Oct 14, 2014

Visit New York's Letchworth Park

Letchworth State Park is located 35 miles southwest of Rochester
and 60 miles southeast of Buffalo in Livingston and Wyoming counties. The park is roughly 17 miles long, covering 14,350 acres of land along the Genesee River with three major waterfalls and several lesser ones. The largest is 107 feet high. The canyon was carved by the river over thousands of years with some of the cliffs nearly 600 feet above the river

John and I have been to Letchworth several times and it is at its loveliest in the fall. I would love to go in the spring when the water is high and the falls are at full expanse.  There are several ways to access the park but everyone should explore the entire 17 miles. There are many overlooks, campsites, and picnic areas. From the northernmost entrance at Mt. Morris driving south the first stop is to view the 230-foot Mt. Morris Dam.  It is a dry dam designed to control flooding. I saw pictures of the flooding in 1972 during Hurricane Agnes when the entire gorge filled with water.  Amazing.  

The people of New York State owe William P. Letchworth a debt of
gratitude for donating the land to the State of New York in 1906.  He bought the land and what is now the Glen Iris Inn as a retreat from his business life. More land was added to the park in later years.  During The Great Depression several CCC camps were established. The “boys” built roads, bridges, trails, camps and made many improvements during their tenure.  When the “boys” went to fight in World War II the camp was used to house prisoners of war. There are storyboards where one of the camps was located. 

John and I stayed at Glen Iris Inn which is only $100 ($120 in October, their peak season). The rooms are small but nicely decorated all with an ensuite bathroom. The suites have a roomy sitting room and one has a small balcony. There is a lovely library/lounge on the third floor. The dining room is large and I was surprised at how many tour buses stop for lunch.  We enjoyed relaxing on the long porch with an adult libation as the day ended.  I definitely want to go back again, and again.

Just behind the Inn is the Museum. We watched a couple of their
videos and marveled at the huge mastodon head that was uncovered nearby in 1876.  At the top of the hill behind the Inn is the Council Grounds with a statue to Mary Jemison, “The White Woman of the Genesee” and two log buildings.  Letchworth had Jemison’s remains reburied there. Today there is a statue of Jemison. She was born on the boat from Ireland to America and while her family was moving west through Pennsylvania all but Mary were massacred by the Senecas. She was adopted and raised by the Senecas, married, had a family, and acted as a moderating influence in the relationship between the Seneca and the white settlers. 

At the end of the day while relaxing on the porch of Glen Iris we watched the hot air balloons owned by Balloons over Letchworth over the Middle Falls.  The view must have been outstanding.  I put Balloons over Letchworth on my Gotta-do List. The same group also organizes rafting. Letchworth has something for all seasons.