A Catskill Catalog by Bill Birns

Bill Birns presents a weekly essay on history, geography, day-trips, arts and culture in the Catskill Mountain region.

A Catskill Catalog: September 19, 2012

The other evening I got a chance to tell a few interested folks about Mary Elizabeth Osborn. She was a wonderful writer, a great chronicler of rural Catskill Mountain life, a scholar, poet, critic, and novelist. And she was born and raised in Margaretville.

Faye Van Benschoten used to tell me about Mary Elizabeth Osborn when, as a young man, I worked summers in the hay fields of her family’s New Kingston farm.


A Catskill Catalog: September 12, 2012

All right, kids. If we’re living here in the country, we ought to know a little something about barns. I confess I’ve been living here four decades and my lack of barn knowledge, frankly, is an embarrassment. Time to study.

Start with Cynthia G. Falk’s new book, Barns of New York: Rural Architecture of the Empire State (Cornell University Press, 2012).

Perhaps, the young professor herself will drive down from Cooperstown, as she did last Saturday to present a slide show at the Skene Library in Fleischmanns.


A Catskill Catalog: September 5, 2012

Rumor has it that Bob Dylan has been nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature. It’s said the 71-year-old singer-songwriter has support for the prize among crucial voters on the super-secretive selection committee.


A Catskill Catalog: August 15, 2012

If you haven’t yet made it over to Walton, this week, for the Delaware County Fair, put the paper down and go. Well, finish reading the paper, call family and friends, then go. The fair runs all-day, everyday, this week, through 11 p.m. Saturday.

The 2012 Delaware County Fair is just as warm, down-home, and downright interesting as every Walton Fair has been since I started going nearly 40 years ago. Unlike neighboring county fairs, the Walton Fair still is agricultural.


A Catskill Catalog: August 8, 2012

Catskill Mountain bluestone helped build America in the last half of the 1800s and the first couple decades of the 1900s.

From 1850 to 1920, bluestone was the material of choice for building foundations, sidewalks, and curbstones in New York, St. Louis, Boston, Philadelphia, Milwaukee and other major cities. Bluestone was prized for being hard, long lasting and quick drying. It does not become slick with wear, and makes a perfect paver.