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: Jan. 13, 2010

In the Roxbury Public Library hangs a photograph of that village taken in the early years of the last century. When I first saw it, a couple years ago, I couldn’t figure it out: it looked backwards to me, or, more specifically, it looked inside out. Where was the tree-lined street? Where were the stately front porches along the main drag?


A Catskill Catalog: Jan. 6, 2009

The Catskills are the Catskills, the physical reality of mountain upon mountain, hill-hollow-hill, the rolling rise of land on our uplifted plateau. The Catskills are also our collective idea of the Catskills, our shared sense of what mountain landscape means, what mountains can offer to an increasingly urbanized, globalized human community.


A Catskill Catalog: December 30, 2009

by Bill Birns
“Off with the old year, on with the new!” So read the headline in the Catskill Mountain News 100 years ago this week, as the second decade of the 20th Century was about to begin. That exuberant line appeared below a pen and ink drawing featuring the exciting newness of the time – Old Man 1909 driving away in one of those new-fangled automobiles, and Baby 1910 arriving in an even newer-fangled bi-plane flying machine.


A Catskill Catalog: Dec. 23, 2009

Skiing came to the Catskills in the wake of the 1932 Winter Olympics, in the Adirondacks’ Lake Placid, an event, which made outdoor winter recreation a sudden sensation. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was enlisted by the New York State Conservation Department to cut trails on Catskill peaks suitable for summer hiking and winter skiing. In the mid-’30s, trails were created on Pakatakan Ridge behind Margaretville, on Hunter Mountain, Diamond Notch, and Woodland Valley.


A Catskill Catalog: Dec. 16, 2009

A photo of an old-fashioned covered bridge, snow covered, with, maybe, a wreath over its portal, and, perhaps a horse-drawn surrey or sleigh about to cross: a holiday greeting card!
No better place to take that photograph than here in the Catskills.