New York’s Catskill Mountains remain a popular destination for skiing, hunting, trout fishing and hiking. Its history as a booming summer resort, which began in the nineteenth century and continued through a period when a portion of it was known as the Borsch Belt stimulated the construction of a number of structures that today serve as reminders of an earlier time. Boarding houses and cottages that once attracted tourists from New York City and the elaborate resorts that followed tell the history of a remote region that was transformed into beloved summer colonies.
While that era is gone now, railroads that once transported tourists, smaller nineteenth century-hotels that provided them lodging, and some taverns that were once the sites of political and social celebrations are now museums or serve as antique shops or other retail enterprises.
In this book, read about a variety of sites that remain under the mainstream tourist destination radar. Visit Woodchuck Lodge, the boyhood home and final resting place of renowned naturalist and author John Burroughs. After touring Zaddock Pratts’ home in Prattsville, visit an elaborate rock carving that took twenty-eight years to complete and tells the story of his life in the town that was named in his honor.
Walk a trail that spans five locks of the Delaware and Hudson Canal, a 108-mile waterway built in 1928, and learn about the massive operation in a nearby museum. Spend time at a Woodstock arts colony that was founded in the early twentieth century and still exists, albeit as a smaller community. Visit a nearby rustic chapel that still offers worship services after nearly 125 years. Tour ten stone houses that date back as early as 1685 and, for a period, served as New York’s capital when the British burned down Kingston. The mill complex of the Hanford family, which operated on the same site from 1846 to 1967, provides visitors with an enjoyable and educational look at a family-run business that consisted of a sawmill, gristmill, lumber yard and feed store.
Houses of worship were critical to early settlers and vintage structures built for various faiths remain open to the public. A battleground and fort from the Revolutionary War in the Lower Delaware region offer a first-hand look at the era while three mid-nineteenth century covered bridges in one town still thrive in quaint surroundings.
These sites and many more are excellent getaway destinations. Take a day trip or wander the area for a weekend to visit lesser known historic sites in the region.These are the “hidden treasures of the Catskills.”