Watkins Glen State Park

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Coordinates: 42°22′37″N76°52′18″W / 42.377059°N 76.871687°W / 42.377059; -76.871687

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Watkins Glen
State Park
Tolkien would appreciate this place by Peter Rivera.jpg
Rainbow Bridge and Falls
Name origin:Samuel Watkins
Country United States
State New York
Region Finger Lakes
Counties Schuyler
City Watkins Glen
LandmarkRainbow Bridge and Falls
River Glen Creek
Area1.216 sq mi (3 km2)
FoundedDecember 27, 1906
Management New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
Owner State of New York
For publicyes
Easiest accesscar
Website: http://parks.ny.gov/parks/142/details.aspx

Watkins Glen State Park is located outside the village of Watkins Glen, south of Seneca Lake in Schuyler County in New York's Finger Lakes region. The park's lower part is near the village, while the upper part is open woodland. It was opened to the public in 1863 and was privately run as a tourist resort until 1906, when it was purchased by New York State. [1] [2] Initially known as Watkins Glen State Reservation, the park was first managed by the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society before being turned over to full state control in 1911. [1] Since 1924, it has been managed by the Finger Lakes Region of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. [3]

Watkins Glen, New York Village in New York, United States

Watkins Glen is a village in Schuyler County, New York, United States, and it is the county seat of Schuyler County. Watkins Glen lies within the towns of Dix and Reading. The current mayor, as of 2015, is Samuel Schimizzi. The village is home to the well-known race track Watkins Glen International, host of NASCAR Cup Series, IndyCar and a former host of the United States Grand Prix of Formula One.

Seneca Lake (New York) lake in New York, United States of America

Seneca Lake is the largest of the glacial Finger Lakes of the U.S. state of New York, and the deepest lake entirely within the state. It is promoted as being the lake trout capital of the world, and is host of the National Lake Trout Derby. Because of its depth and relative ease of access, the US Navy uses Seneca Lake to perform test and evaluation of equipment ranging from single element transducers to complex sonar arrays and systems. The lake takes its name from the Seneca nation of Native Americans. At the north end of Seneca Lake is the city of Geneva, New York, home of Hobart and William Smith Colleges and the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, a division of Cornell University. At the south end of the lake is the village of Watkins Glen, New York, famed for auto racing and waterfalls.

Schuyler County, New York County in the United States

Schuyler County is a county in the U.S. state of New York. As of the 2010 census, the population was 18,343, making it the second-least populous county in New York. The county seat is Watkins Glen. The name is in honor of General Philip Schuyler, one of the four major generals in the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War.

Jacob's Ladder, near the upper entrance to the park, has 180 stone steps, part of the 832 total on the trails Watkins Glen 01 Jacob's Ladder.jpg
Jacob's Ladder, near the upper entrance to the park, has 180 stone steps, part of the 832 total on the trails

The centerpiece of the 778-acre (3.15 km2) [4] park is a 400-foot-deep (120 m) narrow gorge cut through rock by a stream Glen Creek that was left hanging when glaciers of the Ice age deepened the Seneca valley, increasing the tributary stream gradient to create rapids and waterfalls wherever there were layers of hard rock. The rocks of the area are sedimentary of Devonian age that are part of a dissected plateau that was uplifted with little faulting or distortion. They consist mostly of soft shales, with some layers of harder sandstone and limestone.

Glacier Persistent body of ice that is moving under its own weight

A glacier is a persistent body of dense ice that is constantly moving under its own weight; it forms where the accumulation of snow exceeds its ablation over many years, often centuries. Glaciers slowly deform and flow due to stresses induced by their weight, creating crevasses, seracs, and other distinguishing features. They also abrade rock and debris from their substrate to create landforms such as cirques and moraines. Glaciers form only on land and are distinct from the much thinner sea ice and lake ice that form on the surface of bodies of water.

Ice age Period of long-term reduction in temperature of Earths surface and atmosphere

An ice age is a long period of reduction in the temperature of the Earth's surface and atmosphere, resulting in the presence or expansion of continental and polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers. Earth is currently in the Quaternary glaciation, known in popular terminology as the Ice Age. Individual pulses of cold climate are termed "glacial periods", and intermittent warm periods are called "interglacials", with both climatic pulses part of the Quaternary or other periods in Earth's history.

Stream gradient is the grade measured by the ratio of drop in elevation of a stream per unit horizontal distance, usually expressed as meters per kilometer or feet per mile.

The park features three trails open mid-May to early November by which one can climb or descend the gorge. The Southern Rim and Indian Trails run along the wooded rim of the gorge, while the Gorge Trail is closest to the stream and runs over, under and along the park's 19 waterfalls by way of stone bridges and more than 800 stone steps. The trails connect to the Finger Lakes Trail, an 800-mile (1,300 km) system of trails within New York state. [3]

Finger Lakes Trail

The Finger Lakes Trail consists of a network of trails in New York. The trail system is administered by the Finger Lakes Trail Conference (FLTC), a non-profit organization, composed primarily of volunteers.

Activities and services

The park has comfortable camping sites, as well as picnic tables and pavilions, food, playground, a gift shop, pool, dump stations, showers, recreation programs, tent and trailer sites, fishing, hiking, hunting and cross-country skiing. The entrance fee for a day picnic is $8 per car. The park is open year-round, but not all facilities are available at all times. [3]


Pleistocene north ice map Pleistocene north ice map.jpg
Pleistocene north ice map

During the Pleistocene era, a vast area was covered by ice during the maximum extent of glacial ice in the north polar area. [5] The movement of glaciers from the Laurentide and Wisconsin ice sheets shaped the Finger Lakes region. The lakes originated as a series of northward-flowing streams. Around two million years ago the first of many continental glaciers of the Laurentide Ice Sheet moved southward from the Hudson Bay area, initiating the Pleistocene glaciation. These glaciers widened, deepened and accentuated the existing river valleys. Glacial debris, possibly including terminal moraines, left behind by the receding ice acted as dams, allowing lakes to form. Despite the deep erosion of the valleys, the surrounding uplands show little evidence of glaciation, suggesting that the ice was thin, or at least unable to cause much erosion at these higher altitudes. The deep cutting of the valleys by the ice left some tributaries hanging high above the lakes: both Seneca and Cayuga have tributaries hanging as much as 390 feet (120 m) above the valley floors. [6]

The Pleistocene is the geological epoch which lasted from about 2,588,000 to 11,700 years ago, spanning the world's most recent period of repeated glaciations. The end of the Pleistocene corresponds with the end of the last glacial period and also with the end of the Paleolithic age used in archaeology.

One such hanging valley, overlooking the south end of the Seneca Lake valley, evolved into the deep gorge of Watkins Glen. The steep drop of Glen Creek into Seneca Valley created a powerful torrent that eroded the underlying rock, cutting further and further back towards the stream's headwaters. This erosion was not a uniform process: the rock here includes shale, limestone, and sandstone, and these types of rock erode at different rates, leaving behind a staircase of waterfalls, cascades, plunge pools and potholes. Watkins Glen State Park now encompasses nineteen waterfalls spaced along a trail roughly two miles (3.2 km) long. [7]

See also

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Dix, New York Town in New York, United States

Dix is a town in Schuyler County, New York, United States. The population was 4,197 at the 2000 census.

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  1. 1 2 "Watkins Glen State Reservation". Seventeenth Annual Report of the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society to the Legislature of the State of New York. American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society. 1912. pp. 30–56. Retrieved November 3, 2016.
  2. "Watkins Glen Historic Timeline". NY Falls. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
  3. 1 2 3 "Watkins Glen State Park", visitor's guide, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, Finger Lakes Region (2012)
  4. "Section O: Environmental Conservation and Recreation, Table O-9". 2014 New York State Statistical Yearbook (PDF). The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government. 2014. p. 674. Retrieved April 3, 2016.
  5. Schlee, J. (2000, 02 15). "Our changing continent"
  6. Sam, E. (02, 2014 24). "Finger lakes"
  7. "Watkins Glen State Park" Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance, n.d. Retrieved: February 20, 2014