Writes cofounder Wray Rominger:
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 [where Wray grew up}. 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.