This would have been our last column for Columbia Greene newspaper chain but they would not run it as we wrote it.
A fond farewell
Windows Through Time
Robert and Johanna Titus
This is our 385th consecutive week in your newspaper. We have been writing Windows Through Time for more than seven years. But this is also our last visit with you. The newspaper business has grown increasingly difficult and things change. We have no regrets and we are looking to the future, not the past.
Still, we think we owe it to you to sum things up today and say good bye. What have we wished to impart upon you, our readers? We have been on some most remarkable journeys together. We have been traveling though half a billion years of history. Do you live east of the Hudson? Then most of the rocks around you are about 450 million years old. Take a good look. Do you see black shales and dark gray sandstones? Then you are looking at the Normanskill Formation. Those sedimentary rocks accumulated as sediments on the bottom of a very deep sea, The Normanskill Sea.
You would have to travel out into the middle of the Pacific Ocean so see oceans this deep in today’s world – that would be the Marianas Deep. But you are not at the bottom of the Pacific; you are perhaps in Chatham. That’s typical of the journeys we have taken you on. Our column has always been about seeing our region in terms of what it has been like throughout time.
Do you live in the Hudson Valley? Then look east and up at the Taconic Mountains. They are all that is left of a mountain range that probably rose up to elevations of 15,000 feet or so. Can you envision these mountains in your mind’s eye? Then you are looking through another “window through time.” Now turn west and look up at the Catskills. The mountains you see before you are a petrified delta. We wrote about this delta many times. It is science’s oldest known fossil forest. About 385 million years ago trees grew up there! In fact, there was even a tropical jungle up there. Now this is all gone. Except, of course, as fossils.
How often have you driven west on Rte. 23 from the Rip Van Winkle Bridge? We took you there many times these last seven years. Great outcrops of gray rock tower above the highway. We have learned that these rocks transport us back through time about 400 million years. They take us to the shallow bottoms of the tropical seas that once covered all of New York State. We went to John Boyd Thacher State Park and saw the same inviting ocean. Our New York State once closely resembled today’s Bahamas! You learned that right here.
Look out your nearest window. Use your mind’s eyes and see the deep ocean that was once right out there. You can see the shallow tropical sea and the jungles that were once there too. Ours have been wonderful journeys.
If our land was once a tropical paradise, it was also an arctic wasteland. It doesn’t much matter where you are right now, look north then you can travel back through time and watch glaciers advancing toward you. Had you known that before? They reach us and pass us by. Eventually the climate warmed and they all melted away. That was the fun part as enormous volumes of raging, foaming, thundering torrents cascaded out of the mountains. Those waters created a lake that filled the lower Hudson Valley. Stand atop the hill at Olana and look down upon this enormous lake – another journey through time!
Did you join us when we climbed up to the top of the Mountain House Ledge on a full moon January midnight during the Ice Age? Did you look down into the frozen Hudson Valley and see the moonlight reflecting off the ice? Well then you learned what our lives are like all the time. We enjoyed bringing you along.
The world can be a dangerous place, even where we live. We traveled up and down the Hudson Valley and looked at many locations where landslides have occurred or are likely to occur. We felt it was important to inform you of these threats. Windows Through Time always sought to educate you, our readers about these sorts of thing.
Will you miss us? Well we will still be around. Come and see us at the Catskill Interpretive Center on August 13. We will be at the Mountain Top Historical Center on September 10th, and we will be doing a Hudson Valley Ramble at Olana on September 24. Join our Facebook page and you will hear of other events. Follow our new blog “Thecatskillgeologist.com.” We are NOT going away.
Say goodbye to the authors at firstname.lastname@example.org. Join their facebook page “The Catskill Geologist.”