MTHS Blog

Four years ago, on June 1, 2013, a celebration was held on the campus of the Mountain Top Historical Society in Haines Falls, NY for the opening of the Kaaterskill Rail Trail from the U & D Railroad Station to the Laurel House site at the top of Kaaterskill Falls. It was a beautiful sunny day; the crowd was enthusiastic; the long awaited trail was finally ready. Well, the trail was almost ready. Hiking the trail for the past four years has meant taking a detour from the MTHS parking lot out to Osborn Road to North Lake Road and then south on Featherbed Lane to re-join the KRT about ¾ mile from the Railroad Station. It was not exactly what had been planned and worked for over so many years by so many community groups and individuals.

Now, on Saturday, May 20, 2017, there will be another community celebration beginning at 10:30 a.m. This time we will mark the end of the detour and the opening of the missing link with a few speeches, a ribbon cutting, and a beautiful, delicious cake. Walkers and hikers will be able to enter the KRT along the old train route just east of the MTHS' historic Railroad Station. It opens up a whole new world of hiking! At the Laurel House site, there is now a bridge that allows people to cross Lake Creek above Kaaterskill Falls and join the NYSDEC system of trails. One could hike all the way to Windham! "The Kaaterskill Rail Trail connects hikers, cyclists, and other outdoor enthusiasts to the wonderful Catskills landscape" , said Kim Elliman, OSI's president and CEO. "OSI is proud to have preserved this significant and storied rail trail, and prouder yet to pass it along to local citizens for their permanent enjoyment."

This final link of the KRT has been made possible through a broad coalition of groups and individuals. Funding to purchase the property adjacent to the MTHS has been provided by generous grants from the Open Space Institute, NY/NJ Trail Conference, the Mountain Top Historical Society and the Hunter Foundation. All the background work to bring the property to the table for the purchase has been a long process involving the attorney for the Kursh Estate, Joe Gaffney; John Lyons and Kimberly Garrison of Grant & Lyons, LLC, attorneys for the MTHS; Michelle Yost of the Greene County Soil and Water Conservation District; Sarah Killourhy and members of the town of Hunter Planning board; David Kukle of the Town of Hunter Board; and MTHS Board members. The work of preparing the trail for opening day is being headed up by Doug Senterman of the NY/NJ Trail Conference with the backing of Jeff Flack from GCSWD and many volunteers. Of course there are many unnamed others who have helped bring this four year promise to fruition. Please join us on Saturday, May 20 2017, at the U & D Railroad Station on the MTHS Haines Falls campus at 10:30 a.m. to cheer those people and organizations, named and unnamed, enjoy a piece of cake, and then take a hike on the Kaaterskill Rail Trail! Just head straight east from the Railroad Station into the woods.
On May18, 2017 Cyndi LaPierre, president of the Mountain Top Historical Society, signed the final papers closing the purchase of the property allowing the connection of the Kaaterskill Rail Trail to the Mountain Top Historical Society's Campus in Haines Falls and in effect driving the Golden Spike. It's been a long time coming. To our memory Don Conover, publisher of The Mountain Eagle, was an early advocate in the 1980s. We are happy to have taken part in establishing this section of what we hope will be an even longer trail connecting the communities or the Mountain Top. Join us on Saturday for the official opening and celebration, and come back again and again to enjoy this beautiful trail and its connection to the miles of trails in New York's Catskill Forest Preserve.

Setting the Record Straight

After the publication of the 4th 2016 edition of the Hemlock, MTHS president Cyndi LaPierre received a phone call from a granddaughter of Ferris Thompson, Claudia Lane. Claudia and her mother and aunts discussed the building of the swimming hole on the Batavia Kill that served guests at the Thompson House and the Osborn House that is mentioned in the article about Larry Tompkins. The Thompson sisters distinctly remember watching their father build the dam and dredge the stream. With the following revision that was submitted to us by Claudia Lane, we wish to set the record straight on that point. We are publishing this revision on our website, Facebook page, and will attach a printed copy to the archived copies of the Hemlock. We strive to publish and archive accurate information and welcome corrections from those with local knowledge.

The Thompson Brothers, owners of The Thompson House, asked permission from the owners of the Osborn House, next door if the could dredge the river and build a dam. They created a 10 feet deep swimming hole where there was a high diving board and guests could canoe. On Saturdays there was a water show. For the finale an employee would high dive through a ring of fire. Larry vividly remembers the shockingly ice cold........

A huge thank you to everyone who contributed in any way to the MTHS Local History Day on August 22, 2016! 
Thanks to the MTHS board members who worked on the scene all day and behind the scenes prior to that.
A special thank you to Mara Lehmann who spent a lot of time and energy pulling everything together! 
Thank you to board member Randy Hoose for bringing Rip Van Winkle to life to the delight of all the attendees. 
Thank you to John Curran for opening the archives for the day to share with the history lovers who came in.
Thank you to the volunteers for the event who are not board members and generously gave their time to help with everything from directing parking to selling raffle tickets and hot dogs.
Thank you to the local history groups who set up displays at the event: Eastkill Valley Historical Association, Greene County Historical Society, the Haines Family Association, and Lexington Historical Society. 
 Thank you to Linda Nicholls of Greene Room Players for directing a new group of puppeteers for the Rip Van Winkle Puppet Show.  Thank you to Jen Byrne and Mary Kate Kroyer and their daughters for doing a great job of performing the historic puppet show.
Thank you to storyteller Carol Spear for enchanting young and old!
Thank you to Jim Planck for his interesting presentation about Rip Van Winkle; it is always good to learn new things about an old subject.
Thank you to Paul Misko for his entertaining history quiz.  It was an amusing and informative way to close the day.  Paul also provided a Rip Van Winkle themed activity with his bowling alley.  That saw a lot of use during the day.
Thank you to the Twilight Day Camp counsellors who supervised the Children's Tent. 
Thank you to the local publisher and the authors in the Book Tent: Steve Hoare of Black Dome Press, Larry Tompkins, David and Wanda Dorpfeld, Johanna and Rob Titus, and Dede Terns Thorpe.
Thank you to the media who let people know about this special day in Haines Falls.
Thank you to the Mountain Top Arboretum for providing a golf cart for the day.
Thank you to Chris Scott for providing porta-johns.
Thank you to the Town of Hunter, Stewart's Shops, and Greene County for financial support.
 
And a big thank you to everyone who came to Haines Falls on Local History Day to participate in our celebration.!