Away from the city’s noise and set in the western slopes of the Catskill Mountains is a land of wooded hills and fertile green valleys, of over 700 miles of fishing streams, of covered bridges, welcoming people and beautiful vistas. This is Delaware County, Mother Nature’s home in New York’s Catskill Mountains.
Our rural heritage is celebrated everyday at country fairs, farm days and festivals, serving residents, recent and long-time, a genuine slice of rural life. Neighbors share a smile and a story over a cup of coffee at the local diner or on a front porch.
Each community offers diverse and reasonably priced housing in neighborhoods that are among the safest in New York State. Innovative educational resources and comprehensive health care facilities are available throughout the county.
With thousands of acres of public land and a wide variety of game habitats, Delaware County is a sportsman’s paradise. Whether your enthusiasm is fly-fishing, bass fishing or hunting, Delaware County has what you’re after. American fly-fishing was born in the Catskills. The West Branch and East Branch of the Delaware River are two of the area’s premier trout streams and the Pepacton and Cannonsville Reservoirs of the New York City water supply are among bass and trout fishing’s best-kept secrets. If hunting is your sport, Delaware County offers the best game around: bear, deer, turkey, squirrel, rabbits, game birds and everything in between.
Recreational opportunities abound at our parks, hiking and biking trails, wildlife preserves, public pools, horse trails, soccer fields and baseball diamonds. Team sports keep community playing fields filled with players and their fans cheering them on all season long.
Geographically one of the larger counties in New York State, Delaware County covers 1,460 square miles, an area larger than that of Rhode Island. It ranges from valley bottoms of 1000 feet above sea level to peaks higher than 3000 feet. Both branches of the Delaware River rise in the northeast corner-the West Branch in Lake Utsayantha, Stamford, and the East Branch in Grand Gorge-and traverse the County before joining forces in Hancock.
It was the Delaware River that first attracted early settlers to this unique area. A party of eleven Dutchmen from Hurley, near Kingston, explored the Margaretville area as early as 1762. They returned and negotiated with Chancellor Livingston to buy land in what is now Middletown for twenty shillings an acre. Early in 1763 they moved their families there. Others soon joined them to form the community of Pakatakan.
By the start of the American Revolution, white settlements were beginning to populate what is now Delaware County. Carrying new colonizers to Delaware and even on to what was then the wild frontier of western New York State was the Catskill Turnpike, the first through route from the Hudson to the West.
The particularly vicious nature of the war waged by the infamous alliance of Joseph Brant’s Mohawks and the Tories during the American Revolution all but decimated the Delaware area. After the war, however, new settlers flocked to the region and by 1794 the residents, then belonging to Ulster and Otsego counties, began agitating for separation. In 1797 the New York State Legislature formally set the area apart as Delaware County.
Lumbering and stone cutting were the first major industries in the county. The trees stood tall and straight and were highly prized by shipbuilders. The mainmast of the famous USS Constitution came from a hilltop near Walton.
Agriculture came to replace these industries in prominence and Delaware County became internationally known for the high quality of its dairy products.
It was here in Delaware County in the 1840’s that the final episodes of the “Anti-Rent War” took place, bringing an end to a feudal tenant system and leading directly to the passage of the National Homestead Act.
Delaware County also became a rural retreat for urban tourists from New York City as railroads brought guests to local boarding houses. Vacation resorts began to develop as clean air, fresh food and beautiful vistas lured city dwellers. The visitors and artists who traveled throughout the Catskills introduced urban tastes and culture and began a phenomenon that blended long-standing practices and assimilated styles, which continues today.
Our history is filled with stories of individual heroism and community accomplishments. Such events as bring-a-dish suppers, barn raisings and town hall meetings are all reminiscent of those customs believed to be forgotten years ago. Yet, these are everyday occurrences in Delaware County.
Our home is a special place. Beautiful vistas, welcoming people, innovative educational resources, varied cultural amenities, safe communities and a commitment to economic growth and development all within a few hours drive from major metropolitan centers make Delaware County an ideal place in which to live and work.
Used by permission of the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce.