Photos from the Driving Tour of Delaware County barns brochure.More
In the 19th century over 400 one-room schools dotted Delaware County’s landscape, the last remaining open until the 1960s. Today they are fondly remembered by former teachers and students alike. Many one-room schools have been converted for use in a multitude of ways.
The most common schoolhouse seen in Delaware County was a small, one-room, wood framed structure, varying in size. A common misconception about one-room schools is that they were painted red. In fact, most schoolhouses were white. The care of the building was the responsibility of the trustee.
“The school trustee in Delaware County was generally a successful, though not necessarily wealthy, farmer who was considered to be a man of integrity and had some ability to make good decisions.”
Pamela S. Hillebrand, “Treasures of the One-Room Schoolhouse”
Most folks say the Scotch, Irish and British were attracted to the Western Catskills because it reminded them of home. Windy hills and rocky pastures wouldn’t intimidate their souls, nor those of their livestock. The roads of Delaware County pay tribute to their ancestors and heritage – Glen Burnie, Irish Hill, Scotch Mountain, Dingle Hill, Thomson Hollow, MacGibbon Hollow, McNaught Hill, and so forth. And while the Catskills were settled by many nationalities, it is the Scotch-Irish influence that holds the most sway over our understanding of our 18th century past in Delaware County.
Here are some breeds of livestock that when seen in our landscape today, give clues to the heritage of our area and give us a way to understand the make up of a farm of yesteryear.More
Here is an old article from a travel guide put out by the Ulster & Delaware along with a JPG of the listings of private homes that took in lodgers during the summer months from the same book. For a better version go to our Facebook Page for the PDF. They follow the path of the Ulster & Delaware from Fleischmanns to West Davenport. The name of some old family farmsteads will be recognizable to some. It's also interesting that the literature showed the elevation of the town - cool mountain air at 1500 feet above sea level was probably a very good reason to vacation here.More
The Ulster & Delaware Railroad crossed the Catskills from Kingston Point on the Hudson, to Oneonta in the Susquehanna Valley. Chartered in 1866 as the Rondout & Oswego, and reorganized in 1872 as the New York, Kingston & Syracuse, it became the Ulster & Delaware in 1875, and was completed to Oneonta in 1900.More
Naturalist John Burroughs paid lifelong homage to his Delaware County roots. Scattered throughout his essays are scores of recounted memories from the first 17 years of his life, years that he spent near Roxbury, New York. “My blood,” he said, “has the flavor of the soil in it; it is rural to the last drop.” Biographer Edward Renehan, Jr . writes that Burroughs “had a deep psychic connection not only to the geography of his home region, but also to his kin who lingered there above and below ground.”
Mountains, streams and thick forests made the interior of New York State difficult to reach. In 1753 Catskill explorer and pioneer, Gideon Hawley described the landscape as “obstructed by fallen trees, old logs, miry places, pointed rock and entangling roots.”
Gideon Hawley as quoted by Seymour Dunbar in A History of Travel in America
As European settlers pushed farther westward in search of more land, they made their way down the Susquehanna River, following trails made by Native Americans and marks on trees made by the few settlers that had gone before them.
After the Revolutionary war, there was an increase in westward migration, creating a need for new and better roads as the existing trails were not wide enough to accommodate wagons. In response, NYS attempted to improve existing roads using money raised from lotteries. In August 1790, hired by the State, Surveyor C. Gelston set out to map and evaluate the condition of a route from Wattles Ferry on the Susquehanna River to Catskill on the Hudson River by way of Windham.
The lotteries failed to raise sufficient funds and the State turned to chartering turnpikes, roads owned and maintained by private companies, instead.More
February 2010 gave us 14-16 inches of ice on the mill pond. Check out this slideshow filled with photos of all the fun the day had in store!More
While Delaware County was primarily known as an agricultural region during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, many hundreds of industrial concerns were also located within its boundaries. That early manufacturing was located in a rural area should be of no surprise, for those industries located in the county were largely based on the available natural resources and dependent on the motive power provided by water.
Highlighted below are some of the main industrial operations that were located within Delaware County.
Lumbering was one of the largest early industries of Delaware County. For the region’s earliest white settlers the land needed to be cleared before farming could begin. It was soon discovered that the lumber had a great market in river cities such as Philadelphia and that rafting was the best way to get the lumber there.
“The timber, which was looked upon as a hindrance to agricultural progress, was thus removed, becoming a source of profit and making way for the work of underbrushing, grubbing and cultivation, which could not have been prosecuted until its removal.”
From The History of Delaware County, 1797 – 1880 by Munsells