Indian Head from back of Grand Canyon House, Platte Clove, N.Y.
The Grand Canyon House was located in the northern Catskills at Platte Clove, a beautiful 2-mile chasm that has historically been referenced as the Grand Canyon. The Young family, long-time Platte Clove land owners and farmers, turned to the tourist trade with the opening of their Grand Canyon House around 1899 or 1900. They constructed a series of paths with bridges and stairways into the rugged clove for their patrons to enjoy the natural splendor. The name “Grand Canyon” is no longer used.
Platte Clove, also known as Platte Kill Clove, is a deep, dark, 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 impressions in 1844: “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.”
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.
Below is a chronological listing of various 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, Propietor.” (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.)
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.)
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.)
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; sprint 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.)
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.)