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: 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.