By Bob Gildersleeve

 

Years back, lamenting the passing of the large world-renowned mountain resorts that graced the Mountain Top in the 19th and early 20th Century, we realized that one large resort still operated just an hour south of us in the Shawangunk Mountains. We decided that a visit there would give a feeling of what a trip to the Mountain House or Hotel Kaaterskill might have been like in the 1800s. Since that first visit, MTHS has sponsored several luncheon hikes at the fabulous Mohonk Mountain House near New Paltz, NY. On one visit many years ago, we noticed a walking stick from the Hotel Kaaterskill displayed in the Mohonk Barn Museum. Wouldn't it be nice if we could return that souvenir of the Victorian Age to the area where it was originally purchased and used.

On an overnight visit to Mohonk with my wife in October 2014 I approached Jim Clark (on the right in the photo), the curator of the Barn Museum, and talked with him about the walking stick. He too felt that the Mountain Top Historical Society would be a more appropriate home for the staff and graciously donated it to MTHS. Our thanks to Mr. Clark and the Mohonk Mountain House for this unique gift.

If you have never visited Mohonk, you may want to take a look at the history page on their web site: mohonk.com

March 30, 2014
Our sincere thanks to Bob Mazon (4th from left) for his generous gift of digital photos, scans of conventional photos and other items. Bob has covered news and organizational events in the area, as well as photographing the landscape and communities since the 1980s. The Society is just beginning to review and catalog the collection which will be named "The Bob Mazon Collection." As we get a sense of the extent of the items, we will describe it on the website. We believe it will prove to be a valuable resource of local history.

April 28, 2014
On April 11, 2014 Bob Mazon died. Just a few weeks before that Bob had visited the Historical Society to arrange for the generous gift of his collection. We are deeply saddened by his passing and we, along with the whole Mountaintop Community, will miss him. The Historical Society will strive to protect the items he left in our care and to see to it that they become a valued legacy to the community.

 

Among the Mountain Top Historical Society's Archives is a collection of photographs and other items received as a generous donation from Ms. Wilma Kohler of Hunter and Elmhurst, NY. Among the items are a bible with family records of Aaron Haines, who operated the earliest inn in Haines Falls, a copy of the rare book, An Illustrated Guide to the Catskill Mountains by Samuel E. Rusk, and  over one hundred photographs taken by Rusk, his brother John W. Rusk, and other 19th and early 20th century photographers.

Samuel and John Rusk photographed local landscapes and operated a portrait studio in Haines Falls.   A series of photographs depicting the construction of a portion of what is now Route 23A gives insight into road building techniques in 1907. 

The excellent quality of these late 19th and early 20th century photographs allows the society to enlarge portions of the images and bring out details not noticeable at first glance.

A unique image of John Rusk (above) shows one reason for the high quality of the images – a large format camera that no doubt used large and exceptionally flat glass plate negatives. The photos have survived in pristine condition due to the exceptional care the professional photographers took in the preparation of the images and the manner in which Ms. Kohler cared for the collection.

Society members and volunteers have digitally scanned, cataloged and secured the material.  The donation, now designated as the Wilma Kohler Collection, takes its place with a growing amount of material that the society preserves and will be used in Society publications and for research on Mountain Top families and history.