A Catskill Catalog by Bill Birns

A Catskill Catalog: March 24, 2010

If the Catskills were a kingdom, the Hardenbergh Patent would be our Magna Carta.
By the patent, I mean the piece of paper, parchment probably, upon which, in 1708, New York Provincial Secretary George Clarke wrote.


A Catskill Catalog: March 17, 2010

The capital of American colonial history has to be Williamsburg, Va. Colonial Williamsburg recreates that city, as closely as possible, to what it was like just before independence. Spend a couple of days in Williamsburg and you are in colonial Virginia.


A Catskill Catalog: March 10, 2010

The late Nat Ciccone used to photograph Catskill Mountain barns. The longtime Margaretville Central teacher and coach would drive scenic mountain back roads, stopping to capture, on 35 millimeter film, those barns of Ulster and Delaware counties, that, Nat knew back in the ’80s, would not be around too much longer.


A Catskill Catalog: March 3, 2010

Just got in from shoveling. Big snow is all encompassing, takes our full attention: physically, certainly, but mentally, psychologically, and emotionally, as well. Big snow brings up wellsprings of memory and talk.


A Catskill Catalog: Feb. 24, 2010

There’s this great video posted on the video-sharing Web site YouTube. Go to YouTube.com and search for “1955 Game Warden.” You’ll find an eight-minute movie about the late Bryan Burgin of Margaretville.


A Catskill Catalog: Feb. 17, 2010

In 1921, along the East Branch of the Delaware River, rumors began to circulate: the City of New York was coming, and it meant to take the valley for its water supply.


A Catskill Catalog: Feb. 10, 2010

Two days before Christmas in 1890, The New York Times reported on the ice harvest upstate. “All the icehouses in the Catskill Summer boarding region and of the Delaware County dairymen are filled with the clearest and best ice ever gathered.”


A Catskill Catalog: Feb. 3, 2010

In 1888, Mr. Hill, proprietor of the Ackerly House in Margaretville, bought a full-page advertisement in Thompson & Breed’s Ulster & Delaware Railroad Directory. The ad featured a good photograph of his hotel, a substantial four-story frame building, fronted by three tiers of long wrap-around balconies, topped by a dormer-constructed fifth story tucked into the mansard roof.


A Catskill Catalog: Jan. 27, 2010

High school seniors around the Catskills, as elsewhere, are completing essays, gathering letters of recommendation, and sending off their college applications. Support of their efforts is an annual end-of-first-semester effort for teachers and guidance counselors. Students are lucky they only have to go through it once – barring transfer or grad school.


A Catskill Catalog: Jan. 20, 2010

Drive up state Road 270 into the Catskills one fair-weather day in 1907. 270: that’s how the 1907 Automobile Blue Book refers to the road into the mountains from Kingston, the road north of the brand-new Ashokan Reservoir, our Route 28. The road that travels south of the reservoir, our 28A, was 271.


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