State by State

Apparently there is an entire country between Boston and San Francisco.

sins

by Natalia

Kaaterskill Falls are high but, when the water is low, not particularly impressive. Seems like a problem, but nothing that can't be fixed. 19th century hotelier, inspired by an enterprising miller, decided to build a dam at the top of the falls. To make sure that they make an appropriate impact one could just turn the water on. For a fee of course.

The trails above the upper section of the falls are now closed to the public due to safety concerns. It doesn't stop careless tourists from suing the state. Apparently the barrier needs to be installed to prevent people from falling. It's amazing no-one is suing to put in the stairs and even better an escalator. Looks like we are not that far from the 19th century crowd and their ideas of taming the nature.

Before Catskills were descended upon by tourists a different type of damage was inflicted. Hemlock trees were felled for their bark used in tanning leaving 95% of the tree to rot. Regular logging of what remained followed. The result is that we now see a totally different type of forest. The original was stripped.

Geological formation of Catskills yielded flat bluestone blocks perfect for use as grave markers and on New York City pavements.Fire towers on mountaintops greatly extend the range of view. Works great for hikers. Of course they weren't built for that purpose, but to spot fires. The fires, that were intentionally set by bark peelers and… blueberry pickers.

The book that we use - New York Washington DC & the Mid-Atlantic Trips - offers 50 themed itineraries. We seem to be following the one themed sins of our fathers (against nature). Lonely Planet probably should include it in their next edition.

steam

There are of course locomotives. And they are of course impressive. It never hurts to remind oneself how to build a steam engine. Might be invaluable when this civilization of ours starts crumbling. Then again, I suspect there are couple of other things that might be helpful before steam engines make a big comeback.Still - the ingenuity of the mechanism, the ability to push things that feel heavy just to look at - fills one with awe.

kaleidoscope

Ever traveled the countryside and wondered what farmers hide in those huge silos by the barn? Now we know: the world's largest kaleidoscope. Well, they can't all be the largest... You lie on your back, gaze up for 10 minutes watching American History show and let me tell you: nothing reinforces patriotic feelings toward this great country like swirling presidents' heads set to dramatic music. Interspersed with floral patterns and marijuana leaves.