George S. Young was a talented photographer and boarding house owner in the rugged Platte Clove section of the northern Catskills. He and his family operated the popular Grand Canyon House and the Devil’s Kitchen tourist attraction for many years.
Indian Head from back of Grand Canyon House, Platte Clove, N.Y. Author's Collection.
George Summerfield Young was born in July 1855 to Samuel Benson Young (1813-1875) and Susan Catharine (Dibbell) Young (1814-1890). His father Samuel was a farmer and also did quarry work. George was one of ten children. His nine siblings included John W. Young (1832-1912); Amos D. Young (b. 1834); William H. Young (1836-1864); Joseph B. Young (1839-1861); Frances E. Young (b. 1841); Sarah R. Young (b. 1845); Sylvia U. Young (1847-1911); Susan C. Young (b. 1852); and Lissa S. Young (1858-1862).
Amos Dibbell (1781-1867), George’s grandfather via his mother Susan, was a native from Holland and was a pioneer in Delaware County, New York. The Dibble family were among the early settlers in the town of Kortright. Amos moved to the Platte Clove area circa the year 1834 and was a millwright by trade. He married Charlotte Williams, of Colchester, on February 12, 1809 at Kortright, New York. Charlotte was born on October 25, 1790 at Kortright. Together Amos and Charlotte had nine children (possibly 10, as per 1865 New York State census). As Amos and Charlotte got older, they lived with their daughter Susan and their son-in-law Samuel Young. Amos likely died at Platte Clove, although his burial site is unknown. Upon the passing of Amos and Charlotte the family property at Platte Clove passed to Susan and Samuel.
On the 1860 United States census George Young was living in the town of Hunter. The household included his father Samuel, age 48; his mother Susan age 45; and his siblings William, age 24; Benson, age 21; Frances E., age 19; Sarah, age 16; Sylvia, age 13; Susan, age 8; and Lizzie, age 2. His father Samuel was listed with an occupation of “Farmer,” while William and Benson were listed as “Farm laborer,” and Frances and Sarah were listed as “Domestic.” The family real estate was valued at $1,000, and the personal estate was valued at $350.
On the 1865 New York State census George Young was living in the town of Hunter. The household included his father Samuel, age 52; his mother Susan, age 50; his sister Sarah, age 21; his sister Sylvia, age 18; his sister Susan, age 13; his grandfather Amos Dibble, age 84; and his grandmother Charlotte, age 74. Samuel was listed with an occupation of “Farmer,” while Amos, even at the age 84, still had his occupation listed as “Millwright.” The family was living in a “framed” house.
On the 1870 United State census George S. Young was living in the town of Hunter. The household included his father Samuel, age 56; his mother Susan, age 55; his grandmother, “Sally,” age 80; his sister Sylvia, age 23; and his sister Susan, age 18. Samuel was listed with an occupation of “Farmer & Quarry.” His mother was listed as “Keeping house,” while Sally, Sylvia and Susan were listed with an occupation of “House labor.” The value of the family’s real estate was $500, and the value of the personal estate was $620.
On the 1875 New York State census George S. Young, age 19, was living in the First Election District in the town of Hunter. George was living with his mother Susan C. Young, age 60, now widowed, and his grandmother Charlotte Dibbell, age 85. George was reported as single and had no occupation listed. Susan was listed as “Keeping House.”
On the 1880 United States census George S. Young, age 24, was reported as living in the town of Hunter. He was living with only his mother Susan C. Young, age 65. George was reported as single and with an occupation of “Farmer.”
George S. Young married Ida Jane (Cole) Young around the year 1882 or 1883. Ida was born at Saugerties in May 1866. They had three children together including Willis Harry Young, born December 1883, died 1974; Edna Emily Young, born October 1886, died 1927; and Marion Alice Young, born May 11, 1897, died 1983.
In various business and town directories George S. Young is listed with an occupation of farmer. On the 1880 United States Census Young’s occupation was listed as “Farmer.” In the 1890 Hunter town directory and the 1896 Greene County Directory George S. Young was listed as a farmer with 50 acres of land in Platte Clove. On the 1900 United States census Young was again listed with an occupation of “Farmer.” Young later managed a prominent boarding house, worked as a bluestone dealer and as a stone cutter, operated a popular tourist attraction and became a photographer.
In 1891 George Young was present at the organization of the Catskill Mountain Road Improvement Society. The first meeting was organized by F. B. Thurber of Onteora Park and was held on October 24, 1891 at Roggen’s Hotel in Tannersville. Thurber addressed “the leading citizens of the town of Hunter and vicinity” saying that “we have undoubtedly improved our roads during the past few years; the new system of working them is better than the old, but the new also has some defects which must be remedied . . . The most competent men should be selected to work the roads, with the assurance that if they do their duty they shall have them year after year. A man cannot afford to put on a road good, permanent work (which would be cheapest in the end), if he is only sure of having that piece of road one year; and perhaps the present system can be further improved upon by contracting out the entire roads of the town to a competent person, who could then afford to procure the necessary machinery, tools and plant to properly work the.” (The Windham Journal. January 21, 1892.)
The Young family resided at Platte Clove, also known as Platte Kill Clove, which is a deep, heavily wooded, historic, wildly rugged and wonderfully scenic mountain pass through the northern Catskills. Charles Lanman, a noted American writer and artist who spent much time in the clove, described his early impressions of the clove in 1844, which was about ten years after Amos Dibbell first arrived there.
“Plauterkill Clove is an eddy of the great and tumultuous world, and in itself a world of unwritten poetry, whose primitive loveliness has not yet been disfigured by the influences of mammon, and God grant that it may continue so forever. It is endeared to my heart for being a favourite haunt for solitude, and for having been consecrated by a brotherhood of friends to the pure religion of nature; and they always enter there as into a holy sanctuary.” (Lanman, Charles. Letters from a Landscape Painter. Boston: James Munroe and Company, 1845. p. 50.)
With Plattekill Mountain encroaching from the south and Kaaterskill High Peak looming to the north, a narrow and winding two-lane road precipitously crosses the eastern portion of the clove, rising over 1,400 feet from West Saugerties in only 2.1 miles. There are no guardrails despite the nearly vertical cliffs along much of the drive. The climb is so dangerously steep that it is closed in the winter from November 15th to April 15th as the town provides no maintenance.
Platte Clove is home to, depending on who’s counting, over 18 waterfalls, many of which are only reachable with extreme caution and effort and is not recommended. There are fatalities in the clove area just about every year. Old Mill Falls and the clove’s showpiece waterfall, the beautiful Plattekill Falls, are easily and safely accessible.
Devil's Kitchen in Grand Canyon, Platte Clove, N.Y. Author's Collection.
Bridal Veil Falls in the Devil's Kitchen, Platte Clove, N.Y. Author's Collection.
Ghost Falls, Platte Clove, N.Y. Author's Collection.
Top of Ghost Falls, Grand Canyon, Platte Clove, N.Y. Author's Collection.
Head of Ghost Falls, Platte Clove, N.Y. Author's Collection.
At the head of the dramatic Plattekill Clove is Hell Hole Falls, a scenic waterfall. The falls are located on Hell’s Hole Creek which forms on the southeast ridge of Kaaterskill High Peak and flows into the Plattekill Creek for its run to the Hudson River. The diabolically named waterfall begins benignly enough with a series of small cascades but then, upon passing underneath an historic stone arch bridge, begins its hellish fall through the aptly named Devil’s Kitchen in to what seems to be the never-ending abyss below. Stark cliffs, precipitous drops, narrow ravines are all engulfed in this section of the Catskills where regional lore claims the Devil once roamed and early pioneers dared not tread.
Stone Arch at Entrance to Grand Canyon, Platte Clove, N.Y. Author's Collection.
Stone Arch at Head of Grand Canyon, Platte Clove, N.Y. Author's Collection.
Well-known photographer and guidebook author Richard Lionel De Lisser wrote of his 1894 trip through Platte Clove:
“A trip through the clove, following the bed of the stream, to West Saugerties, in Ulster County, is fully worth the exertion necessary to make it, and is full of interest to the lover of Nature in her barbaric state. There is nothing in the Catskills to equal it – of the kind. My trip was made with an assistance and a guide, with an axe to clear the way of fallen trees and other obstructions. Although not much over a mile, it took us from early morning till late in the evening to make the passage. In the descent, of over 2,000 feet, no less than eighteen large waterfalls are encountered and passed, which vary in height – from twenty-five up to many which are higher – some of them hundreds of feet. There are no paths or roads through; in fact there is little chance for any, the creek occupying about all the space between the mountains on either side.
After a visit to Black Chasm and the Plaaterkill Falls, the next point of interest is the Old Mill Falls, just below the bridge that crosses the stream on the Overlook Mountain road. Then comes Pomeroy Falls. Here the visitor will find a flight of steps that will take him to the foot of the ravine. From there, down the clove, he must do as I did – make the best of the natural opportunities afforded by the depth of the water in the creek, and the fallen trees and rocks in the bed.
I should judge that a foot-path could be made through the entire length of the clove, and at but little expense, that would make it passable for ladies and summer people in general. The place only needs to be known and made passable, to take precedence over any other of the cloves in the Catskill region.
The next fall below Pomeroy is the Rainbow, the one below that is the Lower Rainbow, or Hell Hole Falls. The stream that enters the creek at this point comes from High Peak, passes under Hell Hole bridge, on the clove wagon road, and falls almost perpendicularly hundreds of feet, over huge rocks and high cliffs, into the wild stream below.
Green Falls comes next. A second view of this falls I have called “The Ghost,” as it suggested to me a Death-head wrapped in a winding-sheet. Looking to one side of the “Ghost,” you can find two other heads, one clearly defined.
Evergreen Falls is named from the quantities of green moss that covers its rocks, and comes next in order. Then comes Rocky Rapids, which is a wild and rather a dangerous spot, quite narrow and in which one is in as much danger from the rocks handing above as from the big boulders in the path.
Gray Rock is a beautiful falls, and would well repay a visit to the clove. The stream from Black Chasm enters the creek just below these falls.
In attempting to cross the stream here I fell in the creek, for about the twentieth time that day, but unfortunately, this time, having in one hand the camera and in the other the lens, and wishing to keep them dry, at any cost, I was obliged to remain as I had fallen, until relieved of them, while the water, which had found convenient passageway through my trousers, spurted out over my collar in playful jets. My guide set to laughing at this, and laughed so long and so hard that we had to sit down and wait for him to get through and afterward to recover from the fatigue caused thereby.
The last falls in Greene county is the Upper Red Falls, so called to distinguish it from the Lower Red Falls, which in Ulster county.” (De Lisser, Richard Lionel. Picturesque Catskills. Greene County. Northampton, Mass.: Picturesque Publishing Company, 1894. Reprinted – Cornwallville, New York: Hope Farm Press, 1983. p. 76-77.)
Japanese Falls, Grand Canyon, Platte Clove, N.Y. Author's Collection.
Rainbow Falls, Grand Canyon, Platte Clove, N.Y. Author's Collection.
The Rainbow, Grand Canyon, Platte Clove, N.Y. Author's Collection.
The Young family, long-time Platte Clove land owners and farmers, realizing opportunity from the growing number of vacationers to the northern Catskills, turned to the tourist trade with the opening of their Grand Canyon House in the year 1900. The Grand Canyon House was located in the northern Catskills at the head of Platte Clove, a beautiful 2-mile chasm that has historically been referenced as the Grand Canyon. The name “Grand Canyon” is no longer used in reference to Platte Clove.
Mossy Brook, Platte Cove, N.Y. Author's Collection.
Massy Brook, At Head of Grand Canyon, Platte Clove, N.Y. Author's Collection.
Grand Canyon. Platte Clove, N.Y. Author's Collection.
The Grand Canyon House was located only 500 feet from the Devil’s Kitchen, which the Young family would make a focal point for their lodgers and for day visitors as well. It would become a very popular tourist destination, attracting travelers from throughout the region.
The Young family constructed a series of paths with bridges and stairways into the rugged clove for their patrons to enjoy the natural splendor.
“Several generations ago a vacationer among the romantic Catskills had only to pay his dime to be admitted to the Devil’s Kitchen located at the head of Plattekill Clove. There a guide would show him great boulders deep in a gorge draped with ferns and alive with the tinkle and murmur of water. These boulders were the Devil’s saucepans, his tea kettle, and other pieces of kitchenware. Ladders and stairways of wood led from one level to another. The guide would give details of the Devil’s methods of cooking and point out his many ingenious household gadgets. In this way a generation of men and women who had been molded by nineteenth-century romantic thinking and feeling turned the old Devil-beliefs and Devil-fears of their ancestors into pleasant amusement. Vacationers were happy to pay their dimes to spend a half hour of mock horror among the Devil’s pots and pans and to feel superior to the old-timers who had taken such things seriously. Today the Devil’s Kitchen is deserted. Its ladders and stairways have rotted away, and the kitchen utensils have long ago reverted to being simple boulders deposited by glacial power.” (Evers, Alf. The Catskills From Wilderness to Woodstock. Woodstock, NY: The Overlook Press, 1982. p. 233.)
Dr. John Dwyer, son of Marion Young and Charles Dwyer, grandson of George S. Young and Ida J. Young, wrote in 1994 of his memories of Platte Clove, the Grand Canyon House and the Devil’s Kitchen.
“My grandfather built several flights of steps and walkways down into this canyon and this trail led eventually to a rock which thrusts itself out into space just above the point where two streams meet. This rocky promontory is called Bridal Veil Point, because of the splendid view which it offers of those falls, where the waters of the small stream drop about eighty feet over the moss and fern-covered rock.
At the start of the trail into the Devil’s Kitchen there was a small house, where soft-drinks, souvenirs and postcards were sold and where those who were not guests at the boarding house paid a ten-cent admission charge to see the canyon. In time, inflation took its toll and in the early thirties the admission charge was upped to twenty cents, provoking howls of dismay from Albany to New York City.
Over the years the walkways were broadened, the configuration of the steps was changed and a new little house was built at the head of the Canyon (in the early twenties), but the path to Bridal Veil Point remained essentially the same over the years.” (Dwyer, Dr. John. “The Grand Canyon House of Platte Clove.” The Hemlock. Mountain Top Historical Society. 1994.)
Under the Arch at the Head of Grand Canyon. Platte Clove, N.Y. Author's Collection.
Looking Down Grand Canyon, Platte Clove, N.Y. Author's Collection.
The Bridge and Trail in Devil's Kitchen. Platte Clove, N.Y. Author's Collection.
Scene in Grand Canyon, Platte Clove, N.Y. Author's Collection.
Devil’s Kitchen “remained popular well into the twentieth century, as motorized vehicles replaced the horse-drawn carriages of the earlier decades as the preferred method of accessing the area. Tour groups from Albany and points south made the journey in buses that traversed the narrow, and at times precipitous grades of Platte Clove Road.” (Krattinger, William E. “Old Platte Clove Post Office.” National Register of Historic Places.)
The Devil’s Kitchen tourist attraction operated until 1944. The bridges, ladders and walkways of the Devil’s Kitchen were destroyed in 1947 by a mudslide. They were never replaced.
George Young’s photographs of Platte Clove and the Devil’s Kitchen remain to this day as some of the best ever taken of that region. His photographs included scenic spots such as Mossy Brook, the stone arch bridge at Hell Hole Falls, Japanese Falls, Ghost Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and Rainbow Falls. Young’s photos show the beauty of idyllic waterfalls, but also the rugged wildness that brought the Devil to mind over a century ago. They offer a glimpse into a section of the Catskills that today is one of the most inaccessible to hikers, and provide lasting images of sites that would likely never be seen otherwise.
On the 1900 United States census, around the time that the Grand Canyon House opened, George S. Young, age 45, was living in the First Election District of the town of Hunter. He was living with his wife Ida and their three children Willis, Edna and Marion. The household also included George Rix, a 21-year-old boarder who was working as a farm laborer. George was listed with an occupation of “Farmer.”
The Grand Canyon House, as operated by the Young family, was a popular boarding house for several decades. Although the Young family informally hosted boarders prior, the Grand Canyon House officially opened in 1900. The boarding house originally accommodated about 25 people, but was expanded over the years, reaching accommodations for 50 people by 1908. Operating season was typically from June 1st to October 30th. The Grand Canyon House was known for its delicious and plentiful food, including pure spring water and fresh produce and dairy products, and of course its magnificent views of the Hudson Valley and its proximity to the Devil’s Kitchen section of Platte Clove.
Grand Canyon House. Platte Clove, N.Y. Author's Collection
Grand Canyon House on Round Top Mountain. Platte Clove, N.Y. Author's Collection.
Dr. John Dwyer, grandson of George S. Young, wrote of his memories of the early beginnings of the Grand Canyon House.
“When my great-grandparents acquired the Devil’s Kitchen property, there was already a house there, set back just a few feet northeast of where the Platte Clove Mountain Road now runs. It has served sporadically as an inn, and this practice seems to have continued in an informal sort of way, after my grandparents married. This was the period when boarding houses were multiplying in the Catskills and my grandfather [George Young] decided to try his hand at the promising new business. He has always wanted a house some distance above the road, with fine views of the whole range from Indian Head to Hunter Mountain, as well as down into the Hudson Valley, and he found the ideal location just about a hundred yards up the hill behind the house. The need to expand the capacity of the boarding house gave him the excuse to do what he had always wanted.
During the late spring and early summer of 1899 he prepared the house for moving and then brought it up the hill in two sections. The family lived in the house during the moving operations and my mother (who was born in 1897) told me that one of earliest memories was that of her mother cooking huckleberry pies in the kitchen stove and telling her husband in no uncertain terms what she though of the whole enterprise, when the house tilted and the contents of the pies spilled all over the inside of the oven.
The house was moved up the hill by rolling it over logs. It was hauled by teams of horses and, as each log was “left behind” on the lower side of the house, it was carried around to the upper end, and the process was repeated until the house reached its final resting place. The house was positioned so that the smaller of the two dining rooms was connected by a bluestone stairway to a room-sized cold cellar, with four bluestone dry walls and a marvelous three tiered “lazy susan” in the middle, made of circular slabs of bluestone, six feet in diameter, each with a square hole in the middle for the five by five wood stake which supported the round slabs. (The whole structure was so perfectly balanced that it could be turned at the touch of a finger.)
During the summer following the move, my grandfather built a tower at the west end of the house, the ground floor of which served as an office, while the second floor provided a small room which was connected to the larger room on the same floor where the children often slept.
After this work had been completed, the house had nine regular bedrooms and a tower bedroom available for guests, as well as two large dining rooms and a huge living room with a bluestone fireplace. It was probably about this time that the house began to be called “Grand Canyon House,” a reference to the magnificent Canyon described above. However, as the boarding business prospered, there were more potential vacationers than rooms to house them and so my grandfather came on the idea of building a third story on the house, which would provide twelve additional rooms. This work was completed toward the end of the first decade of the new century and the house then took on the form it was to have for as long as it remained standing.” (Dwyer, Dr. John. “The Grand Canyon House of Platte Clove.” The Hemlock. Mountain Top Historical Society. 1994.)
In 1901, only a year or two after opening, George S. Young placed a large advertisement for the Grand Canyon House in the Ulster & Delaware Railroad publication titled The Catskills Mountains. The most picturesque Mountain region on the Globe. The Ulster & Delaware provided one of the most comfortable and convenient methods of reaching the northern Catskills. That early advertisement was one of the largest ever placed by the Grand Canyon House, and provided great details on why the resort would become so popular.
“Grand Canyon House. Heart of the Catskills. Platte Clove, Greene County, N.Y.
Open from June 1 to October 30. Altitude, 2,500 feet. House enlarged.
TERMS – July and August, $7 to $12 a week. Special terms to families or clubs. Guests will be given a reduction in rate during June, Sept, and Oct.
LOCATION – Grand Canyon House is on a commanding height, 2,500 feet above the tide water, and from nearly every room there are magnificent valley, mountain and river views. Seven miles from Tannersville Station on the Kaaterskill R. R.
The house is on the same altitude of Hotel Kaaterskill, Beach Catskill Mountain House and the Overlook Mountain House. Its surroundings cannot be surpassed for health, scenery, natural falls, chasms, fine drives and pretty walks. The house is of a quiet genteel character.
Fiver hundred feet from the Grand Canyon where bold and savage features are combined with the gentle and picturesque in inexhaustible variety, huge masses of rock tumbled in wild confusion and the rushing waters of the Plattekill, contrasted with rich forests, distant views of mountain ranges and the smiling Hudson form an impressive and delightful scene.
THE ROOMS – Are all light and comfortable, the owner having rebuilt the house and refurbished rooms. Large easy chairs and rockers for guests in abundance.
THE TABLE is strictly first-class in every respect. Abundance of milk, eggs, butter and vegetables from the farm.
APPROACHED FROM NEW YORK – West Shore R. R., foot of Franklin St., or West 42nd St., North River, to Kingston; thence via Ulster & Delaware to Tannersville. Take Albany Day Boat to Kingston Point, thence via train to Tannersville. We meet our guests at depot with our own conveyances, if requested, at a trifling charge. No Hebrews need apply. Through parlor car service direct to Tannersville.
GEORGE S. YOUNG, Proprietor.”
Below is a chronological listing of various additional advertisements and newspaper articles that have described the once famous Grand Canyon House.
1900 advertisement: “Grand Canyon House. Heart of Catskills; PLATTE CLOVE, Greene Co., New York; altitude 2,500 feet; excellent table; large, airy rooms; terms moderate. GEO. S. YOUNG, Proprietor.” (Brooklyn Daily Eagle. July 1, 1900.)
1901 advertisement: “Grand Canyon House. Open from June 1 to October 30; no Hebrews; fine location; altitude 2,000 feet; rates $7 to $10 per week. GEO. S. YOUNG, Prop. PLATTE CLOVE, Greene Co., N. Y.” (Brooklyn Daily Eagle. August 12, 1901.)
1904 newspaper article: “The Grand Canyon House, with its beautiful canyon and magnificent river view, is under the management of George S. Young.” (The New York Times. June 12, 1904.)
1904 newspaper article: “Nature in forming the Grand Canyon here produced one of the most wonderful rock formations in the state and not content with this she produced the cross clove. Both of these places are annually visited by thousands of tourists, who are surprised at the many points of interest in the neighborhood . . . The Grand Canyon House, with its unsurpassed river view and pleasant location, has a number of guests.” (Brooklyn Daily Eagle. July 10, 1904.)
1906 advertisement: “Grand Canyon House – Elevation 2,000 feet; capacity 40, excellent cuisine. For particulars, apply to GEO. S. YOUNG.” (The Brooklyn Citizen. June 15, 1906.)
1907 newspaper article: “The Grand Canyon House has been having an unusually prosperous season and is catering to a crowd that includes a large number of Brooklynites.” (The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. August 18, 1907.)
1908 newspaper article: “The Grand Canyon House is situated on a commanding height, 2,000 feet above the tidewater at Platte Clove. The surroundings cannot be surpassed for health, scenery, natural falls, chasms, fine drives and pretty walks. The rooms are all light and comfortable and the table is strictly first class in every respect. For amusements, tennis, croquet, and driving, are at the convenience of guests.” (Brooklyn Daily Eagle. June 14, 1908.)
1908 advertisement: “GRAND CANYON HOUSE, Platte Clove, Greene County, N.Y. Altitude 2,000 feet. Extensive views of mountain peaks, the Hudson River. Artistic nature is on all sides, with rugged mountains, natural chasms, beautiful waterfalls and delightful scenery. Accommodates 50. All modern improvements. Rates, $8-15. Opens June 15. G. S. Young.” (Brooklyn Daily Eagle. June 14, 1908.)
1908 newspaper article: “Picturesque Platt Clove. Platte Clove, N.Y., June 27 – At the head of the Platterkill Clove, a short distance from High Peak, Platte Clove is one of the most picturesque of the smaller hamlets in the Catskills. A small cottage settlement and several hotels cater to a crowd during July and August that taxes their capacity to the utmost . . . The most attractive of the houses here, the Grand Canyon House, is located on the side of the mountain, overlooking the canyon.” (Brooklyn Daily Eagle. June 28, 1908.)
1908 newspaper article: “The tourist looking for an outing that he will remember for years will find in the ascent of this Clove, on a cool September or October day some of the most wonderful scenic beauty to be found in America. The ascent can be made through a well known, defined path with little hardship. The writer has, on several occasions, conducted a party of women through this Clove, although it is rough work for the gentler sex, yet he has never seen a party that was not well pleased with the labor they had expended in making the trip. In this section there are a few houses that are noted as autumn resorts: The Mountain Stream Cottage at West Saugerties, the Grand Canyon House, the Platterkill Falls Mountain House and the Twin Mountain House are located here in the heart of the mountains. They are comfortable, and the autumn evenings spent around their open fireplaces are among the most pleasant experiences that a traveler can have.” (Brooklyn Daily Eagle. September 14, 1908.)
1908 newspaper article: “The Platterkill Clove is, without exception, the most beautiful bit of scenery throughout the Catskill Mountains. There is not one of the Cloves that compares with it in wild, rugged, picturesque beauty, and node of them has the wonderful rock formations or beautiful falls found in this section. Boarding houses around Platte Clove this year are enjoying a prosperous season. The Grand Canyon, the most marvelous of the formations throughout the Catskills, is growing in popularity each week. Visitors from a radius of twenty miles are coming in crowds each day to see this beautiful section. The Grand Canyon House is the coziest and most attractive house at Platte Clove, and its season has been an exceedingly prosperous one.” (Brooklyn Daily Eagle. July 26, 1908.)
1914 newspaper article: “The Grand Canyon House, located so that it overlooks the Hudson Valley and the surrounding country, is the leading house here, and one of the most attractive hotels in the Catskills. The house has been open during the entire month of June and has been busier than usual because it is a favorite place with June guests.” (Brooklyn Daily Eagle. June 14, 1914.)
1914 advertisement: “Grand Canyon House. Elevation 2,000 Feet. Exquisite scenery, all amusements, sanitary plumbing. Splendid cuisine. Gas, pure spring water. George S. Young. Platte Clove, N.Y.” (New York Tribune. June 7, 1914.)
1915 newspaper article: “Platte Clove, N. Y. June 19. This charming section of the Catskills, at the head of the beautiful Plaaterkill Clove or Grand Canyon, is the most delightful section of the interior Catskills and its pretty summer homes and comfortable boarding houses are well patronized during July and August.” (Brooklyn Daily Eagle. June 20, 1915.)
1917 advertisement: “Grand Canyon House. Platte Clove, N.Y. Elevation 2,000 feet; unsurpassed for health, scenery, natural falls, chasms, fine drives and pretty walks; GRAND CANYON AND DEVIL’S KITCHEN WITHIN 500 FEET; amusements, tennis, croquet, etc. Rooms are all light and comfortable; sanitary plumbing; gas throughout; splendid cuisine; abundance milk, butter, cream, eggs and vegetables from own farm; spring water on every floor. Terms $10 to $15 per week. Write for Illustrated booklet; references. GEORGE S. YOUNG, Proprietor.” (Brooklyn Daily Eagle. June 3, 1917.)
1919 advertisement: “Grand Canyon House. Platte Clove, N.Y. Elevation 2,000 feet. Unsurpassed for health, scenery, natural paths, fine drives. Grand Canyon and Devil’s Kitchen within 500 feet. Sanitary plumbing; splendid cuisine; fresh dairy and farm products. Booklet. Mrs. E. E. Baker.” (Brooklyn Daily Eagle. May 18, 1919.)
1919 advertisement: “Grand Canyon House. Platte Clove, New York. Where high-class people can enjoy a vacation which is not surpassed in the Catskill Mts., because the house is situated at an altitude of 2,000 feet, overlooking the Hudson Valley and Grand Canyon. The walk through the famous Devil’s Kitchen is one that should not be missed. All conveniences. Large, airy rooms; own vegetables. Sports and amusements. Running spring water on every floor. Rates, $14 up. Booklet. E. H. Baker, Prop.” (The Chat. June 14, 1919.)
1920 advertisement: “Your Country Home. Built on the mountain tops. Picturesquely romantic region, charmingly secluded. Conducted to satisfy your desire for a better vacation. Tennis, croquet, billiards, etc. Grand Canyon House. Platte Clove, Elka Park, Greene Co., New York. Tannersville Station on West Shore R. R.” (The Nation. Volume 110, No. 2865. May 29, 1920. p. 729.)
1923 advertisement: “Grand Canyon House. Platte Clove, Greene, Co., N.Y. Under old management. Spacious verandas. Amusements. Large, airy rooms, all conveniences and an abundance of good things to eat. Apply for terms.” (The Chat. May 26, 1923.)
1923 advertisement: “Grand Canyon House. Located 2,000 feet above tide water, Grand Canyon House at Platte Clove, Greene County, N.Y. offers an ideal place for those who have used up all their vitality during the winter months. E. E. Baker is the proprietor and he saw to it that the house was placed in the center of beautiful surroundings that offer new life to the work out man or woman who much leave the city to recuperate. There are spacious verandas. From the windows the long mountain chain and valley can be observed. There is a large supply of vegetables. Those who want quick action and desire to engage a room without loss of time can telephone to 35-Y-4 Tannersville. The terms are reasonable. The house is easily reached and the finest class of people always spend their summers here. Greene County, it is agreed, is one of the most picturesque spots in New York State and Mr. Baker fixed up his house to harmonize with the surrounding country. Full particulars can be obtained by writing for them. – Adv.” (The Chat. June 9, 1923.)
1924 advertisement: “2500 Ft. Elevation – “Always Cool.” Grand Canyon House. Elka Park, Greene County, New York. The most beautiful spot in the Catskills has been selected for Mrs. Ida J. Young’s attractive “Grand Canyon House.” True, it takes five hours to come up from New York, but isn’t it worthwhile to really spend your vacation in Nature’s Own Country, accessible as it is to Haines Falls and Tannersville for fine amusements and stores? Excellent table and rooms; baths and modern improvements; ideal drives and walks; bathing and fishing; accommodates 50; rates $18 and up; Gentiles. MRS. IDA J. YOUNG Proprietor” (Brooklyn Daily Eagle. May 25, 1924.)
1929 advertisement: “Grand Canyon House, Platte Clove, N.Y. Elka Park P. O. Near Devil’s Kitchen, wildest view in the Catskills. German cooking. H. W. Buschen.” (Brooklyn Daily Eagle. June 30, 1929.)
1932 advertisement: “GRAND CANYON HOUSE. A Mountain Paradise. All Sports. All Improvements. German Kitchen. $15-$18. H. Buschen. Elka Park. N. Y.” (Brooklyn Daily Eagle. August 25, 1932.)
On the 1910 United States census George S. Young, age 54, is residing at the town of Hunter. He was living with two of their three children, Edna and Marion. The family must have been doing quite well as the household also contained two servants, Jessie Deda Mater and Fred Hummel, both of whom worked as laborers at a saw mill. Interestingly, George, despite operating the Grand Canyon House and the Devil’s Kitchen tourist attraction, was listed with an occupation of “Stone Cutter.” He perhaps learned the trade from his father Samuel, who also did quarry work. George’s daughter Edna was working as a music teacher.
In 1918 author T. Morris Longstreth (1886-1975) wrote The Catskills, one of the best books ever written about that famous region. The travelogue follows the author as he journeys through the Catskill Mountains in the spring and early summer of 1917. Longstreth takes you to Overlook Mountain, Stony Clove, Phoenicia, Hunter, Slide Mountain, Kaaterskill Falls, the Ashokan Reservoir, Mount Utsayantha and many more places. Along the way Longstreth fishes the mountain streams, sleeps under the stars, lodges at local boarding houses and dairy farms, tramps the backroads, talks to the people and witnesses the many majesties of nature.
Along his 1917 journey Longstreth wrote of his visit to the Platte Clove, his stay at a local inn and the region’s magnificent scenery. Based on his description of the location and of the stairways down to the Devil’s Kitchen, Longstreth likely spent the night and enjoyed his meals at the Grand Canyon House, and perhaps the innkeeper was even Ida J. Young.
“Breakfast was no betrayer of the expectations raised by supper. The Good Dame of Plattekill Clove, (as our hostess is registered in heaven,) brought in buckwheat cakes that had to have a cover on them to keep them down, and there was nothing at all inconspicuous about their size . . .
There is at the top of the Clove a gorge called by the ambitious inhabitants the Grand Canyon. We visited this, and found that to loiter down it, to really digest the formation and appreciate the trees, is a matter of many hours. At the very top, in the Devil’s Kitchen, as their fancy names it, there is a scene that distresses all artists who have not brought along the means of reproducing it. The road passes over the gorge by a small arch so beautifully rounded and bastioned with rock that it is a little sermon on the value of doing the ordinary well and with an eye to beauty. The brook sings a little lament as it goes through this arch; it is leaving lovely fields and is about to be lost in a series of mad plunges. When we saw it first it had whitened the entire cavern with frost. In the spring it riots down those great stone steps. Our guide, she who keeps the charming Inn near by, said that in great freshets it was master of the gorge, filling it with foam and noise and demolishing the stairways, which they annually rebuild . . .
But my memory tells me this: that gorge, unadvertised and not very famous, is the finest miniature of wilderness in the Catskills, and the beauty of its trees, lichened rocks, cascades, and glimpses of the plain will repay a lengthy visit at any season. If one does not go to be awed, he will remain to be charmed. The enjoyment of the Catskills depends on the same point of view. If one visits them as one may visit the Canadian Rockies, in the expectation of having all of one’s big emotions drawn out and played upon, there will be hideous disappointment. There is nothing big about the Catskills. They are as comfortable as home. They were created, not for observation-cars, but for bungalow porches. Yet they are not so little. Indeed, while Brute and I sat that night in the kitchen of the Good Dame’s, listening to her husband tell of the wildcats he had trapped, they seemed very wild and very extensive.” (Longstreth, T. Morris. The Catskills. New York: The Century Co., 1918. Reprinted by Black Dome Press Corp., Hensonville, NY, 2003. p. 40-43.)
A Portion of East Wall of Grand Canyon, Platte Clove, N.Y. Author's Collection.
Section of Grand Canyon, Platte Clove, N.Y. Author's Collection.
Little remains of the famed Grand Canyon House that catered to so many Catskills tourists. Little else remains of the stairs, ladders and walkways of the once famous Devil’s Kitchen tourist attraction that drew thousands of visitors. However, Young’s legacy lives on with his photographs of Platte Clove and of the Devil’s Kitchen, pictures that beautifully portray what was and is some of the most spectacular scenery in the Catskills region.
George Summerfield Young passed away in 1918. His wife Ida Jane (Cole) Young continued to operate the Grand Canyon House for many years after her husband’s death. Ida passed away at Riverdale, New Jersey in 1952.
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