In my previous post, Leaving my rest area–only to take a detour to the 1930’s…part 1, you were introduced to my father, Pat Pompilio (1911-1989) and his friends, as they began their summer vacation road trips of 1932-1937. Documented in his photo album “Snapshots”, their travels ranged from New Jersey to Massachusetts to Maine, but centered in an area about 130 miles from the Bronx, the northern edge of the Catskill Mountains, in Greene County, New York.
The towns visited and documented–East Windham, Round Top, Purling and Haines Falls, are all situated in a relatively small area, mainly accessible by NY RT 23 and NY RT 23A. The area is well-known for its small lakes, waterfalls, wooded mountaintops and valleys, resorts and guest houses–and at one spot, on a clear day, an incredible view of land in five different states!
Point Lookout, on RT 23, in East Windham, is a long popular stopping point, 1900 feet above sea level, where 180 mile views of the Hudson Valley of New York, Connecticut Valley of the Nutmeg State, Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts, Green Mountains in Vermont and the White Mountains of New Hampshire await the lucky visitor on that clear day!
Originally opened in 1920 as a Gates Tea Room, its popularity with visitors caused the name to be quickly changed, resulting in the Point Lookout Inn. It included rooms for lodging, a restaurant, decking facing the 5-state view, and a 75-foot tall observation tower.
Later on, those afraid of the tower’s height could take advantage of telescopes mounted on the northerly facing deck to bring the panorama into better focus. The Point Lookout Inn was a very popular tourist destination for more than 40 years, and brought my father and friends back at least once, in July, 1937.
The inn’s history included more than its tourism fame–it also had its dark side. At least, according to legend, it became haunted following an alleged murder one night in Room 12. In her book Haunted Catskills, author Lisa La Monica explains. “Many years ago, there was probably a murder at Point Lookout Inn. A couple checked into Room 12, and a man is believed to have murdered a woman there. She was discovered later…but it wasn’t recorded by police.” Many years later, a paranormal team from Pennsylvania was brought in to test foe spiritual inhabitance, an although some magnetic abnormalities were noted, no sign of the woman’s ghost was found. The original building was destroyed by fire in 1965, and it was rebuilt into a larger facility, with more lodging and a larger restaurant. It went through a number of owners, and its the recession of some 5+ years ago sounded its death knell. The last incarnation, the Point Lookout Mountain Inn closed down in February, 2014, after 94 years of existence. A website about Point Lookout Inn with more information and photographs of its changes in appearance, can be found at: http://www.whatwasthere.com/browse.aspx#!/ll/42.338835,-74.150947/id/36887/info/details/zoom/14/