Flack’s Scenic Guide – Watkins Glen State Park (published 1930s)
The following is a word-for-word reprint of the text, and in some cases, images, of a printed guide-book sold as a souvenir around the early 1930s. Any typos or inaccuracies have been left intact, but the document has been re-flowed to fit the webpage. This book is now a part of the public domain. A lot has changed since then, which is why we are publishing this content. It is for educational purposes only. If you want a more recent guide and description, see our Watkins Glen State Park page.
Flack’s Scenic Guide
WATKINS GLEN STATE PARK
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y.
IN THE HEART OF THE BEAUTIFUL FINGER LAKES.
THIS Scenic Guide is put out by the Flack’s Tourists Service, a service established to aid the tourist and is supported by Chambers of Commerce and Resort Associations. We operate a chain of free information bureaus at advantageous points, such as Watkins, Glen, N.Y., Ausable Chasm, N.Y., Flume and Old Man of the Mountains in the White Mountains, N. H. In fact there are about forty of these bureaus throughout the Northeastern states. We also publish a very fine Scenic Guide, which gives a list of these bureaus on the first page.
NOTE: Let us help you plan your tour. For personal advice, free booklets, maps and other literature, write to FLACK’S TOURIST SERVICE, POTSDAM, N.Y
Watkins Glen Near the head of Seneca Lake, the most beautiful of all the Finger Lakes of New York State, is located Watkins Glen, one of the most famous and beautiful of the Empire State’s natural wonders. It is located in the village of Watkins Glen, named after its founder, Dr. Samuel Watkins, a native of England.
The Glen, first known as Mill Creek, was privately owned from 1794 to 1906. Several mills were operated by the power generated by the rush of the water through its narrow gorges. The trail was narrow and its bridges, stairs and railings were often destroyed in times of flood. Operated with a variation of financial successes, it gradually became more widely known and consequently increased in fame until in 1906 it was purchased by New York State as a State Park Reservation. It is now well known the world over. Its unique scenery set it apart from any other natural formation.
Coming into the Park, one finds a large Pavilion finished with a tile roof and inlaid tile walls, in which are rest rooms and an information desk. In front of this is a small fountain and pool surrounded by benches. The level and well kept lawn is broken by flower beds and bordered by groups of shrubbery.
On the left, a long retaining wall borders the stream and extends up to the beginning of the Gorge. This area is known as the Amphitheatre, having a parking space for cars and another for picnic tables. The main trail leads up to a steep cliff, which has been penetrated by an Entrance Tunnel opening on Sentry Bridge, 52 feet above the water. Here one gets the first view of the beauties of the Gorge. The falls here is known as Entrance Cascade, and its pool is 12 feet deep. Above the Cascade the stream is confined in a narrow gorge leading up to Minnehaha Falls, the pool being outlined in the shape of the heart of Minnehaha. Ascending the steel stairs, we come to Cavern Gorge, whirling and wearing thru the irregular strata of solid rock. The trail leads behind the Falls and enters Spiral Tunnel winding up to the top of the falls where a down view of the gorge may be obtained. This part of the Gorge presents the greatest descent in the shortest distance. Above Spiral Tunnel, the main trail continues along the stream but another trail cuts back to Point Lookout and up Cliff Avenue across the bridge to Mountain Park and the Southern entrance. This part of the park may be visited on the return trip down the Indian Trail. Passing thru a small tunnel one comes to Diamond Falls. Another trail cuts back here and is known as Lover’s Lane. Going thru the Narrow Pass one comes to the Glen Cathedral, 178 feet above the water. Next comes Pulpit Rock.
Just above, half way through the Glen, is Central Cascade, 60 feet above the water. Its pool is the deepest in the Glen, being 26 feet. Folly Bridge passes over this. Next is the Glen of Pools and ahead is seen the most widely known view of Rainbow Falls. At various hours and from several points one may see the brilliant rainbow as the sunlight filters thru to meet the fine spray. Crossing the bridge, the projecting cliff in the view, is Pillar of Beauty standing guard over Spiral Gorge and Pluto Falls, which wind and descend thru a deep and narrow channel. Following along we come to Elfin Gorge and to “One Mile Point.” Here a trail turns back to the Indian Trail and Lower Entrance. The Gorge Trail continues along the stream which now flows quietly with few falls but many mirror-like pools for nearly one-half mile, coming to the N. Y. C. R. R. Bridge, of steel construction, 175 feet above the stream, and about 420 feet long. The trail leading up the side of the cliff to the top of the gorge is known as “Jacob’s Ladder” and contains 135 steps. The total number of steps in the Gorge from the Lower Entrance to the Indian Trail is 783 and the distance is 1-1/2 miles. The ascent is easy however, being made so gradually as to be hardly noticeable.
Watkins Village has many mineral springs whose waters have healing properties of world-wide fame. Tourists will find a camping ground, shade trees, pavilion, ovens and bath house at the head of Seneca Lake. This lake furnishes wonderful trout and bass fishing in addition to the many other vacation resort sports. An unparalleled treat is in store for you when you visit this region.
We recommend that in visiting the Glen you start from the bottom and walk up through, taking plenty of time. The scenery is much more beautiful and if you desire to ride one way, it is better to ride from the upper entrance back to the lower entrance, but the trip back over the Indian Trail to the lower entrance is very interesting.
Photos in the Guide
Compilation / Presentation