A Portion of East Wall of Grand Canyon, Platte Clove, N.Y.
This vintage Catskills postcard depicts the sheer rock walls of the chasm that has previously been known as the Grand Canyon, today referred by its geographical name of Platte Clove. The postcard was published by Ida J. Young and W. H. Young, proprietors of the nearby Grand Canyon House. The postcard was never mailed.
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 in reference to Platte Clove.
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.