Catskill Mountain House - History - The Fried Chicken War

The Fried Chicken War

One summer day in 1880, a prominent Philadelphia businessman and longtime Mountain House guest named George Harding asked a waiter to bring some fried chicken to his daughter Emily instead of the hotel's usual dinner fare of roast beef, as she had been prescribed a diet which excluded red meat. The ensuing argument went all the way to Beach, who refused to budge despite Harding's history with the hotel.

In exasperation, Beach suggested that Harding should perhaps build his own hotel. Harding called the bluff, checking his family out that very day and beginning plans for his own hotel, to be located atop neighboring South Mountain and utterly dwarf Beach's. He kept his word, opening the Kaaterskill Hotel next year and offering the Mountain House its first real competition.

The rivalry between the two hotels and their proprietors came to be known in the region as the "Fried Chicken War." It actually benefited both, since guests at one would often stroll to the other for lunch.

The view that made the Mountain House famous came at a cost— getting up the 1,600-foot (487.6 m) climb from the valley required a five-hour stagecoach ride. As more competing hotels that were easier to reach began to be developed, the Mountain House built the cable-operated Otis Elevating Railway to bring its guests directly from the Hudson to the hotel. But the railway proved to be expensive to operate, and was finally sold for scrap in 1918 during World War I.

Read more about this topic:  Catskill Mountain House, History

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