Monday, August 8, 2011

L is for Letchworth

During the few times I visited my Grandmother at my place of birth in Western New York, I usually made day trips to a large historical preserve known as Letchworth State Park.

The 14,300 acre park passes through the towns of Mt. Morris, Perry, Castile and Portageville and is fondly known as the “Grand Canyon of the East”  The Park has a rich history spanning thousands of years.

The Genesee River runs through the park and though there are numerous waterfalls, three are the most popular. Known as the “Upper Falls”, Middle Falls” and “Lower Falls” Seneca Indians living along the river named the grounds Sehgahunda “Vale of Three Falls.”

The train trestle, known as the Portage Bridge, was originally constructed with wood in 1851, but was destroyed by fire in 1875. Within three months, it had been rebuilt of iron, and that original bridge remains with only repairs as needed. The bridge is 820 feet spanning the Upper Falls and is 240 feet high.

  On one of my visits, I, umm, trespassed, and walked out onto the middle of the bridge, praying no train would come, yet hoping one would zoom by. There was a four foot walkway on either side of the track and as I uneasily walked out, I felt both scared and guilty, but also exhilarated as I peered over the rails at the river and falls below. What a view! My mom had told stories from her youth about walking across the bridge, but it was not yet banned from foot traffic at the time. I only went halfway across because my conscious was yelling at me! The photo is of my cousin, Kathy, at the beginning of the bridge. She did not go across!  


 The Middle Falls are the most beautiful and when the sun is shining, a rainbow can be seen down in the river gorge where the water lands.

 On the land, set back a few hundred yards is the Glen Iris Inn. The original building was purchased circa 1859 by Mr. Letchworth, and he named it Glen Iris after the Greek goddess of rainbows. The charming yellow and white two story cottage is decorated in a Victorian motif and now serves as a commercial inn and restaurant. 

  I remember dining there a couple of times, and the view out the window overlooked the falls.  I felt like I was in another era.



It’s been years since I’ve been back to Letchworth Park, but I have a lot of memories! One memorable time, my mom joined me on the visit, and she and I went to the park in our rental car. So what did I do but lock the only set of keys into that rental car! It put a damper on our daytrip waiting for the locksmith to unlock the car. I’m still embarrassed to this day! But anyway, all my other memories are happy ones. 

The photo is of my mom. She takes her purse everywhere. I don't- just the keys...Lockouts happen!

The Lower Falls are quite a distance from the first two and not nearly as spectacular. The drive from one end of the park to the other is 17 miles, and in-between, are numerous memorials, monuments, tree-laden glens, and of course, waterfalls!

If you ever are in the area, by all means, go see Letchworth State Park! It lives up to its name!



  1. Oooh. Cool choice for this week's letter and I loved the pictures. Wow! (and I would've done the same...wanted to go out to the tracks and of course, not really gone all the way across. LOL. I love trains and bridges.) Fun post! ^_^

  2. I loved seeing this different "side" of New York - the one without skyscrapers and taxis. I can see why this area holds such special memories for you. Love the pictures and your adventure with the bridge (you little rascal).

  3. It's beautiful, Barbara! Thanks for sharing these memories:) Awesome ones, for sure!

  4. Amazing pictures! Thanks for sharing the memories and a really creative post for the letter "L". Delightful!

  5. I didn't know about this park. I'm so glad to learn something new. Now I want to go there, but I will not be walking that bridge. :)

  6. I love to blog about my little excursions and you have done a marvelous job here. When we think of NY and waterfalls,we think of Niagara of course. So, thanks for sharing about this favorite spot of yours and the pictures, though old were fun and vintage.

  7. Just beautiful, Barb! Hope you can get back.

  8. So you're a trespasser and a business-meeting laugher. I think I like you! :)

    On a serious note, beauty and nature are divine therapists, aren't they? Makes me want to get out now and go jogging.

  9. Our country is so beautiful, from sea to shining sea! Thanks for sharing a portion of it I've never seen.

  10. Beautiful pictures. Sweet hubby wants so badly to travel in that area.

    Thanks for sharing!


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