The Hotel Kaaterskill
Unless otherwise noted, postcards and images from the Seward R. Osborne collection
Kaaterskill Hotel Memorabilia
The bowl and creamer were excavated from a Hotel Kaaterskill dump site by Jean.
Two forks and a spoon recovered by Seward R. Osborne from a Hotel Kaaterskill dump site.
The Kaaterskill published its own magazine. The front cover of the August 1, 1883 edition.
George W. Harding - Proprietor
Photo of George Harding, builder and owner of the Hotel Kaaterskill. Image was taken circa 1893 by Gutekunst, Philadelphia, PA. Courtesy, Library of Congress
From the University of Pennsylvania Archives, Office of Alumni Records Biographical Records, courtesy of Seward R. Osborne:
George Harding, son of Jesper and Maria (Wilson) Harding, was born in Philadelphia, October 26, 1827. His father was the first editor ad subsequently proprietor of the Philadelphia (Inquirer," became also the largest publisher of Bibles in the United States, was largely engaged in paper manufacture, and after retirement from the publishing business served as Collector of Internal Revenue under appointment by President Lincoln. The son entered the Junior Class at the University of Pennsylvania in 1844, became a member of the Philomathean Society, and was graduated in 1846. He then studied law in the in the office of Hon. John Cadwalader, was admitted to the Bar in 1849, and thereafter was engaged in active legal practice in Philadelphia, devoting himself especially to patent law, in which branch of his profession he won distinction. As counsel in the famous "Telegraph Case" of Samuel F.B. Morse against O'Reilly in the United States Supreme Court, Mr. Harding set up and operated in the court-room miniature telegraph lines representing the entire system then existing between New York and Washington. At another time, in a "hat-body" case, he operated machinery so as to make a complete hat in the court-room; and in the "McCormick Reaper Case, "in which he was associated with Abraham Lincoln and Edwin M. Stanton, he introduced into the court-room a miniature grain-field to illustrate the process of reaping by machinery. His most noteworthy and successful effort was the "Tilghman Glycerine Case", when his argument led to a reversal of the Supreme Court's first decision on the same patent. Mr. Harding was made a member of the American Philosophical Society in 1854. He married Charlotte Ludlow Kenner.
Appearing in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, November 19, 1902, from the Seward R. Osborne collection:
Mr. Harding held a foremost place among patent lawyers. He was counsel in several of the most important patent cases tried in this country, notably in that of Samuel B. Morse, the telegraph inventor, who was his client.
Born a Philadelphian, on October 26, 1827, he remained one to the end. He was a son of Jesper Harding, who was for many years proprietor and publisher of the Inquirer, and a brother to the late William W. Harding, who succeeded the father in the management of the newspaper. The late J. Barclay Harding, one of the original owners of the telegraph, was another brother.
After being graduated from the Central High School - Mr. Harding's was the first class graduated there - he entered the University of Pennsylvania, from which he was graduated in 1846. He then studied law, and after three years in the office of the late Judge John Cadwalader, was admitted to the Bar, on September 5, 1849. He soon decided to make a specialty of patent law, and success came quickly. The Morse case was one of his earliest notable ones. In the conduct of this he had miniature lines of telegraph set up in the court room, so that he might illustrate his points graphically. He found such a demonstration so successful that he made use of similar ones in other cases, notably the McCormick reaper trial, in which he had a small grain field spread in the court room. In that case he was associated as counsel with Abraham Lincoln and Edwin M. Stanton.
In the celebrated Tilghman glycerine case, Mr. Harding had a new principle introduced into patent cases to the effect that an inventor of a new process or a discoverer of a new principle holds exclusive property in its use without regard to the arrangement of the mechanism by which an infringer of the patent may apply the principle. Mr. Harding owned the Hotel Kaaterskill, in the Catskill Mountains.
From the Windham Journal, June 23, 1881:
Contributed by Lorna Puleo.
The Hotel Kaaterskill is rapidly nearing completion. By July 1st, everything will be in readiness for guests. The following is a list of officers: E.L. Dutcher, Supt. F.M. Cogill, asst., J.G. Scribner, cashier, E.F. Frost, bookkeeper, F. Howard, timekeeper, A.M. Dunham, Alex McClellan, gang bosses. There are 800 men and 100 teams at present employed on and near the building.
The Hotel Kaaterskill
From the Catskill Examiner, July 8, 1881:
Contributed by Lorna Puleo
Turning off a few rods beyond the Episcopal church at Palenville, one begins the ascent of the mountains by the road made within the year by H.E. Dibble, as a part of Hotel Kaaterskill property. It has been thoroughly built, and the ascent, though steep at times, is upon the whole easy; and in the progress up the mountain one is treated to much fine scenery. The road itself compares very favorable with the famous Catskill Mountain House or Pine Orchard road; but, surely, no one will think of instituting comparison between the views afforded, fine as they certainly are, and the astonishing series that unfolds to one as he proceeds up the mountain by way of Sleepy Hollow and Beach's road. It is all of four miles from Palenville to the hotel at the other end of the road, though Mr. Dibble is engaged in making a short cut which will lessen this a mile and a half or more. An excellent plan for parties visiting the mountains is to go up by one route and return by the other.
The hotel which is set in a terraced park, on South Mountain, fronts the South-East, and is probably the largest mountain hotel in the world - it certainly is a grand structure. The main building is 44x324 feet, four stories, with six story towers. From the center section of the rear and North-West at right angles projects a wing 42x224 feet, four stories; on the first floor of this wing is the dining hall; on the second floor, the reception parlor, main parlor and amusement hall; on the floors above, sleeping rooms. From the East corner of the main building a wing projects 26x90 feet, four stories. From the North end of this wing, another extends to the center section of the main or dining room wing, 30x141 feet, four stories, the first of which is the kitchen, the second the children's dining room, and the others sleeping-apartments. -- These three wings enclose a court-yard 90x115 feet.
In entering the lobby, one crosses a piazza which is 20 feet wide and 256 feet long. To the right of the entrance are the offices, to the left the news and cigar-stand and drug store. Across the lobby, on either side, are grand stairways to the upper stories, and between them the entrance to the dining-room. The main hall crosses the lobby. To the left, on either side, are sleeping apartments; to the right of the lobby, along the main hall, are sleeping-rooms on the river side, and across the hall the passenger and baggage elevators, coat, wash and ice-rooms, barber-shop, reading-room, wine-room, etc. On the first floor of the Eastern wing are sleeping-rooms, baths, etc.
On the second floor are the reception and main parlors, the amusement hall, the children's dining-room, some 77 sleeping-rooms, besides bath, closets, etc. The parlors connect; the first or reception parlor is 41x30, the main parlor is 41x90. The amusement hall is 41x70, and is fitted up with stage and dressing-rooms. From the second story front of the main building there is a balcony, 20x80, from which, as from the towers, the prospect is comprehensive and magnificent.
The upper stories are devoted entirely to sleeping-rooms, of which there are 397 in the hotel. The single rooms are 9x16, the double rooms 16x16, and the ceilings are from 10 to 13 feet. Every room is furnished in blackwalnut and marble, and supplied with gas, water-taps, steam radiators and electric bells. In fine, the Kaaterskill is furnished luxuriously throughout, and is supplied with the very latest appointments of a first-class hotel.
A bowling-alley of four beds and a billiard-room (34x44) are located in the basement. The laundry, a mile from the hotel, will be a one-story building, 80x120. The ice house is 30x65. The barn will be 32x240, two stories, with three wings, each 32x65.
Two million feet of lumber were used in building the hotel, and Mr. Smith informed us on Friday that there would be, when the hotel was completed, not less that fifteen acres of plastering! There are more than 800 windows. While these statistics will interest the general reader, the ladies will be specially interested in the information that there are 15,000 yards of carpet in the house, $1500 grand square piano in the parlor, and a 44 foot range in the kitchen.
The Hotel Kaaterskill, with its surroundings and appointments, has cost not far from $450,000. The proprietor is George Harding, Esq., the well-known Philadelphia patent lawyer. The architect was S.D. Batton of Philadelphia; the master builder, Elias L. Dutcher of Cairo, this county, to whose application and energy it is largely due that the doors of the hotel were thrown open to guests at so early a date; the millwork and the finer lumber came from the factory and yard of E. Lampman, this village; Meech & Dibble, Hunter and Dutcher & Roe, Eastkill, supplied the framing lumber; Smith & Sheer, Albany, had the mason's contract; John Worthington, Philadelphia, did the plumbing; Maginley of Philadelphia the roofing; J.D. Melrose of Po'keepsie furnished the decorations, interior and exterior, Dramell & Dean of New York supplied the ranges, ovens, etc.
The building of this immense hotel, and the laying out of the park and the roads which surround and lead up to it, constitute a grand enterprise; but great as this work is, it has been carried out in some eight months' time, a performance which a few years ago, before the introduction of steam-driven and labor-saving machinery, would have been deemed simply impossible. It is a graceful monument to the inventive skill, and the enterprise and pluck of the Nineteenth Century. That it will "pay," there is abundant assurance in the yearly increasing tide of travel to our justly-famed mountains, a volume which will be vastly augmented when the Catskill Mountain RR. is fairly running and parties can be placed on top of the Catskills in five hours from New York.
Capt. E.A. Gillett, of large experience in Philadelphia,
Newark and seaside hotels, is at the head of affairs in the Hotel
Kaaterskill, and that he "knows how to keep a hotel" the encomiums
heartily bestowed by the party of New jersey journalists who sojourned with
him last week abundantly attest. James E. Beach is the polite and efficient
agent in this village.
From the hotel's printed magazine, "The Kaaterskill" dated Wednesday, August 1, 1883"
THE HOTEL KAATERSKILL, within half a mile of Kaaterskill Railroad Station, is the largest and most magnificent mountain hotel in the world. It is built on the topmost peak of the mountain from which it takes its name, three thousand feet above the level of the sea. From its broad piazzas are obtained commanding views of ten thousand square miles of the valley of the Hudson, with sixty miles of the Hudson River, the most beautiful river in the world, in the foreground. Looking northward, the Adirondacks are seen stretching away from the base, eastward the Green Mountains and the Berkshire Hills, and to the south the Highlands. The hotel has a frontage of six hundred and twelve feet, the style of architecture being exceedingly attractive, and all the material and workmanship of the very best character. The house has accommodations for one thousand guests. It is finished in hard woods -- walnut and ash; while all the metal work in sight is either of bronze or nickel plate. It is supplied with electric bells, is lighted throughout with gas and the electric light, and is heated by the most approved steam apparatus and open-gate fires. The dining-room is the largest and most magnificent of any resort in the world, having seating capacity for one thousand guests. Rooms en suite, with private parlors, baths, etc. The house is connected by telephone with the valley below, and has telegraphic communication with all the commercial markets of the world by special direct wire. The furniture and hangings in the sleeping apartments, dining-rooms and parlors are of the newest Eastlake designs, and of the richest description. In fact, this mammoth hotel on the mountain top has all the improvements and comforts of the most modern city hotel, and there is no house situated in the heart of New York or Paris where the taste and wealth have more liberally contributed to secure to their guests comfort and luxury in the highest attainable degree. The cuisine is a specialty, under the supervision of the very best French artistes.
STOLL'S GERMANIA ORCHESTRA, OF PHILADELPHIA , HAS BEEN ENGAGED FOR THE SEASON.
There are excellent livery and saddle horses, and superior accommodations for private horses and carriages. The Mountain Drives are delightful. Billiard Room, Bowling Alleys, Telegraph Office and Drug Store in the hotel.
The hotel is accessible by an all-rail route to within half a mile by the Kaaterskill Railroad, as follows:
Trains leave Grand Central Depot, New York Central and Hudson River Railroad, 9:00, 11:00 A.M., 3:30 P.M., via Rhinebeck, to Kaaterskill Station and Hotel Kaaterskill.
Trains arrive at Hotel, via New York Central, 2:53, 5:30, 10:00 P.M.
Trains leave New York (Desbrosses and Cortlandt street ferries) at 8:30, 11:00 A.M. and 3:50 P.M., via Kingston, for Kaaterskill Station and Hotel Kaaterskill. (West Shore Route)
Trains arrive via West Shore, 2:53, 5:30. 10:00 P.M.
From New York by Albany Day Line Steamers. Boat leaves Vestry street pier art 8:30 A.M., connecting at Rhinebeck with Ulster and Delaware, Stony Clove and Kaaterskill Railroads to Kaaterskill Station and Hotel Kaaterskill.
Train arrives, via Albany Day Boats, 5:30 P.M.
From Philadelphia (Broad Street Station), 8:20 A.M., through parlor car to Phoenicia. Thence by Stony Clove and Kaaterskill Railroads to Kaaterskill, arriving at Hotel at 4:00 P.M.
1:00 P.M. parlor car to Phoenicia, and arrive at Hotel Kaaterskill, 10:00 P.M.
1:30 P.M. limited express arrives at Hotel Kaaterskill same time as 1:00 P.M. from Philadelphia.
From Washington and the South (Baltimore and Potomac Depot), 8:00 A.M., through parlor car to Phoenicia. Thence by Stony Clove and Kaaterskill Railroad, arriving at Hotel; at 10:00 P.M.
From Baltimore (Baltimore and Potomac Depot, Charles street), 9:00 A.M., through parlor car to Phoenicia. Thence by Stony Clove and Kaaterskill Railroads, arriving at Hotel at 10:00 P.M.
Leave Boston, 8:30 A.M. Arrive at Chatham, 2:06 P.M. Leave Chatham, 2:15 P.M. Arrive at Hudson, 3:10 P.M. Take ferry boat from Hudson to Catskill. Connect with train leaving Catskill for Palenville at 3:50 P.M., arriving at Hotel Kaaterskill at 6:00 P.M.
From Hartford, via Hartford and Connecticut Western Railroad, at 7:15 A.M. to Rhinebeck and Rondout. Thence by Ulster and Delaware, Stony Clove and Kaaterskill Railroads to Kaaterskill, arriving at Hotel at 4:00 P.M.
Leave Saratoga at 8:40 A.M., via New York Central, to Rhinebeck. Thence by Ulster and Delaware and Kaaterskill Railroads, arriving at Hotel at 2:53.
Leave Saratoga, via West Shire Railroad, 8:00 A.M., to Kingston. Thence by Ulster and Delaware and Kaaterskill Railroads, arriving at Hotel at 2:53.
From Albany take special Saratoga train in New York Central at 8:40 A.M., or West Shore, leaving Saratoga at 8:00 A.M. See routes from Saratoga.
Buy tickets and check baggage direct to Kaaterskill over any of these routes. Carriages for Hotel meet all trains at Kaaterskill Station.
Rates for August, $30.00 to $35.00 per week, single Rooms. Double rooms, $60.00 to $75.00 per week.
Rates for September, $25.00 to $30.00, Single Rooms. Double Rooms, $50.00 to $60.00 per week.
Rates for families to be governed by the number and location of rooms occupied.
Maids and coachmen, $15.00 per week
Servants occupying separate rooms, full rates, $25.00 per week.
Transient rates, $5.00 per day.
E.A. GILLETT, HOTEL KAATERSKILL
Kaaterskill Post Office, Greene County, New York.
Newpaper article of the burning of the Hotel Kaaterskill
From The Recorder, Catskill, Greene Co., NY, dated September
Courtesy Lorna Puleo
Palenville - Everyone was startled by the Hotel Kaaterskill fire, which lit up the surrounding county for many miles. Hundreds of cars rushed up the mountain to the scene.
Hotel Kaaterskill Burned
Largest Mountain Hostelry in Country completely destroyed by
On Monday night around 7 o'clock, the western sky was illuminated by a bright light, a wonderful spectacle, which proved to be a fire that was rapidly laying low the far-famed Hotel Kaaterskill, which closed its doors Labor Day after one of the most successful seasons in the history of approximately 40 years.
The big framed structure and several buildings adjoining it were leveled to the ground by the monster demon, it being said that the blaze started in the kitchen, where workmen were engaged in the clearing up of the premises preparatory to closing for the winter.
The Hotel is said to have cost at least a half million dollars and was insured for $150,000 bringing a dreaded loss to its present owner Harry Tannenbaum of Lakewood, NJ who purchased it from descendents of George Harding. Mrs. Tannenbaum, who left the Kaaterskill late in the afternoon was in the village when she learned that the property was afire and immediately returned to the mountain top where hundreds of automobiles had gathered to watch the blaze.
A high wind was blowing and every effort was put forth by the forest rangers and volunteers proved to no avail, the hotel and its contents clearly doomed to destruction. During the past year a mammoth sprinkler system had been built but the fire spread so rapidly that the workmen were unable to put the apparatus in operation. The story of the building of the Hotel Kaaterskill by Mr. Harding is well known, it being recalled that because he was disgruntled with the management of the Catskill Mountain House, he determined to build a Hotel of his own. Subsequently, he purchased a large tract of land on Kaaterskill Mountain securing the services of Elias Dutcher as superintendent and on Sept. 14, 1881, ground was broken for the building. Edward Lennon was master carpenter and under his direction the main part of the Hotel was constructed. Edwin Lampman of this village, then conducting the lumberyard on Water Street, now owned by the Catskill Supply Co, furnished all the materials for the structure. It being taken up the mountain by teams of horses, the doubling up process being employed in carrying the heavy loads up the Clove. Mr. Lampman later did much reconstruction and repair work around the place, which was conducted by the Hardings for many years. As a business venture the Hotel Kaaterskill was never a paying investment, but the present owner of the property has sufficient standing timber to wipe out his loss sustained should he decide to turn it into lumber. The burning of the Hotel will mean a decided loss to the assessed validation of the town of Hunter, which will add considerable to taxes of other property.
Coxsackie Union News, February 1, 1952
Transcribed by Sylvia Hasenkopf from the original newspaper located at the Vedder Research Library in Coxsackie, NY
$1,500,000 Hotel Built for "Spite"
by Mabel Parker Smith
Far yonder on South Mountain stands
The structure built by Harding's hands.
The cock that crew defied him twice;
"I'll build a hotel in a trice!"
Then up the towering hillside went,
To build a hotel he was bent.
He bought the lands stretched near and far
Which then belonged to John Scribner...
Verses from credited to Ezra Cornwall
Solitary as the Catskill Mountain House stands against the green facade of its mountains toady it seems fantastic to recall that it was ever dwarfed, overshadowed and outdone by a rival which, in its day, lorded it over the high horizon. One of the most spectacular tales in the lore of the region is that of a feud on a colossal scale which raged for nearly half a century along the mountain skyline until it literally burned itself out in a blaze of fury one quiet September evening in 1924.
Almost forgotten by the older generations and quite unknown to youngsters and newcomers is the fact that at the peak of its glory and for many years thereafter, the preeminence of the Mountain House was challenged by what was probably the most grandiose, expensive and extravagant competition known to the resort business of that day or this.
Larger Than Mt. House
The competition took shape on the brow of South Mountain between the summers of 1880 and '81 more than two miles distant from and several hundred feet higher than the Mountain House, when the Hotel Kaaterskill rose towering, sprawling, glistening in its mid-century modernity in startling contrast to the timeless beauty of the classic columned Mountain House. More than three times the size of the Mountain House, the Hotel Kaaterskill was publicized around the globe as the world's largest mountain hotel, and every detail of appointment and service was proclaimed to be in accord with that boast.
The Mountain House survived the challenge and remains a cherished landmark while there are few, who, less than 25 years after destruction of the Kaaterskill, could even locate its site on the ever grown promontory it once dominated.
The Kaaterskill was a "spite house" from the first and when it burned the smoke from its $1,500,000 pyre had a fancied odor of sadly overdone chicken to those who knew its story.
Word of the fire reached Catskill shortly before dark with an appeal by phone for all available fire fighting equipment. I went to the fire. The sky was just beginning to clear after long, heavy rains and once we turned off the Haines Falls Beach's Corners road into the Laurel House road thence into the Kaaterskill spur there were fire apparatus, cars and trucks mired all along the way. The narrow, rutted road was through such thick, arched woods with the holocaust at its terminus that it seemed like driving straight into the mouth of a roaring blast furnace. The flames which were reported to have been seen after dark to the east across the Massachusetts line levelled (sic) the great house to a white hot furnace pit in less than two hours.
The fire occurred only a week after the close of a season which seemed to have promised a return of some measure of departed glories. However, insurance on the structure was said to have been either fractional of non-existant and, with both its vengeful builder and the many against whom rivalry was directed long since dead, there were no longer means nor sentiment to restore it.
Conceived in a millionaire's fit of pique because an invalid wife was denied fried chicken for breakfast at the Beach Mountain House in the summer of 1880, the story goes, the Kaaterskill sprang into being almost over a winter's night. It had the fabulous fortune of George W. Harding of Philadelphia behind it. Harding was a patent lawyer of note and had served as Commissioner of Patents in the Lincoln administration. For fifteen summers he had brought his family to the Mountain House. It is more than likely, as suggested by Ezra Cornwall's fragmentary doggerel above, that the chicken-for-breakfast incident was only the culmination of a series of complaints irking the proud and complacent proprietorship of the Beaches. On his part Harding left no mistake that in his estimation he was not being accorded the consideration due a guest of his means and long patronage.
When C.L. Beach in pompous defiance, told Harding to build his own hotel if he wanted fried chicken at odd times, Harding accepted the challenge. In answer the 1,200 room Hotel Kaaterskill opened to guests in July 1881.
Tradition says it was the summer capital of two presidents. Newspaper accounts of 1883 which I read at the time of the fire reported that Ulysses S. Grant was a summer guest of the house with his family that year, the reception to their honor being described at that time as the "the most brilliant these lordly altitudes have ever known." Mr Harding, it was reported, deeded to the General a summer home, Boulder Rock, one of the highest points in the Catskills. In 1884 it was the summer residence of President Chester A. Arthur.
France, England, Germany and South America, as well as virtually every city on this continent sent their summer quotas of nobility, dignitaries and social elite to the luxurious hostelry above the clouds.
Novelist Oscar Wilde, Lillian Langtree, famed English actress, John Wanamaker, who deserted his beautiful villa at Cheltenham, Pa., "to enjoy the salubrious air of the Catskill," and William Belden, for whose twelve horses the stables had to be remodelled, are a few of the names which crowded its registers in those first extravagant, expanding summers.
The tale of the Harding spending spree to make good a boast had traveled fast and far even while the great lodge was a-building and by the time its six-story twin towers topped the skyline the careless supervision of construction had corrupted many a workman until the stories and even evidence of huge misappropriation and open thievery became a legend.
There was no counting the cost under the headlong pressure to complete the structure. Materials were ordered and delivered in fabulous quantities. Carpenters engaged in remodelling parts of the establishment forty years later confirmed reports of lathe carried to the top floor and dumped by the bundle between partitions. A large room under the bandstand, which was one of the few adjuncts to escape the flames, remained at that time piled to the ceiling with unused bathroom fixtures of half a century before. Water pipe, it is said, was in enormous oversupply and was often noted under culverts or by the roadside in the evening but had disappeared by morning.
But if George Harding was a free spender he also wanted what he wanted for his price.
In 1891 the town of Hunter, in which the hotel was located, elected three excise commissioners pledged to "no license" under the prevailing local option law. With the all-out cunning for which he was noted Harding promptly invited the entire legislature of the State of New York, then in session in Albany, and the Town Board of Hunter along with every other politician and influence-wielder he could summon to a great dinner at the Kaaterskill. He chartered a train from Albany and, with all he could hire in Greene and Ulster counties, conveyed his guests up the mountain. Seated at at dinner they numbered 1,360. Whether they knew they were flies on a giant web I have not seen recorded, but after the lavish wining and dining Harding made a speech, brif, but to the point,
"Gentlemen, " he proclaimed, "You here represent the entire legislative power of the State of New York. The Town of Hunter has placed in office men pledged to issue no license to this or any other hotel. You can here and now enact a measure shifting the boundary line of the adjoining towns of Hunter and Catskill just 1,000 feet, thereby removing the Kaaterskill from the Town of Hunter to the Town of Catskill.
On the other hand, the Town Board of Hunter may call a special election and put new commissioners in office."
Hunter soon found two commissioners disqualified and called a new election. Three commissioners were subsequently elected unfettered by qualms about licensing the sale of liquor.
"Polish of the Patrons"
At the time of the fire I copied from an old account in the possession of the late E.C. Titus, early telephone man and electrician serving Catskill and the mountain top area, an excerpt from an inquiry by a prospective feminine guest. She was particularly concerned to know about "the gentility and polish of the patrons, how they dressed, were they endowed with classic tastes and refined notions of existence?" Her society must be of that class, she said. her room must be on the north side and have a ten foot ceiling. There must be a piano, no mosquitoes, nor any of those horrid, noisy frogs. She wanted spring beds, walnut furniture with marble tops. The table she required to be first class, fully supplied with all delicacies, and the waiters must be colored, in full dress. She could not pay over five dollars a week, she said. If her wished could be complied with as indicated, she would come up for a week or two in August. I never discovered whether the requirements were met.
Summer romance is mildly hinted in another notation that Captain Gillett, manager of the Kaaterskill, "is going to have a curved telescope made so he can sit on the front balcony and see clear around the world to the back balcony. This is to break up the flirting there by twilight. A New Yorker started the custom of going to the back balcony at 10 o'clock to see the Northern Lights. The sentimental young couples soon caught the idea and now every night you can see rows and rows of beautiful Philadelphia girls sitting under umbrellas held by flirting New York fellows. When a good Philadelphia father misses his beautiful daughter he goes straight to the Northern Light balcony. He is sure to find her there busily studying astronomy. Her face and the face of her associate astronomer are not to be seen, but if father walks out into the darkness and says A-hem! the umbrella will drop and four bright eyes will be fixed on the stars.
"On cloudy nights they say Capt. Gillett has a man go over in the woods and burn pine trees so as to produce an artificial northern light for the young people. I did not believe this until last night when the northern light appeared directly in the West. Then I knew that Capt. Gillett, who is not a scientist had sent the man to the wrong woods. Professor Proctor has been since written to to run the northern light department of the hotel. A hotel with a private astronomer is a new thing."
Mr. Titus, who was frequently called to spend several days at a time at the Kaaterskill on electrical work, used to quote plaintive lines he said he had read many times where they were scrawled in the wall of a small basement room used by the house staff. Signed by "A Bell Boy, " doubtless after the golden era, they recounted bitterly:
"If by chance your gaze should fall
Upon this old and battered wall
Below you'll find some good advice,
Read it once and then think twice.
Don't take this to be a joke--
Ten to one you'll leave here broke,
For of all the dubs that roam at will
The worst come here to Kaaterskill!
It's take up ice water, take up hot, --
Will you get a tip? Well, I guess not!"
Photos courtesy of Lorna Puleo. The site of the Hotel Kaaterskill today.