Thomas Cole lived and maintained a studio at 218 Spring Street, Catskill, barely a mile from the location where he painted this scene (and other views of the Wall of Manitou). Today, his vantage point would be in Jefferson Heights overlooking the area of the river known as Jefferson Flats. As one ascends to the Heights on Route 23 out of the City of Catskill, the unmistakable vista that Cole saw over 150 years ago is still very much visible.
Art historian Alan Wallach, an authority on Cole and on this painting, cautions about finding the exact spot Cole used.
Cole often rearranged the visual facts of the views he painted--a common practice at the time--so I wouldn't take this painting of the view...as literal, or rather visual fact.
To the right of center of the painting is the VanVechten home, a 1690 stone house hugged by the right of way of the C & C. Imagine that even in the 1840's, the VanVechten house was considered to be ancient. The C&C road, later built on by the Catskill Mountain Railway, is still very much in evidence between the Second Bridge and this historic site.
The bridge in the scene (referred to in Beach's original survey) was Second Bridge over the Catskill. It is described as being a Town lattice style bridge, a design named after Ithiel Town, patent holder for this type of truss.
The stone bridge piers of a later Second Bridge (constructed in 1882 by the Catskill Mountain Railway) still stand in the river. A fill carries the roadbed 500 feet across the muddy flats to the natural grade of the area which begins on the VanVechten property.
|Example of Town lattice, similar to style used at Second Bridge|