A Catskill Catalog by Bill Birns

Bill Birns presents a weekly essay on history, geography, day-trips, arts and culture in the Catskill Mountain region.

A Catskill Catalog: December 26, 2012

At Christmas 1958, eight ski areas in the Central Catskills were primed to open for their biggest season yet. “Enthusiastic Local Promotion is Vital If These Mountains Are To Be Developed Into East’s Foremost Winter Playground,” trumpeted headlines in the Christmas Edition of the Catskill Mountain News.


A Catskill Catalog: December 19, 2012

Lanapehoking: the original name of the place where we live. Lanapehoking: a word of the native Eastern Algonquin dialect that Europeans called Delaware. Lanapehoking: from lanape, people, and hoking, land. The land of the people, that’s the first name of our place.


A Catskill Catalog: December 5, 2012

Met a woman from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. “Oh,” I say, “A wonderful Presbyterian minister is in Chambersburg. Used to be a pastor in our little town. Bill Harter.”

“Reverend Harter performed the service for my husband’s memorial,” she told me. “He’s a fine man.”


A Catskill Catalog: November 28, 2012

A friend accuses me of being Catskill-centric, able to trace the origins of just about anything to the Catskills. American painting? All began in Thomas Cole’s studio-on-the-Hudson in Catskill. American literature? Rip Van Winkle. The American vacation resort? The 1820 Catskill Mountain House and the Mountaintop at North-South Lake. (Not to mention the Concord and Grossinger’s) First forest? The Gilboa fossils are what are left of the oldest vegetation yet discovered. You get the idea.


A Catskill Catalog: November 7, 2012

My good friend Frank Russell was a Democratic Committeeman for sever­al decades, representing the scant number of registered Democrats residing in Middletown Election District #7, the New King­ston Valley.