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A Land Of Streams

Catskill And The Catskill Region
From the Lippincott's Magazine Of Popular Literature And Science Sept. 1879

Entrance to Kaaterskill Clove

Entrance to Kaaterskill Clove

 A land of streams! Some, like a downward smoke,
Slow-dropping veils of thinnest lawn, did go;
And some through wavering lights and shadows broke,
Rolling a slumbrous sheet of foam below.
They saw the gleaming river seaward flow
From the inner land : far off three mountain-tops
Stood sunset-flushed; and, dewed with showery drops,
Up clomb the shadowy pine above the woven copse.


 

"In old times, say the Indian traditions" — thus writes Mr. Diedrich Knickerbocker—"there was a kind of Manitou or Spirit who kept about the wildest recesses of the Catskill Mountains, and took a mischievous pleasure in wreaking all kinds of vexations upon the red man. Sometimes he would assume the form of a bear, a panther or a deer, lead the bewildered hunter a weary chase through tangled forests and among ragged rocks, and then spring off with a loud Ho! ho! leaving him aghast on the brink of a beetling precipice or raging torrent. The favorite abode of this Manitou is still shown. It is a great rock or cliff on the loneliest part of the mountains, and, from the vines which clamber about it and the wild flowers which abound in its neighborhood, is known by the name of Garden Rock. Near the foot of it is a small lake, the haunt of the solitary bittern, with water-snakes basking in the sun on the leaves of the pond-lilies which lie on the surface. This place was held in great awe by the Indians, insomuch that the boldest hunter would not pursue his game within its precincts. Once upon a time, however, a hunter who had lost his way penetrated to the Garden Rock, where he beheld a number of gourds placed in the crotches of the trees. One of these he seized, and made off with it, but in the hurry of his retreat he let it fall among the rocks, when a great stream gushed forth, which washed him away and swept him down the precipice, where he was dashed in pieces, and the stream made its way to the Hudson, and continues to flow to the present day, being the identical stream known by the name of the Kaaterskill."

This account of its enchanted birth may be readily received by all the lovers of the picturesque who have followed the Kaaterskill from its source to its junction with the Catskill Creek just before it loses itself in the Hudson. Its path down the mountain-gorges is diversified by every variety of waterfall, cascade, rapid and whirlpool. As a mere matter of curiosity, one is interested to see what a small stream may accomplish in the course of a few miles in its frantic haste to reach the valley. The Kaaterskill has its head-waters in the North and South Lakes, near the Catskill Mountain House, and sets out upon its career with a bold plunge of two hundred and sixty feet into the ravine—the Kaaterskill Falls. Next, after a leaping, swirling, foaming, eddying course down the glen, it makes the descent known as Bastion Falls, after which it pursues a winding way through the grottos and caves and around the beetling crags, ledges and cliffs of the Kaaterskill Clove.

The word clove in this significance perhaps requires interpretation. All the passes or clefts in the Catskill Mountains are called cloves. Besides the Kaaterskill Clove there are Plattekill and Stony Cloves, each offering grand and romantic scenery. The Kaaterskill Clove is perhaps the dearest of all to artist and tourist, from its combination of a lavish and large - featured sublimity with the most delicate and subtle effects of picturesqueness. The ascent to the Mountain House by this road is in every respect a contrast to the one described in our first paper. Along the old road the eye is tempted every moment to the momentarily-widening circumference of the grand view opening behind. Through the Clove the mountain-ranges close in upon one another and shut out all but the peaks themselves and the skies above. After passing through Palensville the beauty and the grandeur of the Mountain Pass all at once open before the eye. On the right towers High Rock of Palensville Overlook, seventeen hundred and twenty-eight feet of sheer precipice above the bed of the Kaaterskill below, with Grandview House perched on the summit. The effect is sudden and startling, and the key of strong feeling is at once definitely struck. The feeling of utter wildness ; the majestic repose of the peaks above ; below, the shaded and cool track of the ravine through which the stream finds its way among rocks and ledges in intervals of cascade and foam; ahead, the dark and misty gorge curving far away ; while behind rise the grand mountainforms,—all combine to impress the eye and charm the heart. Few hints of animate life are to be met here. An eagle resting on the dead branch of some towering pine, or a bear issuing from a rocky grotto, would be eminently in keeping with the scene, which now impresses one almost too vividly with its wide, unbroken, desolate solitude.

Bears, panthers, wild-cats, and even deer, were until within thirty or forty years numerous among the Catskills, and within fifteen or twenty years solitary bears and panthers have ranged near enough to the dwellings of men to be seen and fired at ; but it is now only a tradition about the howling of wolves and the scream of the panther alarming the farmers by night, and an occasional eagle soaring aloft over his old eyries is certain to become the billet of some presumptuous bullet.

Profile Rock

Profile Rock. Kaaterskill Clove

Mr. Hall, the artist, has a charming summer-house, built in picturesque mediaeval fashion, in the very midst of these wild, deep, lonely gorges. And the "summer boarder" too may find quarters here. The "summer boarder," indeed, is the steady developing force through all the Catskill region, and sets in motion enterprises for which anything except a powerful pecuniary motive would be inadequate. Years ago, when the lovers of the picturesque were rarer than today, and when the only notion of mountain - scenery was the wide view to be gained from the top of the heights, a gentleman from New York, an enthusiastic tourist, came to Catskill and engaged one of the mountaineers to pilot him about the less- frequented paths and byways. The visitor was of an imaginative and poetic frame of mind, and entered upon each fresh scene with delight as he traversed the glens and followed the rocky beds of the streams through tortuous ravines. His cicerone bore his zeal, his exclamations, his quotations, his loudly-expressed admirations, as long as he could, then cynically remarked, " I say, mister, you come from New York, don't you ?"

Yes, the gentleman came from New York.

" Wa'al, then, what would you say s'pose I went down there an' was to go gawkin' round as you do here ?"


That was a generation and more ago: the Catskill mountaineer of to-day may wonder in his secret heart what strange impulse sets the steady stream of summer boarders moving toward the mountains, but he accepts the idiosyncrasy as a providential interposition in his own behalf, and makes his profit out of it.

Church's Ledge and bridge, Kaaterskill Clove

Church's Ledge and bridge, Kaaterskill Clove

 

Fawn's Leap, Kaaterskill Clove

Fawn's Leap, Kaaterskill Clove

We have already called this "a land of streams." All the Catskill region abounds in waterfalls : there are by actual computation about one hundred and fifty cascades of noticeable beauty. Along the Clove road one hears from every side the sound of the rushing, roaring streams, softened by distance and blended into a murmuring music with a plaintiveness and suggestiveness all its own. In order to find the streams whose perpetual babble fills the ears it is necessary to make many a detour, to descend into glens, struggle along rocky beds and penetrate deeply-wooded ravines. Musing over flood and fell is apt to be the reward of considerable climbing. It would be impossible to give an idea of the variety of beautiful and lovable cascades to be found within an hour's walk from different parts of this road. Drummond's Falls, Bastion Falls, Dog Hole, Buttermilk Falls, Fawn's Leap, are but a few of the names. The two latter are too easily accessible to demand fatigue. It would be difficult to find a more charming stretch of road-scenery than is presented between Profile Rock and Fawn's Leap. Church's Ledge overhangs the road, and on the other hand the Kaaterskill plunges down the rocks, swirling and eddying around the great boulders which impede the way. A little farther on the thunders of Fawn's Leap drown the gradually-decreasing sound of the rapids. This is an exceeding beautiful waterfall, named from the incident recounted of a fawn's escaping a hunter by a bound from one brink of the precipice to the other. The stream falls over a perpendicular wall seamed and channelled with the water-marks of the long centuries.

Following this brook up its wild bed to the foot of Haines's Falls is one of the most charming of pedestrian excursions. The rocks, the prostrate and decayed trunks of giant pines cushioned with moss or entwined with creepers, the green nooks on every hand embowered in vines, the tall pines towering from the cliffs above, the silver birches with their long roots clinging closely to the rocks and scanty soil, —all these offer hints to be worked up into poems or pictures, or simply to charm the mind and heart of the lover of such wild secluded places where Nature, and Nature alone, shows her handiwork.


But to ascend to Haines's Falls we will return to the road, and pass along the site of the great tanneries which formerly filled this region with activities. On the right are signs of a clearing where there was once a settlement of tanners, now overgrown with a slight second growth, with here and there lofty pines of the primitive forest raising their stately heads. As the way grows gradually more steep we pass the place where the terrible landslide occurred, which still shows such fresh marks of the destruction it wrought that one is compelled to shudder. In fact, the whole stretch of the Clove road suggests the ease with which accidents might happen : it is never broad, and the narrow gauge, mended on the brink of a precipice with spruce and pine boughs and stones, calls for prudence on the part of the traveller. The spring freshets make the road wholly impassable for a time, and the summer storms cause terrible havoc. The soil in these parts is of red sandstone clay, and the dust is fine, penetrating, and often so deep that it seems actually impossible to walk through it. A gentle shower would often help the pedestrian, to say nothing of the teamsters. But it was probably of Catskill Mountains that it was first said, " It never rains but it pours ;" and the effect of praying for rain might be similar to the experience of the good woman who lived on the side of a hill and had a garden which in a dry summer was parched by drought. She applied to a Methodist minister, asking his prayers in this emergency. His supplications were at once answered by a terrible deluge, which not only watered the good woman's vegetables, but swept her garden entirely away. " There !" she exclaimed, "that is always the way with them Methodists: they never know when to stop."

Looking back after passing the "landslide," one begins to estimate the difficulties of the long ascent through the gorge. The mountains no longer interlock, shutting out the horizons, and from the heights now gained the valley of the Hudson and the blue hills of New England become visible.

Fawn's Leap, Kaaterskill Clove

Falls In Buttermilk Ravine

 

 

Cliff In Artist's Glen, Kaaterskill Clove

Cliff In Artist's Glen


The Haines House is situated on the bluff above the falls. None of the numerous hotels and boarding-houses of Tannersville has a better reputation, and the guests have the privilege of hearing a manly and vigorous expounding or the Word every Sunday morning by the zealous and worthy landlord. The ravine of Haines's Falls is of indescribable beauty. The waterfall itself is the flow of a hundred rivulets over the brink of the tremendous precipice. When the full stream is not turned on, the rills become almost lost in the descent, and blow about like ribbons of fine gauze floating in the air. Down in the shady, mossy depths of the ravine this phantom of mist and foam becomes like a procession of ghosts, ever plunging on, beckoning, pointing.

There is no end to the falls of this stream. In one quarter of a mile the descent, al] told, is almost five hundred feet. The cascades are eight in number, and of every variety and degree of beauty. One from its lustrous and gleaming splendor might well be called the Silver Cascade ; another is roofed in by rocks; almost every one is gemmed by an iris and played over by the most exquisite hues. To look back at one point and catch a glimpse of the long series of cataracts is to enjoy a moment of startled and delighted surprise. There is in the Catskill region such a wealth of loveliness that one hesitates where to place a resting finger and declare, "This is the most beautiful ;" but in the ravine beneath Haines's Falls one is tempted to decide that one can ask for nothing better.

Tannersville is now the favorite resort of the regular summer boarders in the Catskill region. There can be no healthier place in the world. As we have said before, the " summer boarder " is everywhere here the lever of advancement. Telegraph-wires run all over the mountains, and the Wall street operator may enjoy recreation in this bracing air and at the same time not lose sight of the fateful bulletins of the Stock Exchange. There are boarding-houses and hotels without end, and there are enterprising Haineses on every hand, varying in reputation, it is currently whispered, from saints to sinners. " Mulford's " is a great resort of Philadelphians, and the good-humored, handsome face of the proprietor, combined with his rare ability in keeping a hotel, has made him for years a favorite with the summer travellers from the Quaker City. " Norman Gray's," which for more than two generations has been the most frequented hostelry in the section, is now kept by Mr. Roggen.


Round Top and High Peak raise their massive forms above this broad tableland we have gained. Midway between these two mountains were formerly the remains of a fort used during the Revolution as head-quarters for the Indians in the pay of the British, from which they used to descend into the valleys below, seize unarmed men and carry them off as hostages and prisoners. These acts of hostility were common all through the war. Accounts of these captures, and the long imprisonment which followed, have been preserved. The Abeel house, some three or four miles from Catskill on the road to the mountain, is still standing. " One Sabbath evening in the spring of 1781 the Abeels, having just returned from a religious meeting, were taking their supper, when their house was suddenly entered by Indians and Tories. They were taken wholly by surprise, so that there was no time to seize their guns, which were on the brackets attached to the great beams overhead ; nor would they have been of any use to them had they done so, for the negro servants or slaves of the -family, being leagued with the Indians, had during the day taken the priming from the guns and put ashes in the pans. . . . The house was plundered, chests and tables were split in pieces by the Indians with their tomahawks, beds were ripped open, feathers scattered, and small articles of value were carried away. The women of the family were not molested, but David and his son Anthony were taken prisoners. As David was advanced in life, he would not have been taken away had he not recognized one of his Tory neighbors who was painted and disguised as an Indian, incautiously saying to him, Is that you ?' The Tory replied, ' Since you know me, you must go too.' . . . The prisoners were led by way of the mountains, and spent one or two nights in a small fort on the south-west slope of Round Top, beyond the Kaaterskill Clove. From this fort they went down the banks of the Schoharie Kill. Da. vid Abeel, being old, fell behind in the march, until, having overheard one of the party say that it would be necessary to kill him, he strained every nerve and kept up with them. . . . Their destination was Canada : they had a vast unbroken wilderness to pass, and, finding no game in the midst of it, they well-nigh died of hunger."

Arrived in Canada, they were delivered up to the British authorities, who hada humane and merciful way of paying their savage emissaries a certain reward for prisoners or their scalps. The Abeels were confined first at Montreal, then at Quebec, and lastly on the Isle of Jesu, with a large party of American prisoners. From this island they contrived to make their escape, the record of which is worth studying.

During their captivity, under the very eyes of sentinels and guards, it is related that they celebrated the Declaration of Independence on its anniversary with four gallons of wine, two of rum and a suitable amount of loaf-sugar ! It may seem to us, a century later, as if destiny had appointed such an admirable work for our forefathers to achieve that it was well worth the suffering for, but they knew nothing of the rewards, and grimly and patiently and hopelessly held by their opinions, treading in paths which it was difficult to keep, feeling the chill air and waiting through darkness. There 'were good patriots among the Catskill Mountains.

It is a fortunate circumstance for the lovers of Catskill scenery that the present generation of landowners have awakened to the necessity of preserving the beauty of their forests and wooded nooks. The most magnificent forests have been hitherto wantonly sacrificed on every hand to the paltry needs of the hour. The pioneer and early settler is a true vandal, and the instinct of destruction is strong within him, while he has not the discrimination to choose the place he is to devastate, and ends by injuring his own property for generations. It is a strange sight to see the landowner who has relentlessly given over acres of magnificent oaks, chestnuts and pines to the woodchopper, setting out puny saplings to build up shade and beauty again for his possessions. One instance of wanton sacrifice is related. The owner of some acres of the heavily-timbered mountainside offered them to one of the largest real-estate proprietors in the section, setting the price at an extravagant figure. Not being ready to pave the ground with gold, although he desired the property, the rich man declined to buy except at a reasonable price. The owner retorted by cutting down every tree on his lots, thus doing his best to injure the beauty of the lovely mountain-road. Nature exerts herself to repair such wanton mischief with her lavish gifts of vine and fern and moss and coppice. Everywhere in the clearings may be found the glossy laurel, which in June and July delights the eye with its lovely clusters of pink-andwhite blossoms; ferns of every variety known to the climate —the exquisite maiden-hair, the delicate lady - fern ; and all those plumy emerald tufts with which Nature delights to finish up her waste places into a high perfection which no gardener's art can rival. The flora of the region is extensive, and embraces flowers of almost every latitude. In spring and early summer one may find a pretty study of the seasons in tracing the blossoms as they follow each other up the heights. Snow often lies deep in the extensive woods between North and South Mountains in May, when the roses are budding in the valley, and the first spring flowers and the first tender red maple-leaves come trembling out when the full panoply of summer foliage is spread to the breezes of the lower earth. The mountain-ash, with its clusters of red berries, is here found in perfection. White oak, red oak, holm oak, birches, iron-wood, balsam firs, spruce, white cedar, pine and juniper, maples and mountain-willows, are among the varieties of trees which mingle their luxuriant greenery in the sea of billowy verdure that clothes the mountain-sides. Here is to be found a kind of pine which is rarely seen elsewhere. It grows to no great height, and instead of shooting its stem straight up to the skies, is gnarled, knotted, tortured into shapes which suggest the punishment of those sinners whom Dante found in one of the circles of hell. The pines of all varieties are among the chiefest beauties of Catskill wooded scenery. The numbers of evergreen trees indeed preserve the features of the landscape views, and even in the depth of winter rob the mountains of dreariness and lend color and light to the snow- and ice - covered world. In fact, the Catskills in winter present characteristic beauties which the luxuriant greenery of summer hides. The grand forms of the mountains can be more distinctly seen with their scars and seams ; their abrupt and massive cliffs clearly limned against the luminous azure; the well-defined ridges which mark the regular geological formations ; the shadows of the deep gorges, and the lofty summits with their thick covering of ice sparkling in the white sunshine. The mountains clasp Winter to their rugged bosoms, and love her better than the fairest and sweetest summer bride. They hang upon her glittering gems, clothe her in shining and gleaming white, and deck the world for her in myriad crystal forms.

Old Tannery, Kaaterskill Clove

Old Tannery

 

 

Bastion, Kaaterskill Clove

Bastion Falls


The distinctive features of the Catskill chain are its cloves, where the mountains have been cleft and riven asunder, while on either hand the steep, abrupt summits are left towering above in bare, rugged, imposing grandeur. In the winter these cloves, with their precipices, deep ravines, waterfalls and rushing torrents, take on a magnificence which is all their own. The thousand rills which trickle from the verge of the cliffs a thousand feet above congeal, and form glittering stalactites, columns and pillars of ice fluted and crowned with capitals of exquisite beauty. The cascades freeze into wondrous forms, their spray taking flower-like shapes of inconceivable loveliness: the streams become a bed of ice, every ripple and swirl and rapid transformed into shapes which in their aerial delicacy surpass the power of pen to describe. Over this world of ice and snow bend the eternal pines with an everlasting refrain of sadness and prophecy moaning in their branches. Mr. Stone, a Catskill artist, has embodied these scenes in a clever charcoal sketch, illustrating Heine's weird and charming conceit :

A pine tree is standing lonely
   In the North on a mountain's brow,

Nodding with whitest cover,
   Wrapped up by the ice and snow.

It is dreaming of a palm tree
   Which, far in the morning-land,

Lonely and silent, sorrows
   'Mid burning rocks and sand.

But while we have summoned up a picture of these deep mountain-gorges in winter's icy solitudes, it is yet the summer-land that we are treading, and suggestions of January blasts are to be met with only in the great trees lying prone in the forest—the rocks upheaved and torn from their beds in the path the avalanche has left. Nature quickly covers up the ravages she has wrought, and over the fallen tree she weaves a mantle of ivy and creeper and moss which decks it in more than its primitive beauty.


One of the privileges of mountain-life is the ease and diversity with which one may achieve novel and exciting enterprises. In this vast area of rocky heights and deep ravines lurk all sorts of beautiful undiscovered places which beckon the seeker into the charming distances.

The old fancies of dryads and naiads seem neither fantastic nor strange here as we peer into the dim colonnade and see the white spray of a waterfall taking wreathing shapes, summoning, alluring, pointing and following each other. And along the shadowy forest-aisles the sunlight, flickering down upon the tree-trunks, transforms the dim vistas into shifting and alternate spaces of brightness and gloom which suggest impalpable forms circling around an oak tree. To be sure, these fancies vainly beckon, waylay and pursue, and always vanish : there is neither dryad nor naiad when one stretches out one's hand to grasp the vision ; but one has seen them, for all that, and the spirits of the waterfalls and of the tree-trunks are an actual part of these fairylike and enchanting solitudes.

It was suggested to our artist that a certain shelving rock in one of the illustrations of this article might very well set off the figure of a fisherman, but he replied that there were no fishermen now-a-days in the Clove, and that his sketches were in all respects studies from Nature and the actual. Stories are, however, preserved of great fishing-exploits in this section a few years ago, and since now - a- days pisciculture is an enterprise enthusiastically undertaken by several men in this region, it is confidently predicted that in a year or two more it need no longer be a tradition that the mountain - streams were once full of fish. In Stony Clove and Warner's Kill trout weighing from twelve ounces to a pound apiece are often caught in great quantities. But the vigorous methods of American anglers show little appreciation of the real pleasures and ameliorating influences of the Waltonian art. A trout is a creature of delicate intuitions and fine discrimination, and has no fancy for leading a life like that of a frightened sheep. A true sportsman loves sport with a keener delight in the experiences it offers than in its results ; but an American is in such haste to be doing, to be accomplishing something, that he often loses the charm of these loiterings by the way. The derisive silence of our woods and mountain-sides, our brooks and streams and bays, answers him when he starts for a day's fishing or shooting. We have forgotten that one thing is necessary in order to allure the timid creatures of the forest into the old multitudinous abounding life—i. e. the right to live. We call the English brutal in their love of sport, while the fact remains that an Englishman is in sympathy with every living thing. An American, perhaps for the reason that his ancestors were compelled to fight against the wild animal life of the unbroken continent, has his hand against every beast of the field.

But we must go back to Kaaterskill Clove, and after passing Fawn's Leap, Buttermilk Falls, etc., leave the road at Lake Creek Bridge and take the footpath through the glen to the foot of Kaaterskill Falls. It is a walk abounding in picturesqueness, offering on every hand charmed vistas which inspire a wish to sit still and dream all day. The sound of waters is for ever in our ears with its perpetual cheerful babble or its loud and deep-toned roaring as we approach Bastion Falls. At this lovely place we cross the stream, and, still ascending the banks, soon reach the foot of the Kaaterskills.

The voice of this waterfall is one of peculiar melody, and through the trees as we make the approach we see

Waving apparitions gleam

of the lovely shining cataract. This is the fall which inaugurates the wild career of the Kaaterskill down the mountain - gorges to the valley. "Ce n'est que le premier pas qui cote;" and this is a step over a precipice of three hundred feet. As we approach from below the huge ramparts of rock, semicircular in shape, frown above, and in the centre the cascade plunges like a shining spirit carrying a torch lit with the very whiteness of heaven into the shady depths below. The first descent is one hundred and eighty feet, into a rocky bed through which the hissing waters force their way for a few rods, then fling themselves over the second wall of rock, some eighty or ninety feet, making the entire descent from two hundred and sixty to two hundred and seventy feet. Viewed from the glen below, the cascade is scarcely broken to the eye, and the effect of one continuous fall is gained. What it lacks in volume it makes up in delicate and aerial charm. Its shining spray is tossed into feathery flakes and takes on the most exquisite effects of light. Except for this leap of the mountain-brook, this mighty gorge would have no feature to redeem it from an almost savage desolation; but with this wild, wayward creature of life and light springing from on high into the very heart of the rocky waste, the scene is transformed into one of the rarest beauty. Everywhere indeed in this region, as we have already remarked, the most delicate and charming prettinesses are wedded to the rugged grandeur of the massive mountain-forms.

Kaaterskill Falls

Kaaterskill Falls

 

 

Road To Mountain House

Road To Mountain House


Between the ribs of gray rock of the hardest basalt a thin stratum of light, friable stone of shell formation has gradually worn away, leaving a natural gallery running round the huge amphitheatre directly behind the upper Kaaterskill falls. The overhanging rock projects some seventy or eighty feet, and the cataract viewed from this point is the most charming sight imaginable as the light stream, broken into fleecy flakes, is swayed hither and thither by the wind and begemmed with glittering iris tints.

The falls in spring and autumn, when swollen by the rains, carry a considerable volume of water, but in the summer-time the bulk is reduced, and it is the habit of the owner of the place to dam up the stream, and let on the waters for a half hour's rush and roar at stated periods, by way of enhancing the effects.

A wooden staircase takes one to the top of the gorge, and from every pointof the ascent the falls present new features of beauty, while from the very brink of the shelving rock, where the stream leaps fearlessly into the tremendous chasm below, the whole ravine opens with its surpassing lovely wildness.

Watching a cataract from above on a summer's day, one feels the dizzy fascination of its tireless flow. Everything seems to tend toward it. A bee comes flying on his homeward way laden with wild honeysuckle sweets, and, feeling the cool breath of the air-currents above the cataract, is drawn toward them a moment ; then, having yielded, he tries to regain his poise, but staggering with the weight is carried helplessly over : a butterfly on new - found wings, zigzagging from point to point and resting his bejewelled pinions on every leaf and rock which offers a support, is sucked into the spray and goes fluttering down. It seems an easy death to die. There is, however, a story told of a young man's falling over the lower falls, a distance of eighty feet or more, and escaping comparatively uninjured ; and a dog belonging to Mr. Schutt, the proprietor of the Laurel House close at hand, fell over the upper falls, one hundred and eighty feet, and was so little hurt that he scrambled up the sides of the steep banks with small air of astonishment at his misstep. These stories go some way in giving an air of veracity to Oliver Goldsmith's description of the Falls of Niagara when he says that Indians often pass over them in safety in their birch-bark canoes.


Laurel House—or "Schutt's"—just on the brink of the rocks, is a well-kept and comfortable hotel, accommodating forty or fifty boarders. It is a pleasant feature of these mountain-resorts that the names of the proprietors are more often used than the distinctive titles of their hotels. They do their best to render all sorts of pleasant services to their guests, and their cordial welcome and generous cheer year after year are as much counted on by their returning boarders as the scenery and bracing mountain-air.

The Laurel House (so called because all about the Kaaterskill Falls the laurel grows and blossoms in wonderful luxuriance) is two miles from Catskill Mountain House. The paths and roads between the two hotels are full of beauty, but one may walk through the forest-path to South Lake, and row across that beautiful sheet of water, thus cutting off half the way.

Most of the best things of the region lie within the radius of a few miles from Catskill Mountain House. One of the wild wood-paths, diversified with ten thousand picturesque vistas, leads alongthe top of the mountains to Palensville Overlook, High Peak, where there is a little house called "Grand View " which overhangs the Clove. But, in truth, there is no end to the expeditions to be undertaken in this region, and the wealth of beauty offered requires more than one summer, or even two, to be rightly appreciated. Few of the summer boarders at the Mountain House attempt more than easy drives to accessible places and one or two scrambles up South and North Mountains. There is, in fact, such rare entertainment in the panorama of sky and cloud and landscape spread out before the eye that one may well be satisfied with that boundless circumference, and feel content to watch the sunrises and sunsets and view the colors which burn from east to west, and west to east again. Sunrise is a continually-recurring phenomenon of wonderful beauty which no one observes except on mountain-tops. While darkness broods over the world there is something mysterious, even awful, in the thought of the sleeping valleys, the peaceful rivers, the forest wildernesses; and it is a relief to have dawn bring the whole wide earth into rosy light, rousing into glad activities the cattle upon a thousand hills and the whole worldful of busy men. Often at daybreak the valley below is like a turbulent ocean full of snowy billows, and the mountains on which we stand seem stranded in a shoreless sea. Sometimes a sharp wind tears the mists into ribbons as soon as the sun touches them, but again the morning is well advanced before the vapors roll up the mountain- sides, the valleys open to the eye, and the river, smitten by the sun's luminous track, begins to glitter and glimmer.

Nothing can easily exceed the calm and majestic beauty of a clear sunrise on the Catskills. The sun comes up from behind the mountains of New Hampshire hundreds of miles away, and the march of the day over the intervening hills and plains is glorious. Sunsets too are very beautiful from these heights. Sometimes the golden light gives way to a violet, then fades into a clear soft gray, which enfolds the earth with the tenderness of a benediction : again, when masses of clouds bar the west or furrow the zenith, where they catch the radiance, the world is filled with surpassing glory. Often in July and August while the sun goes down the lightnings are playing along the dark purple banks of cloud on the northern and eastern horizons, making the lower earth curiously dark and strange and spectral as the last hues fade from the west and leave only those sudden flashes fantastically to light up the valley—ghostly presences which add sombreness to the darkening landscape and the glooming sky. Then when the cold night-winds begin to murmur through Pine Orchard there comes a curious weird impression of distance from the actual living, breathing world. Nature seems dominant and humanity distant.

The other mountain - gorges — Stony Clove and Plattekill Clove—we must leave comparatively unnoticed, although both abound in grand and beautiful views. Stony Clove in some respects possesses the grandest scenery of the region, but its frowning peaks are more barren and rugged, and it is not brightened up by the incessant cascades and rapids which fill the Kaaterskill Clove with beauty. Warner's Kill, already mentioned as an excellent trout-stream, flows through a part of this gorge, and is a favorite tramp with fishermen.

Plattekill Clove is several miles south of Kaaterskill Clove, and may be reached either from the valley below or the western mountain - roads. This clove, which in some respects is more beautiful than any other, has been as yet little opened to any save adventurous spirits, from the fact not only that the roads are comparatively rough and dangerous, but that a considerable amount of hard pedestrian work is required in order to reach the most picturesque bits of scenery. The Plattekill is in itself unique in its beauty, and its course presents the most interesting features. In a stretch of two miles it falls twenty-five hundred feet. Its sides are high mountain-walls covered with almost unbroken forests. South Peak, four thousand feet high, belongs to this range. On the top of these mountains is a tranquil lake. The Plattekill Clove rejoices in traditions and legends, and within a few years many interesting remains of the old Indian forts have been discovered there. The early settlers of the valley below had much to suffer from the savages in the way of violence and atrocity.

In the earliest days of the Dutch settlements in Catskill there were golden speculations of the wealth of Ind to be found in the Catskills. On one occasion, when some treaty was to be signed with the Indians, the chiefs presented themselves decorated for the ceremony with their richest paints and dyes. One of these pigments had so shining an appearance that it attracted the attention of the Dutch : they procured a quantity of it, and sent it to New York and had it tested by some of the experts of the day. It was declared to be pure gold. An enterprise was immediately set on foot to discover the sources of this rich ore, and a party of men, guided by an Indian, sought the place and returned with bucketsful of the precious dust. This, or a quantity of it, was despatched to Holland, where a gold-seeking expedition was at once fitted out. The ship was lost, however, and all on board perished. A second crew of Argonauts had the same fate, and, some of the original gold-seekers being lost, the enterprise was for the time abandoned.

A few years later, in 1679, a glittering substance was found in the washings of a rivulet after a spring freshet, which was pronounced to be silver ore. The landowners in the neighborhood at once set out to find the bed of silver, but no sooner had they begun their explorations than the heavens poured forth a deluge : thunders rolled, lightnings flashed, the streams were swollen into torrents, and the houses of the presumptuous silver-finders were washed away. It may thus be seen that the Catskills contain treasures of gold and silver ore, under the spell of

Woven paces and waving arms

although they may be. The guardian spirits of the Kaatsbergs, who haunt the mountains and rule the weather, hanging new moons up in the skies and thriftily cutting up the old ones into stars, do not so easily part with their possessions. " If displeased," so the chronicle runs, "the spirit will brew up clouds black as ink, sitting in the midst of them like a pot-bellied spider in the midst of its web, and when these clouds break " woe betide the gold-seekers!

We ought to feel grateful for these little touches of romance which have taken shape as tradition and render the Catskills unlike any others of our mountains. In the plain daylight of this century we make no myths, feet no joyous mountings of poetic beliefs, but search curiously and coldly into the meanings of old-time stories. Thus the Hudson must always be our one legendary river, and its mountain-peaks and ranges will be haunted by the spirits that once peopled the beautiful solitudes. One cannot help hoping that the Catskills—isolated as they are from the steady march of progress which must go on developing the east bank of the river; will long remain a little aloof from the changes and improvements of the age; that their passes will continue to open infinite vistas of silence and repose ; that their desolate gorges will be unlightened of their mystery and gloom, and the streams and cascades still sing their everlasting song. Mountains should not he belittled to answer practical demands : the more they stir the wild impulse, the aerial dream, of achieving heights hitherto unattempted, the better they answer our need.

Let not the Catskills be made more accessible : they are accessible enough. We want no railroads, no improved means of transportation, to transform pleasure - paths and byways into highroads. The old lumbering stage-coach was the vehicle best suited to the mountain - roads. The traveller by coach, cramped, crushed, stifled, wearied, could then be easily induced to stretch his fettered limbs and gain relief by a few hours' tramp along the roads. It is in such journeys that one finds rock and fern and moss and tree-trunk full of beauty, and each turn in the winding road a noticeable incident.

Now-a-days, "platform-wagons," as they are called, are rapidly taking the places of the old stage-coaches. Owing to the superior lightness of these vehicles, distances have become less formidable and mountain-ascents less fatiguing than of old. Self-indulgent men and women that we are, there is some comfort in annihilating a few of the long hours which used to measure the miles between the Hudson and the various places of summer resort; yet there is a loss in it all. The old-fashioned stage-coach—with its cumbersome wheels and its brakes and its chains, its inside passengers stifled by the heat and closeness, and its outside passengers blinded by the glare and choked with the dust, its fatigues, its ennui, its apathy, its hatred of the conceited bore of an old-fogy passenger who remembers his youthful days of coaching, and gives his reminiscences with a view to lightening the dullness—has its compensations. A man escapes from it with a wild sense of emancipation and a rapt consciousness of the actual beauties of the way, which become the leisurely joy of the traveller when he finds his own feet, and no longer cheapens the worth of his journey by the jogging miseries of the ride.

At any time of the year the Catskills generously reward the pedestrian, but after September comes in with its, cool, exhilarating mornings, October with its fresh, dazzling days, there is an inspiration in the crisp air which would render the most sluggish man buoyant with high spirits as he strides along the mountain-roads, climbs the steeps, and gains the view from the heights of the vast undulating plains below, melting into blue mists of distance, lit up by gold and silver gleams from the river. It is then, perhaps, that we find the Catskill region the fairest.

 


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