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Martin's Bear Hunt

Ulster & Delaware Railroad
"The Only All Rail Route Through the Catskills"


New York Times
July 15, 1888

KINGSTON, N.Y., July 14 - A bear which has had its lair near Phoenicia for a long time past has again been seen by many people at once, and this time an exciting adventure is annexed to the tale. Yesterday an Ulster and Delaware Railroad train, in chargare of Conductor Herdman was approaching Phoenicia. The cars were filled with Summer visitors. The news quickly spread among them that a large bear was on the track ahead of the engine. Suddenly the passengers felt the speed of the train slack, and Bruin was caught sight of. It had left the track and was making its way to a field of grain. In the foremost passenger car was a New York man named Martin, who was on his way up the Stony Clove on a hunting and fishing expedition. Martin, it seems, before leaving home had bragged to his friends that before leaving the Catskills he would kill a bear and bring with thime the skin as a rug for his parlor. Martin saw the bear making for the grain field, and the thought flashed through his mind that here would be a good chance to capture his prize, and at the same time distinguish himself in the eyes of his fellow passengers on the train.

Jumping down, Martin ran with the speed of a professional in the direction of the bear, which was about half way over the hedge that intervenes between the track and the fence at that spot. At every stride the clumsy brute uttered low growls, but these ominous warnings did not deter Martin from his mission of capturing the animal. At the moment Bruin left the hedge to vault the fence, Martin made a desperate lunge, and he succeeded in grasping the creature's stump of a tail. A crash followed, and the people in the cars witnessed a scene that was alike ludicrous and dangerous. The fence had broken down and the bear had entered the grain field, dragging Martin, who still held bravely to the bear's caudal appendage. The excited passengers shouted to the luckless fellow to let go, but Martin heeded not their advice. After being dragged a disnace of 30 feet his hold slipped and the bear, relieved of its load, turned its head, growled savagely, and, showing an ugly set of teeth, quickly disappeared in the waving grain.

Martin was assisted to his feet by one of the train hands and hald a dozen passengers. The would-be hunter limped painfully and he presented a rather dilapidated appearance. His face was scratched and bleeding, his clothing was torn, and there was not a single button left on his vest. His trousers were filled with splinters from the broken fence. When Martin was put aboard the train he still clutched tightly in one hand a bunch of the hair that he had pulled out of the bear's tail, his sole memento of the first and only bear hunt in the Catskill Mountains. When the train started again Martin was on board, but only for a little distance, when he was helped off near a cozy-looking farmhouse, where his wife, patched him up, not forgetting, of course, to ply him industriously with questions all the while. Not only Martin's wife, but all the inmates of the house, inquired if he had been through a thrashing machine and how he liked it. He has been plagued nearly to death about trying to capture a bear by the tail, but his pluck is admired all the same. The bear is still at large and it has been seen again on the railroad track of the Stony Clove Railroad near Kaaterskill Junction.


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