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Haines Falls

by O.P. Button
Author and publisher

Price 25 cents
71 Barclay St.

New York

Courtesy of Ann Clapper
Transcribed by Vernon Aldrich


HAINES FALLS is about two thousand feet above the valley of the Hudson, and twelve miles back from the river, in the town of Hunter, Greene County, N. Y.

The settlement derives its name from the cataract on the property of Mr. C. W. Haines, about one-quarter of a mile distant from the Haines Corners railroad station of the Kaaterskill road, and near the head of the famous Kaaterskill clove; it is in the very heart of the grandly picturesque Catskills, and is one of the loveliest spots on earth.  The unpolluted air, fresh from Heaven, and the fine mountain scenery, give life and vigor to the blood and a joy to mere living, unknown in thickly populated sections.

The mountain sides are well clothed with hemlock, cedar and pine, and the resinous perfume in the air makes it an especially desirable place for persons afflicted with throat and lung difficulties.  It is now well provided with good hotels and boarding houses, where pleasant rooms and board can be had for six to twelve dollars per week. 

The central attraction is the Kaaterskill Clove, with its wonderfully grand cascades and awe-inspiring cataracts.  Most noteworthy of these are the Haines Falls, where the waters take their first plunge.  A fine sheet of water here leaps down a gorge four hundred and seventy feet deep, making in its descent a succession of cascades.  In its first mad rush, it is precipitated over a sheer rock, and has an uninterrupted fall of one hundred and fifty feet, and as the waters shoot out into the chasm below, they assume varying billowy forms of whitest foam and spray.  The gorge, or clove itself is wildly picturesque, affording an endless number of inspiring subjects for the pencil of the artist.  The chasm is perhaps two hundred feet in width at the top; the first one hundred and fifty feet is perpendicular rock, with sides nearly as clean cut and uniform as masonry.  Artificial steps in broken sections, affording convenient resting places, lead to the bottom, where a fine view of the rushing torrent is obtained.  Passing further down the ravine by a path that is a compromise between the natural and artificial, you become more and more impressed by the charms of this wild spot, where the Creative Power seems to have indulged in the utmost extravagance of form in rock scenery; for nature has wrought, here, with a wonderfully lavish hand a scene of exuberant and ever varying savage beauty.  Large trees grow at all angles from all possible crevices in the rocks, and ferns and little creeping vines cling all along their sides, and with only a distant glimpse of the sky, grow and blossom under the spray of the hurrying waters.  This ravine in its entirety, is the greatest of the many attractions of the Catskills.  Thousands of excursionists come from long distances, every season, to visit Haines Falls, and a trip to the Catskills would not be complete without this view; yet of the many who come and go, few gain any conception of the beauties of this wonderful place.  New features and new charms greet your vision at every turn throughout the four mile clamber down the clove.  To see the beauties of the clove to the best advantage and without hurry, a short residence should be secured at Haines Falls, and, as will be seen elsewhere in this book, it is central to many other points of interest.



Directly facing Haines Falls are the famous mountain peaks, “Kaaterskill High Peak” and “Round Top,” their summits reaching the height of three thousand eight hundred and three thousand five hundred feet respectively.  Their sides are thickly clothed with verdure.  Mr. C. W. Haines has blazed the trees from the Falls to the very top of “High Peak.”  The path, four miles in length, leads over several elevations, and as a portion of the way is rather stiff climbing, it requires pluck to make the ascent; but the view from the peak on a clear day is unsurpassed by that from any other elevation in the Catskills.  A ridge connects “High Peak” and “Round Top,” and about midway on the opposite side from Haines Falls, there is an old Indian fort, built for holding “rebels” in the Revolutionary times, and the spot is known to-day as the “tory swamp.”  A short distance from the top of the falls, and a little higher up, the rock formation is very interesting, the immense walls on the mountain side being made of conglomerate.


Just below the Haines Falls on the Kaaterskill clove road, is the “Great Slide,” or Wash-out.  Here the road has been washed away many times, down into the chasm several hundred feet below.  A good view of High Peak is obtained here, and by getting over into the lot above the slide, you gain one of the prettiest views down the winding clove, with here and there through the openings, a glimpse of the clambering turnpike, and if the atmosphere is clear, with an afternoon sun to favor, you can see the valley beyond, where the Hudson river looks like a narrow thread of silver in the landscape, and Berkshire hills are seen in the back-ground.  A half mile further down the road, is the “Dripping Rock;” moss covered, and always moist with the water that continually drips from its surface.  A little further down is the Lake Creek bridge, where the gorge from the Laurel House joins the one leading from Haines Falls.  Follow up the left, or upper bank, to the left of the bridge, and you are soon under the “Bastion Falls.”


Down the Clove road, where the bridge crosses the Kaaterskill (the second bridge), and where the road turns to the left, is a point of rocks called Church’s Ledge; at your left, as you face this barrier, are some jutting rocks resembling the profile of a man.  Cross the bridge and walk a short distance to the right to get the best view.  Several faces are traced in this ledge.

To reach “Profile Rock” from the Haines Falls, you pass “Great Slide;” “Dripping Rock;” “Bastion Falls;” ”The Deserted Village;” “Wild Cat Ravine” and “Fawn’s Leap.”  The falls and rapids seen from the bridge are very pretty.  “Hillyer’s Ravine” is at the upper end of the ledge.  The Deserted Village is where the “Clove Tannery,” operated by Kirsted & Quackenboss was located, and to-day there are but few traces left of this primitive settlement that once numbered two hundred people.  This was the original Tannersville.  The post-office of that name was first located here, and after the tannery closed in 1849, the post-office itinerated for some years before it became a fixture in the present Tannersville.  The settlement now known as Tannersville was formerly called Beaver dam, and no tannery was ever located there.



In the mountain side and but a short walk from the top of Haines Falls, is the “Bears’ Den.”  It is formed by a cleft in a large mass of conglomerated rock.  On a clear day, the view from the mouth of the “Den” is wonderfully beautiful, taking in a wide sweep of mountain scenery.  A very good view of the upper Fall of the Kaaterskill and the Laurel House, in a rich setting of green, is obtained here, and the white turret of the Hotel Kaaterskill, looks up over the brow of South Mountain.


The “Moss-Type” of the “Sphinx,” on the opposite page, gives a good idea of this singular rock, standing on the edge of Prospect Mountain, overlooking the Kaaterskill Clove.  It is but a short distance from the hotels, and a well defined path leads to it, from “Featherbed Lane,” half way between the railroad track and the Clove road.  “Overlook Point” and “Prospect  Rock” are a little further on, and the view from these elevated points is well worth the trouble it costs to reach them.  From “Prospect Rock” there is a fine view of Kaaterskill Falls.  Leaving “Prospect Rock,” continue in the same path and a short walk will bring you out on the railroad.  You can return on the track, or, by crossing it at this point, a well-marked path will guide you to the Laurel House, where you can gain a nearer view of the Kaaterskill Falls, and if you wish, can pass directly under the falling sheet of water.


Everybody goes to “Sleepy Hollow” and the Rip Van Winkle House.  The trip down the mountain road is through one of the loveliest of the mountain sections.  Parties comfortably visit the Mountain House, and Sleepy Hollow in an afternoon, or Laurel House, Kaaterskill Falls, Hotel Kaaterskill, Mountain House, The Lakes and Sleepy Hollow in one day.  In a grove by the roadside, and but a few rods from the Lakes is a huge rock; a portion of the lower side of this rock has, through the action of frost, broken way from the upper part and forms the “Alligator’s Head.”


A fine view of surrounding mountain scenery is obtained from the top of Clum Hill, about three miles from Haines Falls, and opposite Tannersville Station.  Cross the stream a little above the station, where the road used by the quarrymen guides you over the first rise in the hill, and up to the ledges.  Half way up the “Tree Chair” invites you to rest, and the loveliness of the scenery from this point is well worth coming three miles to see.  At the quarry there is a well beaten path leading up over the ledges.  It is easily ascended with the help of an alpenstock, and at the top, at an elevation of 2,372 feet, you reach an open field.  The view is grand.  Round Top, Overlook, Twin Mountain, Indian Head, Sugar Loaf, Spruce Top, Plateau, Hunter, East Kill and Parker mountains, Star Rock, Thomas Cole mountain, Black Dome, Black Head, North and South mountains, complete a circuit.  From the East side of the hill the Kaaterskill Falls can be seen quite plainly.


This is the pioneer hotel of the Catskills.  It is now over sixty-five years since the first building was erected on this site.  The present roomy hotel is always well filled with summer guests.  From broad porches in front of the house there is a grand view, stretching from the base of the rock one-thousand nine hundred feet below, to the Adirondacks and the Berkshire Hills.  Below, seemingly at your feet, but eight miles distant is the Hudson River.  In the summer of 1886, a remarkable thunder storm was witnessed from the balcony of the Mountain House.  There was a clear atmosphere above, and the sun was shining brightly, when the attention of the narrator was called to a light, misty cloud, which rose, apparently from the face of the river.  At first it was light in color and gauze-like; presently it began to darken and then became opaque in its blackness as it continually spread out and moved towards him.  Then another misty cloud came from the river, a littler farther up, and that, too, grew in size and blackness, precisely as the first one had done.  Gradually they came together, and then there was an exchange of electric currents, followed by the rumbling of thunder, and the observer saw that the rain was descending in sheets on the land below, while all above and around him was clothed in sunshine.  The clouds continued to move towards the mountains, and as they reached them, they followed up the sides in graceful curves, but at the Mountain House, only a few drops fell and the sun continued to shine on a billowy sea of clouds, continuously illuminated by vivid lightning, while peals of thunder shook the rocks below.


   Midst greens and shades the Kaaterskill leaps

From cliffs where the wood-flower clings;

All summer he moistens his verdant steps

With the sweet light spray of the mountain springs,

And he shakes the woods of the mountain side,

When they drip with the rains of autumn-tide.

Wm. Cullen Bryant.

The Kaaterskill Falls is a sublime conception of nature.  Like a huge amphitheatre, the Kaaterskill Ravine reaches up to the Laurel House, with a wall extending into a half dome at the summit.  This circular chamber of rock is about two-hundred feet in diameter.  The waters that have been gathering from Spruce Creek and the Lakes come tumbling in milky foam over the very point of the dome making first a sheer fall of one hundred and eighty feet, when they are gathered in a basin, to be dashed over a second ledge of eighty feet.  Artificial steps lead to the bottom of these wonderful cataracts.  The scenery in the gorge below is grand, although not equal to that in the Clove at Haines Falls.  Cross over at the foot of the second fall, strike into the wood path, and to your right, follow the path until you come to the stony bed of a dry stream, pass down and you will come out at the head of Bastion Falls.  Cross over.  Follow the path, which in some places becomes difficult on account of the steep bank, and you will come out on the Clove road at Lakebridge.


It was the afternoon of the day Friday, August 18th, 1886, that master Ira Ryder, son of Louis Ryder, a boy of sixteen years, became the hero of Haines Falls, and by a master stroke, at once established himself as a youth of native courage and pluck, and of much financial ability.  He was out for the cows when he saw a monstrous bear, which was feeding on wild cherries.  This was on the hill back of the Hilton House, near the Harding farm, one mile from the rail-road station.  The boy ran home, and getting a rifle returned:  the bear had not left the spot, and turned on its haunches to receive the youth, expressing by this movement, as well as a bear can, its willingness for closer relationship.  Taking good aim, the brave boy sent a ball straight to Bruin’s heart.  The bear proved to be a prize; it measured seven and a half feet from nose to tail, from nose to top of head nineteen inches, the foot nine inches in width, and weighed three-hundred and fifty-five pounds.  Securing a team, the boy had the carcass hauled to a barn where he went into the museum business, and a large number of the guests of the hotels and boarding houses paid ten cents to see the boy and the bear.  It is estimated that he must have received an audience of fully five hundred people.  The skin was sold to Mr. J. E. Haines of the Sunset House, for five dollars, and the meat was readily disposed of at an average of sixteen cents per pound.  On dressing the animal, a handful of number four shot was found just under the skin, showing that bruin had faced the music of a gun before.  It was probably the same animal that walked off with the contents of two barrels from near the same vicinity five years before.



The Haines’ family, from the great-grandfather to the great-grandson, have carried out the Biblical teaching, “Increase and multiply,” to a wonderful extent.

JOHN HAINES, father of Samuel and Elisha Haines, came to Putnam County, N. Y., from Staten Island, where he had been engaged in the fishing trade, along the coast and on the Kill von Kull.  He died in South East, Putnam County, in 1771.

SAMUEL and ELISHA HAINES were the first settlers in the town of Hunter.  Through persecution in Putnam County, they left South East about the same time, each starting out alone in search of a new home, neither knowing of the other’s departure or intention.  After long days of weary tramping they came together, to their mutual surprise, in “Mink Hollow,” the great door leading into this wonderfully lovely mountain valley.  In company they continued to explore the new country and finally came to a stream where the beavers had built a dam.  Here the hard-working beaver had made a small clearing in this thickly wooded section, and here, from the fallen timber found in the immediate vicinity, was constructed by these two pioneers of civilization in Greene County, a rude habitation.  This first house of an actual settler was built within a short distance of the Tannersville Station of the Kaaterskill Railroad, very nearly on the spot where Mr. Stimson Haines’ barns now stand.  This was in the Fall of 1779.  The brothers remained long enough to kill some deer, cure the meat and store it carefully away.  Returning to Putnam County, they converted everything they possessed into money and portable property.  The following spring they came to Beaver Dam with their families and such necessaries as they could bring on the backs of two horses, a mule and a cow.

To add to the hardships of the journey, there was at that time two feet of snow on a level throughout this whole section of the mountains, and a greater depth in the Clove, and with this addition to the usual obstructions of rocks, fallen trees and thick brush, they were compelled to move very slowly and with great caution.  Then, too, the woods were full of panthers, wild-cats and bears, necessitating a vigilant watch, with the musket ever ready.  Quite a deal of care was also required to keep the powder dry, so that it would readily ignite from the flint in the locks.  They reached their primitive home on the twentieth day of April, 1780, and were joined a few years later by another brother, William Haines.  Many stories are told of the hardships, privations and shifts of these first settlers.  They were the progenitors of a numerous family.

Haines Falls, and the immediate vicinity, is largely settled by the descendants of Edward Haines, son of Elisha Haines.

EDWARD HAINES was born in South East, Putnam County, April 17th, 1764, and was married in that county to Sarah Townsend, in 1784.  He had four daughters by his wife; Mary, Sarah, Esther and Jane.  His second wife was Mariam Brewer, of this township, and they were married in 1796.  They had twelve children; four girls and eight boys.  Following are their names, time of their birth, and to whom they were married:

Peter B., born 1797; married Sally Smith.  Uriah, born 1799; married Annie Perkins.  Aaron, born 1802; married Cornelia Wiltsey.  Eliza, born 1804; married Anthony Van Scork.  Elihu, born 1806; married Eliza Woolsey.  Happy, born 1809; married first, Samuel Simkins; second, Aaron Holmes.  James, born 1811; married Catherine Hummel.  Jeremiah, born 1813; married Catherine Brink.  Anna, born 1815; married Peter B. France.  Irene, born 1817; married Samuel Scribner.  Abram, born 1819; married Maria Britt.  Levi, born 1820; married Hannah E. Simpso [sic].

PETER B. HAINES’ Children. – Eliza Jane, born 1821; married John H. York.  Giles J., born 1823; married Julia A. Eleston.  Jesse A., born 1825; married Margaret J. Kerr.  Rebecca W., born 1827.  Harriet A., born 1829; married Samuel Dunspaugh.  Sarah A., born 1831.  Albert L., born 1833; married Letitia G. ----.  Fannie M., born 1834; married Wm. H. Pierson.  Miles A., born 1836; married Bedelia O’Rilley.  Margaret A., born 1838; married Robert Kerr.  Susan L., born 1840.

URIAH’S not found.

AARON HAINES’ Children. – Charles W., born 1827; married Adeline Bligh, “Haines Falls House.”  Lucy J., born 1829; married, first, John W. Rusk; and second, James Martin.  Catherine E., born 1832.  Sarah A., born 1834; married Obadiah Adsitt.  Edward A., born 1837; married Letitia Grogan.  Clarinda, born 1840; married S. P. Scott, of the “Vista.”

SAMUEL E. RUSK of the “Loxhurst,” is son of Lucy J. and John W. Rusk.

CORNELIA WILTSEY, wife of Aaron Haines, in her eighty-ninth year, was interviewed by the writer, in the summer of 1886.  She lived with her youngest daughter Mrs. Clarinda Haines Scott. She came from Albany County, and her mother attained the wonderful longevity of one hundred years.  Died April 29th, 1887.

JEREMIAH HAINES’ Children. – Christiana.  Marie, married David Edwards.  Laura, married James Webster.  Melissa, married, first, John Merritt; second, Geo. Campbell.  Frederick B., married Viola York.  Henry A.

ABRAM HAINES’ Children. – James Edward, married Jennie Morris. Clarissa A., married Cornelius Legg.  Tobias, married Martha Ryder.  Jeremiah E., married Anna Brink, “Sunset House.”  Atwater, married Lavinia Valk.

LEVI HAINES’ Children. – James E., married Martha J. Meyers.  Samuel S., married Mary J. Shannon.  Susan P., married Wm. H. Phelps.  Mariam E., married Charles E. Moore.  Hannah E., married Charles E. Moore.

JOHN HAINES’, son of Samuel Haines, was the first male child born in the town of Hunter.  Stimson Haines is the son of John.



HAINES FALLS is distant from New York, one hundred and thirty-five miles, and from Albany, thirty-five miles, and lies twelve miles back from the Hudson.



West Shore Railroad to Kingston, Ulster and Delaware Railroad to Phoenicia, Stony Clove Railroad to Junction, Kaaterskill Railroad to Haines Corners--or, Hudson River Railroad to Rondout Ulster and Delaware Railroad to Phoenicia, Stony Clove Railroad to Junction, Kaaterskill Railroad to Haines Corners.

Day boat, foot of West Twenty-second Street, to Rhinebeck, then Ulster and Delaware Railroad, and as above.  Night boat, foot of Jay Street, to Catskill, Catskill Mountain Railroad to Palenville, where stages for Haines Falls, meet every train.


The country along the route from New York to Haines Falls, abounds in the finest scenery, forming, as you view it from the comfortable cars, a grand panoramic view of continuous interest.  The charming scenery of the Hudson River and the rugged beauty of the mountain passes, through which skilled engineering has secured to the traveler a rapid and comfortable ascent into the heart of the grand old Catskills, is not surpassed in beauty and variety by that to be seen on any other trip of six hours out from New York.  At Kingston, ample time is always given for a good meal in the Union Station, before going up into the mountains.

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