Kaatscast: the Catskills Podcast
June 9, 2020

Platte Clove and Elka Park

Platte Clove and Elka Park
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Platte Clove is a steep and narrow valley, accessed by Platte Clove Road between Tannersville and West Saugerties, NY. Part of the road is seasonal use only, offering a gorgeous (and hair-raising) drive April through October. John Farrell and Paul Dibbell are no strangers to this valley, and they talk to us about Elka Park, a 19th-century Victorian community; hiking and driving through the valley; and reminiscences of days past.

Produced with support from the Mountain Cloves Scenic Byway, Mama's Boy Burgers, and the Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce.

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Welcome to cats cast, a biweekly podcast delivering interviews, arts, culture and history from New York's Catskill Mountains. In this episode, we visit Platt clove, a steep valley between tannersville and West Saugerties. A portion of Platte clove road is open seasonally mid April through October. JOHN Farrell and Paul Dibble have deep roots in this clove. i'm john Farrow, I lived here my whole life. The Super 10 of the highways right now. A town of hunter take care of the roads all over the mountaintop, from Platt clove to lanesville. To silver hollow, the ways the towns were laid out years ago. We plow all winter long ever snows and then during the summer we maintain the roads blacktop keep the roads up to snuff. A lot of stuff back in the old days was laid up rock or logs and a rotten they fall down every 2030 years you do it over again. So we're trying to make stuff more permanent now. And hopefully the next generation doesn't have to keep rebuilding and rebuild rebuild. I'm Paul Dibble and I'm the superintendent of the elk Park Association. And we are in the elk Park clubhouse. I'm responsible for the buildings and grounds and such like that. In the late 1880s. The group of German industrialists from Manhattan and the greater metropolitan New York area got together and purchased this land that we're on there's about 1100 acres and built a group of summer homes. They were originally set up to be summer homes. And over the years and especially in the past 20 years or so. Their usages begun to be year round. People are taking them winterizing them and taking advantage of all the activities and things that happen up in the in the mountains here in the wintertime. Also, the common bond amongst the founders was a Choral Society in Manhattan called the liederkranz Club. It still exists today. And they they took the L and the K in German his car and Tibet, put them together for elka Park. having nothing to do with Elks, as many people think. I live down and right in Platte clove itself about five miles from here. Our family got here about 1790 they came in through New Orleans went up the Mississippi and came back down to Manhattan where they want to land lottery from Mayor came up to here to the mountains and the guy here but 1810 over a deeper plat clove and they lived here ever since it's a hard place to live. They always say it's one inch from heaven and one inch from hell this place and it's about the same all the way around. And they worked in the logging camps that were here the quarries on each one of the mountains at one time to mountain draw like a town almost there was so many things going on. You can see right across this whole valley. Almost 150 years ago there was no trees. That was all your fuel and fire one clack club mountain road originally was down below where the one is now in 1880s and 90s. It was a giant business blue stone quarry business. And on that mountain you had him coming up from Sargon ease and going this way. And they had these quarries up and down these mountains you can see this rows where they went up. They slowly connected the roads of the quarries and moved it up to a higher elevation where it is today. And a lot of you can see it going down it's all slag piles from the quarries. Nowadays it wouldn't ever happen because they went up on these mountains and destroyed everything you went in there. It was big crews all done by hand and a chisel these rocks out and they took big formations off the mountain and brought them right out and skidded rocks out. And it was a it was a big business, mainly towards the front of the mountains of blackhole mountain in that area. codfish point was a giant quarry around the front that was giant quarries each one had their own names yet Dibble quarry on one side, which was a relation to his summer there were engineers at the time, mud quarry, California quarry. Vigo to Saugerties all the street Down Arrow bluestone and down in the city. There's tons of it. We had two train stations in town at one time. And when the weather broke, you started bringing the rock the water Everything you made all winter out to these train stations, and they hauled it out of here on train. So that was the biggest way to get rid of it. And then from there, they went into the boarding house business, a lot of them dead. Because the board Dallas's all needed food. He needed cows. He needed sheep and everything. That's what they all did with him. You go to these old foundations way up in the woods, we were kids, he's to use metal detectors. And you always find sheep bells and goat bells. And what they were I thought all everybody had sheep because you could put your one on us Friday night and have it done by the weekend. He ate the whole thing makes sense. an ox you you find all the ox shoes and devils Damn. My grandfather used to tell about they they used oxen for dragging the logs down to the sawmill down on the dam that was real common with them to power one. Yeah, yeah, the the water powered mill that was that was down on that dam there. And the oxen apparently were smart enough that they could actually hook a couple of logs up to it and just send them down. And they would go down by themselves and could be unhitched and go back up. see one of the original advertisement from why they came up to this error unlimited waterpower. You go up and down a scary find all these foundations of a grist Mills saw mills, everything was waterpower turned and you can really use to find gritstone where they ground. The wheat buckwheat and things was a big thing here. And that died out fairly fast. But once you got into steam engines, you didn't have to use that normally, but the foundation's, most of them are there. Like in the 70s and 80s. Some of the big floods took a lot of mountain but you still find them here and there. Along the streams. There's all kinds of weird stuff on the streams. But it was hard up here because it was so hard to make a living. There's no fields, there were nothing It was all hardcore wilderness to start with. Went through the board and houses then you went through the depression where there was nothing. Then you had to ski slope build up and which was a real big business and that died back down again. Then you had to bar business which was big and that all died down. Back in the 70s. You went from Haines falls to hunter who was at license bars. There were more bars per capita than there were capitas This episode is sponsored by mama's boy burgers. Every mama's boy burger is made from local humanely raised grass fed beef right here on the mountaintop. Stop in for a burger fries and a milkshake or for a cone of creamy frozen custard. mama's boy burgers is located at the only traffic light in tannersville open daily at 1130 great food in the great outdoors mama's boy got to seize the roads in the town of hunter Platt clove mountain and the roaring Cal and a this close up for the winter months is seasonal use road no maintenance on the local people all No Well, it's snowing, I'm not going over their GPS they went right down it now we got to close them off physically. Otherwise people get hurt and they're just dangerous plaque low mountains. No guardrails is, and someone said cloud is no. You get ice on that road it would be a nightmare in Fairweather months, the seasonal road offers stunning views and hair raising drive. So use caution. The parking areas leading up to it provide access to a number of hiking trails. You can't beat the place when you come here. I know people hike it every year and I find stuff different every time. Even the state trails are well laid out. We put the roaring Cal park a lot in that would the first trails New York State put back in and like 45 years. They hooked that one up it goes to the Dibble quarry to beautiful quarry, it's all laid out nice. And now we actually have some places to park so it'd be it's well worth a day trip or two day trip has quite a few spots to go around nice and easy and you can stop and have a picnic on the parking areas they made over. You've mentioned Huckleberry point. That's a gorgeous spot. And when you go in predator road, that parking lot alone is nice. And that's a long hike up a narrative that brings you around to echo lake which is a gorgeous spot up in aerotow. If you're going to make the loop it probably shouldn't go without saying that. Going down the Platte clove mountain road is not for the faint of heart. No walk in the park park in the parking lot. Get there early and get a good day and on the whole thing as far as my favorite thing to do when I'm not working, which I seem to be working a lot but anyhow I just like to go get on the motorcycle and go for a ride out toward Windham and prattville there's a county road route 10 that goes up out of prattville and East and then down into the Durham Valley. It's just a spectacular ride anytime here and if you happen to be up here during leaf season, you know in the fall it's it's just gorgeous and and that's that's my recreation. That's my relaxation. Let's just get out and go for a motorcycle ride. I have a woodlot and I like to go up there and just Tinker on it and you know cutting to things and work up and down through the woods. just relaxes Yeah. audio production by silver hollow audio with the support of the mountain clubs Scenic Byway for maps, more information or a CD copy of this tour, please go to mountain clothes byway.com that's MTN clothes byway.com thanks also to our sponsor, the central Catskills, Chamber of Commerce, providing services to businesses, community organizations and local governments in the central Catskills region. Follow the central Catskills Chamber of Commerce on Facebook, and sign up for a weekly email of local events at Central catskills.com Katz cast is a production of silver hollow audio. Please don't forget to subscribe, and we'll see you again in two weeks. I'm Brett Barry. Thanks for listening. 

Transcribed by https://otter.ai