Taughannock Falls State Park

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Taughannock Falls State Park
Taughannock Falls.JPG
Taughannock Falls in Autumn 2003
Taughannock Falls State Park is located in New York
Taughannock Falls State Park
Location of Taughannock Falls State Park within New York State
TypeState park
Location1740 Taughannock Blvd.
Trumansburg, New York[1]
Nearest cityTrumansburg, New York
Coordinates42°32′42″N 76°36′22″W / 42.545°N 76.606°W / 42.545; -76.606Coordinates: 42°32′42″N 76°36′22″W / 42.545°N 76.606°W / 42.545; -76.606
Area750 acres (3.0 km2)[2]
Created1925 (1925)[3]
Operated byNew York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
Visitors434,090 (in 2014)[4]
OpenAll year
WebsiteTaughannock Falls State Park

Taughannock Falls State Park (/təˈɡænək/) is a 750-acre (3.0 km2) state park[2] located in the Town of Ulysses in Tompkins County, New York in the United States. The park is northwest of Ithaca near Trumansburg.

The park's namesake, Taughannock Falls, is a 215-foot (66 m) plunge waterfall that is the highest single-drop waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains.[5]

History[edit]

The region surrounding Taughannock Falls State Park was home to the Cayuga people prior to their displacement from the area during the Clinton-Sullivan Campaign following the American Revolutionary War. Taughannock Creek was used as a source of power for mills and a gun factory in the early 19th century.[6]

Tourism[edit]

Taughannock House Hotel

During the second half of the nineteenth century, steamboats, railroads and Victorian hotels were built in the region to serve tourists who traveled to view the falls. By 1925 the hotels were failing due to a decline in tourism, and New York State began acquiring land to form a park.[5][6]

J.S. Halsey built a two and a half story hotel in 1850, known variously as the Cataract Hotel or Taughannock House (or simply as Halsey's Hotel) at the Taughannock Falls Overlook.[7][8] Visitors could reach the hotel by taking a train to Cayuga Lake, take a steamboat across the lake to Goodwin's Point, then finally board a stagecoach to reach the hotel.[9] The hotel site today is the location of the park visitor center and parking lot.[8]

The Taughannock Giant[edit]

Workmen pose with the "Taughannock Giant"

On July 2, 1879, workmen widening a carriage road near the Taughannock House Hotel uncovered what appeared to be the petrified body of a seven-foot tall man. Newspapers reported on the find, and Cornell University scientists removed parts of the body for examination. Over 5,000 people paid a small admission fee to view the 800 pound "giant." Before long, the figure was revealed to be a hoax created by the hotel's owner, John Thompson, and two associates. The idea for the hoax had been inspired by the Cardiff Giant, a similar "discovery" in nearby Cardiff, New York in 1869.[10][11] Although the original giant has been damaged and lost,[12] a replica was constructed for the Tompkins Center for History & Culture by local artists in 2019.[13][14]

An earlier publicity stunt masterminded by Thompson in 1874 involved hiring Canadian acrobat "Professor Jenkins" to cross a 1,200-foot long tightrope suspended 350 feet above the creek.[11] He was reported to have crossed twice over two days, at least one of those times while blindfolded and wearing "Chinese wooden shoes."[15][16] Jenkins had previously crossed Niagara Falls gorge.[17][18]

State park[edit]

Taughannock Falls State Park was created in 1925 on a 64-acre (0.26 km2) parcel of land acquired by New York State.[6] Roads and trails at the park were improved by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s.[19] The park has since grown to its current size of 750 acres (3.0 km2).[2]

Origin of name[edit]

Several possible sources have been proposed for the name Taughannock, all of which describe Native American origins. One translation suggests that the name is derived from a combination of Iroquois and Algonquin terms[20] meaning "great fall in the woods".[21] An alternate theory suggests that the name may refer to a Lenni Lenape (Delaware) chief named Taughannock who died near the falls during a battle.[21]

Park description[edit]

Taughannock Falls State Park offers hiking and nature trails, camping and picnicking. The park includes a stretch of Cayuga Lake's shoreline, where swimming, fishing, and a boat launch are available. In the winter, the park offers facilities and trails for ice-skating, sledding, and cross-country skiing.[1]

In addition to the 215-foot (66 m) Taughannock Falls, two additional waterfalls are located along Taughannock Creek within the park. A 20-foot (6.1 m) cascade, known as Little or Lower Falls, is located downstream of Taughannock Falls, while the 100-foot (30 m) Upper Falls are found upstream of Taughannock Falls.[22]

Views of Taughannock Falls are available from two trails. The 0.75-mile-long (1.21 km) Gorge Trail leads to a viewing area at the base of the falls[23] and also passes by Lower Falls. The 1.5-mile (2.4 km) North Rim Trail and 1.2-mile (1.9 km) South Rim Trail can be connected to form a loop hike which offers views of Upper Falls.[23]

The Gorge Trail is open all year long, unlike the Rim Trails which are closed to the public in winter. Swimming under the waterfall is hazardous and strictly forbidden.

Taughannock Falls[edit]

Taughannock Falls
TaughannockFalls Gorge.jpg
Taughannock Falls in spring 2012
LocationTompkins County, New York[24]
Coordinates42°32′08″N 76°36′39″W / 42.5356°N 76.6108°W / 42.5356; -76.6108 (Taughannock Falls)
TypePlunge
Total height215 ft (66 m)
Number of drops1
WatercourseTaughannock Creek

Taughannock Falls' main cataract is a 215-foot drop (66 m),[25] making it 33 feet (10 m) taller than Niagara Falls. It is the tallest single-drop waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains.[5][26] The waterfall is located along Taughannock Creek, which flows through a long gorge with cliffs up to 400 feet (120 m) high.

Geology and natural history[edit]

The waterfall and gorge comprise an example of a hanging valley, formed where Taughannock Creek's stream-carved valley meets the deeper glacially carved valley that contains Cayuga Lake. The gorge has continued to retreat westward from Cayuga Lake as easily eroded shale near the fall's base is worn away by the stream, which supports erosion-resistant siltstone and sandstone found in the upper portions of the gorge. Annual freeze and thaw cycles also act upon small faults in the rock, causing large sections to occasionally break away, further expanding the gorge.[27]

The gorge supports a "Shale Cliff and Talus" community of plants, including three regionally rare species classified as threatened in New York State: Butterwort (Pinguicula vulgaris), birds-eye primrose (Primula mistassinica) and yellow mountain saxifrage (Saxifraga aizoides).[28]

In popular culture[edit]

In The Midnight Sun, episode 75 of the American television series The Twilight Zone, Taughannock Falls is implied to be the subject of Norma's oil painting.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Taughannock Falls State Park". NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation. Retrieved April 2, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "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. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 16, 2015. Retrieved April 2, 2016.
  3. ^ "Taughannock Falls State Park: A user's guide". Mother Nature Network. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
  4. ^ "State Park Annual Attendance Figures by Facility: Beginning 2003". Data.ny.gov. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
  5. ^ a b c "Taughannock Falls". National Geographic Guide to State Parks of the United States (4th ed.). Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society. 2012. pp. 54–55. ISBN 1426208898. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
  6. ^ a b c Off the Beaten Path: A Travel Guide to More Than 1,000 Scenic and Interesting Places Still Uncrowded and Inviting. Pleasantville, N.Y.: Reader's Digest Association. 2003. p. 242. ISBN 0762104244. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
  7. ^ "Taughannock House Hotel". Walk in the Park: Finger Lakes Heritage and beyond. Owl Gorge Productions. 17 March 2017. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  8. ^ a b "Ithaca and Trumansburg". The Overlook. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  9. ^ "Taughannock Overlook History - Taughannock Falls State Park, Trumansburg, NY". Waymarking. Sign by NY State Parks. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  10. ^ Rogers, A. Glenn (1953). "The Taughannock Giant" (Fall 2003). Life in the Finger Lakes. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  11. ^ a b Githler, Charley (26 December 2017). "A Look Back At: Home-Grown Hoax: The Taughannock Giant". Tompkins Weekly. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  12. ^ Githler, Charlie (15 June 2019). "Local legend: the Taughannock giant". Ithaca.com. Ithaca, NY. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  13. ^ "What is our Next Taughannock Giant?". Tompkins Center for History & Culture. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  14. ^ "What is our Next Taughannock Giant?". ithaca.com. 29 March 2019. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  15. ^ "Librarian Verifies Tale of Professor Walking Across Taughannock on Rope" (Volume 60, No 78). The Cornell Daily Sun. 11 January 1940. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  16. ^ "Facts and folklore about Ithaca and Tompkins County". The Ithaca Journal. 12 August 2015. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  17. ^ "Tightrope Walkers". Niagara Falls Public Library. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  18. ^ "Librarian Verifies Tale of Professor Walking Across Taughannock on Rope". Cornell Daily Sun. 11 January 1940. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  19. ^ Stradling, David (2010). The Nature of New York: An Environmental History of the Empire State. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press. p. 167. ISBN 0801445108. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
  20. ^ Beauchamp, William Martin (1907). Aboriginal Place Names of New York (New York State Museum Bulletin, Volume 108). New York State Education Department. p. 232. Retrieved October 1, 2015.
  21. ^ a b "What's in a Name? – Taughannock Falls". Nature Times. NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation. Retrieved October 1, 2015.
  22. ^ Minetor, Randi; Minetor, Nic (2014). Hiking Waterfalls in New York: A Guide to the State's Best Waterfall Hikes. Guildford, Conn.: FalconGuides. pp. 87–89. ISBN 0762787503. Retrieved October 3, 2015.
  23. ^ a b "Hiking Trails at Taughannock Falls". CNY Hiking. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  24. ^ "Taughannock Falls". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved October 3, 2015.
  25. ^ "Taughannock Falls". World Waterfall Database. Retrieved October 1, 2015.
  26. ^ O'Brian, Mike (May 24, 2015). "The Natural Wonder of Taughannock Falls State Park". Time Warner Cable News - Southern Tier. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
  27. ^ "Taughannock Falls". New York State Geological Survey. New York State Museum. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
  28. ^ Evans, D.J.; VanLuven, David E. (January 2007). "Biodiversity in New York's State Park System - Summary of Findings" (PDF). NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. p. 23. Retrieved October 2, 2015.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]