Roxbury today is a graceful and fairly somnolent burg, but it wasn't always that way. Its Main Street is lined with impressive Tudor and Victorian homes and maple shade trees. Helen Gould Shepard, daughter of the famous financier and railroad magnate -- and Roxbury native -- Jay Gould, was the town benefactor in the late 1800s. She was responsible for the Gould Memorial Church (Main St./Rte. 30), built in 1894 by the same architect who designed the state capitol and the famous Dakota apartment building in New York City. Inside are four Tiffany stained-glass windows and a monumental pipe organ. Behind the church is pretty Kirkside Park, formerly Helen Gould's estate. The site has been cleaned up and restored in recent years, with rustic bridges built over the stream and trails and walkways added. A vintage "base ball" team, the Roxbury Nine, plays its games (according to strict 1864 rules and uniforms) here May through August (admission is free). On Labor Day, the town celebrates "Turn of the Century Day": Locals dress in period costume, and the opposing team is brought in by vintage train. (Look for additional costumed c.-1898 "railrides into yesteryear" in May and July; check the schedule at www.roxburyny.com.) The John Burroughs Homestead and Woodchuck Lodge, John Burroughs Memorial Road (tel. 607/326-372; www.roxburyny.com; open occasionally in summer), was the rustic summer retreat of the renowned naturalist and essayist. The 1860s farmhouse, a National Historic Landmark, remains as it was when Burroughs lived and wrote here. To get to it, turn west off of Route 30 heading north to Grand Gorge from Roxbury; the house is several miles up on the right.
The Hanford Mills Museum, routes 10 and 12, East Meredith (tel. 800/295-4992; www.hanfordmills.org; May-Oct Tues-Sun 10am-5pm; admission $8.50 adults and children 13 and over, $5 seniors, free for children under 13; last tour at 4pm), is a restored farmstead with 16 historic buildings, including a working, water-powered sawmill, an antique boxcar, a woodworking shop, and special events like an Old-Fashioned 4th of July, Quilt Show, and Lumberjack Festival.
The Penn Central Railroad arrived in these parts in 1872. The Delaware & Ulster Railride, 43510 Rte. 28, in Arkville (tel. 800/225-4132; www.durr.org), south of Roxbury, is a tourist excursion train that takes visitors through the Catskill Mountains in a historic train or open-air flat car, departing from the old depot, a must for train fans. The Ulster & Delaware Railroad was one of the most scenic of the day, traversing dramatic mountain scenery from the Hudson to Oneonta. Special events include train runs with staging of a "Great Train Robbery" and "Twilight on the Rails," a slow-moving party excursion with live music and food onboard. From the end of May to the end of October, trains depart for the trip to Roxbury's 1872 depot at 11am and 2pm on weekends and July through September at 11am and 2pm Thursdays and Fridays; admission is $12 adults, $9 seniors, and $7 children 3 to 12. The Rip Van Winkle Flyer Dinner Train, runs on selected dates ($50-$130 adults, including dinner and train fare). Check the website or call for current schedules and special-event trains.
Margaretville is one of the most commercially developed of the small rural towns in Delaware County, with a cute Main Street (where the indie flick You Can Count On Me, with Laura Linney and Matthew Broderick, was filmed) lined with several antiques shops, a village pub, and a couple of restaurants. Andes (www.andesny.org) is a historic village that is perhaps the epitome of the new Catskills, undergoing a true style makeover, with dozens of new shops and art galleries going in on Main Street. It has attracted an active community of artists, who are giving the town a brighter future, but its past is especially colorful. During the Anti-Rent War of the 1840s in New York, the local sheriff and his deputies arrived at the Moses Earle farm to collect overdue rents. Locals disguised themselves as Indians, killing the sheriff and resulting in the arrest of 100 men and two death sentences. The Hunting Tavern Museum, Main Street (tel. 845/676-3775; Memorial Day to Columbus Day Sat 10am-3pm), is housed in one of the oldest buildings in Andes and tells the story of village life in the 19th century.
One of the big annual events in the area is the Great County Fair (tel. 607/865-4763; www.delawarecountyfair.org), held in mid-August in Walton (closing in on 120 years of tradition). You'll find live music, tractor pulls, midway rides, goat shows, livestock auctions, and more. The Belleayre Music Festival (tel. 800/942-6904; www.belleayremusic.org) in July and August brings big-name musicians, such as Wynton Marsalis and the Neville Brothers, to the mountain in Highmount. See also the information above about vintage "base ball" and Turn-of-the-Century Day in Roxbury.
Take Me Out to Last Century -- Vintage "base ball" -- America's pastime as it was played pre-Ruth, when it was spelled "base ball" -- has taken off as the ultimate in retro sporting style. Players wear thick period woolen uniforms and for the most part use no gloves; balls and bats are constructed strictly according to regulations of the day. There are about 100 teams in the U.S., and quite a number in New York State and the Northeast. Roxbury's opponents are the New York Gothams, Brooklyn Atlantics, Providence Grays, and Hartford Senators, among others. What no one seems able to agree on is which era should be faithfully reproduced. Some teams play by 1860 rules, while others adopt 1864 rules, and still others prefer to live in 1872, 1887, or 1898. The Roxbury Nine -- which counts Mrs. Gould Shepard's grandson on its roster -- is one of the most active in the Northeast, playing 16 to 20 games every summer and drawing as many as 3,000 people in attendance. Turn-of-the-Century Days are celebrated on Labor Day weekend. For more information on vintage "base ball," visit www.roxburyny.com and www.vbba.org.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.