Step Up in Watkins Glen

150 years ago, the gorge in what is now called Watkins Glen State Park was known as Freer’s Glen, at least for awhile. Beginning in 1863, wooden walkways were built into the narrow chasm to pass along cliffs and climb above waterfalls. These were all replaced when the state park was created, beginning in 1906, first with concrete and later with stone structures. Here is a comparison of one of the early pre-park, 19th century wood structures with the stone steps of today, climbing up and around Central Cascade halfway through the glen.

19th century photograph of a wooden staircase climbing to Central Cascade in Watkins Glen.

One could only climb past Central Cascade in Watkins Glen via this wooden staircase during the pre-park days in the 19th century. Image courtesy of Bill Hecht

Stone staircase climbs to Central Cascade in Watkins Glen State Park in New York's Finger Lakes region.

This stone staircase climbs out of a section of Watkins Glen called Glen Cathedral to "Folly Bridge" in the background, above Central Cascade, on the Gorge Trail in Watkins Glen State Park.

You can find out more about the gorge at Watkins Glen State Park in my book, A Walk Though Watkins Glen–Water’s Sculpture in Stone.