Park Minute: Watkins Glen, “A Book of Nature”

Park Minute episode 24. See it below!

A “book of nature” is how local journalist and promoter Morvalden Ells described Watkins Glen in the 1860s. He was speaking of the splendid natural wonder from which both the town and the famous racetrack take their names.

A page from the 1870s guidebook for Watkins Glen written by Morvalden Ells.

Pages from the 1870s guidebook for Watkins Glen written by Morvalden Ells, showing Pluto Falls in Glen Arcadia.

Watkins Glen first opened as a privately owned scenic resort in 1863 as a result of the vision and efforts of Mr. Ells. His descriptions of the gorge and its waterfalls drew thousands of visitors from America and Europe and placed Watkins Glen alongside Niagara Falls, Saratoga Springs, and the Catskill Mountains as a Victorian tourist destination. In 1906, Watkins glen became the first state park in the Finger Lakes region and it continues to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

Here’s the Park Minute!

See more Park Minutes and our Ithaca, NY public access TV series, Walk in the Park.
Produced by Owl Gorge Productions.

This Park Minute was developed from our national award-winning book, A WALK THROUGH WATKINS GLEN: WATER’S SCULPTURE IN STONE, available at the Watkins Glen State Park Gift Shop and online.