Headwaters History Days planned June 7-8
Fifteen museums, landmark structures and historic sites will be open for tours, exhibits and special programs June 7 and 8 when Headwaters History Days celebrates the heritage, culture, folklife and landscape of the East Branch Delaware River towns of Middletown, Roxbury and Andes.
Headwaters venues will be open to the public at no charge for one or both days. This collaboration involves non-profit organizations, community institutions and private property owners. They are all very proud of the heritage they represent and the landmarks they are charged with protecting, and welcome neighbors and visitors to learn more about our common local history.
Visit www.headwatershistorydays.org for details and a map; or pick up a weekend guide at the Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce office in the historic former Masonic Hall, 724 Main St., Margaretville, or at any of the venues before plotting your own tour route. Support for this special weekend comes from the A. Lindsay and Olive B. O’Connor Foundation, participating organizations and area businesses.
This event is part of the state-wide Path Through History Weekend highlighting the Empire State’s irreplaceable and inspiring historic sites: Seven of the 15 Headwaters sites are listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places.
Among the weekend’s special events will be two concerts of home-grown music.
On Saturday at 1 p.m., a group of songwriter musicians, the John Burroughs Memorial Locust and Wild Honey Mountain Orchestra, will play traditional and original tunes on the front porch of Woodchuck Lodge, the farmhouse where famed naturalist John Burroughs once wrote in Roxbury. The Lodge is open for tours both days.
On Sunday, at 2 p.m. at the Historical Society of Middletown (HSM) hall in Margaretville, an ensemble of area singers will present a program of unaccompanied tunes in the tradition of the Old School Baptists. Ethnomusicologist Ben Bath will introduce the music with a talk about the “Primitive Baptist” sect that once flourished in the Catskill Region.
A noontime walking tour on Sunday in the hamlet of Roxbury will include the riverside Kirkside Park, the exquisite 1896 Dutch Reformed Church, built by the children of Roxbury native and railroad tycoon Jay Gould, and other notable landmarks. While in Roxbury, climb the stairs of the Methodist Church tower with Town Historian Anthony Liberatore and long-time clock keeper Dan Underwood to see the workings of the venerable town clock that has been keeping time for more than a century.
Members of the Ulster & Delaware Railroad Historical Society will be on hand Saturday and Sunday to show off their museum in the former Roxbury station, and to give tours of the rolling stock and train yard at the Delaware & Ulster Railroad’s headquarters, 10 miles east in Arkville.
Visitors to the Greater Fleischmanns Museum of Memories, housed in a former carriage barn, will see a special exhibit on the hotels that once attracted thousands of people to that community each summer.
Next door, they can take a closer look at the architectural details of beautiful Skene Library, built in memory of a renowned physician with funds contributed by his childhood friend, Andrew Carnegie.
Over on Wagner Avenue, members of the Congregation Bnai Israel will give Sunday tours (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.) of their historic house of worship, built in the 1920s by local Jewish farmers, merchants and summer residents.
At the Hunting Tavern Museum in Andes, visitors can learn about the Anti-Rent War of the 1840s, and then drive to the farm on Dingle Hill where a deadly clash brought an end to the land lease system in the Catskills. Local residents Bob and Alice Jacobson, who witnessed the destruction of four communities when the Pepacton Reservoir was built, will show home movies from the period at the Pleasant Valley Community Hall in the Tremperskill Valley. All three sites are maintained by the Andes Society for History and Culture.
Over at the Blue Deer Center on county Route 6 in Dunraven, Shavertown native Gary Atkin will share photos and stories of his hometown, which was one of those lost to New York City’s largest reservoir. The presentation starts on Sunday at 1.
On both June 7 and 8, children can sit on a wooden bench in the Civil-War era one-room Stone Schoolhouse in Dunraven and maybe tug the rope that rings the ancient bell in the belfry. Rarely open to visitors, the school is an enduring monument to early education in Middletown.
Back in time
The complex network of belts and pulleys that drive a sawmill and cider press in a 150-year-old barn will mesmerize visitors at the Hubbell Homestead in Kelly Corners, where family members will lead walking tours around the property both days.
Plan a Saturday stop at the Pakatakan Farmers’ Market nearby; an exhibit on the history of the Kelly Brothers Round Barn is inside the unusual circular structure that today is the heart of the market.
Pick up a Headwaters History ‘passport’ at any of the weekend’s venues and the DURR will offer two for one rides on its round-trip excursions from Arkville to Roxbury for the remainder of the 2014 season.