Pine Orchard Looking North 12/24/2017
A recent presentation by Evan Pritchard, descendant of the Micmac people and Professor of Native American history at Marist College, briefly mentioned the legend of Chief Shandaken. According to Pritchard, Shandaken is a Munsee Delaware word that likely means Land of Spruce, Land of Hemlock, or perhaps Land of Many Evergreens. It’s said that Chief Shandaken lived at the Pine Orchard near North-South Lake, the place well known today as of the site of the Catskill Mountain Hotel.
The legend goes that Chief Shandaken’s daughter Lotowana had a suitor named Norsereddin, a “proud, morose, dark-featured” non-Native man described as a descendent of Egyptian kings who lived a solitary life along the Kaaterskill Creek. Lotowana instead favored a Mohawk man and the two were married to the great chagrin of Noreseridden. During the wedding, Norseridden gave Lotowana a gift—a handsome box. It contained some kind of springed apparatus that upon being opened launched a “poisoned tooth of a snake that had been affixed to it." The poisoned snake tooth pierced Lotowana's hand. The venom was so strong that she died in mere minutes next to her new husband’s feet.
Norseridden tried to escape, but Chief Shandaken’s men captured him and brought him back to the cliff to be executed. Lotowana was buried while Noreseridden’s ashes “were left to be blown abroad.” Due to immense grief, Chief Shandaken decided to leave the Pine Orchard "his ancient dwelling-place, and his camp-fires never glimmered afterward on the front of Ontiora."
There are many interesting aspects of this story to be sure. For instance, is the Pine Orchard mentioned in the story the same one we know today? And if it is, does that mean Pine Orchard is not only the site of the former Catskill Mountain House but the burial place of the legendary Lotowana? Something to consider upon your next visit to the historic site.
Note: The text quoted is from Charles M. Skinner’s 1896 Myths and Legends of our Own Land.
By: Alexandra Prince
A benefit of the deep freezes of winter are the wonderful "draperies of ice" that form along creeks and waterfalls.
Below are three stereographs from the New York Public Library collection showing beautiful displays of ice and snow at Kaaterskill (spelled Kauterskill in the records) Falls from the early 20th century. The last image was taken from underneath the falls looking out into the clove.

By: Alexandra Prince

All Souls Church in Tannersville was originally built in 1894. The church is a favorite landmark in the area notable for its stone construction in the Gothic Revival style and it continues to hold Episcopal services during the summer season.
The first image of the church is from a glass plate negative donated to the Mountain Top Historical Society archives by Shirley and Gerald Dunn, part of a larger collection of photographs taken in the early 20th century by Oscar Showers. The second image was taken today, with the overcast sky meant as an approximation of the wonderful swirl-like effect of the clouds in the original glass plate negative.
By: Alexandra Prince
Recently we shared a postcard image of The Sphinx, a large boulder that sits above Kaaterskill Clove, on our social media pages. The first image shows this tremendous rock today, during the Fall of 2021.
The Sphinx, also known as Noah's Ark, was included as a hiking destination in Samuel Rusk's 1879 work "An Illustrated Guide to the Catskill Mountains with Maps and Plans." Rush describes The Sphinx or Noah's Ark as "a curiously shaped rock, being about twenty feet high, with a base of ten feet square and its upper side projecting so as to resemble the prow of a ship...The Ark stands close on the brink of a precipice on the side of the Cauterskill Clove, commanding a fine view thereof."
By: Alexandra Prince