is what calls us to further examine places and people we have met along life’s many paths we have traveled.  We often feel the need to dig a bit deeper,  try a bit harder, or just study further that element that has drawn us back to take a second look.  Such was the case when we revisited Letchworth State Park this past Friday.

As far as state parks are concerned,  sizewise Letchworth isn’t all that big.  Compared to the expansive acreage of Allegany State Park,  Letchworth seems a drop in the bucket!  Like all of New York’s parks, Letchworth is somewhat “rustic”, but perhaps a bit more refined than others. It certainly is one of New York’s most beautiful parks, hands down.

As we entered the park,  Mark and the kids spotted a train beginning to cross the deep gorge.  Mark hurried to the parking lot and dropped me off so I could capture a photo of the train.  By the time I got there, however, the train had already begun crossing.  Not sure of the length of the train,  I took photos as I walked the path to the bridge and falls.

Yes, although the bridge is short across, it *is* deep!

I finally got a fairly scenic shot.

I talked with a couple watching the train as it crossed. They said the beginning of the train had three engines, so it was probably quite a long one.  I didn’t think to count cars until much of the train had passed, and I counted about 35, and that wasn’t to the end.  My guess is that it had over 100 cars.  It sure was neat seeing a train on the bridge.  To my amazement, as soon as the train was across, people began walking out over the bridge.  I think my heart nearly stopped, but the couple I had spoken to said it is okay. In fact…the wife wanted to walk across.  The husband, well, he wasn’t so sure!  Me?  My knees nearly gave out thinking about it!

I took another path that leads to another falls. This one is a bit deeper than the first, and very impressive!

Letchworth State Park was named after William Pryor Letchworth, a wealthy businessman from Buffalo. Letchworth was born into a Quaker family that emphasized a good work ethic; by his mid-thirties, he was quite well to do.  When he first saw the area the park is located at,  he knew he needed to buy some land there for a get away from the busyness of life.  Over time, Letchworth acquired more land, and in his latter years, bequeathed the land to the State of New York.

Mr. Letchworth bought the land with a structure already built and he had contractors use the house that was already there.  It is located between the two sets of falls, in a wondrous setting!


The house is now an inn and restaurant, called the Glen Iris.  A small pond with a fountain is furnished with koi in its waters.  Its simplicity speaks volumes of the simple elegance found throughout the entire park.

Okay, I rarely take photos of the kids, but I made them sit by the “big” tree.

Did I say “big”?  That tree was huge!

Just a stone’s throw from the Glen Iris Inn is the William Pryor Letchworth Museum.  We walked into the museum at precisely 4:53,  being reminded by the attendant that the building closes at 5pm.  That meant we had all of seven minutes to look around.  Needless to say, we need to go back when we have some time!  The museum has all sorts of artifacts not only from Mr. Letchworth and his family,  but from the general area.

One of the reasons I wanted to return to the park was because of a story I heard about when we first went to Letchworth.  The story involves a young woman by the name of Mary Jemison.

Mary was born on the Atlantic Ocean as her parents were heading to America from Northern Ireland.  The family arrived in Pennsylvania and spent time there.  During the French and Indian War,(when Mary was about 12)  the family was killed, save Mary.  She was taken into captivity by Seneca Indians and was eventually adopted into the tribe.  She ended up marrying a chief.  When word came that captives would be released from the Indians,  Mary fled to the area where the park is now located.

When Mary Jemison was ofered freedom from her captors, she chose not to leave.  Over time, she became known as “The White Lady of the Genessee”.  (The river running through the gorge is called the Genessee River.)  Mary passed away at the age of almost 91, in 1833.

Mr. Letchworth, being very concerned about the welfare of the Native Americans,  was fascinated by the story of the white lady.  She had left the area just a few years before her death, and was buried in a reservation located near the Buffalo region.  When members of her family grew upset that her grave was being desecrated, Mr. Letchworth had her casket and marker removed from the area and brought to a ridge above his Glen Iris estate.  It was here Mary Jemison found her final burial place. 

Mary Jemison’s original grave marker is now placed in the Letchworth Museum as Mr. Letchworth had a marble monument made to replace it.  He had the original inscription written upon the marble marker.  A few years later, an artist made a stunning bronze statue of Mary carrying  Thomas, her firstborn, (named after her father) on her back.

The statue is so very beautiful! (It was made in 1910)

It was so interesting reading about Mary Jemison’s life.  What a strange turn of events in her life….

We had to leave the park as the kids were beginning to grumble about being hungry. But there were still beautiful sights to see!

And not too far away was a lovely monument built to honor soldiers of the Civil War.

I just love the sunlight illuminating the flag in this last shot.

As we were leaving the park, Mark asked if I saw the fox?  Fox?  I said….

Not entirely sure he looks so healthy.

We left the park and everyone was fed. We stopped in Geneseo and Mark and the kids shopped at WalMart while I waited in the truck.  On the way home, we passed Conesus Lake and it had the most awesome yellow moon over it!

And, over the telephone lines a little bit later. (I was too tired to get out of the truck and we were on a highway and Mark feared someone might run over the crazed lady with the camera!)

Wow, so many beautiful things to see and not very far from home at all!

8 Responses

  1. Letchworth is one of my favorite places! I think I told you that already….but my ex and I used to go there ALL the time. We camped there just about every weekend back in the late 70’s!! When we were young and kind of stupid…we actually walked across that bridge many a time. Now….I wouldn’t do it!

    You took some amazing shots, but what it surprising to me is that everything looks exactly the same as it did when I was there last!!

  2. You’ve NEVER been on the RR bridge? I went there with Jeff and his parents ages ago and we walked part way onto it. It is pretty amazing! Excellent photos, they make me want to go there.

  3. I get weak-kneed at the very thought of high bridges, to say nothing of railroad trestles! Are you sure we walked out onto that bridge???
    Letchworth is beautiful though, at any time of year. So glad it escaped the NYS Budget cuts — so far.

  4. I love Letchworth! Brings back many memories of childhood and visiting there and camping.

    I was going to ask if you had watched the historic documentary that they show in the museum, but you didn’t since you only had 7 minutes. My husband is the production manager at a company that makes professional videos. He helped make the video. I watched bits and pieces of it…(or at least heard it several times) while my husband watched it over and over again while critiquing it in our living room.

    See my post about delivering the finished product here 4 years ago.

  5. Jeanne, maybe the park looks the same,but it is kept so meticulously! It has to be one of NY’s premier parks! We drove through the campsites….YIKES! Some are located right near the cliffs! (No sleepwalking allowed!!!)

    Carly, nope, I never walked the bridge. And Madeline, I am with you….heights are NOT my forte!!!!

    Priscilla, that is so cool!!! One of the reasons I love that park is because it has such rich historical value and there is so much to be learned there!!!!

  6. been browsing your entries, I would gladly pack our bags, bring my family and live there at the drop of a hat (or if we have visas to do so, LOL) 😀

Leave a Reply