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: Sept. 30, 2009

A clever fund-raiser was held recently by the MARK Project, the regional planning and economic development agency. A few civic leaders were “arrested” at the August Margaretville Street Fair, with MARK supporters asked to “bail” them out with donations. One of the cuffed and booked was the Mayor of Fleischmanns.


A Catskill Catalog: Sept. 23, 2009

First-growth forest is forest that has never been cleared, cut, bark-peeled, burnt, or quarried by people. We still have some in the Catskills. This old-growth forest can give us a glimpse of what our mountains must have been like before human habitation made its impact on the Catskills.


A Catskill Catalog: Sept. 16, 2009

A quiz. Where in the Catskills will you find an astronomical observatory, equipped with a high-powered, computer-controlled telescope? Where in our mountains is a fully-equipped pediatric dialysis unit, able to provide kidney dialysis to eight children at a time? Where in the Catskills will you find demonstration forests, the wood harvested in a variety of methods to test which method leads to the most successful forest regeneration?


A Catskill Catalog: Sept. 9, 2009

I am just about the last guy to try to explain the geology of the Catskills. I failed high school physics. Never took earth science.
Fortunately, our mountains have our own geologist, Bob Titus, professor of geology at Oneonta’s Hartwick College, who lectures regularly on Catskill Mountain geology. Unfortunately, I’ve never heard him lecture. And even a bit of scientific reading somehow makes my eyes glaze over.


A Catskill Catalog: Sept. 2, 2009

It must be that vacations became a part of the American scene in the prosperous years after the Civil War, or at least the idea of grand vacations seems to have been invented then. The American economy was growing in great leaps of railroad building, and the railroad corporations saw both market opportunity and investment security in the construction of grand hotels conveniently located at the end of their rail lines.