Hotel Kaaterskill Talk and Walk July 13 and 14 – can you help?

In a talk by George Harding and me, Bob Gildersleeve, on Friday July 13 we will use photos donated to MTHS by George and other materials to travel in our imagination to the Hotel on the top of South Mountain just a mile from the Catskill Mountain House. We have a vast amount of information, but we could use some help to bring our visit to life. This photo shows the best floor plan that we have. It came from Francis Overbaugh’s “Hotel Kaaterskill Clippings from the Past” which can be found on Tim Mallery’s Catskill Archive Website. There are two difficulties with the image of the floor plan: it is too small (right click and view image to see the best size we have) to read detail and there may be a missing floor. We suspect the floors were numbered in the European practice of saying that the first floor was one flight up. The second floor room numbers that we can read start with a 3 and the 3rd floor rooms start with a 4 and is missing a whole wing that photos show was there. We’ve checked our archives and asked at the County Records room and the Greene County Historical Society and neither have a floor plan of the hotel.


Thanks to Jonathan Palmer at the Vedder, we found the sketch of what seems to be the source material that Overbaugh used for this diagram. Among other things, It shows the purpose of the rooms on the right side by the court yard of the Office floor: from Lobby to tower they were: Passenger elevator and behind it baggage elevator, Porter's room, coat room, reception room closet, barber shop, reading room, smoking room and card room.

On the river side, in the lobby was the office, to its east a private office, then guests rooms to the tower.
The diagrams at the Vedder also confirm that the room numbers on the office floor were in the 100s, the so-called second floor in the 300s, and the "third" floor in the 400's.

Hope to see many of you at the MTHS program on Friday at 7:00, and hope you can come to the hike to the hotel and Laundry on Saturday.

The historic Ulster and Delaware Train Station on the MTHS campus will be open to the public on a few Saturday afternoons this summer thanks to volunteer Pete Senterman. Pete will be in the station from 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. on June 16, July 7, and July 21.  He will be your guide through the history of the station using the photos and paintings on exhibit there. It was built in 1913 and opened in 1914 to replace the small station in Haines Falls that was no longer adequate to handle the stream of tourists heading to the hotels and boarding houses in the area. The station has been listed on national and state historic registers. We plan to add additional open house dates in August and September. Come in and check it out!

Celebrating Justine Hommel!
Unveiling of the Justine L. Hommel Memorial Highway

Please join us in a champagne toast to a dear friend and a grand lady of the Mountain Top! (All are encouraged to wear Justine’s favorite color, red-- a flower, a scarf, a hat!)

Saturday June 2, 11:00 am at Mountain Top Historical Society (MTHS) Campus, Route 23A, Haines Falls, FREE

Come join the MTHS in honoring Catskill Mountain icon Justine Hommel and celebrate the unveiling of the entrance to Kaaterskill Clove, Route 23A as the Justine L. Hommel Memorial Highway. With the sponsorship and great efforts of Assemblyman Peter Lopez and Senator George Amedore, the New York State Assembly and Senate passed bills that officially memorialize Justine’s contributions to New York State and Greene County history. This winter, Governor Cuomo signed those bills into law. The bill states in part:

Ms. Justine L. Hommel passed away on October 17, 2016, leaving a void within the Greene County community. A lifelong resident of Haines Falls, a hamlet located in the Town of Hunter, Greene County, Ms. Hommel dedicated her life to preserving the Catskill Mountain's natural beauty and championed its historical significance to American culture.
Ms. Hommel was responsible for ensuring the beauty of scenic roadways decades before anyone was noticing the significance of preserving this historic landscape. Her insistence on natural rather than man-made materials resulted in the stone retaining walls, rather than concrete, at the entrance to the Kaaterskill Clove on State Route 23A. Ms. Hommel's committed efforts ultimately led to part of State Route 23A being included as part of the Mountain Cloves Scenic Byway and it is only fitting that we designate this portion of roadway in her honor.
The "Justine L. Hommel Memorial Highway" will be a constant reminder of Ms. Hommel's remarkable contributions to the mountaintop region of Greene County and her life-long dedication to enhancing and preserving the natural splendor of the Catskill Mountains landscape. Here, State Senator George Almedore Jr. presents a copy of the official designation to Society President Cyndi LaPierre.

The view from Pine Orchard made famous by the Catskill Mountain House has, in recent years, been increasingly obscured by brush growing at the brink and trees growing at the base of the cliff known as the Wall of Manitou. Throughout the 19th Century the view had been featured in paintings, engravings and photographs and praised in poetry and literature.

Pine Orchard Looking North 12/24/2017

Above - Pine Orchard Looking North December 24, 2017.     ----      Below - Looking South from the same point.

When asked what could be seen from the ledge, Natty Bumpo, James Fenimore Cooper’s hero of the Leather-Stocking tales, replied :

"Creation," said Natty, dropping the end of his rod into the water, and sweeping one hand around him in a circle, "all creation, lad. I was on that hill when Vaughan burned ‘Sopus in the last war; and I saw the vessels come out of the Highlands as plain as I can see that lime- scow rowing into the Susquehanna, though one was twenty times farther from me than the other. The river was in sight for seventy miles, looking like a curled shaving under my feet, though it was eight long miles to its banks. I saw the hills in the Hampshire grants, the highlands of the river, and all that God had done, or man could do, far as eye could reach-you know that the Indians named me for my sight, lad ; and from the flat on the top of that mountain, I have often found the place where Albany stands. And as for ‘Sopus, the day the royal troops burnt the town, the smoke seemed so nigh, that I thought I could hear the screeches of the women."

Thanks to the efforts of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the work of the Operations Field Crew: Brett Byrne, Brendan O'Brien, Robert Aslaskon and Tyler Proper, that view of Creation has been cleared to an extent not seen in years. Once again the view up and down the Hudson Valley from Albany to the Shawangunks and into Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut is open and clear. It is now available as a beautiful place to stop during a walk for lunch, to pause for quiet contemplation, to bring students for an inspiring class visit or for an Easter morning Sunrise Service.