Their Interesting People And Picturesque Places
by Nina Alberta Arndt from April 1906 issue of 4
In that peculiarly picturesque region of the
Catskills, with all the intrinsic charm of its many glorious haunts,
one finds a to widely varied range of wild mountain scenery, that to
votaries of nature it is a terrestrial paradise -- a sylvan retreat
where all who enter may possess an Aladdin's lamp, to discover some
new and unexpected treasure.
One feels when seated upon a mossgrown rock,
shaded by the arms of some giant hemlock, that surely:
"Never is heaven nearer than here on a
Up in the grand old mountains dreaming the
hours away. "
In wonder and admiration the eye dwells upon
the queer forms and shapes that Nature in her varied moods has carved
in the massive walls of rock by which you are surrounded.
The noise of the trip hammers from a quarry
just below reaches your ears, and from a point of observation you
watch the strong arm men, as their ponderous hammers descend upon the
huge rocks, in what appears to you to be an endless task.
In reply to your curious inquiry, a man pauses
with uplifted hammer to inform you that comparatively few of these
quarries are run on a large scale; but, like the one here, the
greater number are worked by the associated effort of three or four men.
With a farewell look at the quarry, you make
your way down a winding, rocky path to the picturesque South Road,
one of the oldest in this part of the country. Every now and then you
pause to breathe in the pine scented air and, looking back at the
steep precipice, where, on the bare rocks, the fir- and balsam-trees
shoot upward toward the sky, you marvel how these trees derive their
nourishment with their roots so fantastically overhanging the cliffs.
On the vagrant breeze comes the dreamy sound of
a waterfall. You follow its babbling murmur, until you come in view
of a wild mountain stream which gushes from an opening in the cliff,
and, leaping from rock to rock, plunges its foamy waters into an
exquisite little lake. It is a place to enjoy the wild beauty of
nature, a place where new thoughts, new inspirations are born. You
will not leave the spot until it is been engraved like an intaglio
upon your memory, so that at will you may recall the picture in all
its pristine loveliness - the brilliantly blue sky, with the white,
feathery clouds floating leisurely over the high blue peaks of the
mountains; the huge rocks decked with emerald moss; the wild
grape-vines twisting their coils and tendrils from tree to tree; the
plunging and cascading of the waterfall; and the meteoric brightness
of the lake glimmering beneath the noonday sun.
In a dreamy mood you finally make your way back
to the road, and idly wander until you reach the village post-office
and general store. You gaze curiously at its barn-like appearance, at
the queer characters congregated there. It is the noon-hour, and
they're waiting for the one great event of the day, the arrival of
the rural mailman--whose white horse can be seen coming leisurely up
the road at a snail's pace. A smile curves your lips, as you mark the
contrast between this raw-boned farmer, in his blue-jean overalls,
and the city postman, in his spruce gray uniform. Nevertheless, in
sunshine or storm, the rural mailman is as faithful as his city
You ask this unique "Uncle Sam" how
he likes traveling the mountain roads in stormy weather, and a mild
look of surprise breaks over is on its features, as he strokes his
chin and drawls: "O-h, I do-n't like it so ve-ry good".
Then as you gaze around the strange little
group you suddenly become interested in a little towheaded child, and
wonder why she is so carefully guarding an egg she holds in her
chubby fist; while with longing eyes she gazes at the small
assortment of candy the store contains. Your curiosity is soon
gratified, when you see the egg exchanged for an "all day
sucker," and are told that pennies in this part of the country
When about to leave the post office store you
stop, and wait for an old mountaineer who is coming down the road.
You never miss an opportunity of having a chat with this patriarch of
the village. Although his long thick locks and beard have been turned
snowy white by Father Time, his broad shoulders are so little bent
you can scarcely realized they have felt the weight of 95 years,
until you recollect the you are in the region of Rip Van Winkle; and
when you leave this old veteran, it is with the proud feeling that
not every day are you privileged to meet a man who was fought in the
Mexican as well as the Civil War.
Sauntering on, your attention is attracted to
an old sawmill standing somewhat back from the road. You listen to
the ceaseless rumbling of the great water wheel as it rapidly
revolves, throwing water back into the mountain stream, in a mass of
feathery, white foam.
A little further and you come upon a gigantic
boulder, surrounded by silence, and solitude. The noise and bustle of
city life is forgotten, a new world opens before you, and for once in
your life you feel the great exultation of being "monarch of all
A strange sort a fascination steals over you;
you listen intently to catch the softest whisper of Nature. When lo!
from the deep umbrage of the woods nearby come seductive voices,
which seem to be coaxing you into its wild embrace. One moment you
hesitate, but the charm is too strong to be resisted; another moment,
and the green walls of the forest have closed in upon you. Through
the tangle of greenery overhead the light is sifted until it becomes
a soft green Twilight. So obscure and spectral is it that it gives
the place an almost awesome enchantment. The emerald moss gives no
sound of your footsteps as you make your way through a labyrinth of
underbrush, quite oblivious that it is of little suggestive of
snakes, and only last night you heard that bears and even wild cats
are occasionally seen in this vicinity.
But, today, no thought of fear comes to dampen
the joy you feel as each woodland sound becomes more and more
distinct. Everywhere you find pleasant resting-places. You feel like
"Alice in Wonderland," as your eyes fall upon a large
rabbit hopping about on the ground, and you watch him as he scampers
off a little distance, then cocking up his long ears, pauses to
looking at you. Occasionally you'll hear the clattering of the
squirrels which are chasing each other among the limbs of the trees
above your head. Now and then one sits up on his haunches and looks
slyly and curiously at you with his bright eyes. A little further on
a partridge is drumming upon an old log, and suddenly a quail rises
with a whirring sound, and flies lazily away as you approach. Yet
through all these woodland sounds you think how still it is! A
stillness that seems to be forever fighting for supremacy-though you
know that were you tempted to break the silence, a thousand voices
with echo back the sound, for--
" In this beautiful land of dreams,
The woods are all vocal with song;
While the breezes catch up the refrain
And pensively waft it along."
The trees, the brooks, the winds, and the wild
creatures of the forest have sung all day in your ears. Now, at its
close, there is something indescribable in the pleasure and ecstasy
you feel as you sit in the growing twilight and marvel at the
grandeur and glorious sublimity of this enchanting sunset picture.
Your strong, intent gaze is fixed upon the mountain where, high above
all others, looms the Titan form of High Peak. Over it dark shadows
are stealthily creeping, while, just behind, the dying sun sends up
an unclouded blaze of fiery light.
The lingering shadows lengthen until at last
the giant's dusky robe is woven. Now it stands like some mighty
volcano, as three broad shafts of crimson dart across the heavens,
like ribbons of fire, rendered still more realistic by the deeply
purple clouds floating low above the mountain. It is grand,
wonderful, sublime--one of Nature's pictures, that no artist's brush
has ever had the power to reproduce. You almost hold your breath as
you intently watch the mountains, one by one, grow more and more
indistinct, fading away until the dark form of High Peak alone is
silhouetted against the still crimson afterglow of the sky.
A long drawn sigh--then night and darkness
reign. There's something in this Erebus darkness which makes itself
felt. All weird legends of the red man who once lived in Rome among
these mountain with began in your memory. So they do your imagination
you almost expect to hear the wild will of the Indians, as his torch
pierces the darkness, but all the vigilant eye can discover are busy
fireflies searching through the blackness with their tiny electric
Suddenly, as if by magic, the vast black canopy
has changed to a star bespangled heaven. Then, slowly, moving
silently like a ghost, the moon appears and, by the witchery of its
pale, soft light, transforms the scene into the indescribable glory
and beauty of fairyland. Under its mystic spell the silence is
broken. The sighing of the night wind, the shrill song of the
whippoorwill, the deep bass of the frog, the ceaseless cry of
"katy-did! katy-did! katy-didn't! katy-didn't!" falls in a
musical symphony around you. For every sound with its reverberating
echoes mingles and blends in the perfect harmony of Nature's own
wild, sweet lullaby.
A drowsy feeling steals over you--and you pass
from a land of dreams into the arms of Morpheus.