A Catskill Catalog by Bill Birns

A Catskill Catalog: Dec. 16, 2009

A photo of an old-fashioned covered bridge, snow covered, with, maybe, a wreath over its portal, and, perhaps a horse-drawn surrey or sleigh about to cross: a holiday greeting card!
No better place to take that photograph than here in the Catskills.


A Catskill Catalog: Dec. 9, 2009

The Queen of the Catskills was Stamford, New York. At least that’s what her boosters proclaimed during that Delaware County village’s “Grand Hotel Era:” roughly from the arrival of the railroad in the late 1800s until World War II.


A Catskill Catalog: Dec. 2, 2009

A walk over the Hudson River makes a great Catskill Mountain day trip.
New York’s newest state park is Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park, about an hour and a quarter away. Opened October 5th, Walkway Over the Hudson is a one-and-a-quarter mile long pedestrian bridge spanning the mighty Hudson River between Highland and Poughkeepsie. It’s the longest pedestrian bridge in the world, and it’s right in our front yard.


A Catskill Catalog: Nov. 25, 2009

It takes a mill to raise a village.
Often, in the early days of America, the site of a gristmill, or a sawmill, led to the establishment of a village. Early settlers in wilderness lands established self-sufficient farms. Most work and play - most life - occurred on the farm. The mill was one of the few necessary off-farm meeting places, one of the few required off-farm commercial centers.


A Catskill Catalog: Nov. 18, 2009

Sometimes I didn’t believe myself.
The other day, I got a chance to affirm a distant memory, one that even I could begin to doubt. A couple friends and I took a ride to Max Shaul State Park up Route 30 in Fultonham. The park and campground are deserted by mid-November, but an interesting path begins just beyond the park’s softball outfield: the old Route 30 roadbed.


A Catskill Catalog: Nov. 11, 2009

Pasteurized milk got its commercial start in America right here in the Catskills.
When I was a kid, milk was always on the table. I learned to read two of my first big words from the milk carton (or were they on a bottle?) - homogenized and pasteurized.


A Catskill Catalog: Nov. 4, 2009

We had just had lunch at the Roscoe Diner and were heading home. The Jeep loves the back roads (as do we) so we left state Route 206, Cat Hollow, taking a right onto the Beaverkill Road into the Middle Mountain Wild Forest.


A Catskill Catalog: Oct. 28, 2009

The baskets are slightly more oblong than round, an eight-inch basket seven inches wide at the handle. The handle itself is two or three willow shoots wrapped around each other arching over the basket at a height about equal to the basket’s width. The willow-shoot handle circles to the bottom of the basket forming its lower spine.


A Catskill Catalog: Oct. 21, 2009

Alf Evers famously subtitled his 1972 history of the Catskills From Wilderness to Woodstock, thus forever cementing the bond between the 1969 concert and our mountains. Sure, the Bethel site of “Three Days of Peace and Music” was 50 miles southwest of the mountain village that gave the Aquarian Exposition its name. And, certainly, the rolling hills and brushy fields of western Sullivan County don’t seem very Catskill Mountain-y. But who’s going to argue with Alf?


A Catskill Catalog: Oct. 14, 2009

The oldest known forest, fossil remains of tree-sized plants, today form a roadside attraction on Route 990V, just off Route 30 in Gilboa. The Gilboa Forest was discovered in 1850 when floodwaters turned up large fossilized tree trunks 380 million years old. That placed the fossils in the Middle Devonian Period of the Paleozoic Era, a time 150 million years, or so, before the Triassic Period, the era of the earliest dinosaurs.


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