Sneaking from Glen Cathedral to the Narrows

Glen Creek in Watkins Glen State Park, slips from the open, towering “Glen Cathedral” through this slot into the closed-in, shady section of the gorge called “The Narrows,” in Watkins Glen State Park in New York’s Finger Lakes region.

Glen Creek in Watkins Glen State Park, Finger Lakes, NY

Glen Creek is channeled through this slot from one section of Watkins Glen to another.

Our award-winning book, A Walk through Watkins Glen: Water’s Sculpture in Stone, is still available at the park’s gift shop (in the Main Entrance), which is open all year. Our other popular book, Ithaca-the City, Gorges, and Colleges, is now available as an ebook online.

Pluto Falls

Pluto Falls in Watkins Glen State Park in New York's Finger Lakes region

Pluto Falls in the "Glen Arcadia" or "Frowning Cliff" section of Watkins Glen

No, it’s not named after the planet, nor the Disney dog. The “dwarf planet” Pluto was discovered by astronomers (1930) long after this waterfall in Watkins Glen State Park was named; in fact, the waterfall was named long before the park was created (1906).

Old guide book of Watkins Glen State Park showing Pluto Falls

An illustration of Pluto Falls in an 1870s guidebook to Watkins Glen, written by Morvalden Ells

Here’s how a guidebook from the 1870s described the twisted falls:

Description of Pluto Falls in Watkins Glen from the 1870s

I think Pluto Falls was named for “the ruler of underworld in classical mythology”, which, perhaps, this narrow and dark section of the glen suggested to Morvalden Ells, who wrote the guidebook. The name is still used today.

Walk in the Park episode 55 starts tonight!


Taughannock Falls State Park, at the end of the Gorge Trail, Trumansburg, NY, near Ithaca, in the Finger Lakes.

Taughannock Falls

Walk in the Park TV episode 55, recorded on September 11, 2013, will premiere tonight on Ithaca, NY’s public access cable channel 13 (or 97.3) at  9:00 p.m. It will repeat according to this schedule through next Tuesday. And it will be posted on this vidblog soon! Check back at walkinpark.com soon to watch the show online.

 

Central Cascade in 1891


Historic photo of tourists at what is now Watkins Glen State Park

Two tourists pose near Central Cascade in Watkins Glen on August 22, 1891. Photo courtesy of Bill Hecht.

Photographer James D. Hope (son of the Hudson River School painter James Hope who painted the glen for the last 20 years of his life following the Civil War) left a wonderful legacy of photographs of Watkins Glen a century  ago. Folly Bridge, various versions of which have crossed the gorge just above the waterfall, is not visible in this picture. And you are not permitted to go off trail today to pose in this spot! Check out our Facebook page about Watkins Glen State Park.

Park Minute: Watkins Glen State Park, A Sensory Delight!

 

Pothole in Glen Arcadia, Watkins Glen State Park, Finger Lakes, New York

A pothole in Glen Arcadia in the gorge at Watkins Glen State Park

Take a minute for an enticing introduction to the wonders of Watkins Glen State Park in New York’s Finger Lakes region, at the south end of Seneca Lake. This is episode #3 in our Park Minute video series. Visions of Watkins Glen and Seneca Lake from the air, Cavern Cascade, Glen Arcadia, Glen Cathedral, and Rainbow Falls. Narrated by Tony Ingraham, from his book A Walk through Watkins Glen: Water’s Sculpture in Stone.

Park Minute: Watkins Glen State Park, Entrance Amphitheatre

In this second episode of “Park Minute,” we visit the high cliffs and hidden waterfall of the Main Entrance (or “Entrance Amphiteatre,” as it was called in the 19th century) of Watkins Glen State Park in New York’s Finger Lakes region.

Entrance Cascade tumbles under Sentry Bridge at the far end of the Main Entrance or "Entrance Amphitheatre" at Watkins Glen State Park in New York's Finger Lakes region.

Entrance Cascade tumbles under Sentry Bridge at the far end of the Main Entrance or "Entrance Amphitheatre" at Watkins Glen State Park in New York's Finger Lakes region.

The narration in this short video is from our award-winning book, A Walk through Watkins Glen: Water’s Sculpture in Stone, available at the gift shop in the Main Entrance. Find out more at our Owl Gorge Productions website.

“The Main Entrance to the park is in the last section of gorge for Glen Creek, as it emerges after its trip through waterfalls, pools, and twisting chutes in the gorge. The creek’s rush and song will accompany you throughout your walk. Here the stream heads quietly out of the glen, as you will when you return from your walk.

This section of gorge was called the Entrance Amphitheatre by the Victorian operators of the glen because high cliffs appear to enclose you on three sides. At the far end of the Entrance Amphitheatre the towering rock walls suddenly seem to merge, appearing to allow no further passage. However, a hidden portal reveals Glen Creek where it emerges from its rugged route. Entrance Cascade, the first waterfall, plunges sideways beneath the stone masonry of Sentry Bridge.”

Tunnel through Glen Obscura

Where is this tunnel in Watkins Glen State Park? In the past you couldn’t go here.

One of four tunnels along the Gorge Trail in Watkins Glen State Park in New York's Finger Lakes region.

Climbing through a tunnel by the view once known as The Vista in a section of Watkins Glen once called Glen Obscura.

This short tunnel, the third in a sequence of four in all, is in a quiet, shady section of Watkins Glen once called Glen Obscura, and the view was called The Vista in the 1800s. It is just upstream from the “Suspension Bridge.” Back then, the trail did not traverse this section of Watkins Glen, but instead bypassed it on the gorge rim above.

The tunnels were built between 1906 and 1908, shortly after the creation of Watkins Glen State Park. Before the tunnels, there were only wooden staircases around obstacles.

Historic photo of Watkins Glen State Park showing the Suspension Bridge and the Swiss Chalet

In the 1800s, one had to climb this staircase out of Watkins Glen to the Swiss Cottage, rather than continue under the bridge into what was then called Glen Obscura, as one does today. Back then another path led back into the glen past Glen Obscura. The bridge, then known as the Iron Bridge and now called the Suspension Bridge, remains today, although without the awning. The Swiss Cottage is long gone, as is the building on the left side of this drawing, the Glen Mountain House hotel. Image courtesy of Bill Hecht

In those old days, your detour of Glen Obscura was rewarded by the chance to sit down and order refreshments at the Swiss Cottage (also known as the Swiss Chalet). Today, you have to climb all the way out of the gorge and up to the swimming pool on the South Rim to find Watkins Glen State Park‘s snack bar. But many will agree that the glen is more beautiful without buildings hugging its cliff tops.

Learn more about Watkins Glen State Park’s human and natural history in my award-winning book, A Walk Through Watkins Glen: Water’s Sculpture in Stone.

200 March in Watkins Glen

LPG gas Inergy Reading, NY, Watkins Glen, Seneca Lake

Inergy Corp.'s huge LPG (liquified petroleum gas) storage and distribution depot is being built in abandoned salt mines under Seneca Lake two miles north of the Village of Watkins Glen. Photo by Bill Hecht

WALK IN THE PARK episode 17 (recorded August 22), is now viewable online here and on Ithaca public access cable TV channel 13 (Thursday 9:00 p.m., Sat. & Sun. 10:30 a.m., and Tuesday at 8:00 p.m., each week).

[The first 15 seconds of the video below are silent. The show lasts 29 minutes.]

On August 17, 2012, more than 200 people marched from park to park through the streets of the Village of Watkins Glen, NY at the south end of Seneca Lake, largest of the Finger Lakes. They were protesting the construction of a huge northeast U.S. LPG (liquid petroleum gas) storage and distribution depot just two miles up the west shore of the lake in abandoned salt mines. Participants expressed their fears of pollution of the air by diesel and other fumes, pollution of the lake by spills of brine and other chemicals, the risk of accidents and even explosions that such facilities sometimes experience, and irreparable damage to the wine and tourism industry the region depends on. Speakers at rallies before and after the march included Dr. Sandra Steingraber, an acclaimed biologist, Lou Damiani, owner of Damiani Wine Cellars, and Nate Shinagawa, Democratic nominee for the 23rd Congressional District of New York. The march proceeded from Seneca Harbor Park to Lafayette Park in the village, then Watkins Glen State Park, and then returned to the waterfront at Seneca Lake Park.

This historic event, probably the largest protest ever to take place in this village, was well covered by newspapers in Elmira, Corning, and Hornell, but it was completely ignored by the Ithaca Journal and YNN TV news.

 

 

Walk in the Park TV show, July 18, 2012, episode 12

Drought in Buttermilk Glen, waterfall swimming at Robert H. Treman State Park, forest fire in Shenandoah National Park, music at Taughannock Falls State Park, and an eloquent video essay about the looming prospect of dangerous LPG gas storage in old salt mines by Seneca Lake near Watkins Glen. These are topics, images, and video that host Tony Ingraham presents on this episode of his public access cable TV series on cable channel 13 in Ithaca, NY. You can watch it here online, or you can catch its remaining scheduled TV showings on Sunday, July 22 at 10:30 p.m. and Tuesday, July 24 at 8:00 p.m.

The next episode of Walk in the Park will be recorded on January 25 for showings on Thursday at 9:00 p.m., Saturday and Sunday both at 10:30 a.m., and the following Tuesday at 8:00 p.m.

 

Angry Faces, Placid Water: Fracking, LPG Gas Storage, and Seneca Lake

LPG gas storage facility, hydrofracking, Seneca Lake, Watkins Glen, Finger Lakes

Inergy Corporation, though it has yet to receive a permit from the DEC, is going ahead with construction of its northeast regional LPG gas storage depot on the west shore of Seneca Lake. Photo by Bill Hecht

The oil and gas industry plans to build an enormous liquid petroleum gas storage and distribution depot in abandoned salt mines under Seneca Lake near Watkins Glen, one of New York’s most popular scenic tourist attractions. Part of the Marcellus Shale hydrofracking nightmare, this huge facility threatens the pure water of Seneca Lake with petroleum gas and salt pollution, would burn off excess gas with a towering flare stack, produce air pollution, and be a visual and noisy blight along this gorgeous lake. Worst of all would be the constant risk of gas explosions. Local resident, writer, and activist Elaine Mansfield eloquently presents this issue in her blog entry last week. She also reads it aloud in this short, illustrated video I shot in Smith Park along the shore of Seneca Lake. Learn more about this issue from the citizens group Gas Free Seneca.