The  Catskill Mountains
and the
Region Around
Chapter 17

By Rev. Charles Rockwell


Transcribed by Arlene Goodwin


The Cauterskill Fall, by Bryant—Road to the Mountains, and the Building of Hotels there—Catskill—How Reached—Road and Conveyances from it—Objects and Places of Interest—Underground Stream—The Abeel House—Moses Rock—North Mountain—Precipice Echoes—Bear Den—Road through Palensville—Ravine and Falls A Toast to the Bee—Falls near Palensville—T. A. Richards—The Clove—Haines Falls—North Lake—South Mountain—Pudding-stone Hall—Portico Rocks—Fairy Spring—Elfin Pass—South Lake—Prospect Rock—Maiden’s Glen—The Enchanting Vale—The Sunset Tree—Bear Track—Trout Brook—Juniper Springs—Trout Fishing—Plattekill Clove—Emerald Pool—Mountain Scenery—Waldensian Hymn.

The Cauterskill Falls.
By William C. Bryant.

Midst greens and shades in Cauterskill 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 on the mountain side,
When they drip with the rains of autumn tide.

But when in the forest bare and old,
The blast of December calls—
He builds in the starlight, clear and cold,
A palace of ice where his torrent falls;
With turret, and arch, and fretwork fair,
And pillars blue as the summer air.

For whom are those glorious chambers wrought,
In the cold and cloudless night?
Is there neither spirit nor motion of thought,
In forms so lovely and hues so bright?
Hear what the gray-haired woodmen tell
Of this wild stream and its rocky dell.

"Twas here a youth of dreamy mood,
A hundred winters ago—
Had wandered over the mighty wood,
Where the panther’s track was fresh on the snow;
And keen were the winds that came to stir
The long dark boughs of the hemlock fir.

Too gentle of mien he seemed and fair,
For a child of those rugged steeps;
His home lay down in the valley where
The kingly Hudson rolls to the deeps;
But he wore the hunter’s frock that day,
And a slender gun on his shoulder lay.

And here he paused, and against the trunk
Of a tall gray linden leant;
Where the broad, clear orb of the sun had sunk
From his path in the frosty firmament;
And over the round dark edge of the hill,
A cold green light was quivering still.

And the crescent moon, high over the green,
From a sky of crimson shone;
On the icy palace where towers were seen,
To sparkle as if with stars of their own;
While the water fell with a hollow sound,
"Twixt the glistening pillars ranged around.

Is that a being of life that moves
Where the crystal battlements rise?
A maiden watching the moon she loves,
At the twilight hour with pensive eyes?
Was that a garment which seemed to gleam,
Betwixt the eye and the falling stream?

"Tis only the torrent tumbling o’er,
In the midst of those glassy walls;
Gushing, and plunging, and beating the floor
Of the rocky basin in which it falls;
"Tis only the torrent, but why the start?
Why gazes the youth with a throbbing heart?

He thinks no more of his home afar,
Where his sire and his sister wait;
He heeds no longer how star after star,
Looks forth on the night as the hour grows late;
He heeds not the snow-wreath, lifted and cast
From a thousand boughs by the rising blast.

His thoughts are alone of those who dwell
In the halls of frost and snow;
Who pass where the crystal domes upswell,
From the alabaster floors below;
Where the frost-trees bourgeon with leaf and spray,
And frost-gems scatter a slivery day.

And oh ! that hose glorious haunts were mine!
He speaks, and throughout the glen,
Their shadows swim in the faint moonshine,
And take a ghastly likeness of men;
As if the slain by the wintry storms
Came forth to the air in their earthly forms.

There pass the chasers of seal and whale,
With their weapons quaint and grim;
And bands of warriors in glittering mail,
And herdsmen and hunters, huge of limb;
There are naked arms with bow and spear,
And furry gauntlets the carbine rear.

There are mothers, and oh ! how sadly their eyes,
On their children’s white brows rest !
There are youthful lovers—the maiden lies,
In a seeming sleep, on the chosen breast;
There are fair, wan women, with moonstruck air,
And snow-stars flecking their long loose hair.

They eye him not as they pass along,
But his hair stands up with dread;
When he feels that he moves with that phantom throng,
Till those icy turrets are over his head;
And the torrent’s roar as they enter, seems
Like a drowsy murmur heard in dreams.

The glittering threshold is scarcely passed,
When there gathers and wraps him round,
A thick white twilight, sullen and vast,
In which there is neither form nor sound;
The phantoms, the glory, vanish all,
With the dying voice of the waterfall.

Slow passes the darkness of the trance,
And the youth now faintly sees—
Huge shadows, and gushes of light that dance
On a rugged ceiling of unhewn trees;
And walls where the skins of beast are hung,
And rifles glitter, on antlers strung.

On a couch of shaggy skins he lies,
As he strives to raise his head;
Hard-featured woodmen, with kindly eyes,
Come round him and smoothe his furry bed;
And bid him rest, for the evening star
Is scarcely set. And the day is far.

They had found at eve the dreaming one,
By the base of the icy steep;
When over his stiffening limbs begun
The deadly slumber of frost to creep;
And they cherished the pale and breathless form,
Till the stagnant blood ran free and warm.

Early in the present century a citizen of Catskill obtained a charter for a turnpike road over the mountains, west, to Unadilla, but having failed to carry out the enterprise, a company was formed, with a view to prosecute the work, but the road was made only some eight or ten miles from the eastern base of the mountains, to the road leading through the Cauterskill Clove, to Hunter, and further west. There was at first a rude building, or shanty, where the Mountain House now is, for the accommodation of summer parties and excursions, but not for lodgers. Soon after 1820, a company was organized, mostly in Catskill, with a capital of more than twenty thousand dollars, which built a hotel, three stories high, with a piazza in front, for the accommodation of summer travelers and boarders. About twenty years later, Mr. Charles L. Beech bought the house, which he has greatly enlarged and improved, and purchased most of the stock of the turnpike company, so as to have the control of the road, which he keeps in excellent order. This whole speculation, or enterprise, rather, has been a peculiarly successful and popular one.

At the Cauterskill Falls there was for some time only a small, white building, overhanging the Upper Fall, kept by Mr. Peter Schutt, father of the present proprietor of the Laurel House. Then there was a small house for boarders, which has since been much enlarged. Gray’s Hotel, on the Clove road, has been in successful operation for quite a number of years, while the Haines House is of recent construction. There is also a house on the southern slope of the mountains, in Woodstock, and there should be one at the Plattekill Clove.

Catskill is commonly reached by travelers, in summer, by the way of the Hudson River Railroad, stopping at the Catskill Station, crossing the river to the opposite landing; or by means of the large steamers which run daily between New York and Albany; or by the smaller steamers which connect Catskill with New York, Newburgh, Albany, and other places on the river. From the point where the steam ferry-boat lands, carriages and omnibuses take passengers to the village, half a mile distant, or carry them directly to the mountains or elsewhere, as they may desire. The hotels and some of the large boarding-houses have carriages, or stages, which run daily, or oftener, to and from them and the landing and village, while from other houses carriages are sent to meet such as are coming to them as boarders, at times previously agreed upon.

Most of the wealth, taste, and beauty of Catskill, so far as houses, gardens, and ornamental grounds are concerned, are on the hill, east of the business part of the village, where are beautiful views of the Catskill mountains on one side, and the river and the distant heights of the Taghkanic range on the other. There, too, is the quiet and richly-shaded cemetery, while from the roads leading from the village north, to Hudson on the right, and to Leeds on the left, are striking and inspiring views of the long and widely-varied range of mountain scenery, some ten miles distant, and stretching far away to the north and south.

One mile west of the village, on the way to the mountains, the road, for some distance, is cut from the side of the woody, rocky precipice, on the left of which may be seen the distant eastern mountains, the river, with the fair and fertile valley through which it flows, and the village, with its rural cemetery, all forming a landscape peculiarly picturesque, varied, and beautiful. Passing on thence, by a pleasant forest road, through the toll-gate, a mile beyond it, is a clump of trees, just where the road begins to descend, by a winding, rocky way, to a fertile meadow below. In the field just back of these trees, may be seen a deep rocky chasm, into which a small stream flows, passing from thence under the solid mass or mound of rocks on the right, and coming out near the foot of the hill, ten or fifteen rods distant, and at a point thirty feet or more lower than the rocky mount beneath which it flows. When the snow melts in spring there is more water than can pass under the hill, and thus a lake is formed by the roadside above, some forty or fifty rods in length.

Further on, after descending a long hill, and crossing the Cauterskill Creek, the road passes through the beautiful valley elsewhere described in this work. On ascending the hill beyond, a long low stone house may be seen, half a mile up the valley, to the left, from which the Abeels, father and son, were taken by the Indians and Tories, during the Revolutionary war, and carried away captives to Canada. In the deep woody ravine on the hill, by the roadside further on, are beautiful cascades, much frequented by boarders in the neighborhood. Just beyond the "Half-Way House," or "Catskill Mountain Retreat" of Mr. Bloom, the road divides; the branch to the right, leading directly on, past the Dutch church, up the mountain, by the Rip Van Winkle Ravine, and the grandly solitary, and sublime wooded road, with its lofty overhanging cliffs, to the Mountain House. Half a mile or more before reaching the summit, there is an old road on the left, leading down the mountain, to Palensville, some two miles south. Passing down this road three-fourths of a mile, there is a precipice or cliff, some thirty feet high and eighty long, covered with moss, near the base of which, except in very dry weather, a stream of water gushes from a circular opening in the cliff; and this has given to it the name of Moses Rock, in allusion to that, or rather to those, from which the Israelites were supplied in the wilderness; for two miracles, with an interval of many years between them, were performed, in order to call forth from rocks water to quench their thirst, and save them from death.

In ascending the mountain, there are points where glimpses may be had of the wide landscape to the east, and just before reaching the Mountain House, you see it on an almost overhanging cliff above you. A little higher up, a path on the right leads to the North Mountain, following which, half a mile or more, you come to an abrupt rock, from the top of which the lakes and the high mountains to the south can be seen. On the north side of this rock a fine echo may be heard with four distinct reverberations. Further on is a precipice, ascended by a ladder, where is a large cavern, formed of immense rock rudely thrown together, and called the Bear’s Den. From the summit there, the Mountain House and lakes, with distant towns, cities, far-off mountains, and wide-spread hills and valleys, can be seen.

The road, which inclines to the left soon after leaving Bloom’s, on the way to the mountains, through the Cauterskill Clove, just beyond the flats, and where it crosses the road to Saugerties, goes over a bridge, about thirty rods above which is a narrow, wild, rough, shady ravine, where the water pours over a high rock, falling twenty feet or more, and after a heavy rain making a rush and a roar peculiarly impressive and imposing. The entire selection of the place, its glittering spray and refreshing coolness, made it a favorite retreat for friends who were with us in summer, as a path through the woods, of half a mile, led from our house to the Falls. One lady, an artist, made a sketch of the scenery there for an oil-painting, while another—a pupil of mine in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, the gifted authoress of "Geoffrey the Lollar," and "Marcella of Rome," whose nom de plume is Frances Eastwood, who spent much time in this wild and lovely ravine—as the result of one of her visits there wrote the playful and beautiful lines which follows. They were published in the able and popular magazine, "Hours at Home," from which I copy them:

A Toast to the Bee.

Down in the glen, where the waters fall,
Sparkling over the rocky wall,
With its dripping moss, and lichens gray,
And bushes wet with the glittering spray;
Where the jealous trees shut out the sun,
That they may enjoy the wild beauty alone;
I stretched me at ease, by the fountain’s side,
And dipped my cup in the bubbling tide.

Out of its sheltered stony bed,
One little clover raised its head;
But a busy bee, that has lost its way,
In the lonely glen, that summer’s day,
Spied the treasure, and holding fast,
Drained from its cup his sweet repast
And this was the toast I gave the bee;
To friends that I love, and friends that love me.

We drank it in silence—the bee and I,
He could not, I would not, have made reply;
Then away on his swift wing flew the bee,
And away flew my thoughts much swifter than he,
Far from the lonely glen, far from the rill,
Over the valley, over the hill,
Over the land, and over the sea,
To the friends that I love, and the friends that love me.

I found them all—not one did I miss;
I greeted each with a loving kiss;
All the dear faces I ever have known,
Looked with true sympathy into my own;
Curly heads were laid on my breast,
Baby lips to my own were pressed;
Love leaped up with enkindled flame,
As I called each dear-loved face by name.

My foot slid down from the slippery stone,
I started, and found I was all alone !
Over the rocks dashed the noisy rill,
They spray was dripping from branches still;
The bushes bent from the mossy wall,
And the soft clouds floated over all;
And fresh and strong the mountain breeze,
Stirred the boughs of the jealous trees;
This, and no more, my eyes could see,
No friend that I love, nor friend that loved me.

Passing on west, from the point just described to the church in Palensville, and there turning to the left, there is a beautiful fall of twenty or thirty feet, half a mile south-west of the church. Returning to the main road, on crossing the bridge at the foot of the Clove, there are rapids and cascades above and below; of which, and of much of the scenery in the mountains, including that of Plattekill Clove, spirited engravings may be seen, in connection with an article by T. Addison Richards, in Harper’s Magazine of July, 1854. There are also similar sketches in Harper’s Weekly of July, 1866.

The little village at the lower extremity of the Cauterskill Clove, with the region for a mile or more east of it, is known by the name of "Palensville," from a worthy family of that name who removed there some seventy years since, and erected and long carried on an extensive tannery. Speaking of the Clove, in connection with this point, Mr. Richards truly says: "Very few of the thousand who annually visit the Mountain House, ever explore this, the most charming part of the Catskills, here, at the portals of the hills, you have a equal and ready access to the great valley on one side and the mountain solitudes on the other. Eastward from the hamlet half a mile, is a most lovable cascade, too much neglected by the few travelers who come to the Clove. A minute’s walk through a dense copse will bring you to a fine point of observation. Seated on a moss-grown rock, and shaded by the sloping eaves of giant hemlocks, you muse on flood and fell. At you feet lies the deep basin of dark waters, the clustering foliage toying with their busy bubbles. The cascade and its accompanying rock ledges fill the middle ground, exposing beyond the entire stretch of the southern line of hill, until it is lost in the golden haze of the setting sun. A little way below and this picture occurs again, in a scarcely less pleasing form. The greater beauties, however, lie west of the village and along the bed of the torrent flowing through the Clove, rather than on the road which passes near it. You must make a thousand detours to properly explore the varying course of the stream, which dashes and leaps through this magnificent pass. You must risk your neck now and then in descending to the arena of a ghostly glen, far below the roadside; and then you must struggle manfully to pull your aching limbs back again. Ascending a mile and a half, you cross the stream on a wooden bridge at the picturesque and favorite point of ‘High Rocks.’ Below this bridge is a fall of great extent and beauty. To see it to advantage you must take the foot-paths leading to the edge of the water, on the upper bank, where a good granite lounge looks the roystering spray full in the face.

"Beyond this point the stream may be followed two or three hundred yards, to the base of another fall, known as the ‘Dog Hole.’ It is a perpendicular leap of some thirty feet, and the stream, here extremely narrowed by the rocky banks, rushes over an immense concave ledge into a cauldron from which a fish could scarcely emerge. Passing the ruins of the tanneries above the Dog Hole, and again springing and tumbling from rock to rock and from log to log, we make our way up the stream. Leaving on our right the brook which comes down from the lakes and falls on the mountain, we pass up the left branch, which leads to Haines’ Falls, at the head of the Clove. Here is the favorite studio of the many artists who visit the Catskills. Nowhere else do they find, within the same narrow range, so great and rich a field for study. Every step is over noble piles of well-marked rocks, and among the most grotesque forest fragments, while each successive bend in the brook discloses a new and different cascade. Often in these wild glens have we looked upward, where

‘Higher yet the pine tree hung
its darksome trunk and frequent flung,
where seemed the cliffs to meet on high,
his bows athwart the narrowed sky.’

"Or we have gazed below, where
‘Rock on rock incumbent hung,
And torrents down the gullies flung,
Joined the rude river that brawled on,
Recoiling now from crag and stone.’

"As we walked joyously along up the mountain we spoke of the comparative charms of Nature, in the various seasons of the year. One loved the fresh, and sparkling emeralds of Spring, and her pure and buoyant airs. Another rejoiced and dreamed happy dreams, fanned by the warm and soothing breezes of summer; while a third reveled in the fanciful and gorgeous appareling of motley autumn, in the rainbow beauty of the forest leaves. Our guide preferred the terrors of winter when the fathomless depths of snow buried the hills, and the giant stalactites of ice sentinelled their narrow passes. ‘you should see,’ said he, as we stood beneath the towering rocks of Haines Falls, ‘you should see those thousand rills trickling and leaping down so merrily from the summit of the mountains as they appear in winter, in the shape of glittering icicles a hundred feet in length. You should look upon these waters when bitter frosts have chilled them into icy monuments.’"

Another writer, who sojourned at Bracket’s, in the wild depths of the Clove, where so many artists, sportsmen, and others find a pleasant summer home, thus describes the scenery there:

"There are about here the loveliest portions of the Catskill scenery. I do not know where to find a more charming stretch of mountain brook, a more picturesque succession of rock-forms, than one enters at ‘Fawn’s Leap’ and leaves at the head of Haines Falls. At ‘Fawn’s Leap’ the brook falls over a perpendicular wall, the brink of the precipice being but a biscuit-toss across, and so broken and channeled as to separate the water into beautifully varied masses. There is a bridge across the stream, affording easy access to the best places from which to view the falls, while below it is the boiling mass of waters, some twenty yards in circumference and fifteen feet in depth.

"The whole brook-side, from ‘Fawn’s Leap’ to Haines Falls, is a succession of charming, dewy rock grottoes, fresh mossy nooks, guarded by the graceful iron-wood, with its trunk of speckled and shining chestnut color, and its profuse, delicate spray of bright, dark green; by lithe mountain willows and spreading alders; by pines that nod and meet from cliff to cliff; balsams, spruces, white cedars and junipers, which make the air as spicy as Tidore; white, red and holm oaks, extending their royal palms in shadowy benediction; the beautiful white birch, like a fair penitent trembling in her camisole; and maples innumerable, whose youngest leaves, in their first unfolding, simulate the dyes they put on in autumn, even as the peace and beauty of childhood shadow forth the glorious heaven at the end of a good life. Until within a few days the beautiful clustering flowers of the laurel made the woods gay with all shades of pink and white; now the ground is starry with blue-eyed grass, and snowy with the little trumpets of the pipsissewa. The mountain-ashes begin to ripen their coral ear-drops, the purple bells of the foxglove, the later anemones; this is the season for them all. Here are delicate maiden’s-hair, and the sweet lady-fern; the plumy branches of the millefoil, which, but for their commonness, would be praised like any darling of the green-house; mosses of every shade and form, from the great mass of living velvet which covers old decay with the symbolic emerald of young immortality, to the straggling duck’s-foot patch of crisp little green, which, close under the eaves of a waterfall, catches drops on its web, and turns them to beads of iridescent crystal. The best way to see all that can be seen of this region is to go to Haines Falls, by the road from above or from below, up the steep ascent of a mile or more, in which you pass a place where the road was carried away by a tremendous land-slide, broad and deep, which has left its tawny scar on the breast of the ridge, from the place where the road has been mended with earth and spruce-trees, still distilling fragrance from their dead plumes, in the sunshine, down to the bed of the creek, hundreds of feet below. Here we pause and look back on the gorge through which we have ascended, and have, too, a distant glimpse of the valley of the Hudson, and the remote plains and heights of western New England.

"The Haines House, good-sized, cool, and piazzied, is redolent of health, freshness, and morality. Following the foot-path in the rear of the house to the wooded brink of the Clove, you pass through a gate, to the stairs leading down the deep descent. No one grudges the twenty-five cents he here pays, when, after sending back a man to the pond above, to let on its full stream of water, and clambering down the green bowered stairways, two hundred feet or more, with a drink, by the way, from a spring in the pocket of the cliff, clear as crystal and cold as ice, he stands on a broad, flat rock, where the cataract strikes. The fall has two leaps, the first of one hundred and fifty feet, and the second of eighty, with a third one below of sixty feet, and others still, so that in less than one-fourth of a mile the stream falls four hundred and seventy-five feet. The water at the two upper falls breaks up into snowy masses, like ghosts of naiads, plunging to the pool below, in a wreathed procession, their shadowy arms upheld, and twining with each other their misty finger-tips. Descending the brook, you pass over the ledges and boulders of gray lichened stone, such as Kensett loves and paints better than any many in America. The falls are seven or eight in number; the third and fourth of them from a narrow flood at their brink, spread in their descent over the sloping surface of the rocks, to a broad and minutely broken sheet at the base, like a web of pearl and silver gathered together at one end, in the hand, and suffered to flow over the surface of a terraced cone, in exquisite folds and fringes. At the foot of the fourth fall there is a covert of mossy and lichened coolness, all silver-starred with dew, roofed in by huge projecting tablets of rock, and at noon beautiful with an arched portal of rainbow. This is a place to stay and dream in all day. The fifth fall is higher, and from it you can look backwards and see the whole succession of cataracts you have descended. Winding a little to the left, the snowy surface of the headlong brook seems one continuous tissue of foamy silver, now narrowing to a ribbon, now spreading to a rainbowed sheet, curving down a bowery vista of forest foliage, through which it reveals its beauty in coy glimpses, without a single pool where it stops to dally or to rest. This is the most lovely view I have found in the Catskills. Over long, shady reaches, where filtering sunshine strikes through the leaves the crystal waters, climbing, like chameleons, in fact doing everything by fly, we at length come to a wood-path, leading trough a green alley of birches to the road. Down this gorge Gifford, McEntee and Whittridge have often gone, and from it they have drawn some of their happiest inspirations. Near the head of the Clove Gifford must have stood to study one of his simplest and most tender pictures—a view of the Clove, cradling a flood of summer sunlight, and clothed from bed to ridges with one glory of living green, mellowed through golden haze.

At the point where you leave the main road to go to the North Mountain there is a path leading to the west, and conducting one along the shady shore of the North Lake to its head.

The path leading up the South Mountain begins near the Mountain House, and just south of it, not far from the eastern face of the mountain range. Two-thirds of the way up the mountain, one enters Pudding-Stone Hall, where are large masses of this kind of stone, and a narrow opening in the rocks, caused by the action of frost and water. Beyond the hall, turning a little to the east, the path then leads towards the west, under a cliff, through a region of moss and fern, by the Portico Rocks, to the Fairy Spring, a lonely and beautiful retreat. Returning a short distance, and then inclining to the south, through a narrow pass, in the rocks known as the Lemon Squeezer, or the Elfin Pass, the summit of South Mountain is soon reached, from whence a large rock may be seen to the south, where there is a fine view of the Clove, directly below—the Highlands, the Hudson River, and distant mountains in New England, New Jersey, and New York. Through a narrow pass in the rocks, a little east of this point is a rough path along the southern line of the lofty precipices which overhang the Clove. There are also pleasant paths along and near the western shores of both of the lakes. There is a boat on the South Lake, with which some amuse themselves, or are aided by it on their way to the Falls, instead of walking through the beautiful forest path, or riding in an omnibus by the carriage-road from the Mountain House.

From the Laurel House, take a path to the south-west, which leads through the woods to Cosey Retreat, and then inclining to the east, you come to Prospect Rock, where is a fine view of the Falls. Near the Laurel House and the Laundry, the stream from the lakes and the other from the North Mountain unite and form the Upper Cauterskill, near which are the Maiden’s Glen and the Enchanting Vale. The Sunset Tree is about two miles from the Laurel House, in the direction of Hunter, with the Bear Tack below, while the high peaks beyond the Clove, Buttermilk Falls, and Santa Cruz Creek, at their base, the Valley of Hunter, the mountains beyond, and to the east, the Valley of the Hudson, may all be seen from this point of view. The Trout Brook is a mountain stream which is crossed in passing from the Mountain House to the Laurel House, and flowing east of the latter place. Near its source are Juniper Springs, about two miles from the road.

The principal places for trout-fishing in the mountains are Stony Clove and Warner’s Kill, A few years since, some young friends of the author caught in Stony Clove 1,600 trout in a fishing excursion there a few days, fifty of the largest of which weighed thirty pounds. More recently, two of the same party caught 700 trout in Warner’s Kill, in a single day. This kill, or creek, is reached by passing through Stony Clove to near its southern extremity, and then turning to the left up the kill and its branches, which flow though a long winding mountain ravine, leading to the south-east, towards the eastern front of the mountains. Gray’s Hotel, some miles west of the Clove, on the way to Hunter, is a favorite resort of fishermen, as Stony Clove and Warner’s Kill are nearer there than to other hotels in the mountains, while the Haines House and Bracket’s are more resorted to by artists.

Plattekill Clover is some six miles south of Cauterskill Clove, and may be entered from the lowlands at the eastern base of the mountains, or from the upper heights to the west. The old road through the Platteville Clove, which overhangs the fearful chasm and raging stream on the right, as you descend the mountain, is a very rude and rough one. On the other side of the dark ravine, however, is a new road, from the base of the mountains upward, which is much easier of ascent than the other. To see either of the two great cloves, however, to the best advantage, no other carriages should be used in passing through them than Adam and Eve had in Eden, well shod with thick boots; and instead of fig-leaves, clothing short, strong, and hoopless, unless ladies, on their return from their mountain strolls, would look as if they had just escaped from a rag-bin.

Richards, speaking of the Plattekill Clove says "It is scarcely less fruitful in the picturesque than is the Cauterskill, while it retains more of its native luxuriance and wildness. The stream which makes its rugged way in the gorge of the Plattekille, in the course of two miles falls two thousand five hundred feet. Its banks rise in colossal mountain walls, towering high in air, and groaning, with all their mighty strength, beneath the weight of their dense forests. A monarch among these hills is South Peak, with its crown lifted four thousand feet toward heaven. It is full of remarkable localities, each wrapped in legendary lore. Not the least lovely of its possessions is a gentle lake, perched in solitude upon it summits."

Those who have gone from the house of the author to the Plattekill Clove have given it the precedence of all the mountain scenery, in its rugged grandeur and wild and widely-varied magnificence and beauty. A pool, some ten feet by thirty, and ten feet deep, at the foot of a cascade, with overhanging rocks, and lofty trees meeting above, giving the clear waters a deep green hue, was named by them, Emerald Pool.

In closing these sketches of mountain scenery, with its imposing and alluring grandeur, magnificence, and beauty, there rises yet again to the mind of the higher moral and religious grandeur connected with those mountain heights which, as in past ages and in other lands, have been a refuge from persecution, oppression, and wrong; a strong tower and a rock of defense to those who, thus sheltered, have looked down in on their foes below. From such mountain fastnesses, too, how have those who there bravely fought for their liberties and lives, like William Tell, and others noble patriots and grand old Christian heroes, driven down and destroyed the armed hosts who had pursued them thither; and it their hour of victory have made the wild ravines and cliffs to loudly echo back their joyful hymns of triumph and of praise, as with thoughts and words like those of the Waldensian saints and heroes, from their hearts they sang;

"For the strength of the hills we bless thee,
Our God—our fathers’ God;
Thou last made thy children mighty
By the touch of the mountain sod;
Thou hast fixed our rock of refuge
Where the spoiler’s foot ne’er trod;
For the strength of the hills we bless thee,
Our God—our father’s God.

"We are watchers of a beacon,
Whose light must never die;
We are guardians of an altar
Midst the silence of the sky.
The rocks yield founts of courage,
Struck forth as by thy rod;
For the strength of the hills we bless thee,
Our God—our father’s God.

"For the dark surrounding caverns,
Where the still small voice is heard;
For the strong pines of the forest.
Which by thy strength is stirred;
For the storm on whose free pinions
Thy Spirit walks aboard;
For the strength of the hills we bless thee,
Our God—our father’s God.

"The royal eagle darteth
From lofty mountain heights;
The stag that knows no master
Seeks there his wild delights;
But we for thy communion
Have sought the mountain sod;
For the strength of the hills we bless thee,
Our God—our father’s God.

"The banner of the chieftain
Far, far below us waves;
The warhorse of the spearman
Cannot reach our lofty caves;
The dark, clouds wrap the threshold
Of freedom’s last abode;
For strength of the hills we bless thee,
Our God—our father’s God.

"For the shadow of thy presence
Round our mountain camp outspread;
For the stern defiles of battle
Where lie our fallen dead;
For the snows and for the torrents,
For the free heart’s burial sod;
For the strength of the hills we bless thee,
Our God—our father’s God.


Home            Table of Contents    Greene County Home Page    

Greene County History Home Page

Catskill Mountains and the Region Around Home Page