About Purple Mountain Press

Wray and Loni Rominger, Publishers

We have been told that only one in eight firms founded in February 1973 is still in business. We are pleased to be in that minority and proud of the many books we have published during the last thirty-seven years. Initially, a job printing business and bookstore subsidized our early publishing efforts, but by 1988 we were able to publish full-time.

In 1990, we acquired Harbor Hill Books, another regional publishing company, also founded in 1973. Harbor Hill specialized in books about Westchester County, the Adirondacks, and the Mohawk and Champlain Valleys. With its list we were able to extend our interests beyond the Catskills and the Hudson Valley.

Together the presses have issued more than 150 titles about New York State in the fields of history, natural history, folklore, travel, outdoor recreation, and the arts. Other specialities include colonial military history and maritime history.


A Village in a Valley and
The Home of Purple Mountain Press

A road runs west from Kingston and the Hudson River into the heart of the Catskill Mountains. If you follow that road for 40 miles, you cross a divide and enter the gentle-sloped watershed of the Delaware River not far from its headwaters. Just beyond is Fleischmanns, home of Purple Mountain Press. We have a great affection for the old resort town, which was named for the family of yeast and distilling fame, who built large summer homes (then called "cottages") here in the 1880s.

Fleischmanns is a village untouched by the franchised highway culture that often blurs one anonymous small American town into the next. It was the last glaciation, 20,000 to 50,000 years ago, which gave the valley its present character. The great sheet of continental ice, thousands of feet thick, aided and abetted by numerous small, local glaciers, probably covered the Catskill range with the exception of the very top of its highest peak, Slide Mountain. As the glacier moved, it gouged, scoured, pushed, tumbled and abraded the rock in its path, obliterating the evidence of three previous glaciers. Eventually, of course, the climate moderated and the edge of the glacier retreated. But in our valley it got stuck. Our valley runs east and west, and the retreating glacier here was shaded by the higher mountains on the south. This caused the glacier to stagnate and melt in a lopsided fashion. On the faster melting north side, the glacier deposited its accumulated gravel in the form of a terrace. The slow melt left our valley uncluttered by the huge mound-like deposits of glacial till, sand and gravel, called moraines and kames, which are prominent features in the surrounding valleys. In fact, the retreating glacier left a clean valley just wide enough to accommodate a small village with two streets, if those streets would carefully parallel the course of the stream. That is exactly what happened.

In the railroad era, 50 large hotels and boarding houses served a thriving summer trade. Recalling that time, one Fleischmanns' old-timer told us, "Why, if you was to faint, you'd never hit the street, the people were that thick!" Indeed, the sidewalks were so thronged that our Main Street was often compared to Times Square. Those days are long over, but it is still a pleasant place to be with its nice mix of Victorian commercial and residential buildings, its fine library, and its surprising diversity of population.

For more information about our village visit Fleischmanns' website.


We are often asked about our name; there is no mountain named "Purple" in the Catskills. Native Americans knew the Catskills as blue mountains, but when Washington Irving journeyed by sloop down the Hudson River, he saw them differently:

"Of all the scenery of the Hudson, the Kaatskill Mountains had the most witching effect on my boyish imagination. Never shall I forget the effect upon me of my first view of them, predominating over a wide extent of country--part wild, woody and rugged; part softened away into all the graces of cultivation. As we slowly floated along, I lay on the deck and watched them through a long summer's day, undergoing a thousand mutations under the magical effects of atmosphere; sometimes seeming to approach; at other times to recede; now almost melting into hazy distance, now burnished by the setting sun, until in the evening they painted themselves against the glowing sky in the deep purple of an Italian landscape." --Autobiography

I came across this long after our press was named. The inspiration came, not from Irving, but from Mrs. Brown, a third-grade teacher in Omaha, Nebraska. By the time I reached Mrs. Brown's class, I had not seen a mountain. But I recall vividly the indignation I felt when she criticized a mountain range I depicted in robust purple. "Mountains aren't purple," she said, but I knew I was right. Did we not sing of the "purple mountains' majesty?" Confirmation had to wait twenty-three years, however, until we moved to the Catskills. Driving through the mountains one evening, I startled my wife by exclaiming, "By God, they really ARE purple!"

The effect is strongest at twilight in the spring when the trees are in bud. Also, we have heard that sunlight sometimes refracts from tiny droplets of terpene (from conifers) in the atmosphere, creating a purple glow. I hope you will see it for yourself some day and that you will find books of interest in our on-line catalog.

Wray Rominger, Co-publisher

Photo credits: office/Phillip Harrington; publishers/Bethia Waterman

Copyright 1998-2006 © Purple Mountain Press. All rights reserved.