Catskills Region Facts

The Catskills Region shares a few of the same picturesque landscapes with the Adirondacks to its north. Because of the Catskills’ proximity to New York City, the region has a notably different type of history than other mountain ranges.

From being the birthplace of American dry fly-fishing, to later becoming a favorite vacation spot among NYC’s Jewish families, the Catskills have a lot of fun information to learn.

A drive down Route 17 will give visitors a brief glimpse at the beauty and tranquility that has kept families here for generations.

Catskills Region Defined

For the purposes of Exploring Upstate, the Catskills Region’s boundaries are defined simply with the four counties that include the mountain range. For this list of facts, the counties Delaware, Greene, Sullivan, and Ulster are included.

– The concept of the Christmas Tree market was invented by Mark Carr from the Catskills Mountain area. In 1851, Carr cut down Douglas firs and spruces from his Upstate surroundings where they were free. Then he loaded them on two oxcarts and drove into New York City where he sold them for $1 each.

– The largest kaleidoscope in the entire world is located in Shandaken, New York. It stands 60 feet tall and cost $250,000 to create in 1996. [source]

– The oldest arts colony in the entire country is located in the Catskill Mountains. Byrdcliffe was founded in 1903 in Woodstock and established the town’s first painting school. [source]

– Agloe, New York is a fictional town that was inserted by a map maker to protect their intellectual property from copyright infringement. When the map was copied and the case went to court, it was discovered that a couple who had seen ‘Agloe’ near their home on a map assumed it was real and created the “Agloe Corner Store”. The case was thrown out of court because the judge determined that if the town was fake and made up by these mappers, then the store couldn’t have existed. [source]

– Though a couple towns within Greene County have on a few occasions voted to the left, the county as a whole has not voted for a U.S. President running on the Democratic ticket since 1964. [source]

– While blasting for a quarry in Gilboa, New York in the year 1870, workers uncovered nine fossilized tree stumps. Later in 2004, the fossilized tops of those same trees were discovered. Today, they are believed to have first grown during the Devonian Period approximately 380 million years ago–making it the oldest known forest on the entire planet. [source]

– The Catskills Region is sometimes still referred to as the “Borscht Belt” or the “Jewish Alps” because so many New York City Jews vacationed there in the summers during the mid-1900’s. [source]

– The Kaaterskill Falls in in Greene County tumbles 260 feet over 2 tiers, making it the tallest waterfall in New York. [source]

– The popular film Dirty Dancing (1987) starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey takes place at a resort in the Catskill Mountains. Despite there being plenty of resorts to film on location in the Catskills, it was filmed in Virginia and California. [source]

– On November 8, 2005, the Town of Ulster, New York (Ulster County) elected Nicky B. Woerner to the position of Town Supervisor. At age 21, Woerner is the youngest Town Supervisor to have served in New York State.

– Rosendale, New York was put on the manufacturing map in the 1800’s when it was discovered that the naturally occurring magnesium and clay levels found in dolostone cultivated there could be used to make amazingly great cement. Rosendale Natural Cement was so well known for its high quality that it was used in the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, parts of the Brooklyn Bridge, and even one wing of the United States Capitol building.

– The Town of Davenport in Delaware County has three U.S. Post Offices, but only a single traffic light.

– The name of the famous Nevele Hotel in the Catskills is a reverse anagram. It was named by spelling the word “eleven” backwards, in honor of the eleven school teachers. Those teachers first discovered a waterfall on the site back in the 1800’s. The Nevele Hotel closed in 2009. [source]

– In the mid-1970’s, all 236 residents in Hardenburgh, New York (Ulster County) were officially ordained as ministers. Their houses became churches like The Peaceable Kingdom Church and Maple Tree Church. The end result left only the State of New York, and two utility companies in the town to pay taxes. [source]