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: Nov. 4, 2009

We had just had lunch at the Roscoe Diner and were heading home. The Jeep loves the back roads (as do we) so we left state Route 206, Cat Hollow, taking a right onto the Beaverkill Road into the Middle Mountain Wild Forest.

A Catskill Catalog: Oct. 28, 2009

The baskets are slightly more oblong than round, an eight-inch basket seven inches wide at the handle. The handle itself is two or three willow shoots wrapped around each other arching over the basket at a height about equal to the basket’s width. The willow-shoot handle circles to the bottom of the basket forming its lower spine.

A Catskill Catalog: Oct. 21, 2009

Alf Evers famously subtitled his 1972 history of the Catskills From Wilderness to Woodstock, thus forever cementing the bond between the 1969 concert and our mountains. Sure, the Bethel site of “Three Days of Peace and Music” was 50 miles southwest of the mountain village that gave the Aquarian Exposition its name. And, certainly, the rolling hills and brushy fields of western Sullivan County don’t seem very Catskill Mountain-y. But who’s going to argue with Alf?

A Catskill Catalog: Oct. 14, 2009

The oldest known forest, fossil remains of tree-sized plants, today form a roadside attraction on Route 990V, just off Route 30 in Gilboa. The Gilboa Forest was discovered in 1850 when floodwaters turned up large fossilized tree trunks 380 million years old. That placed the fossils in the Middle Devonian Period of the Paleozoic Era, a time 150 million years, or so, before the Triassic Period, the era of the earliest dinosaurs.

A Catskill Catalog: Oct. 7, 2009

I always get a little catch in my throat when, driving up the thruway, I glimpse the first dramatic rise of the Catskills. Perhaps, it’s a distant yet distinct glimpse of home, but, I don’t think so. I remember the same little well of excitement seeing the mountains when I was a kid, long before the Catskills became home.