2017-07-26 / In This Place


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By Kate Van Benschoten

My theme this week could be summed up as “This Day in History.” I perused those issues of the Catskill Mountain News which were published on July 26th, from the available archives of 1902-1973. I found so many interesting pieces, it was difficult to choose which to reprint. I hope you enjoy my choices!

July 26, 1907:

These two brief articles, both appearing on the front page, felt a bit like “the beginning of the end” for so many small hamlets in our readership.

West Shokan Condemned

Maps for Sections of No. 8 and 9 of the Ashokan reservoir which take in the village of West Shokan, have been filed by the city of New York in the county clerk’s office, and commissioners of appraisal for these sections will probably be appointed in September when the entire village will be condemned. Contractors View Ashokan

In two weeks bids will be received by the city of New York for the construction of the Ashokan dam, and as the time for submitting bids draws near the contractors who are to submit the bids are becoming more and more interested.

For two days intending bidders, their representatives and assistants, have been investigating the land where the big dam is to be located and the contiguous territory, and a number of the men are now traveling around the section covered by the dam.

This article, on the other hand, had me in stitches. As the wife of a land surveyor, I found it surprising to see a term like “rods” used as though it were a commonly used measurement among all people. I wonder if it really was. However the “details” here are so far from accurate I had to wonder who was making the calculations; perhaps the land owner? It is common knowledge that the highest peak in the Catskill Mountains is Slide Mountain, which has an elevation of somewhere between 4,180-4200 feet (according to Wikipedia the exact “elevation of the summit has never been officially determined by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey”) so the claims described here are a bit of a stretch, to say the least. I am also suspicious of the writer’s description of what happened to the trees. Tornado?

Wildcat Mountain

Wildcat Mountain, a twin of Hog Mountain, owned by Daniel Smith of Griffin Corners, is becoming a very popular drive for summer tourists. This peak is about three miles from the village and has an altitude of nearly 8000 feet. A fairly good road leads to near the summit, and a walk of a few rods gives one of the finest views of mountain scenery to be obtained in the Catskills. Five counties can be seen, Ulster, Greene, Sullivan, Schoharie and Delaware. There are a number of ‘sliding rocks’ near the peak, of interest to geologists, and other features of interest. The top is destitute of trees. Once a forest covered the mountain, but a ‘big wind’ came one July day long ago and blew every tree down.

July 26, 1935

Two articles, both appearing on the front page, remind us that flooding in our area is nothing new, and that we have been working to find ways to protect our communities for a very long time indeed.

Effort for Flood Control

An effort is being made for a flood control committee for the 10 Southern Tier counties of the state. The counties included are Delaware, Broome, Steuben, Chemung, Schuyler, Tompkins, Tioga, Cortland, Chenango, Otsego.

This committee would be a ‘representative group which can and will speak for the entire area; reconcile differences, if any should arise, between the various sections involved, and serve as a clearing house liaison body or board of strategy in the interest of the entire area.’

Inspected Flood Area

A committee consisting of several representatives of the national government as well as local and county men made a tour of inspection of the flood damage at Delhi Saturday. The government men included Rep. Riley J. Wilson, chairman of the House flood control committee; Reps. W. M. Withington of Missippi; Bert Lord, Afton; and Alfred Beiter, Buffalo, Frank Donovan, Governor Lehman’s personal representative in the interests of those affected by the floods was also present.

An ad from July 26, 1935 for a business still operating today. It fascinated me that the following article was “news” at one time… talk about taking things for granted!

Nine Make Request For Social Security

Six applications were filed Wednesday for social security benefits from among the 28 interviews conducted by Representative John Chase in Margaretville. Last week Mr. Chase conducted 25 interviews and accepted three applications for benefits. The next interview session will be held Wednesday, Aug. 14, starting at 12:30 pm at the town building.

This article was a stark reminder of the role our local hospital once played in the area, as well as being representative of changes in medicine itself (note the average length of stay!).

Hospital Cared for 411 in June

The Margaretville hospital cared for a total of 411 persons in June. This number includes both regular admissions and out patients. The below statistics are taken from the June report of the hospital.

Census beginning of month 20
Out patients
Patients in at end of month 22
Average patients per day
Average days’ stay
Births 12

July 26, 1973

As a kid who growing up here in the 1980’s, spending summer days with the youth recreation program at Mine Kill State Park was the highlight of kid-socialization, so it was with great interest that I read this article about its beginning.

Lt. Gov. Will Dedicate Power Site Tuesday

Dedication ceremonies of the Blenheim-Gilboa pumped storage power project and the new Mine Kill state park will be held Tuesday, July 31, at the park, along Route 30 north of Grand Gorge. Lt. Gov. Malcolm Wilson will deliver the principal remarks at the ceremonies, which will begin at 11 a.m.

The Blenheim-Gilboa project is the first built by the authority subsequent to the 1968 legislation directing it to construct pumped storage projects. Mine Kill state park was built by the authority as part of the project and will be operated by the Saratoga-Capital district parks and recreation commission of the state office of parks and recreation.

A full day of activities has been planned for the public, including opening of the threepool swimming complex.

Draft Offices Being Merged

Operation of the Selective Service system under standby conditions has led to the consolidation of the offices of Delaware, Otsego and Chenango boards. Rev. Ray Donahue, selective service chairman for Delaware county, said the combined office would be at 195 Main street in Oneonta.

Young men must continue to register within 30 days before or 30 days after their 18th birthday, but the availability for order of draft service will be chosen by lot each year.

Local registration in Delaware county will also be continued at most schools, including Downsville, Andes, Margaretville, Walton and Grand Gorge central schools. Advisors to registrants in this area are Principal Robert F. Prout of Roxbury central school and Miss Doris Gavette at Margaretville central school.

Marijuana Left By “Gardeners”

Shandaken town constables and Deputy Sheriff John Stone found a box of marijuana plants after receiving a tip from a town of Shandaken resident over the weekend. The grocery carton full of plants, most of them about a foot high, was turned over to the Ulster county sheriff’s office for destruction.

The officers are looking for two young men, reported seen in the vicinity where the plants were found. One was seen carrying a shovel, the other a rifle.

Though most of my generation knew this venue as the TBar Saloon, I was warmed with fond memories of my late friend John McAlonen when I saw this ad from the July 26, 1973 issue

The Fleischmanns News, by Frances M. Davis

Karen Roadman of Margaretville and Mike Leary of Virginia were guest speakers at the meeting of the United Methodist Youth Fellowship at Fleischmanns Sunday night. Accompanying them were Barbara Dury of Arkville and Fred Harris of New York city. Musical entertainment was furnished by Mike Leary and Fred Harris on guitar and flute.

Editor’s Note:

News correspondent Frances Davis is still alive and well into her 100’s and lives independently in Arkville.

A 1973 ad for a by-gone annual tradition:

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