April 11th, 2013 by Bob Gildersleeve
Now that the new archives building is completed, it would be good to note that there are two new people working for the Mountain Top Historical Society, behind the scenes AND up front at our activities.
We have created the position of Operations Administrator to oversee the office of the MTHS at the Visitor’s Center. The new face in that position is Alisa Alvarez. Alisa, who is living in East Jewett, has moved to the Mountain Top from Florida. She is the one who is answering the phone with a smile, greeting visitors on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons, getting out our publicity, and generally keeping us on track. When you see her, welcome her to the Mountain Top and to the MTHS.
The second new face is someone who is not new to the Mountain Top or even to the MTHS, but new to the position of President of the Board of Directors. Cyndi LaPierre, retired from teaching at WAJ Central School, and long-time board member of the MTHS has moved into the role of president following the resignation of Larry Tompkins at the end of 2011. With the opening of the new archives facility, her main role will be to encourage wider membership and participation in the MTHS. The task of maintaining our 20 acre campus and four buildings along with a full schedule of hikes, lectures, and other activities is one that requires many hands. Check our website (www.mths.org) for information about membership and contact us to volunteer for one of the many interesting roles available through the MTHS.
August 7th, 2012 by directormths
Third and Fourth grade summer school students from Hunter Elementary School accompanied their teacher, Mrs. Wilcox, to the MTHS campus on July 8, 2012. They met Cyndi LaPierre, president of the board, for a guided tour of the train station, the grounds, and the Visitor’s Center. At the train station, the students shared observations and questions about the old photos on display there. Their focus was on modes of transportation used by visitors to the mountain top around the turn of the 20th century. After leaving the station, the students walked along the path of the tracks that carried the trains to the grand hotels around the North/South Lake. The final stop of the morning was the MTHS Visitor’s Center where the students learned a few new facts about the Hudson River School painters and their influence on early tourism in the area. They were also fascinated by the “Rip Lives!” sculpture on the front porch and shared their lunch with him before returning to school.
August 7th, 2012 by directormths
Members of the Johannes Hardenburgh Chapter of the DAR spent an afternoon at the MTHS on July 18, 2012. Larry Tompkins, former president and long time board member, was the guide for their tour of the campus. The MTHS campus features the Visitor’s Center, the new Justine L. Hommel Archives Room, and the beautifully restored Ulster and Delaware train station. We welcome visits by groups interested in local history. Arrangements can be made by contacting us at 518-589-6657 or by e-mail to email@example.com.
August 7th, 2012 by directormths
Last summer, the MTHS started a project to help everyone get a clearer picture of where the tracks ran at the U&D station. With the help of rail enthusiasts, we raised $535 toward purchasing ties and ballast to make the track dream a reality. After Hurricane Irene, the project was placed on hold as our project partners, the Catskill Mountain Railroad, spent time recovering from the effects of the flooding.
Now, we are back on track! The track committee has secured and moved to the site 14 of the 65 ties we need. In addition, they have made a contact at the Trolley Museum in Kingston which promises to supply the rest of the ties we need. The Catskill Mountain Railroad has committed to supplying the rail, the hardware, and the crew to lay the 128 feet of track.
We need your financial support for one more necessity item for the track: ballast. Our estimate is that we’ll need an additional $1700 to purchase the truckloads of ballast that will be needed. YOU can help by sending donations to MTHS, PO Box 263, Haines Falls, NY 12436. Put rail track on the memo line. Thank you!
June 20th, 2012 by Bob Gildersleeve
Justine opens the MTHS Archive
Thanks to everyone who came to the ribbon cutting for the Justine Legg Hommel Archive Room at the Mountain Top Historical Society. Justine has worked tirelessly for the Society and, more than anyone else, is responsible for its success. The dream of a secure, climate controlled facility for our ever-growing collection has been a driving force for MTHS. A full description of the archive will appear in our Fall Hemlock. Please check our event schedule for details on our Archive Day, August 25th.
May 18th, 2012 by Bob Gildersleeve
Barbara Mattson former MTHS Executive Director
At the end of February, the Board of Directors bid farewell to Barbara Mattson as the Executive Director of the Mountain Top Historical Society.
For four years, Barbara has been the one keeping us on track, reminding us of deadlines, preparing everything we needed for our meetings, scheduling volunteers for the Visitor’s Center and special events, keeping us in the public eye, writing grants, introducing our speakers, taking reservations for special occasions, updating the website, brightening up the place with plants and flowers, and taking care of all the details that needed to be taken care of. She was an asset to our organization and will be difficult to replace. We wish Barbara all the best as she moves into her new position as the Executive Director of the Greene County Chamber of Commerce.
March 5th, 2012 by Bob Gildersleeve
Justine Hommel receives Van Vecten award.
Justine Hommel, president emeritus of MTHS, was presented the first Jesse Van Vechten Vedder Award from the Greene County Historical Society on December 3. The presentation was made by GCHS President Robert Hallock at the Haines Falls Free Library and fifty of Justine’s friends and supporters turned out to congratulate her. You can read the full story in the Daily Mail and see more photos or upload your own on the MTHS Facebook page and on Flickr .
Rachel Jesse Van Vechten Vedder was the historian of the Town and Village of Catskill and Greene County. She was the first female county historian in New York State and a co-author of A History of Greene County . The Vedder Research Library in Coxsackie, NY and Vedder Mountain in Cementon, NY are named after her.
November 16th, 2011 by directormths
The rain started to fall during the last hour of MTHS Open House on Saturday, August 28. Little did we know as we ducked under tents and threw down tarps that Tropical Storm Irene would be the storm of the century on the Mountain Top. We were fortunate that our campus withstood the storm’s ravages. Other organizations did not fare as well and MTHS directors and members have pitched in with the effort to speed their recovery.
Our headline story for 2011 is that construction of the MTHS archives has begun. The groundbreaking ceremony took place on August 7. Delayed by the storm and its aftermath, foundation work started at the end of September. The addition, on the north side of the existing Visitor Center building on Route 23A, is named the Justine Hommel Room in honor of our president emeritus. It provides approximately 140 square feet of storage space and is constructed of concrete and has an independent climate-control system.
This year our continuing educational programming for the schools supported a student art show and poetry contest in conjunction with the Windham Arts Alliance. The works, created on the theme of waterfalls, were displayed at the August Open House and prizes were awarded to the winners. Catskill waterfalls were the theme of several hikes and a lecture as well. Our Spring Fling in May has become an annual event and our evening lectures focused on topics as diverse as Hudson River Landscape Gardens and Songs of the Railroad.
Our dedicated groundskeeping volunteers kept the campus neatly groomed. Despite the challenges presented by our new residents, a ground hog family, we persevered with our horticultural efforts and received a community garden award from the Twilight Park Gardening Club. With the help of our faithful volunteers, we kept the Visitors’ Center open for another year from May to October five days a week, including weekends.
The first stage of the Kaaterskill Rail Trail, from the MTHS Train Station to Laurel House Road, is in the active planning stage. Together with MTHS, the Town of Hunter, the Department of Environmental Conservation, Greene County Soil and Water Conservation District, Parks and Trails New York and the New York/New Jersey Trail Conference are engaged in planning and promoting the trail.
We will never see another year like 2011. We are moving ahead on several fronts and our members’ interest and support mean a great deal to our continued progress.
April 3rd, 2011 by directormths
Haines Falls, NY It’s hard to kill a good idea. That’s why on National Trails Day, Saturday, June 4, the Mountain Top Historical Society, will host a walk along an old idea whose time has come, the proposed Kaaterskill Rail Trail (KRT).
The idea has surfaced throughout the years as rails-to-trails projects have gained increasing popularity. Like any good idea, this one has staying power. Back in the late ’90s, it was considered a natural extension of the Huckleberry Rail Trail that was constructed through the Village of Tannersville, a couple of miles down the road. In 2003-4 the Town of Hunter again revisited the idea but without funding, it fizzled. The rail trail was endorsed by the Mountaintop Community Resource Committee report in 2009. Since then an offshoot group has been meeting to talk about the trail which would extend 1 1 /2 miles from the property of the Mountain Top Historical Society in Haines Falls, to Laurel House Road. Easements have been obtained from some of the property owners, bringing the idea closer to reality and we’ve learned recently that a federally-funded rail-to-trails study will once more revisit the idea of a rail trail in this location.
It makes a lot of sense to use the old rail trail for a hiking/biking path. It’s one of the relatively few flat expanses of property in the area available to those who want to avoid taxing uphill climbs. Much of the old bed is still intact and visible to the naked eye. The trail will require improvements but the skeleton is there. Most importantly, it is the start of a path that will eventually connect the only fully-restored, historic 1913 train station in Greene County with the state’s North/South Lake Campsite just down the road–the busiest campground in New York state with over 100,000 visitors a year. If this isn’t enough, potential side trails offer two superb views–one of Sphinx Rock and a bird’s-eye, rarely seen view of Kaaterskill Falls to the east.
The historic Ulster & Delaware Train Station, where the trail will start, shares the Mountain Top Historical Society campus with the Visitor and Art Trail Center on Route 23A. That building serves as the Mountain Top Historical Society’s headquarters and archives, the Visitor Center for the Mountain Top and the interpretive center for the Hudson River School Art Trail–three more reasons why it makes sense to have Greene County’s next rail trail start from the Historical Society’s property. The U&D Train station, built in 1913, will be 100 years old in 2013–building the Kaaterskill Rail Trail would be a really fine way to celebrate that historic occasion.
July 19th, 2010 by directormths
The MTHS Board Reviews CAP Reports
Draft copies of two Conservation Assessment Program (CAP) reports were received last month and presented to the MTHS board of directors at the July 17 meeting. Last fall, the Mountain Top Historical Society was the recipient of a Conservation Assessment Program (CAP) grant which gave the Society funds to hire a professional conservator to assess the collections and a historic preservation architect to assess the campus buildings
Based on the reports, MTHS President Larry Tompkins presented three preliminary recommendations to the board which were approved. These include board agreement that the Visitor and Trail Center on Route 23A continues as the site of the MTHS archives, that a heating and cooling expert be hired to assess climate conditions in the building and that a thunderstorm deterrent system be installed on the roof of the Visitor Center.
The draft CAP reports were highly favorable in describing the current conditions and storage of MTHS archival materials. The final reports of Conservator Ellen Riggs Tillapaugh and Architect Marilyn Kaplan will be available in August.
Two New Directors Named to MTHS Board
The MTHS Board Welcomes Adrienne Larys and Daryl Legg. They were elected at the July 17 annual meeting. Ms. Larys has worked at Rensselear Polytechnical Institute and is a long-time participant in MTHS hikes. Mr. Legg is the owner of Legg’s Garage in Tannersville and is on the Town of Hunter board. Both were elected for three-year terms. The terms of board members Justine Hommel, Bob Gildersleeve and officer Peter Swords were renewed. The board retained the following officers for the 2010-2011 term: Larry Tompkins, President; Richard Haines, Vice President; Eleanor Alter, Secretary and Peter Swords, Treasurer.