in the 21st Century” Ryan Trapani, director of Catskill Forest Assoc.  will discuss forest land-use  history in the Catskill Mountains as well as its present condition and how it’s being managed. He will also discuss how to improve “forest quality” and make things more “fruitful” for both humans and wildlife. Ryan is an author of many articles in local publications, and host of “From the Forest” radio show on WIOX 91.3 FM. He was formally associated with the NY DEC, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Frost Valley YMCA, Ryan is a Veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves. Program at MTHS Train Station. Refreshments. $ 5 donation suggested.

June 6 (Sat.) 10 a.m. Hike – National Trails Day on the Kaaterskill Rail Trail led by Michelle Yost and Pete Sentermen. Pete will discuss the history of the railroads at the Mountain Top, and Michelle will transition into the modern day trail and its future. The KRT was first a footpath connecting the Catskill Mountain House and other hotels to Haines Falls. By the 1880’s the old footpath had made way for a rail corridor which, at its peak, saw two competing passenger rail lines following parallel tracks toward the Catskill escarpment. Thousands of vacationers arrived each summer via the newly- constructed rail lines to see the picturesque scenery and stay at the many boarding houses, hotels, and resorts such as the Laurel House. Hike will extend to the viewing platform over Kaaterskill Falls. Easy, 3 ½ miles, wear sturdy shoes and bring water. Meet at U&D Train Station at 10 am. Registration instructions below.

June 13 (Sat.) 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. – Catskill Nature and Landscape Photography, session 2 (see May 16th above for description)

June 19 (Fri.) 7:00 p.m. Talk – “The Devil Received One Vote”. Join Jonathan Palmer, Archivist from the Vedder Research Library of the Greene County Historical Society, as he presents his talk on the history of local media in the Jacksonian Period. Focusing on the history of the two major newspapers printed at the county seat in Catskill, this talk offers a window into the hyper-politicized and partisan culture that defined all strata of the government during the second half of the Antebellum Period. The lecture will serve to help local history buffs and the general public alike contextualize our community and the role it played during this extremely important era in American History, Program at the U & D Train Station, MTHS Campus. Refreshments. $ 5 donation suggested.

June 27 (Sat.) 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. – Catskill Nature and Landscape Photography, session 3 (see May 16th above for description)

July 11 (Sat.) 10:00 a.m. MTHS will hold its Annual Meeting at the Train Station.  All are welcome.

July 18 (Sat.) 10:00 a.m. Hike- In the Footsteps of Sanford Robinson Gifford. Join geologist Robert Titus for a journey back into the Ice Age, whose landscapes were the subjects of the artists of the Hudson River School. This hike will locate spots along the Blue Trail where Sanford Robinson Gifford sketched and we’ll examine evidence of glacial activity at each location. Moderate, four miles. Bring water and lunch. Return by 3 p.m. Meet at Laurel House Road parking lot. Registration instructions below. Dogs welcome if owners comply with Park rules.

July 25 (Sat.) 7:00 p.m. Talk / Performance - The Justine Hommel Memorial Lecture,  with Joseph Capobianco as Charles L. Beach, Proprietor of the Catskill Mountain House Hotel with Mrs. Diane Capobianco as Mrs. Mary Beach. A lifelong resident of Catskill and a lover of local history will transport you, excite, and inspire you to go back and imagine the glory days of the Catskill Mountain House. Program presented at the Twilight Park Clubhouse, Haines Falls. Refreshments. $ 5 donation suggested.

August 2 (Sun.) 2:00 p.m. Talk – Gary Lelonek, M.D. will discuss his book, The Jewish History of Tannersville, New York, A Village in the Catskills. Dr. Lelonek grew up in Fair Lawn, N.J., spending his summers in Tannersville even until 2018, lately accompanied by his wife and three children. He is a practicing psychiatrist with affiliations in the Bronx and on Long island. Kosher refreshments follow. $ 5 donation suggested.

August 22 (Sat.) 10:00 a.m. Annual Open House – The MTHS campus will be busy with things to do for all ages. The Visitors’ Center will be open for browsing maps, books, brochures, or checking out the Archives. Learn something new about local history. Come on over to the Mountain Top Historical Society’s campus on Route 23A in Haines Falls and join in the fun.  Check our website as more details become available.

August 29th (Sat.) 10:00 a.m. Hike - Ceremonial Stone Landscapes (CSL). Join NYS DEC outdoor guide Glenn Kreisberg from Overlook Mountain Center in Woodstock, NY, for a hike to visit a Manitou Hassennech (spirit stones) site in Spruceton Valley. These landscapes consist of dry stacked stone cairns, stone rows, effigies and alignments, all possible expressions of an ancient, sophisticated Native American belief system linking the world above with the world below. Moderate, two miles, wear proper footwear and clothing for a late summer hike and appropriate for the weather. Consider sunscreen and bug repellant. Bring lunch or a snack and water. Meet at MTHS Visitor Center. Car Pool to trail head.  Call (845) 417- 8384 for more info.

Sept. 19 (Sat.) 10:00 a.m. – 12 noon. Talk and Walk – The Mountain Top Arboretum and the Mountain Top Historical Society present a two-day event with Dr. Michael Kudish, expert in forest history. Dr. Kudish will discuss “Burn Index: A New Way of Looking at the Catskill Land Use History”. The program will begin with a lecture at the Arboretum’s Education Center, followed by a walk into Spruce Glen as an example of non-burn forest composition. One mile, easy. See below for continuation of program. Suggested Donation $5 for MTA and MTHS members, $ 15 for non-members.

Sept. 20 (Sun.) 9:00 a.m.  Hike – Dr. Michael Kudish will lead a hike on the escarpment trail at North/South Lake to a Pitch Pine stand as an example of burned forest composition. Meet at Mountain Top Historical Society’s parking area. ~ 1 mile, moderate – some elevation change. Bring water and snack. No Dogs.

Sept. 26 (Sat.) 10:00 a.m. - 3 p.m.  9th Annual Postcard Show & Talk – at the U&D Train Station. MTHS campus.  Food will be available.  The MTHS will also be selling ephemera from its attic in a special sale.  A $3 entry fee will be charged at the door.

Oct. 10 (Sat.) 9 a.m. – 7th Annual Hikefest – Join us for a fun day, as part of the larger Catskills “Lark in the Park”. Hikes/Walks in the morning to several destinations followed by lunch and entertainment. Stay tuned to our website and Facebook page for more information. $ 8 per person for lunch.

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 programs. We do request that you register for each hike or program as indicated.

Instructions for registration - Participants can register on the contacts page  of our website www.mths.org or by calling (518) 589-6657. Please leave your name, phone number, # in your party, and day of hike or program. 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.

Questions about MTHS's Support of the Mountain House Guest Register

  • Why is this 1840s ledger worth the potential cost of $7,500 or perhaps more?

    The Catskill Mountain House was the most significant hotel in Greene County, and one of the most significant in all of America. Its guests included many of the most notable people of its day. It was the home base for many artists of the Hudson River School, and served poets and other literary figures of the 19<sup>th</sup> century, political and business leaders and notable guests from around the world.

  • Why the Vedder -- Why not MTHS or some other Greene county organization?

    The Vedder now has four original Desk Registers from the Mountain House. They have been available for research for many years. To bring this newly available one to the Vedder will complement both the existing collection and the new acquisition.

  • Why should MTHS and other local organizations step back and aid rather than compete for the prize of this “beyond rare” ledger?

    The potential cost of the ledger is beyond the budget of most local organizations and many private collectors. In some cases, to recoup the expense of such a purchase, a volume of this type is sometimes dismantled and sold piecemeal in order to make a profit.

  • Do we stand a chance?

    We hope so in any case, we don’t think we should pass this by. If people who might consider bidding on this for a private collection see the value of it becoming part of an existing collection at an organization that will value and protect it while making it available to an interested public they might join in our effort to bring it home.Other organizations in the area may also see this as an important opportunity to bring it home and enhance their mission while joining in this local and regional goal.

  • We must act quickly!

    Bids must be completed by September 24. Please don’t delay your pledge to donate. It will only be activated if the GCHS/Vedder bid is the winning one. Nevertheless, your bid is a commitment. Pledge only if you are willing and able to provide the funds you commit to within 24 hours of notice that ours is the winning bid. Of course, you will be responsible only if ours is the winning bid.

 

The Society’s Puppet theater has hosted the story of Rip Van Winkle since it was built for us by the Platte Clove Community in 2007. Modeled after the Punch and Judy style theater used at Rip’s Retreat in the 1950’s it has been standing outside our train station summer and winter for twelve years and was showing serious signs of wear and decay. By this summer it had become unusable.

That has changed. Board member Dick Haines, took the initiative to oversee it’s restoration. Board Member George Haines replaced all of the decaying wood with weather resistant materials and Dick called on the Platte Clove Community to repaint it.

According to Dick:

Our puppet theater hasn't looked this good since the day it was put there. Our thanks to Reseph, his daughter and his sister, Leon and two of his children. They did a great job. My thanks to Joann who stopped by to give them a well deserved pat on the back.

Now, thanks to all involved we can expect to see and hear the Rip Van Winkle story each summer for many more summers at our summer events.

 Do you think that’s thunder?

HELP BRING A PIECE OF MOUNTAIN TOP & GREENE COUNTY HISTORY HOME
AN EARLY CATSKILL MOUNTAIN HOUSE GUEST REGISTER IS GOING UP
FOR AUCTION IN JUST 10 DAYS!


It has come to the attention of the Mountain Top Historical Society that an early Guest Register of the Catskill Mountain House is going up for auction at Swann Galleries in New York City on September 24. This register, which is of considerable historical interest on its  own, is actually a preceding register to the four 19th-century Catskill Mountain House Guest Registers already safely preserved at the Vedder Research Library of the Greene County Historical Society.

To bring the guest register from the early 1840s back home, the Greene County Historical Society is leading an effort to secure a pool of funds to make it possible to submit a winning bid. If enough pledges are collected, on the 24th the Greene County Historical Society will enter a maximum bid that exceeds the projected winning bid range of $5,000 — $7,500.

The Board of the MTHS would very much like this ledger to come home to Greene County and be available to the public at the Vedder Research Library. This cannot be done without your help. We are asking our members and friends to make pledges to the GCHS in support of their winning bid. By helping the GCHS make a winning bid, we can help restore the integrity of a collection which was scattered and separated generations ago by private collectors.

You can play a big role in assuring this volume is not lost to private hands again. We are asking you to make a pledge to the Greene County Historical Society to assure they may enter a maximum bid. If this effort is successful, an invaluable piece of the documentary heritage of the Northern Catskills will come home for researchers and the public to enjoy and study.

If you share our enthusiasm to secure this important document and would like to make a pledge towards a maximum bid, please contact Jonathan Palmer, Archivist at the Historical Society’s Vedder Research Library, by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling 518-731-1033.

You will need to provide your name, email, phone number, and the amount you wish to pledge. Please mention that your pledge is in recognition of the MTHS’s effort to assist the GCHS in winning the Catskill Mountain House Guest Register at auction and bring it home.

The Board of the MTHS has made a commitment to this effort. We hope you will join us and members of the Greene County Historical Society in this rare opportunity to bring an early Catskill Mountain House Guest Register back home to Greene County. If the GCHS is successful, they will provide a digital copy of the ledger for our use and Mountain Top access.

More information on the auction and the Guest Registers can be found through this link: https://catalogue.swanngalleries.com/Lots/auction-lot/-NEW-YORK--Guest-register-for-the-legendary-Catskill-Mountai?saleno=2546&lotNo=164&refNo=772718

This is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity, There is no time to lose. Please be as generous as you can. Many thanks!

Adrienne Larys                     Bob Gildersleeve
President                            Chief Archivist

2020 Hikes and Events Are in the works.

We hope to explore:

  • Prohibition in the Catskills
  • The Catskill Forest - with two different talks by well known experts
  • Walk in the footsteps of Sanford Robinson Gifford to find where he set his easel.
  • Tannersville's Jewish History
  • Other events - Catskill Ramble, Lark in the Park, Hikefest and other hikes and walks.

In the meantime the 2019 schedule below will give you an idea of our activities.

2019 Hikes and Events

April 14th (Sun) :Hike Mountain Top Arboretum. Spring has sprung! Meet MTHS hike leader, Nancy Allen, at the Mountain Top Arboretum at 1:00 p.m. for a spring walk through the flora waking up to a new season. The easy walk will be around trip of about 3 ½ miles going from the Arboretum to the trails on the Hathaway property and back via the marsh. The exact route will be determined by the conditions on the day of the hike. Choose footwear that will keep your feet dry.

May 11 (Sat) Hike: Hotel Kaaterskill Grounds, led by Bob Gildersleeve – The Hotel Kaaterskill, said at the time to be the largest mountain hotel in the world, was started as a result of the legendary “Chicken War” between Philadelphia lawyer George Harding and Charles L. Beach, the owner of the Catskill Mountain House. Since then it has sparked our interest and the interest of our members and friends. A newly discovered survey document from 1883 has provided so much additional information that we are prompted to revisit the site. Meet at the Historical Society’s U&D train station on the MTHS campus in Haines Falls at 9:00 a.m. for a 30-minute presentation about the document, then carpool to North-South Lake State Park (entrance fee per car or free with Empire Pass) to begin our walk to the Hotel Kaaterskill site. This is a moderate hike of about 4 miles round trip with an elevation gain of about 400 feet. Planned return at 3:00 pm. Bring a lunch and water. Sturdy shoes and long pants are recommended. More details see this description.
5/12/2019 Update: Fourteen enthusiastic hikers spent the morning and early afternoon of a picture-perfect day sharing, discovering and interpreting new details about the structure and operation of the Hotel Kaaterskill. It couldn't have been done without the NYS Dept. of Conservation's stewardship of the land, the Free Library of Philadelphia's preservation and sharing of the 1883 survey of the property, and George M. Harding's gift of his collection of unique photos of the hotel. Thanks to all.
 
May 17 (Fri) 7:00 p.m. Train Station Reading the Rocks of the Catskills: A Geological History by Dr. Chuck Ver Straeten, Geologist, New York State Museum What do the rocks of the Catskills tell us about this place nearly 400 million years ago? Rivers were draining Andes-scale mountains in New England. The water, sand, and mud were on their way to a shallow sea to the west. Some of Earth’s oldest forests were scattered across the land, with primitive plants and animals living here long before the dinosaurs. And, yes, all of this was happening when we were 30 degrees south of the equator. Stretch your sense of time, place, and history, exploring the rocks of the Catskills.
 
May 18 (Sat). The Gunks are calling! Explore the Peter’s Kill Area of Minnewaska State Park Preserve. Hike a variety of trails and terrains with MTHS member Athena Billias and MTHS VP Adrienne Larys. We will explore sections of the Bullwheel, High Peter’s Kill and Red Loop footpaths. Depending on the interests of the participants we will cover 3.5 to 6 miles. Rating: moderate due to length and some steep sections. Meet at 8:30 a.m. at the Kingston Thruway Exit Park & Ride for car pooling; or at 9:30 a.m. at the Peter’s Kill Park Office parking lot on Rt 44/55 between Rt 299 and Rt 209: Cost: $10 per car to be shared by those who carpool. Registration required by Friday, May 17, at 3:30 p.m. Sturdy footwear highly recommended.  Trekking poles or walking sticks will be useful in some sections. Return to trailhead at approximately 3:30 p.m.

June 8 (Sat) South Mountain by the historic Direct Path.
To honor the gift of an original Catskill Mountain House hiking stick donated by Kathy (Van Schaack) Boyer and Peggy (Van Schaack) Phillips, we will take a popular 19th Century path from the Mountain House site on Pine Orchard to sites on South Mountain. This now unusual route will pass through the first ledge on South Mountain (sometimes called the Lemon Squeezer) take a short detour to Druid Rocks, pass through Puddingstone Hall, and reach the state trail at Bootjack Rock. Once on the modern trail, we will see the lookout called the Sphinx, walk on to "Bowlder" Rock and offer optional excursion through Fat Man’s Delight to the Natural Bridge.

The pristine CMH walking stick joins our other walking stick from the Hotel Kaaterskill which was donated to MTHS by the Mohonk Barn Museum. The new gift is in too fine a condition to risk carrying it through the whole walk, but we will bring it to Pine Orchard for an official presentation. The hike is considered Easy to Moderate with a short bushwhack. We will provide an easier alternative route along the state trail to Bowlder Rock but missing the sites before we reach the modern trail. Meet at 9:00 am at the MTHS campus wear appropriate shoes for hiking bring lunch and water. Return mid afternoon.

Some additional notes on this hike:
We're calling this hike easy to moderate but, because the first part is on an unmarked path through rarely trodden woods, it will involve a few short but steep hills and a few waist-high ledges that may require a hand up for inexperienced hikers. We may get a bit dirty and I recommend wearing sturdy clothing including long pants as well as appropriate shoes. We will take the trail at a comfortable pace for all hikers and will stop to see sites that have been enjoyed by vacationing hikers for more than 195 years. This will be fun and I encourage most hikers not to miss an opportunity to see how 19th century vacationers explored the grounds of the Catskill Mountain House.

June 9 (Sun) 3:30 p.m. Early History of the New York State Wild Forest known as Colgate Lake. 1 hour program by Elaine Warfield in the Ulster and Delaware TrainStation. In the early to mid 1800's the "Colgate Lake" area was primarily farmland, woodlots and sawmill operations. Located on the Stock Farm Road and later purchased by Gilbert Colgate of the Colgate Company, the area has evolved today into a 1500 acre parcel under the management of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
 
June 14 (Fri) 7:00 p.m. Dan Peck on Thomas Cole, Presentation in the U&D Train Station. Doctor H. Daniel Peck, John Guy Vassar Professor Emeritus of English at Vassar College, is the founding director of the College’s Environmental Studies Program and a former director of its American Culture Program. He is the author of Thoreau’s Morning Work and The Pastoral Moment in Cooper’s Fiction, both books published by Yale University Press. Professor Peck’s other publications include two Penguin Classics editions of Thoreau’s works, the Oxford World’s Classics edition of Cooper’s Deerslayer, and the Barnes and Noble Classics edition of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Tom Sawyer. A contributor to the Cambridge Literary History of the United States and the Heath Anthology of American Literature, he is a past chairman of the Modern Language Association’s Division on Nineteenth-Century American Literature. Professor Peck has received two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and an American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship. He has directed two NEH Summer Institutes for College and University Faculty, as well as a national NEH conference. His current research links American literature and landscape painting, and in recent years he has often team-taught at Vassar with an art historian. Recent examples of his work on painters are an article on Asher B. Durand, in American Literary History (Oxford University Press), and one on Georgia O’Keeffe in American Art (Smithsonian Museum publication). His current project, funded by an Andrew W. Mellon Emeritus Fellowship, is a study of the overlapping careers of the landscape painter Thomas Cole and the novelist James Fenimore Cooper.
 
Join the Mountain Top Historical Society on Friday, June 14th at 7:00 p.m. for a presentation in the U&D Train Station by Dan Peck, John Guy Vassar, Jr., Professor Emeritus of English at Vassar College. Dan will describe the scholarly and on-the-ground research that lead to his new book, “Thomas Cole’s Refrain: The Paintings of Catskill Creek”. Dr. Peck is also curator of the current exhibit, with the same name, at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site which runs from May 4 to Nov. 3. Reception and book signing to follow. A $ 5.00 donation is suggested.
 
June 29 (Sat) 10 a.m. In the Footsteps of John Bartram: Native Plant Tour of the Catskills with Carol Woodin, at the Mountain Top Arboretum Education Center co-hosted with the Mountain Top Historical Society. $10 per person, free to Mountain Top Arboretum and Mountain Top Historical Society Members. After the lecture we will take our cars a short drive to the Mountain Top Historical Society Visitors’ Center (in Haines Falls) to park and arrange carpooling to North/South Lake. There we’ll walk in the footsteps of the Bartrams, following their salient journal entries. Carol, Paul Harwood and Robert Gildersleeve will lead us in retracing fascinating local botanical history. Bring a bag lunch for group picnicking, proper clothing/shoes for being outdoors and a water bottle. 
 

July 7,(Sunday) 2019 at 4 PM – 8 PM  Join us for an evening soiree with Kim Hawkey and Band to celebrate the rich history of the Catskills. The event will take place at the historic Haines Falls Train Depot. Look forward to refreshments and hors d'oeuvres in the train station and a performance by Kim Hawkey with music from and inspired by the Catskills.
Proceeds from the "Song of the Catskills will benefit the Mountain Top Historic Society and go towards the maintenance and repair of the train station.

Kim Hawkey is an accomplished musician whose music harkens back to times past and is the perfect artist to help celebrate and support the work of the Mountain Top Historic Society.

July 13 (Sat) 10:00 a.m. MTHS will hold its Annual Meeting at the Train Station. Members of the MTHS are invited to attend.

 
July 14, 2019, Sunday. A Rock Walk Platte Clove with NYS Geologist, Dr. Charles Ver Straeten. Meet in the KRT parking lot at the MTHS campus in Haines Falls at 10:00 a.m. to carpool to the Catskill Center property in Platte Clove. Chuck Ver Straeten will share some of his extensive knowledge about the rocks of the Catskills on this hike to the quarries in the Devil’s Kitchen area and on to Codfish Point. Pack water and a lunch. This is a moderate hike of about 4 mi. round trip with an elevation change of approximately 700 ft. [Edited to reflect distance (was 5 mi.) and elevation (was 1000ft) corrections thanks to Carol and David White]

Note: We will not be descending into Platte Clove. Most of the hike is along the trail toward Overlook Mountain and visiting the quarry at Codfish Point with a possible bushwhack to a quarry on Plattekill Mountain.

July 26 (Fri) 7:00 p.m. The Justine L. Hommel Memorial Lecture – Talk about Hudson River School Artist Sanford Robinson Gifford by Peter Jung at Twilight Park Clubhouse. For the past 27 years Peter Jung has owned a gallery at #512 Warren St. in Hudson, NY featuring traditional American paintings. During that time he has handled many examples of the Hudson River school of art (1825- 1875), a style of painting that is an important part of our national heritage. Jung has served on the   Board of Directors at the Olana Partnership, the Hudson Opera House, the Hudson Planning Commission, and the Friends of Hudson. In recent years he has restored the family gravesite of the great artist Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823-1880), who is at rest in the Hudson City Cemetery. The slideshow features 70 images, and will be followed by a question-and-answer conversation.

Canceled- Thunderstorms predicted August 3 (Sat) 10:00 a.m. Roots of the 1969 Woodstock Music & Arts Festival Walking Tour +  Mt. Guardian/Byrdcliffe Hike.To commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the three-day festival named after the Town of Woodstock, join historian Weston Blelock to visit sites frequented and made famous by musicians of the 60’s prior to and following the famous 1969 festival: Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Van Morrison and others. Following the 90+ minute tour and a break for lunch, there will be a hike at 1:00 p.m. to Mt. Guardian above the Byrdcliffe Art Colony, coordinated by publisher Julia Blelock and MTHS VP Adrienne Larys, featuring the history of Woodstock’s first art colony. There is a $10 fee for the walking tour. All participants will receive a copy of the book, Roots of the 1969 Woodstock Festival. Walking tour: easy. Hike: moderate: a short but steep hike along a narrow trail, elevation gain 950+ ft, total miles 2.2+, about 2.5 hours -- great views to the south, east and west. Walking Tour limited to 15 persons; advance reservations required no later than 2 p.m. on Aug 2. Carpooling to Woodstock TBA, otherwise meet at the Free Public Parking Lot on Rock City Road at 9:45 a.m. Meeting place for the Mt. Guardian hike at 1:00 p.m. is 380 Upper Byrdcliffe Road. Parking at the Byrdcliffe Theatre. For more information, contact Adrienne at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 518-248-4379 (cell).
 
August 24 (Sat) 10:00 a.m. Rip’s Country Bazaar /Open House Note the corrected starting time!The MTHS campus will be filled with tents full of vendors: craftspeople, antique dealers, local food products, flea market items and more. 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. Wildflowers and grass for running around. It will be a beautiful day for chatting with friends and family, learning something new about local history, or 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. Check our website as more details become available.
 
September 14 (Sat)  Our 6th Annual Postcard Show 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. @ the U&D Train Station. 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
 
October 11 (Fri) 7:00 p.m. Train Station Ice Age Talk  Robrt & Johanna Titus in the U&D Train Station. Writers, Robert and Johanna Titus, introduce their newest book “The Catskills in the Ice Age.” It’s a greatly expanded and revised version of a book first published in 1996.
 
October 12 (Sat) 9:00 a.m. 6th Annual HikefestThe list of hikes for this year's Hike fest is below. 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..
On Saturday, October 12, 2019 The Mountain Top Historical Society’s Haines Falls campus will be the place to begin your Columbus Day Weekend. Starting in the KRT parking lot behind the Visitors' Center on Route 23A, there will be 4 hikes to choose from varying in difficulty and points of interest around the area. The day will finish with a BBQ lunch from 1-3 pm at the MTHS’s historic U&D Train Station. Hikes are free, pre-registration required. $10 per person for BBQ lunch, all proceeds to MTHS.
 
  • Hike # 1: Rip Van Winkle Hike – Join geologist Bob Titus in a moderate, 2 mile hike to Sunset Rock above North Lake. Along the way he will point out Devonian stratigraphy and Ice Age history while telling the tale of Rip Van Winkle, stopping at sites that closely match those described by Washington Irving. Meet at KRT Parking Lot at 9 am to car pool to North Lake
  • Hike # 2: Historic Survey of North-South Lake – The area of North-South Lake has been home to various business, railroad, and recreational sites. Pete Senterman and Paul LaPierre will lead this easy 2 mile journey with possible side trip to the Catskill Mountain House Site. Meet at KRT Parking Lot at 9 am to car pool to North Lake.
  • Hiike # 3: Elka Park Colosseum: Join Nancy Allen on this easy to moderate 3 ½ mile hike through the historic community of Elka Park along a dirt road to the Park’s Colosseum (reservoir). Meet at the KRT Parking Lot at 9 am to car pool to Elka Park.
  • Hike # 4: Sphinx Rock and the Sofa on Prospect Mountain Bob Gildersleeve will lead this approximately 2.5 mile easy to moderate hike starting from MTHS’ s U&D train station partially following along the Kaaterskill Rail Trail and using old woods roads and a short bushwhack to the ledge above Molly Smith’s parking area. Here we will look down on the location of Sphinx Rock. Nearby is a natural bench once called the sofa, and a unique view taking in Kaaterskill Clove, Kaaterskill Falls, and across the clove, Kaaterskill High Peak and Round Top. A natural ramp can take us to the ledge on which the Sphinx rests for a close-up view. If hikers wish, we may also have time to visit the platform at Kaaterskill Falls and be back for the BBQ at 1:00. Meet at the MTHS’s U&D Train Station at 9 am.

 
 
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.