Welcome to the MTHS website
The Mountain Top Historical Society is dedicated to discovering and preserving the unique and rich history of the Catskill High Peaks. The Society is a not-for-profit organization and maintains a Visitor and Art Trail Center and the Ulster and Delaware train depot (shown above) on our campus in Haines Falls. We are located on scenic Route 23A at the gateway to the Mountain Top and are easily accessible from Exit 20 or 21 of the New York State Thruway.
The Town of Hunter, home to MTHS, has been designated a Preserve America Community.
Society receives collection of glass plate negatives.
Gift of Shirley and Gerald Dunn See details here.
The 2018 Events and Hikes Schedule is now available:
Our next event:
Hike to Tory Fort
May 26 (Sat) - Tory Fort. Led by Rick Brooks. In 1975, as a Bicentennial Project, MTHS worked with Ed West, Buck Farrell, and our hike leader, Rick Brooks, who led an Edward G. West Associates mapping and survey crew. We visited and West Associates then mapped the location of Tory Fort. The fort was more accurately a small holding area where Native Americans held captured Hudson Valley settlers before a long trip to the British headquarters at Fort Niagara where the settlers were turned over for profit. Meet at the Mountain Top Historical Society Visitors' Center at 9:00 am. The hike should be considered moderate to difficult with some bushwhacking. We expect to return by 3:00 pm
In a recent email Rick gives this update on the route. "Leaving from Byrne Road hiking an existing woods/mill road to the intersection of Canda Creek and the Forest Preserve line then hiking the 1000-1500 feet to the Fort site. [The] hike ... would allow us to travel through interesting abandoned agricultural fields, a few different forest types, explore the former Holtz Railroad and its associated mill, and experience the Canda Creek." Our meeting place and time hasn't changed - 9:00 am at the Visitors Center Rt. 23A Haines Falls
MTHS does not require membership for hike participation however, we encourage you to join as a member or make a donation to the MTHS to support our work. We do request that you register for each hike. Participants can register on our contacts page or by calling (518) 589-6657. Please leave your name, phone number, and # in your party. Schedule subject to change. The latest information is available on our web site http://www.mths.org. Notification of changes, including cancellations due to weather will be made on the web site up to the day of any given hike.'
As the MTHS Spring issue of The Hemlock left the Mountain Top and headed directly to the printer, I was reminded of a lesson I should have learned years ago. That first rule of journalism is to check and re-check one's facts.
So when The Hemlock reaches your mailbox and you see that the name of Justine's mother is incorrect, please know that we are aware of the error. Justine's mother was Catherine, not Mildred. So apologies from this fact-checker and a promise to be more diligent in the future. Thanks for your understanding. Cyndi
Campus Clean-up Day Thanks to all who lent a hand!
DEC Opens Pine Orchard View.
Thanks to DEC for opening the view from the Catskill Mountain House site. (Click the italicized link above for photos.)
If you haven't see the view since it's been cleared get prepped for a winter hike and take a walk to the Mountain House site, or Join Moe Lemier and MTHS on February 10. (See our winter hike schedule.)
Rip will return in the Spring.
KRT Rail Trail Is Open
In 2005 I wrote about trails and sites on Prospect Mountain in the afterword for Catskill Mountain House Trail Guide:
A path across this mountain that lies west of South Mountain between the Laurel House and the Hamlet of Haines Falls was among the earliest trails in the region. It became the route of the two railways that served the hotels. Three important locations once accessible from that path deserve special mention. One, the Sphinx, well known to post card collectors, stands guard over the upper clove above Molly Smith’s parking area. As best I can determine, it is on state land. Access to it, however, is either an extremely difficult climb, or a relatively easy approach that requires crossing private property. Very near the Sphinx, is a clearing that takes in the upper portion of Kaaterskill Falls, a beautiful view of the Clove, and the peaks of Round Top and High Peak. No other spot allows all three to be seen at the same time. Also formerly accessible from this path is viewpoint named (like the ledge on North Mountain) Prospect Rock. This Prospect Rock is perhaps the best place from which to see, in a single view, both upper and lower portions of Kaaterskill Falls, but it too is virtually inaccessible except by crossing private land.
Opening these areas could be a real benefit to visitors, and to the Mountain Top community. Recently, there has been renewed interest in a rail trail between the hamlet of Haines Falls and Laurel House Road following the rail corridor and near the trail that was discussed by both Van Loan and Rusk [authors of 19th century trail guides]. Reopening that trail would provide a link between the local community and the beautiful facilities at North-South Lake. -- [Note that at this time, the area of Sphinx Rock is not accessible from the KRT.]
Now, twelve years after I wrote these words and thanks to the efforts of many people and organizations, the KRT is open and NYSDEC has placed a trail sign at the junction of the state trail to the Kaaterskill Falls viewing platform and the Kaaterskill Rail Trail pointing the way to the Historical Society's campus and station. I am very pleased that this has been accomplished and, based on the large attendance at the opening ceremony on May 20, the community is too. Thanks again to all. - RG
From our Archives -
Follow the "From Our Archives" link in the "Preserve" menu on the right to see information about some of the items in our Justine Hommel Archive Room, including recently posted information on the story of Civil War soldier William Young.
MTHS News and links:
In October we shared the sad news that MTHS founding member, long time president and a dear friend and vital link to the society's past had passed away on October 17, 2016.
A memorial service honoring Justine will be held on June 24, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. at the Haines Falls Methodist Church followed by a reception at the Twilight Park Clubhouse.
Clove Road by Justine Hommel -A 2006 article by Justine Hommel.
The Dodd House - Also by Justine an article from the archives of the Hemlock
Around Hunter --A great Gift for a friend or yourself-- is available at the Visitor's Center Click on the link or the book cover for more information.
- Larry Tompkins -- Out Windham Way a wonderful new book from our former MTHS president.
As we begin the 2017 season of events and activities presented by the Mountain Top Historical Society, it is time to pause and take stock of our progress during the past 20 years. In 1996, the MTHS acquired the Ulster & Delaware Railroad Station in Haines Falls and established a campus at the head of Kaaterskill Clove that now includes a barn with exhibit space and a Visitors' Center with a state of the art Archives Room. With the help of generous benefactors and volunteers, our ability to present programs, lead guided hikes, provide information about local history, support research and education on the Mountain Top has grown. We are a stop on the Hudson River School Art Trail and a trailhead on the Kaaterskill Rail Trail. We provide information to over 2500 annual visitors to our area who come into our Visitors' Center.
In order to continue what we are doing, and to consider new opportunities as they arise, we count on your help. We repainted the exterior of the Visitors' Center through a 50/50 grant from the Hunter Foundation. We improved the barn with help from the Greene County Sheriff's Department and with work by George Van Dyke. We have maintained the campus with steady work by a dedicated crew of volunteer groundskeepers. We are now looking at the U&D Railroad Station which was lovingly restored beginning in 1997. Time and weather are taking their toll. The exterior needs repairs and repainting. The roof will need to be re-done in the not too distant future. In addition to the work on the station, our KRT parking lot needs to be improved in order to serve the growing number of visitors to our campus. We have laid the foundation; we invite you to be part of the future of the MTHS.
We also ask for your support in the form of membership dollars and your donations to our upcoming capital campaign. Our annual membership drive will begin in May. Watch for the information in the mail and please respond generously.
Working together, we can continue to discover, interpret, share, and preserve the history of the Mountain Top for ourselves and our children.
To our hikers:
The 2017 hiking schedule can be found at: http://mths.org/hikes.html or by selecting the Hikes link under the Interpret section in the side menus. As always, hikes are subject to change. Please check this site just prior to the date of any scheduled hike.
Thanks to the Kaaterskill Rail Trail Facebook Page for posting this notice.
Please everyone stay on the marked trail, do not cut across the private land to access the trail from MTHS. Please follow Trail up North Lake Road to Featherbed down to the rail trail.
The last section is in the process of being acquired by the Mountain Top Historical Society however it is still PRIVATE LAND, please respect the private land owners and their property.
The grand opening for the new final section connecting Kaaterskill Falls with the MTHS Campus will be opening on May 20th- more details to follow.
Thank you everyone for you help and cooperation in this matter.
Thanks to our business sponsors:
Brookside B&B, Bistro Brie & Bordeaux, Central Hudson Gas & Electric, Chateau Belleview, Claude W Lutz/Fromer Agency, Craig Bates Trucking & Excavating, Inc., Deer Mountain Inn, Elena Suditu Dentist, P.C, Ethel & Orville Slutzky Foundation, GNH Lumber, Inc., Gordon Hunter Mountain Realty, Haines Family Association, Haines Farm, Hotel Vienna, Hunter Chamber of Commerce, Hunter Mountain Ski Bowl, Inc., Kaaterskill Liquors, Karen’s County Kitchen, Kerns Nursery, Last Chance Antiques & Cheese Cafe, Messina's LaGriglia Ristorante, Mountain Propane, Inc., Pancho Villas Mexican Restaurant, Paraco Gas Corp/Kosco Oil, Rosehaven Inn, Scribner's Catskill Lodge, Snow Bird Ski Shop, Snowed Inn, Tannersville Antique & Artisan Center, TREC Management Company, Traphagen's Honey, The Thompson House, The Woodstock Inn on the Millstream, Williams Lumber and Home Centers, Willow Mixed Media