The historic Dolan’s Lake in Hunter

By: Dede Terns-Thorpe, Town of Hunter Historian

Dolan’s Lake is just about 100 years old and has a great history. It’s always been fascinating to learn how or where a name originated, whether it be a road or a special place.

Today we’ll share a little information about Dolan’s Lake. It was named after its builder, a lifelong resident of Hunter, Michael Buddington Dolan, the namesake of both Dolan’s Lake and its well-groomed park. The Park also has a memorial that pays tribute to the tragic times of 9-11. Here are a few tidbits about the lake―one loved for its fishing, walking path, swimming, and winter ice-skating. It has been a long-time beloved home of children’s summer camps. 

Above today’s Dolan’s Lake stood the Mountainside Hotel, built in the early 1880s near the Hunter Mountain Ski Bowl Lodge about the time the 1882 Ulster & Delaware Railroad came through Hunter village. Sadly, the hotel burned in 1894. The Klein family later built the Alpine Hotel, just a short distance north/east of today’s lodge at Hunter Mountain. The Alpine later became the Star Hotel in 1937, and then in 1950, it was changed to Topps Hotel. At those times the lake was accordingly named Topps or Star Lake. Dolan’s Lake finally has its proper name back.

The first Hunter Mt. Ski Bowl Lodge (1959-1960) was the “old red barn,” the Alpine, Topps, or Star Hotel. Many of us older skiers remember that first lodge, a fun, informal, relaxing place to spend some time after a full day of skiing.

But now we’re back to Dolan’s Lake.

Mr. Michael B. Dolan, one of the most prominent men in Greene County, died in the Benedictine Hospital from an acute attack of diabetes, according to an untitled 1931 local newspaper.

Mr. Dolan, born in 1861, was one of 16 children. His parents were James and Mary Miller Dolan of Elka Park. He married Lizzie Patricia Lackey, daughter of Michael Lackey, Sr., and Catherine Burke. Michael Dolan later owned and operated the Halfway House (its location was south of 7549 Main Street, approximately), which included the property which would become Dolan’s Lake. Harvesting ice was an important early 20th-century industry, and it was built for that reason. The lake soon became a major supplier to many of the local hotels (pre-refrigeration days).

The waters of Dolan’s Lake start at Shanty Hollow Brook and flow about three miles before meeting the Schoharie. Over many years, flooding repeatedly damaged the lake area and major repairs have brought it to the pristine condition it is in today.

The history of Dolan’s Lake, and its builder, Michael B. Dolan, was found in old newspapers, the 1899 Biographical Review of Leading Citizens of Greene County, from talented Matthew Jarnich, photographer of the American Catskills website, John Ham’s One Hundred Years on “Resort Ridge,” and from long-time Hunter Village resident, Gary Slutzky. Thank you all for sharing your tidbits on Michael Dolan and his popular Hunter Lake.  Like Justine always said, it’s people that make history… and share it. Thanks for reading.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *