Canajoharie & Catskill Railroad

A railroad line running from the town of Catskill to the Erie Canal and Erie Railroad. Major construction for the Canajoharie & Catskill Railroad line began in 1836, the same year that Thomas Cole permanently moved to Catskill. The line began running in 1839, but unreliable financing and a flood in 1840 caused New York State to sell the line in 1842. Cole was disturbed by the railroad's destruction of the Catskill landscape, and he depicted the Canajoharie & Catskill Railroad in his 1843 painting River in the Catskills.


Catskill Creek

Rises in the Catskill Mountains and runs generally southeast, broadening just west of the Village of Catskill before emptying into the Hudson River. Catskill Creek is a short walk from Cedar Grove and provided Cole with constant inspiration.


Catskill Mountain House

Originally known as the Pine Orchard Hotel and opened to the public in 1824, the Catskill Mountain House was a premiere destination for Catskill tourists in the early- to mid-nineteenth century. The resort was built on South Mountain in the Catskills, overlooking the Hudson River Valley. At first only comprised of ten private rooms, the hotel grew to accommodate up to nearly 200 guests, who would stay for a few nights to see the surrounding scenery, including Kaaterskill Falls. The hotel's popularity declined after the Civil War, and it eventually fell into ruin. On 25 January 1963, the New York State Conservation Department, amid protest from preservationists and the local population, burned the decrepit hotel to the ground. Cole painted many views of the Catskill Mountain House, such as: A View of the Two Lakes and Mountain House, Catskill Mountains, Morning.


Catskill Mountains

A chain of mountains running through South Central New York State, northwest of New York City and west of the Hudson River, the Catskills are part of the Allegheny Plateau. Mahican and Munsee Indians first inhabited the Catskills, followed by Dutch settlers in the 1620s and 1630s. The Euro-American population grew rapidly following the Revolutionary War, and by the nineteenth century, the nearby town of Catskill had become a center of bustling trade and activity. Thomas Cole first came to the Catskills in 1825, where he was one of the first to paint the now-famous mountain scenery, permanently moving there in 1836. Cole had a clear view of the Catskill Mountain range from the porch of his home at Cedar Grove.


Cedar Grove

Thomas Cole's home in Catskill, New York. Cedar Grove was originally owned by the Thomson brothers, bachelor merchants who oversaw the orchards, vineyards, and grain fields that covered the 110-acre property. The Thomson brothers also raised a variety of livestock on the land to supplement their income. Their extended family lived in a three-story Federal-style house that still stands today. The property once included a multitude of outbuildings, some of which Cole used for painting studios as early as 1833. In 1836, Cole married one of the Thomson nieces, Maria Bartow, and moved in with his wife's family. Cole and Maria's family grew to include five children: Theodore (Theddy), Mary, Emily, Elizabeth (who died in infancy), and Thomas Cole II. When John Thomson died in 1846, Cedar Grove passed into the hands of Cole, who himself died only two years later.



Italian for "clear-dark." Chiaroscuro is a painting technique in which the artist contrasts light and dark in order to create a sense of depth and volume. This use of intense shadowing also renders a painting more dramatic and suspenseful, as in Cole's The Course of Empire: Destruction (1836).



The art of combining the visual elements of a picture into a satisfying whole. In Cole's landscapes, such elements include lines and shapes that create an illusion of depth, a recognizable foreground, middleground and background, and framing devices that accentuate the main focus of the scene.