Headwaters History Days June 7 & 8, 2014; highlighting many of the historic organizations and sites in the towns of Roxbury, Andes, & Middletown in Delaware County NY.
Sixteen museums, landmark structures and historic sites will be open for tours, exhibits and special programs June 7 and 8 when Headwaters History Days celebrates the heritage, culture, folklife and landscape of the East Branch Delaware River towns of Middletown, Roxbury and Andes.
The sites and activities will be open to the public at no charge for one or both days. Consult the Calendar of Events for more information about each venue and their activities. Visitors are invited to pick up a brochure and map at the Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce office in Margaretville, or at any of the venues before plotting their own tour route.
In most cases, docents will be on hand to explain the significance of their sites, some of which are rarely open, making this a wonderful opportunity to find out more about local history from people who know the most about some of our area’s most treasured landmarks.
At the Hunting Tavern Museum in Andes, visitors can learn about the Anti-Rent War of the 1840s, and then drive to the farm on Dingle Hill where a deadly clash brought an end to the land lease system in the Catskills.
Children can sit on a wooden bench in the Civil-War era one-room Stone Schoolhouse in Dunraven and maybe tug the rope that rings the ancient bell in the belfry. In Roxbury, they can climb the stairs of the Methodist Church tower to see the workings of a venerable town clock that has been keeping time for more than a century.
The complex network of belts and pulleys that drive a sawmill and cider press in a 150-year-old barn will mesmerize visitors to the Hubbell Homestead in Kelly Corners, where family members will lead walking tours around the property. Follow that with a Saturday stop at the Pakatakan Farmers Market nearby – an exhibit on the history of the Kelly Brothers Round Barn is inside the unusual circular structure that today is the heart of the market.
Local residents Bob and Alice Jacobson, who witnessed the destruction of four communities when the Pepacton Reservoir was built, will show home movies from the period at the Pleasant Valley Community Hall in the Tremperskill valley. And at the Blue Deer Center in Dunraven, Shavertown native Gary Atkin will share photos and stories of his home town, which was among those lost when the East Branch was dammed in the 1950s to create New York City’s largest reservoir.
Visitors to the Greater Fleischmanns Museum of Memories in a repurposed carriage barn will see a special exhibit on the hotels that once attracted thousands of people to that community each summer. Next door, they can take a closer look at the architectural details of beautiful Skene Library, built in memory of a renowned physician with funds contributed by his childhood friend, Andrew Carnegie. Over on Wagner Avenue, members of the Bnai Israel synagogue will give tours of their historic house of worship, built in the 1920s by local Jewish farmers and many summer residents.
A noontime walking tour on Sunday in the hamlet of Roxbury will include the exquisite 1896 Dutch Reformed Church and the riverside Kirkside Park built by the children of Roxbury native Jay Gould, the railroad tycoon who also had the local train station upgraded. Members of the Ulster & Delaware Railroad Historical Society will be on hand Saturday and Sunday to show off their museum in the former Roxbury station, and to give tours of the rolling stock and train yard at the Delaware & Ulster Railroad’s headquarters, 10 miles east in Arkville.
Pick up a Headwaters History ‘passport’ at any of the weekend’s venues and the DURR will offer 2 for 1 rides on its round-trip excursions from Arkville to Roxbury for the remainder of the 2014 season.
Among the weekend’s special events will be two concerts of home-grown music.
On Saturday at 1p.m., a group of songwriter musicians will play traditional and original tunes on the front porch of Woodchuck Lodge, the farmhouse where famed naturalist John Burroughs once wrote in Roxbury. The Lodge is open for tours both days.
On Sunday, at 2 p.m. at the Historical Society of Middletown (HSM) hall in Margaretville, an ensemble of area singers will present a program of unaccompanied tunes in the tradition of the Old School Baptists. Ethnomusicologist Ben Bath will introduce the music with a talk about the “Primitive Baptist” sect that once flourished in the Catskill Region.
Pre-concert picnickers are welcome at both venues. Picnic tables are also available at several other sites and parks; support the Pakatakan Farmers Market vendors, purchase take-out from one of the area’s fine eateries or bring your own lunch to enjoy outdoors as you follow the trail of Headwaters History.