The Catskill Mountains of the Hudson Valley are part of the Appalachian Mountain Range and is considered a dissected plateau created by erosion. It is known around the world for its natural beauty, its arts colonies such as Byrdcliffe, the comedy resorts of what was known as the “Borsch Belt”, the 1969 Woodstock Festival and, if I may add, Woodstock Chimes. It has been inhabited by the Algonkian peoples and later discovered by the Dutch, the French and many other cultures.
In the past, interpreters were necessary to bring this diverse group of people together and now the interpretation of the region will be in the form of an interpretive center. The effort to create such a center began in the 1980s and has been postponed for many years for many reasons. I recently attended the groundbreaking ceremony for this center which will be in Mount Tremper, located in the heart of the Catskills some 30 miles west of the Hudson River. The center is named after our former congressional representative, Maurice Hinchey, due to his dedication to environmental issues during his many years of service to our community.
Several organizations have come together to finally make the center a reality including the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, The New York City Department of Environmental Protection, The Catskill Center for Conservation and Development and The Friends of The Catskill Interpretive Center. The Adirondack Park has two such centers so it’s only fair that the Catskill Park is now given such a resource. Many speeches were given during the groundbreaking and representatives from each of the supporting organizations were in attendance. A musical tribute was presented by our local friends Jay Ungar & Molly Mason. Jay & Molly’s unique sound can be heard on many of Ken Burns’ documentary film soundtracks such as the beautiful Ashokan Farewell heard throughout the Civil War series. Who knows when this building will be completed but it’s the beginning of an effort to attract visitors and educate the public. I for one am delighted to live in this amazing area.