Hotel KaaterskillWhile the Mountain House had the view and the Laurel House had the falls, the Hotel Kaaterskill, located on nearby South Mountain and erected by George Harding, had the sheer size to make it a contender.
Folklore tells us that the genesis of the hotel was the so-called “Fried Chicken War” between Mountain House owner Beach and George Harding, a Mountain House patron and leading patent attorney of his day (his clients included inventors Samuel F.B. Morse). As the story goes, while dining at the Mountain House, Harding requested some fried chicken (others say boiled) in lieu of red meat for his daughter (others say it was his wife), but was refused. Harding made a fuss, Beach was called onto the scene, and the argument ended with Beach suggesting that Harding build his own hotel.
By the early 20th century, the entire Catskill region had begun to lose much of its cache. Beach and Harding both died in 1902. Neighboring hotels offered cheaper lodging, which attracted the middle class — but drove away the wealthy.