TheLand of Rip Van Winkle

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Otis Elevating Railway represented the final stage in improved transportation to the Catskill Mountain House. When the great resort opened in 1824, early travelers from New York City faced a grueling four hour stagecoach ride from the steamship landing at Catskill, 12 miles distant. When the Catskill Mountain Railroad reached Palenville in 1882, the brutal stage ride had dropped to a manageable two mile ride. Still, the increasingly sophisticated vacationer found the hour-long stage ride fit for a barbarian.
The Beach family, owners of the Catskill Mountain House, enlisted Otis Elevator Company, headed by Charles Owen Otis, to develop a cable railway. Drawing on his expertise, Otis called upon other great industrial firms of the day, (Hamilton-Corliis to supply the engines and Roebling to supply the cable) to help execute the project. The Railway opened on August 7, 1892 with coaches and baggage cars from Jackson & Sharp of Wilmington, Delaware.
The Otis Elevating Railway, later the Otis Railway, closed forever after the 1918 season, an early victim of America's love affair with the automobile.

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