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: July 7, 2010

The Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown makes a great day trip destination with the kids this summer. Even without kids, The Farmers’ Museum provides a pleasant and informative summer day.
The drive up Route 28 is beautiful, lushly green at the height of a Catskill summer.


A Catskill Catalog: June 30, 2010

For me, the iconic image of Margaretville is a classic Main Street postcard photo, taken around 1940, from the Walnut Street intersection. Now, that’s odd, because I wasn’t yet born when the picture was taken, and did not lay eyes on Margaretville until nearly 30 years later. Yet, somehow, that photo captures my sense of the village as a self-contained community, a small town at a time when America seemed a land of small towns. I love the picture.


A Catskill Catalog: June 23, 2010

Woodstock, the famous Catskill Mountain artist colony, became famous all over again as a music scene several years before the 1969 Woodstock Concert. After all, concert producers benefitted from the hip vibe of Bob Dylan’s town in the very name of the Bethel, Sullivan County, festival, originally planned for Warwick. Woodstock was hip.


A Catskill Catalog: June 16, 2010

In 1887, J. Francis Murphy, celebrated New York studio artist, was inducted into the National Academy, and moved to Arkville. The National Academy was the very establishment of American art and design. It had been founded in 1825 by Thomas Cole, Asher B. Durand, Samuel F. B. Morse, and Martin Thompson “to promote the fine arts in America through instruction and exhibition.”


A Catskill Catalog: June 9, 2010

Orvan W. Hess grew up in Margaretville. His family moved up here in 1908 from Pike County, Pennsylvania, downriver on the Delaware. It wasn’t a happy move: little Orvan’s mother had just died. I would guess she died trying to give birth to another child. Maybe that’s why Orvan became an obstetrician.