Lost Villages author Sive to lead tour on Saturday

Halcottsville — Explore the villages “lost” to the reservoir system with Mary Sive, author of Lost Villages: Historic Driving Tours in the Catskills, on Saturday, Aug. 7 at 9 a.m. at the Pakatakan Farmers’ Market on Route 30, Halcottsville.

Participants will travel with Mary to see remnants of villages now under the Pepacton Reservoir. The tour will include a stop at the Pepacton Cemetery where many of the 2,000 grave remains from “lost villages” are re-interred. 

The tour leaves the market at 10 a.m. and returns by 2 p.m. Author-signed books will be available. Visitors should pack a lunch, water, and gear necessary for the forecast.

After retiring from a career in library service and publishing, Mary Robinson Sive was able to make her home on the property near Margaretville she and her husband had purchased many years earlier. Passing the Pepacton Reservoir almost daily, she thought about the communities that were flooded out of existence in the 1950s and the ones under what is now the Cannonsville Reservoir. 

She decided to learn more and Lost Villages: Historic Driving Tours in the Catskills was the result. In years gone by there were farms and settlements up and down each valley and hillsides were cleared for pasture. Besides being a leading dairy producer, Delaware County supported many industries, and chimneys of acid factories and tanneries can still be seen along its roads. Old cemeteries often are all that remains of the former communities.

The tour will point out tell-tale marks on the landscape that are clues to the past and help participants visualize what was once there. The drive will start on Route 30 and proceed to Halcottsville, an example of a town that got shoved off to the sidelines when the road was straightened and proceed south noting abandoned railroad beds, bridge abutments, the Stone School, a quarry, and remains of a mill.

Mary will point out the signs along the route marking the former sites of Arena and Union Grove and visit the Pepacton Cemetery on the shores of the reservoir where some 2,000 bodies had to be removed from cemeteries that were to be flooded, and many are reinterred there. At the Shavertown Bridge the tour will view the kiosk telling the story of the valley, then return on the back road.

Back at the market, Becky Nielsen will demonstrate her unique painted river rocks from 10 a.m.-noon. Nielsen began painting river rocks just eight years ago and enjoys hunting for the right stones, ones that have been naturally sculpted and offer hints of the final outcome.
The “Catskill Arts & Air” open-air arts series is presented by the Catskill Mountain Artisans Guild in collaboration with the MARK Project with support from The Roxbury Arts Group, the Pakatakan Farmers Market of the Round Barn and the Delaware County Historical Association. For more info visit www.catsguild.org or call 845 586-3443. Funded in part by generous grants from the Catskill Watershed Corporation and the A. Lindsay and Olive B. O’Connor Foundation.

The market operates each Saturday through Columbus Day weekend from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Admission is free. For information, visit: pfmarket.org