Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Catskills History Takes a Powerful New Leap Forward.

Delaware and Ulster Railroad and Hanford Mills Museum have been marketing themselves together for years as a great pair of historical outings to make in the Western Catskills. Their theme – Experience the Power of History by Learning the History of Power – is being transformed into a great new website. A gander through www.powerofhistory.org will bring you on a wonderful trip through Delaware County’s industrial and agrarian past, as well as its role as a tourism destination for city dwellers.

The website is a collaboration between the Delaware and Ulster RailRoad, Hanford Mills, the Delaware County Historical Association and the Delaware County tourism efforts led by the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce. Kaatskill Life Magazine, whose articles on the region are highly regarded for their depth and detail, put the website team in touch with their writers for reuse of some articles for the initial launch. The archives at DCHA are continually being looked through for new content and the fantastic photographic archives that are found in their collections. The website is not a static experience that will stay the same, but is more like a blog or online magazine as new content will be continually uploaded. The website hosts articles, slideshows, videos and maps. There is a Facebook page titled Power of History that will feature even more photos and articles that may be slightly off topic or add fun background details to the stories. There is even a Twitter feed that will add information on local events with a history bent.

Tourism Director Patty Cullen is pleased to have created a different online experience for visitors and residents to deepen their relationship to the county. “By now we know that folks of all ages do part, if not all, of their travel research online. We are looking to provide lots of content on the website that will be found in search engines and combine that with the social media aspect to really create a stronger relationship to our visitors, generating more overnight and day trips. Our history attracts families, farm foodies, fishing and hunting fans, railroad enthusiasts, vintage baseball fans, folks who love everything historical from timber frame construction to small engines.”

The idea of heritage tourism is an appealing one for Delaware County. Even people who live here don’t really understand the quality of the experience our local historical sites offer. Hanford Mills’ executive director Liz Callahan explains, “The Power of History website offers everyone, even virtual visitors – near and far - a unique opportunity to explore many facets of Delaware County’s rich historical resources. The perspectives and themes found throughout this website create a unique and ever-expanding quilt of ideas and anecdotes that blanket the Northwest Catskills and preserve its unique and colorful culture.”

The tourism office will be looking to put together getaway packages that appeal to this customer, and offering suggestions on DIY (do-it-yourself) excursions, with of course a modern twist. “Imagine waking up at your B and B, after breakfast you get a blanket, picnic basket with lunch, copy of one or two Burroughs books, brochure about his life and a map to all the pertinent sites to visit. You hang out at Woodchuck Lodge, reading Burroughs where Burroughs was inspired. That experience has relevance today.”

The Great Western Catskills is an easy day trip from New York City metro area, Albany, or Binghamton and a great weekend getaway or vacation destination for all. To learn more about our attractions, outdoor recreation and great events going on in the Delaware County Catskills, log on to: www.greatwesterncatskills.com.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Cannonsville Reservoir Opens for 2010 Season with New Launch Site

New York State's Great Western Catskills in Delaware County have long been a place for those who know the secrets of its waters. The best fly fishing spots, early season high water kayaking on the rivers, fishing from canoes on the reservoirs. What had been lacking are large bodies of water for recreational use, until last year. What changed was the New York City Department of Environmental Protection's opening up of most of the Cannonsville Reservoir for recreational kayaking, canoeing, sculls, and for small sailboats, like Sunfish. Last year over 400 people went through the process of getting a permit and steam cleaning their boats, and got to paddle on these pristine waters.

Historically, the City's reservoirs have only been open to fishing boats under permit. After much urging from the local communities the City agreed to run a pilot program on the western reservoir, the Cannonsville, which runs from south of Walton west and south towards Deposit and Hancock. This is a three year pilot program running from 2009 to 2011, after which the City will assess the benefits and local impact and determine whether to keep it open or possibly expand it.

Two steps are required to access the Cannonsville. First the boater will need a DEP Access Permit, which you can get online at www.nyc.gov or at local sports stores. Second is the Recreational Boat Tag, which you get once your boat has been steam cleaned. All craft must be steam cleaned prior to being placed on the water and permits affixed to the boats. The Recreational Boat Tag will last from 1 to 7 days. Full season Boat Tags will be issued by the DEP's Downsville office and will permit owners to leave their boats locked up at launch areas. Trailers are not allowed in the water and there is no camping at these sites.

For the 2010 season the NYC DEP has opened a ninth launch site at Roods Creek, on the southern side of the reservoir. This provides a second launch site for sailboats. Roods Creek joins the eight original launch sites at Mormon Hollow, Dry Brook, Speedwell, Patterson, Apex, Fish Brook Beers Brook, and Dryden Brook.

Boat Cleaning

Five boat cleaning businesses will be in operation in the towns surrounding the reservoir, in Downsville, Deposit, Trout Creek and Walton, and are detailed on the free brochure on detailing the new pilot program. The cleaning process will take about 20 minutes per boat, so make sure you give yourself enough time if you have a few boats. These vendors can issue a temporary pass and get their watercraft steam cleaned. When you visit these locations, please remember to support these local vendors and purchase your supplies from them. For those wishing to obtain a full season pass, steam cleaning services will be provided by the DEP Downsville Operation's office located on NYS Route 30. Call 607-363-7009 to schedule an appointment.

Boat Rentals

Here are a few options for renting boats, though you'll still need to have the boat steam cleaned. Als Sport Store in Downsville will be renting out canoes and kayaks. Call them at 607-326-3500 or visit www.alssportstore.com. Catskill Outfitters in Walton will be renting kayaks and canoes. Call them at 607-865-8827 or visit www.catskilloutfitters.com. Border Water Outfitters in Hancock will be renting canoes and they can be reached at 607-637-4296 or at www.borderwateroutfitters.com. Old Town Kayaks in Halcottsville will have both kayaks and canoes available. Call them at 607-326-4266 or visit their website at www.pleasantpheasantfarm.com. Catskill Outback Adventures has kayaks and canoes to rent out to the public, complete with car top accessories for transporting the boat. Call them for more info at 845-254-9888 or visit their website at www.catskilloutback.com.

Access is from sunrise to sunset and will run from Memorial Day weekend to Columbus weekend. The Delaware County tourism office is providing a brochure outlining all the information you need to know on the rules and regulations for the Cannonsville. You can receive a copy by calling 866-775-4425 and leaving your name and address or by emailing your request to info@greatwesterncatskills.com. You can download the brochure on the tourism website www.greatwesterncatskills.com.

Great Western Catskills Tourism

The Great Western Catskills is an easy day trip from New York City metro area, Albany, or Binghamton and a great weekend getaway or vacation destination for all. To learn about other great outdoor resources, Stay-and-Play Packages, camping in the western Catskills, and great events in our towns and villages, log on to: www.greatwesterncatskills.com. For a free travel literature including the brochure on the Cannonsville Reservoir, public fishing access map, antique trails, and other literature, call toll-free: (866) 775-4425 or e-mail: info@greatwesterncatskills.com.