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 Catskill Guide F.A.Q.

How did the Catskills get their name?

There is no definitive source for the name. It is widely assumed it was the name given by Henry Hudson to the creek (kill is Dutch for creek, so never say Catskill creek, you're saying Cats creek creek!) where he landed to trade with the Indians. Traditionally, it's thought that Hudson either named it for the bobcats and lynx common in the area; or for Jacob Cats, the poet laureate of Holland at the time. This second theory was popular in the later 19th century, when the Catskills were prominent in American art and literature. The problem is the Dutch didn't name places for people, but then again, Hudson wasn't Dutch, he was an Englishman working for the Dutch.

Alf Evers in his book "The Catskills: From Wilderness To Woodstock" gives a number of other possibilities:

In present day Saugerties, the Indians played lacrosse on a field the Dutch called Kaatsbaan, Kaats being Dutch for tennis or other games played with a racket and ball.

Or it may have been named for a Mohican chief named Cat.

Or it may have been named by seamen for the shape of the point at the mouth of the Catskill that resembles a small ship called a "cat".

Evers also points out that Kat appears in many placenames in Holland, usually referring to a fortification. And an Indian fort was on the banks of the Catskill when white men first arrived.

The real origin of the name will probably never be known. Despite many attempts over the years to rename it (the Lothians, the Shandaken Mountains, the Kaatsbergs, etc.) the name Catskills has stuck.

More to come...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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