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Overlook Mountain is the southernmost peak of the Catskill Escarpment in the central Catskill Mountains near Woodstock, New York. Centerpiece of the 590-acre (240 ha) Overlook Mountain Wild Forest area of Catskill Park, the mountain is the site of one of the remaining five Catskill Mountain fire towers and the Overlook Mountain House, a hotel which was built at a higher elevation than any other in the range.[2]

Overlook Mountain
View of the south face of Overlook Mountain in Woodstock, NY with a white house in the foreground
Overlook Mountain's south face, April 2010. Fire tower is visible on Overlook's peak, on the right.
Highest point
Elevation 3,140 ft (960 m) [1]
Prominence 3
Coordinates 42°5′10.58″N 74°5′36.19″W / 42.0862722°N 74.0933861°W / 42.0862722; -74.0933861Coordinates: 42°5′10.58″N 74°5′36.19″W / 42.0862722°N 74.0933861°W / 42.0862722; -74.0933861
Overlook Mountain is located in New York
Overlook Mountain
Overlook Mountain
Parent range Catskill Mountains
First ascent Peter delaBigarre and companion; July 26, 1793


Natural historyEdit

Overlook Mountain is the southernmost peak of the Catskill Escarpment, which was formed of limestone bedrock by a period of glaciation.[3] It is one of the timber rattlesnake habitats in the Catskills. The summit is covered with red oak, red spruce, and balsam fir trees.

Cultural historyEdit

Overlook Mountain was the site of one of the "mountain houses" which were constructed in the Catskills during the 1800s. In 1902 its southern slopes became home to the Byrdcliffe Colony, a utopian settlement with an arts focus.

Fire towerEdit

View of Ashokan Reservoir from the Overlook Mountain Fire Tower

The Overlook fire tower was originally constructed in 1927 on Gallis Hill, west of Kingston, New York, and was moved to its present location in 1950.[2] The 60-foot (18.3 m) tower was used by fire stewards to more easily locate wildfires. The tower, along with the others in the Catskills, were closed for safety reasons in 1988. Overlook's tower was the first to reopen after renovations were completed, on June 5, 1999.[2]

Mountain HouseEdit

The first hotel built on the mountain was designed and built by 1833 as interest in tourism in the area increased. The structure was built with the intention to expand it, but was unable to compete effectively with the Catskill Mountain House.[4] The Overlook Mountain House, designed by Lewis B. Wagonen, opened in 1871. At 2,920 feet (890 m), it was at a higher elevation than the nearby Catskill Mountain House or other hotels in the area.[2] The hotel had capacity for 300 guests, and was destroyed by fire in 1875. The hotel was rebuilt by the Kiersted Brothers in 1875, and faced increasing competition from the Grand Hotel, Hotel Kaaterskill, and Laurel House. In 1921 was the site of a secret organizational meeting of what was to become the Communist Labor Party of America. The hotel again burned down in 1923, and architect Frank P. Amato was hired by owner Morris Newgold to redesign and rebuild it. This design was never completely built, as the hotel's elevation and lack of rail transportation made it difficult for customers to reach the site, compounding owner Newgold's financial difficulties. The State of New York acquired much of the land, and the hotel was boarded up in 1940. Further fire damage in the mid-1960s brought down a roof-top tower which had remained standing until that point. The ruins of the hotel are accessible from the main trail.

Ruins of Overlook Mountain House
The ruins of Overlook Mountain House have no roof and significant tree growth inside. 
Courtyard of the Overlook Mountain House. 
Wall of the Overlook Mountain House. The roof was destroyed by fire. 
Most of the floors of the Overlook Mountain House no longer exist. 
The ruins consist mostly of the walls of the Mountain House. 
First view of the Overlook Mountain House on a foggy day 
A view of the Mountain House on a foggy day 
Nature is slowly reclaiming the entire structure 


  1. ^ "Overlook Mountain, New York". Retrieved 11 January 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Overlook Mountain Fire Tower". Retrieved 8 January 2010. 
  3. ^ Kudish, Michael (2000). The Catskill Forest: A History. Fleischmanns, NY: Purple Mountain Press. p. 131. ISBN 1-930098-02-2. The Escarpment itself ... begins on the south at Overlook Mountain ... and extends northward and northwestward, terminating with Hubbard and Leonard Hills near Broome Center in Schoharie County .
  4. ^ Yasinsac, Rob (January 12, 2000). "Overlook Mountain House". Retrieved 11 January 2010. 

External linksEdit

  • Official website Overlook Mountain Wild Forest: New York State - Department of Environmental Conservation