Saving Cooper Lake

DSC-3091 - s

Cooper Lake in Ulster County is the water supply for the City of Kingston. It also happens to be an extraordinarily beautiful spot where locals and visitors enjoy walking. Because it is a water supply, it’s off limits to such activities as swimming, boating, and fishing. This somewhat “untouched” feature adds to its appeal.

But now Cooper Lake is under threat. A water bottling company in California wants to buy some 1.75 million gallons of water a day from this Catskills treasure. That means machinery, possibly a chain link fence — whatever, a complete ruination of the lake as we now know and love it. You can read the details at http://savecooperlake.org.

Locals are up in arms. Walk through Woodstock and you’ll see signs and posters in almost all the shop windows. Meetings are held, petitions are being organized.

My own argument for saving Cooper Lake — aside from loathing any project, anywhere, that prioritizes the almighty dollar over all other considerations — doesn’t need words. A picture, as they say, is worth 1,000 words. I’ve photographed Cooper Lake more times than I can count. These are from Thanksgiving weekend.

DSC-3084 ed s

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

DSC-3098 s

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

DSC-3123 s————–

Still in need of a Christmas gift? Looking for something that shows off our beautiful region of the globe? Check out our book Historic Hudson Valley: A Photographic Tour.

Advertisements

Hunter Foundation and Albany Institute

DSC0224  levels 236 s

Happy Easter, happy spring! It looks as if the long winter is finally over, and with that comes new activity. I just want to tell you about two special activities coming up:

The Hunter Foundation’s 2014 Online Auction begins today, Earth Day. The Hunter Foundation is located in what IMHO is the most beautiful area in the Catskill region; you can visit their website to learn about their mission and goals.  I had the honor to be invited to donate one of my photographs to their auction and so I chose one of my most popular ones, Catskill Woodland Glow (shown above). The winner will receive this, beautifully framed, along with a copy of our book, Historic Hudson Valley.  Please visit their website to see the page for my entry — there are many good prizes here, it’s for a worthy cause, and I hope you’ll bid on something to help the Hunter Foundation and perhaps win something you’ll enjoy.

Also — this Sunday Anton and I will be speaking about our Historic Hudson Valley at the Albany Institute of History and Art! That’s Sunday April 27 at 2 pm. We’re quite excited to be speaking at the place that houses not only one of the most impressive collection of Hudson River School paintings anywhere but also the complete collection of Thomas Cole’s papers!  Here is the AIHA home page — you can get directions there — and here is the page featuring our talk. Hope to see you there!

Antiques Store in Hunter is a Treasure Trove

Ed IMG_2034 s

The Mountain Top region of the Catskills is home to an amazing number of artistic, creative, and literary people. Cindy Smith is one of them. Cindy and her husband, Dan, operate the Antiques store located at the crossroads of Routes 23A and 296 in Hunter (you can’t miss it–it’s just to the west of the junction, on the north side of 23A — at 8176 Main Street).

EdIMG_2040 TC sCindy’s path and mine first crossed at the Mountain Top Historical Society‘s annual Open House, where we were each selling our wares. Because of my interest in historic sites, for possible photographic subjects, I was attracted to the reproductions of historic postcards that she sells, and I bought some for future reference. Not long afterward, I met up with her again at — guess where — a postcard show sponsored by the MTHS at their Haines Falls headquarters. And so during one of my days of rambling round the Mountain Top with my camera, I stopped into Cindy’s store to see her in situ.

I was amazed at Cindy’s knack for filling these few rooms in this lovely old building with as many wares as possible without the effect being one of clutter and jumble.  Actually, the ambiance was warm and homey. I loved it.  In addition to the gently used items — “Old Treasured Belongings,” as she calls that side of her business — she also operates “Handmade by Cindy,” items she makes herself. Handbags in various styles and colors, scarves — you name it.  In addition to her store, Cindy can be found at the many Holiday Craft Fairs in the area. I believe she and I will both be selling at the Craft Fair in Windham on December 14.EdIMG_2040 TC s

These are some photos I took inside Cindy’s store (with her gracious permission, of course). I’ll be processing some photos as “vintage” images and will post them on my photo blog when they’re ready.

Speaking of photos, you can now purchase signed copies of my book Historic Hudson Valley: A Photographic Tour at the Tannersville Antique & Artisan Center! Be sure to check out this fabulous shop and gallery run by Rick Thomas.  Actually, it was Cindy Smith who first alerted me to this Center — another example of the close-knitted artistic community on the Mountain Top.

Ed IMG_2036 s TC

 

Colorful Poughkeepsie

Poughkeepsie's historic Main Street district. The building on the right houses the Mid Hudson Heritage Center, where I'll be doing a talk and book signing on Thursday October 24.

Poughkeepsie’s historic Main Street district. The building on the right houses the Mid Hudson Heritage Center, where I’ll be doing a talk and book signing on Thursday October 24.

Poughkeepsie in Dutchess County has been an underexplored territory in my photographic repertoire, and yesterday I set out to put that right, especially since I’ve been invited to give a talk there at the Mid Hudson Heritage Center later this week, in conjunction with a book signing for our Historic Hudson Valley: A Photographic Tour.

The “Queen City of the Hudson,” as Poughkeepsie is known, is home to many sites of historical significance, including the Bardavon Theater. It also contains the eastern terminus of the 1.28-mile-long Walkway over the Hudson State Historic Park, the longest elevated pedestrian bridge in the world. The result of a determined community effort to transform an abandoned railroad bridge into something that people can enjoy, the Walkway stands 212 feet above the Hudson River and offers superb views.

Poughkeepsie boasts a number of historic districts. Here are some photos I’ve taken of the Main Street district. One of the buildings houses the Mid Hudson Heritage Center, one of the city’s leading cultural institutions.  My lecture and book signing (I’ll be talking about the Hudson River Artists and showing slides of some of their work and mine) is Thursday October 24 at 7.30 pm.  Join us if you can!

This amazing sculpture stands along Main Street. Can you find me in the picture?

This amazing sculpture stands along Main Street. Can you find me in the picture?

A mural about the Hudson's own "Loch Ness Monster." I once encountered him and dubbed him "Hudson Henry."

A mural about the Hudson’s own “Loch Ness Monster.” I once encountered him and dubbed him “Hudson Henry.”

Another view of Main Street

Another view of Main Street

 

 

The Resurgence of Catskill Village

Ed IMG_1697 s

You don’t have to live in New York State to have heard of the Catskill Mountains—such classic American authors as Washington Irving have made sure of that—but the village of Catskill? Well, its reputation doesn’t spread quite so far—at least, not now and not yet.

Ed IMG_1691 sIt wasn’t always the case.

Despite its name, Catskill isn’t a mountain town—it’s a river town, a very old river town, and therein lie its history and its claim to fame. Native Americans were on hand to greet Henry Hudson when he reached what is now Catskill on his voyage up the river that bears his name. The first Dutch settler, one Killiaen van Rensselaer, likely came to Catskill in 1630. Catskill was incorporated as a village in 1806. Even before this, it had established its importance as a crossroads for commercial and leisure travel. The Susquehanna Turnpike, completed in 1801, had Catskill as its terminus. Thus Catskill became a major point for travel to the American West. Travelers coming up the river from New York—before decent roads were built, steamboats were the method of transportation—would change at Catskill for Albany or Montreal to the north, or the Berkshires or Boston to the east.

One of Catskill’s most renowned residents, as is well known, was Thomas Cole, founder of the Hudson River School ofEd IMG_1684 s painting. But did you know that Samuel Wilson, the original prototype of the popular “Uncle Sam” figure, was also based in Catskill? Wilson was a government meat inspector who was responsible for stamping “U.S.” onto shipments of meat bound for West Points and other destinations to the south during the war of 1812—hence “Uncle Sam.”

The 19th and early 20th centuries were prosperous times for Catskill. In addition to tourism—in Main Street alone several nice hotels welcomed longer-term vacationers as well as tourists wanting to spend a night here either before or after a sojourn in the Catskill Mountains to the west—the shipbuilding, tanning, and other industries flourished here. By the mid-20th century Catskill entered a period of decline, but its bicentennial, celebrated in 2006, provided impetus for a revitalization, as residents and owners of buildings were encouraged to breathe new life into the classic architecture.  Local historian Ed IMG_2864 sRichard Philp, author of Catskill Village in Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series, credits the restoration of Thomas Cole’s house Cedar Grove, now a National Historic Site, as a major factor in Catskill’s rebirth.

Here are some photos I took last Sunday on a walk through Catskill, along with one I took earlier of the Catskill Country Store. I stopped in for an enjoyable chat with proprietor Carol Wilkinson and can highly recommend her coffee and other tasty products. The Thomas Cole House was having its annual Open House, so some of the photos are from that unfailingly enjoyable event.

Drinks, snacks and lots of fun abounded at the Thomas Cole site’s Open House! This was also a great opportunity to see the current art exhibition on 19th-century painter Albert Bierstadt for free.Ed IMG_1703 s

 

 

 

 

Ed IMG_1706 sThomas Cole himself was on hand to greet visitors.

 

 

Last but not least: Our book Historic Hudson Valley was for sale at the Visitor Center!Ed IMG_1702 s

Mountain Top Historical Society, Your Hosts in Haines Falls

DSC0003 ed Top crisp 8 x 10 - s

Memberships and magazine subscriptions come and go–I’m sure you know the feeling as well as I do–but there’s one organization of which I’m pleased to say I’ve been a continuous member for a number of years, and that’s the Mountain Top Historical Society (MTHS). Based in Haines Falls along Route 23A (the same daunting road that takes you up (and up C DSC0102 sand up) through Kaaterskill Clove, the MTHS was founded some forty years ago with the mission of “of discovering, interpreting, sharing and preserving the artifacts and documents that tell the story of the towns and the people of the Great Northern Catskills” (from its website). The variety of events offered by its dedicated band of directors and volunteers ensures that there’s something to satisfy all interests — from historical lectures to art exhibits to hikes. The archives preserve invaluable information and artifacts related to regional history, and the quarterly publication Hemlock offers articles of historical interest as well as updates on its activities.

875 small copy sAmong the regular activities of the MTHS is its annual Open House, held on a Saturday in late August. Come along and you’re sure to enjoy entertainment, an informative lecture and possibly an art exhibit, food–and vendors.  Local farms display and sell their produce, local craftspersons their handiwork, and regional artists, including photographers, their works of art. Master photographers Francis X. Driscoll and Larry Gambon are welcome regulars. This year Anton and I will be “vending” for the first time, selling and signing our new book Historic Hudson Valley: A Photographic Tour and ourBook cover photographs. Here’s a sneak peak at a few of the images we’ll be selling.

DSC0195 - HDR adj cr sThe MTHS Open House for 2013 is Saturday August 24 from 11 am to 5 pm. Hope to see you there!

Mountain Top Historical Society Exhibit Highlights Twilight Park

Ed IMG_1414 sThe Mountain Top Historical Society (MTHS), based in Haines Falls, is simply amazing for the amount of work they do to preserve, chronicle, and educate people about the history and culture of this area of the Catskills called “the mountain top” — think Route 23A in Greene County, Hunter, Tannersville, Haines Falls, and you get the idea of the location of this fascinating region. Yesterday I journeyed to the MTHS’  beautiful 20-acre campus to view their current exhibition celebrating the 125th anniversary of Twilight Park.

Ed IMG_1419 sHow to describe Twilight Park? Discreet. Low key. If you’re driving west on 23A, keep your eyes peeled for the left-hand turn once you exit Kaaterskill Clove or you’ll miss the entrance.  Twilight Park is a summer community founded by Charles T. Wingate in 1888, at a time when such communities were growing in popularity. It didn’t take long for the new community to experience considerable growth: by July 1888 there were already six log cabins, five cottages, a clubhouse, a pharmacy, and tennis courts. Sports of all kinds have been a mainstay of Twilight Park, as have the arts. The first exhibit of the Twilight Park Artists was held in August 1947. Originally begun as an experiment exclusively for Twilight Park residents, the show is now open to all artists and is held the second weekend of August.

Ed IMG_1420 sThe MTHS exhibit celebrating the 125 years of Twilight Park is a comprehensive and varied collection of memorabilia that brings to life this Northern Catskills summer community. Sports trophies abound, as do visuals documenting the community’s ongoing interest in and involvement with the arts. There is even a tea set from the days when the Ladies Auxiliary held tea lunches to benefit the local church.

The exhibit is in the restored Ulster & Delaware Railroad Train Station on the MTHS campus. Enhancing the exhibit will be two upcoming lectures. On Friday July 12 at 8 pm, historian Bob Gildersleeve and Joanne Ainsworth, author  of We Are Creating a Community, will present “Creating a Community: Early Images of Twilight Park” in which they will introduce glass plate negatives that have been donated to the Society by Dr. Stanley Leavy. On Friday July 19 at 8 pm Nicholas Lemann will present “The Prehistory of Twilight Park,” focusing on Charles Wingate, the Twilight Club in New York City, and the historical and intellectual thinking that gave rise to Twilight Park and similar communities.

IMG_1416 s

If you’re interested in the history of an amazing community in the Northern Catskills and want a great introduction to the tireless work of the Mountain Top Historical Society and its picturesque surroundings, I can highly recommending attending one of these events. Visit the MTHS website for further information.

Book coverIN OTHER NEWS: Our book Historic Hudson Valley: A Photographic Tour is published this month! Click the image for details.