“The Detroit Publishing Company of Michigan issued such a wide variety of views that one is awed by their prolific coverage of towns and cities and hamlets of the nation, along with the magnificent sights of the west and mid-west. These picture postcards form an important record of American historical and social life. Not only from the view point of their subjects, but also from the style of printing used by the Detroit firm – these issues have contributed to United States culture and to the American way of life.” - Lowe, James L.; Ben Papell. Detroit Publishing Company Collector’s Guide. Newton Square, PA: Deltiologists of America, 1975. p. 7.
The Detroit Photographic Company published an incredible collection of images from several regions within the Catskills, including Lake Mohonk, Lake Minnewaska, the city of Kingston and the central and northern Catskills.
From the northern Catskills, scenic locations include Kaaterskill Falls, Sunset Rock, Boulder Rock, Santa Cruz Falls, Buttermilk Falls, Alligator Rock, Moore’s Bridge Falls, Fawn’s Leap, among others.
Architectural photographs include the monumental Hotel Kaaterskill on the summit of South Mountain, the Laurel House located near the top of Kaaterskill Falls, the famed Catskill Mountain House at Pine Orchard overlooking the Hudson Valley, Churchill Hall at Stamford, the Grand Hotel at Highmount and some of the other great boarding houses of the region. Village scenes include Haines Corners and Fleischmanns. There are four photographs depicting the Otis Elevating Railway, an engineering marvel in its time.
Included within the Catskills collection are several series of shots, comprised of between two and five photographs, which were to be stitched together later for its intended panoramic effect. In some cases, in addition to the publishing of the panoramic photograph, one individual photo from the series would also be published on its own merits.
The black-and-white photographs, as with many of the company’s images, were used by the Detroit Photographic Company to produce colorful photochrom postcards. Many of the company stamps, in the shape of an artist’s palette and located on the Catskills black-and-white photographs and photochrom interpretations, show a copyright date of 1902.
Library of Congress Collection – Detroit Publishing Company – The Catskills
Catskill Mountain House, Catskill Mountains, N.Y. Library of Congress.
Below is an inventory listing of the Detroit Publishing Company’s works of the Catskills now located in the Library of Congress.
Library of Congress Collection – Detroit Publishing Company – Mohonk Mountain House
The Mohonk Mountain House is an historic hotel located on a cliff overlooking Lake Mohonk high in the Shawangunk Mountains. The famous hotel was constructed in 1870 by Albert and Alfred Smiley and remains in the Smiley family today.
Starting with a quaint 10 rooms, it now has over 250 rooms and the capacity for nearly 600 guests. Situated on 2,200 acres, the resort offers a wide variety of year-round activities such as hiking, bike riding, horseback riding, swimming, rock climbing, golfing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and ice skating.
A visit to the Mohonk Mountain House is like taking a step back in time – there are no TVs in the rooms, jackets are required for formal dinners, century-old carriage roads guide walkers to amazing viewpoints and signs throughout the property remind visitors “Slowly and Quietly Please.”
Nearly 150 years after its opening, the Mohonk Mountain House continues to meet its original mission of encouraging visitors to take a break from the outer world with peace and relaxation. The hotel and its surrounding property are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Below is an inventory listing of the Detroit Publishing Company’s works of Lake Mohonk and the Mohonk House now located in the Library of Congress.
Library of Congress Collection – Detroit Publishing Company – Lake Minnewaska
Lake Minnewaska, “which is fed by springs and is very deep and clear as crystal, is held in a strikingly picturesque, rocky and well-wooded bowl, rising one hundred and fifty feet above the lake on the eastern side and sixty feet on the western, and from either edge the rocks tumble precipitously down to the Wallkill and Hudson River Valleys on the one side, and to the Rondout Valley on the other.”
Lake Minnewaska is located on the Shawangunk Ridge in Ulster County, New York. It was once home to two grand resorts, the Cliff House and the Wildmere.
The Cliff House, also known as the Minnewaska Mountain House, on the eastern side of Lake Minnewaska was constructed in 1879. In its heyday the Cliff House was a fashionable resort that earned a reputation as one of the best in the region. It operated until 1972 when it was abandoned and ultimately burned down in 1978. The land around the former resort was eventually sold to New York State and incorporated into the Minnewaska State Park Preserve.
In order to accommodate the growing number of visitors at Lake Minnewaska, a second hotel, the Wildmere, was constructed in 1887, only eight years after the Cliff House opened on the opposite side of the lake. After an enlargement in 1911 the resort hotel could accommodate 350 guests. The Wildmere operated until 1979 and ultimately burned down in 1986. The land around the former resort was eventually sold to New York State and incorporated into the Minnewaska State Park Preserve.
Below is an inventory listing of the Detroit Publishing Company’s works of Lake Minnewaska now located in the Library of Congress.
Library of Congress Collection – Detroit Publishing Company – Kingston, New York
The historic city of Kingston is located along the west bank of the Hudson River in Ulster County, New York. The city, sitting where the Hudson River and the Rondout Creek meet, has a long and distinguished history. An early trading post was built at the mouth of the Rondout Creek in 1614 and by 1652 the first permanent settlement was established. An official charter was granted in 1661 for the establishing of Wiltwyck, now Kingston. It was one of three Dutch colonies in New Netherland, Albany and New York City being the other two.
The lands of Kingston traded hands several times between the Dutch and the British, ultimately falling under the control of the British in 1674. Over a century later Kingston served as the first capital of New York State, but was burned by the British in 1777 during the American Revolution. With American victory over the British complete General George Washington visited the city in 1782 in recognition of the devotion of the city’s citizens to the patriot cause.
By the time the Detroit Photographic Company arrived at Kingston in the early 1900s the city had grown significantly. The city was a key point for trade along the Hudson River, serving as the terminus for the D&H Canal. Important local industries included bluestone, cement mining and brick manufacturing. In 1872 the village of Rondout and the hamlet of Wilbur merged with the village of Kingston to form what is today’s city.
The number of photographs taken by the Detroit Photographic Company at Kingston is not as numerous as those from the northern and central Catskills, the Mohonk Mountain House or Lake Minnewaska, yet they still offer a beautiful glimpse at the historic city at the turn of the century. Photographs of Kingston include several of the city’s notable and historic buildings and sites, including the Old Senate House, the Hoffman House, the Dutch Reformed Church and Kingston Point Park.
Below is an inventory listing of the Detroit Publishing Company’s works of the city of Kingston in Ulster County, New York now located in the Library of Congress.
Detroit Publishing Company – Catalog Inventory
Over the years there have been several efforts to document the historic postcard catalog of the Detroit Publishing Company. Each of the efforts have built upon the work of the previous authors and collectors. In 1954 Jeff R. Burdick published an initial 84-page summary titled The Handbook of Detroit Publishing Co. Postcards. In 1975 James L. Lowe and Ben Papell published the 288-page Detroit Publishing Company Collectors’ Guide. And in 1994 Nancy Stickels Stechschulte published the 446-page The Detroit Publishing Company Postcards.
Based on the works of these authors, coupled with a few changes and additions that have become known since their publication, below is an inventory listing of the postcards relating to the Catskills that were published by the Detroit Publishing Company.
6359 Kaaterskill Hotel
6360 Kaaterskill Mountain and Lakes; hv
6361 Kaaterskill Lake; nc: South Lake, Mountain House Park
6362 Catskill Mountain House
6363 Long Level and Catskill Mountain House
6364 Otis Elevating Railway
6365 Kaaterskill Falls; comment: card with #9365 s/b 6365
6366 Laurel House and Kaaterskill Falls
6367 Alligator Rock Near South Lake; hv
6368 Haines Falls; dp
6369 The Five Cascades, Haines Falls
6370 Sunset Rock, Kaaterskill Clove
6371 Santa Cruz Falls, Kaaterskill Clove
6372 Rip Van Winkle House
6373 Old Studio of Artist Hall, Palenville
6374 A Catskill Mountain Toll Gate; nc
6375 New Grand Hotel; an: C596
6376 Monka Hill Mountain, From Pine Hill
6378 The Rexmere and Golf Links, Stamford
6379 Churchill Hall, Stamford
7761 Hotel Kaaterskill
8734 Leeds Bridge
10122 Ulster and Delaware R. R. Station, Fleischmanns
10124 Boulder Rock and Hotel Kaaterskill
10125 Grand Hotel; an C596
10126 Birds-Eye View, Margaretville
10127 View of High Mountain and Townsend Valley
11104 Stamford and Mt. Utsayantha, Catskill Mountains
11105 Fleischmanns, Catskill Mountains
11129 Trout Fishing in the; nc, dp
11130 Kaaterskill Clove, Fawn’s Leap, Catskill Mountains
11131 Otis Elevating Railway
11132 Haines Corners, Catskill Mountains
11133 Down Kaaterskill Clove From, Catskill Mountains
11134 Driveway in Twilight Park
54027 The Otis Elevating Railway, Catskill Mountains
54029 Home of Rip Van Winkle, Sleepy Hollow, Catskill Mountains
72117 Catskills From the Hudson River
79921 Catskill Mountain House (3-part panorama); an: C523a, pan58
C46 – 46f The Kyle Camp and Summer School for Boys
C596 – 596a New Grand Hotel; an: 6374, 10125
10752 Kingston Point Park
10753 Elmendorf Tavern
10754 Boat Landing; ad: Central Hudson Line Steamers; New York, NY
10755 Senate House; comment: built 1676
10766 Kingston Point Park
Lake Mohonk / Mohonk Lake
6380 Lake Mohonk and Sky Top; an: C120v
6381 The Bathing Place; C120b
6382 The Gardens, Lake Mohonk House; an: C119c
6383 Lake Mohonk House, From Across the Lake; nc, an: C119d
6384 Washington’s Profile, Sky Top; rd, an: C120n
6385 Sky Top From Archway, Lake Mohonk House; an: C120l
7595 Lake Mohonk and Rondout Valley From Road to Sky Top
7733 Lake Mohonk House; rd, an: C119x, nc: Mohonk House From Pine Bluff
7734 Upper Eagle Cliff Road; an: C120y
7735 Flower Beds, Lake Mohonk House; an: C120c
7855 Boat Landing and Main Entrance, Lake Mohonk House; an: C120s
9757 Lake Shore Road; an: C120w
9758 A Pretty Spot On; an: C120x
9759 Lake Shore; an: C119g
9760 Glimpse of Hotel and Lake; an: C120t
9761 Along a Path; an: C120r
14951 Lake Mohonk House from Sky Top Path; an: C119e
14952 Glimpse of Hotel and Lake; an: C120e
14953 Main Entrance and Boat Landing, Lake Mohonk House; an: C120i
14954 A Rustic Bridge; an: C120k
14955 Flower Beds Along the Lake; an: C120d
14956 The Gardens, Lake Mohonk House; an: C120o
14957 The Gardens, Lake Mohonk House; an: C120p
14958 The Parlors, Lake Mohonk House; an: C120j
14959 Rondout Valley and Mohonk Lake, N.Y. From Sky Top; nc, an: C119o
14960 Lake Mohonk House; an: C120h
80653 Lake Mohonk House From Sky Top; an: C119e
80654 The Towers, Lake Mohonk House; an: C119t
80655 Lake Mohonk House From the Gardens; an: C119f
80656 The Putting Green; an: C119l
80657 Bathing at; an: C119a
80658 Sky Top from Approach To; an: C119p
80659 On the Road To: an: C119j
80660 Wallkill Valley From Approach To; an: C120q
80661 Testimonial Gateway; an: C119s
80662 Mohonk Farms; an: C119h
80794 House and Gardens From Sky Top Road; an: C120f
80795 House From Upper Garden; an: C120g
80799 Putting Green and Main Entrance; an: C119m
80800 Swimming Place; an: C120
80801 Tennis Courts; an: C119r
80802 Under Sky Top; an: C119u
80803 House and Gardens From Talman Seat; an: C120a
80808 June Laurel; an: C119z
80811 Tennis Courts; an: C119y
81133 Western View Mohonk House; an: C119w
81134 Mohonk House and Rondout Valley From Sky Top; an: c119i
81136 Corner of the Display Gardens; an: C119b
81137 The Gardens; an: C119c
81138 The Plunge; an: C119k
81139 Putting Green and Porte Cochere; an: C119n
81140 Lake and House From Sky Top Path; an: C119e
81142 House From Across the Lake; an: C119d
7419 The Cliff House
7420 The Wildmere House; an: C114j
7421 From the Wildmere House
7422 Undercliff; an: C120n
7423 Battlement Terrace; an: C114d
7424 Peterskill Road; an: C114r, 80182
7425 Peterskill Falls; an: C114i
7426 Awosting Falls; an: C114a
80191 Undercliff; an: C114n
80192 Peterskill Falls; an: C114i
80198 The Wildmere; an: C114j
80200 Laurel in June; an: C114h
80201 Wildmere House From Mid-Cliff; an: C114m
80773 Wildmere House From Cliff Path; an: C114l
81829 Wildmere House; an: C114p
81830 Wildmere House From Cliff Stairway; an: C114l
81831 Cliff House; an: C114e
81832 Awosting Lake; an: C114b
81833 Awosting Falls; an: C114a
81834 Battlement Terrace; an: C114d
81835 Cliff House From Road Near Wildmere; an: C114q
C114 – 114c Ball Game at Cliff House
C114 – 114f Cliff House (horizontal)
C114 – 114g Lake Shore
C114 – 114k The Wildmere House and Cliff House (2-part panorama); an: PAN63
C114 – 114o Table Rock
an Another number
dp Different picture
hv Printed both Horizontal and Vertical Views
nc Name/Title change
rd Reverse design
As World War I approached the company faced several challenges, including the war economy, with the government having deemed its line of business “non-essential,” and growing competition as more advanced printing methods were established. Adding to the company troubles, general interest in postcards was declining and the financial depression of 1920-1921 greatly impacted the US economy.
By 1923, according to manager William Henry Jackson, company debts had “reached such a volume that we knew receivership was inescapable, and the following year brought us to the end of our rope.” The company survived until 1924, when it went into receivership.
In January 1924 a Receiver’s Sale was held at which the plant, property and business of the Photochrom Company was offered for sale to the public. Included in the sale was real estate with frontage on Vermont Avenue, Alexandrine Avenue West and Linden Street. Machinery and equipment for sale included printing presses, power cutters, cameras, lenses, photographic appliances and framing machinery. Also available was manufactured merchandise, publication rights and registered brands. Although somewhat dated by this time, the sale also included rights to the Photochrom Process, the very process that had practically given birth to the company 29 years prior.
The company continued to operate on a small scale after 1924, mostly focused on selling the approximately 2 million postcards and photographic prints that were in inventory. All the remaining company assets, including nearly 40,000 negatives, were liquidated in 1932.
According to the Benson Ford Research Center, the negatives were then purchased by the Ohio Art Company and moved to Byron, Ohio. In 1934 Robert B. Livingstone then organized a group to re-purchase all the negatives and moved them back to Detroit.
In the late 1930s the negatives and prints of the Detroit Publishing Company were acquired by Henry Ford and donated to the Edison Institute (now known as the Henry Ford Museum) in Dearborn, Michigan. In 1949 the Edison Institute gave all the negatives and the many duplicate photographs to the Colorado Historical Society. The Colorado Historical Society transferred most of the negatives and prints for sites east of the Mississippi River to the Library of Congress later that year, keeping the negatives and prints for the western views.
“What is a Photochrom? A photochrom is a photograph in the colors of nature. It is not a chromo, lithograph, nor is it a colored print. It combines the truthfulness of a photograph with the color and richness of an oil painting.”
The photographic works of the Catskills by the Detroit Publishing Company provide an invaluable reference for both the photographer and historian. The photographer can appreciate the visual impact of the scenes, combined with the technical mastery that is clearly evident in the composition, tone and sharpness of all the photographs; while the historian can appreciate the architecture and village scenes as they once stood over a century ago.
The works of the Detroit Publishing Company can be found in numerous collections of historical societies, libraries and museums across the United States. Locations holding the works of the Detroit Publishing Company include the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, the Yale University Library, the Henry Ford Museum and the Colorado Historical Society, among many others.
Beaumont, Newhall; Diana E. Edkins. William H. Jackson. Fort Worth, Texas: Amon Carter Museum of Western Art, 1974.
Benson Ford Research Center. Finding Aid for Detroit Publishing Company Collection. Dearborn, MI: Benson Ford Research Center, July 2013.
Burdick, Jefferson R. The Handbook of Detroit Publishing Co. Postcards. Essingston, PA: Hobby Publications, 1954.
Davis, Jack; Ryan, Dorothy. Samuel L. Schmucker: The Discovery of His Lost Art. Bozeman, Montana: Olde America Antiques, 2001.
Hannavy, John. Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography. New York: Routledge, 2008.
Hughes, Jim. The Birth of a Century: Early Color Photographs of America. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994.
Jackson, William Henry. Time Exposure: The Autobiography of William Henry Jackson. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1940.
Knauth, Kristin. “News from the National Digital Library Program: 25,000 Vintage Photos Made Available on the Internet.” Library of Congress Information Bulletin. Vol. 55, No. 2. February 5, 1996. pp. 33-35.
Lowe, James L.; Ben Papell. Detroit Publishing Company Collector’s Guide. Newton Square, PA: Deltiologists of America, 1975.
Ryan, Dorothy B. Picture Postcards in the United States 1893-1918. 1982.
Stechschulte, Nancy Stickels. The Detroit Publishing Company Postcards. Big Rapids, Michigan: N. S. Stechschulte, 1994.
Tinder, David V. Directory of Early Michigan Photographers. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan, 2013.
Waitley, Douglas. William Henry Jackson: Framing the Frontier. Missoula, Montana: Mountain Press Publishing Company, 1998.
Weber, Bruno. “Around the World in Photochrom.” Germany Around the Turn of the Century. Zurich: Orell Fussli, 1990.
 Jackson, William Henry. Time Exposure: The Autobiography of William Henry Jackson. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1940. p. 330.
 “Receiver’s Sale.” Detroit Free Press (Detroit, Michigan). January 9, 1924.
 “What is a Photochrom.” The Akron Beacon and Republican (Akron, Ohio). March 23, 1895.
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