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The Best Gifts from Schoharie County



Written By The Mountain Eagle on 2/29/24 | 2/29/24

Our fifth and newest book, “The Hudson River Schools of Art and Their Ice Age Origins” has recently been published by Purple Mountain Press. See our photo. It is certainly our most original work and quite possibly our most important. We argue that during the 19th century there was something of a cultural Renaissance right here in the Hudson Valley region. Led by Washington Irving, Jame Fenimore Cooper and William Cullen Bryant, America’s first worldclass literature appeared. Led by Calvert Vaux, Alexander Jackson Davis and Andrew Jackson Downing, we saw the birth of American landscape architecture. Most importantly, led by Thomas Cole, Asher Brown Durand and Frederic Church we saw the appearance of the Hudson Valley School of Art. In short, our region became the center of a truly important cultural movement. More than anything else, it witnessed the close integration of our culture with our beautiful and scenic landscapes. All of us in this region should be aware of this great heritage. That is the centerpiece of our book.

                                              A sunset over a mountain

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But there is more to all this, much more. None of this, we argue, would ever have happened if the Hudson Valley, especially the North Lake area, had not been so heavily glaciated. We take our readers to the Catskill Mountain House ledge during the Ice Age and look down into the Hudson Valley below. We find that a massive glacier is flowing down the Hudson Valley. We watch as a branch of that ice peels off and turns west to go up Kaaterskill Clove and encircle South Mountain. It sculpts much of the picturesque scenery that is seen thereabouts. Later, when the ice melts, those meltwater flows erode many more scenic landscapes. When the artists arrive, they find a special, even unique inspiration. They paint Kaaterskill Clove, Kaaterskill Falls. North and South Lakes, North Mountain, South Mountain and the Catskill Front itself. All were the direct and indirect products of ice age sculpting. Are you fond of the Hudson River School? Then knowing the ice age history that inspired it will help you appreciate that art so much more.

After that we go back to the Mountain House ledge and look down into the valley once again. First it was filled with ice but later the climate warmed and it was filled with the glacial meltwaters of something called Lake Albany. Time passed and we watched those waters drain away. We watched as platforms composed of lake sediments emerged from the draining waters. When a Hudson Valley aristocracy moved in, including many members of the Livingston family, they built their mansions upon those platforms. Their architects designed the grounds so that scenic views were opened up. Today these are commonly called planned views, and they became central to landscape architecture as it developed across America. At its core, however, this landscaping was glacial in its origins.

Our book amounts to a marriage of art and science. It allows readers to develop a much broader comprehension of a truly grand landscape. But we went to great pains to keep the writing short and keeping it light. We always want to communicate with our non-scientist readers. You will find no techno-garble in our book. Sure, there is formal academic art history and science in our book – but always in a readable form.

Contact the authors at Join their facebook page “The Catskill Geologist.” Read their blogs at “” Order their book from Purple Mountain Press at


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