A Catskill Catalog by Bill Birns

A Catskill Catalog: Feb. 24, 2010

There’s this great video posted on the video-sharing Web site YouTube. Go to YouTube.com and search for “1955 Game Warden.” You’ll find an eight-minute movie about the late Bryan Burgin of Margaretville.


A Catskill Catalog: Feb. 17, 2010

In 1921, along the East Branch of the Delaware River, rumors began to circulate: the City of New York was coming, and it meant to take the valley for its water supply.


A Catskill Catalog: Feb. 10, 2010

Two days before Christmas in 1890, The New York Times reported on the ice harvest upstate. “All the icehouses in the Catskill Summer boarding region and of the Delaware County dairymen are filled with the clearest and best ice ever gathered.”


A Catskill Catalog: Feb. 3, 2010

In 1888, Mr. Hill, proprietor of the Ackerly House in Margaretville, bought a full-page advertisement in Thompson & Breed’s Ulster & Delaware Railroad Directory. The ad featured a good photograph of his hotel, a substantial four-story frame building, fronted by three tiers of long wrap-around balconies, topped by a dormer-constructed fifth story tucked into the mansard roof.


A Catskill Catalog: Jan. 27, 2010

High school seniors around the Catskills, as elsewhere, are completing essays, gathering letters of recommendation, and sending off their college applications. Support of their efforts is an annual end-of-first-semester effort for teachers and guidance counselors. Students are lucky they only have to go through it once – barring transfer or grad school.


A Catskill Catalog: Jan. 20, 2010

Drive up state Road 270 into the Catskills one fair-weather day in 1907. 270: that’s how the 1907 Automobile Blue Book refers to the road into the mountains from Kingston, the road north of the brand-new Ashokan Reservoir, our Route 28. The road that travels south of the reservoir, our 28A, was 271.


A Catskill Catalog: Jan. 13, 2010

In the Roxbury Public Library hangs a photograph of that village taken in the early years of the last century. When I first saw it, a couple years ago, I couldn’t figure it out: it looked backwards to me, or, more specifically, it looked inside out. Where was the tree-lined street? Where were the stately front porches along the main drag?


A Catskill Catalog: Jan. 6, 2009

The Catskills are the Catskills, the physical reality of mountain upon mountain, hill-hollow-hill, the rolling rise of land on our uplifted plateau. The Catskills are also our collective idea of the Catskills, our shared sense of what mountain landscape means, what mountains can offer to an increasingly urbanized, globalized human community.


A Catskill Catalog: December 30, 2009

by Bill Birns
“Off with the old year, on with the new!” So read the headline in the Catskill Mountain News 100 years ago this week, as the second decade of the 20th Century was about to begin. That exuberant line appeared below a pen and ink drawing featuring the exciting newness of the time – Old Man 1909 driving away in one of those new-fangled automobiles, and Baby 1910 arriving in an even newer-fangled bi-plane flying machine.


A Catskill Catalog: Dec. 23, 2009

Skiing came to the Catskills in the wake of the 1932 Winter Olympics, in the Adirondacks’ Lake Placid, an event, which made outdoor winter recreation a sudden sensation. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was enlisted by the New York State Conservation Department to cut trails on Catskill peaks suitable for summer hiking and winter skiing. In the mid-’30s, trails were created on Pakatakan Ridge behind Margaretville, on Hunter Mountain, Diamond Notch, and Woodland Valley.


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