Pieces of the Past
Artifacts, Documents, and Primary Sources
from Letchworth Park History

A description of Letchworth State Park


The following article appeared in the Nunda News on August 25, 1933. Probably written by Walter B. Sanders, the newspaper's editor, the article provides an interesting look at the Park in the early years of the Great Depression. In addition to providing a description of the Park as it was almost 80 years ago, the article also points out several interesting things.

First, it should be noted that the article appeared only two months after the first Civilian Conservation Corps Camp appeared in the Park. Although a tremendous amount of work would be done in the 1930s by the four Civilian Conservation Corps camps that would operate within the boundaries of the Park (See our Pieces of the Past page on the CCC projects), the article indicates that a significant amount of improvements had already been completed by Park crews before the CCC program began.

The article also shows that while excursion trains and buggies were the main way to reach Portage Falls a generation earlier, by the 1930s the automobile had become central to the Park's planning and future success. ( You will find, however, mention of yet another modern means of reaching Letchworth in the article!)

Be sure to visit our other pages that provide descriptions of Letchworth State Park over the years!


High Banks Rise 600 Feet at Lower Falls-
Ample Facilities for Camping and Picnic Parties

We who reside so close to Letchworth Park are quite apt to overlook or forget, its numerous attractions, destined to bring increasing tourists into the Genesee Country each succeeding year. With a view of focusing closer attention on the Park, we condense from the N. Y. State Park book the following description of Letchworth and suggest our local subscribers mail their copy of today's paper to some out-of-town friend, who perhaps would enjoy hearing more about this 6500-acre park, the nucleus of which was presented to the State by the late William Pryor Letchworth.

Letchworth Park, on the upper Genesee River, in Wyoming and Livingston counties, is one of the most notable examples of waterfall and river gorge scenery in the eastern United States. Its three cascades, the Upper Fall, with a plunge of 71 feet, the Middle Fall of 107 feet, and the Lower Fall of 70 feet, together with the gorge, whose perpendicular walls rise 600 feet below the Lower Falls, form a series of pictures whose grandeur and beauty the visitor will long remember.

Letchworth Park is suitable for a day's picnicking or as a place to camp for days at a time. Camping facilities have been provided at a point near the Lower Falls, where tents and cabins, including beds, tables and nearby fireplaces with fuel provided, are available. There is a charge of 50 cents a day for the use of the tents and a charge of $1.50 a day, or weekly rates, for the use of the cabins. Glen Iris Inn, the former home of Dr. Letchworth, offers hotel accommodations with all modern comforts.

When entering the Park, the camper should immediately report to the superintendent for necessary camping permits. Food supplies may be obtained from nearby farmers or from Portageville, two miles away, or from Castile, four miles distant.

Effort is made each year to render Letchworth Park more attractive to visitors. In all picnic areas there are provided stone fireplaces, stone tables and benches, drinking water, comfort stations and ample parking space. The parking charge for all supervised parking areas in 25 cents per day. All other areas free.

Shelters have been constructed at Tea Table Rock Picnic Area and at Upper Fall Picnic Area, which are equipped with fireplaces, tables and benches. In the Lower Falls Area new steps and a trail are completed down to the river level.

A temporary landing field has been established for the use of those desiring to visit the Park by air.

Near Glen Iris Inn stands a roughhewn cabin that once served as the Council House of the Senecas. This cabin was built before the Revolution and is one of the oldest buildings in the state. It was first erected at Caneadea, 18 miles to the south and known in the Indian language as "Go-a-ya-sa-o". the most southerly of the Seneca village on the Genesee River. Following the sale of their lands in this region, the Indians abandoned this COuncil House. It was later deserted as a residence by its white owner, and in 1871 the building was moved to its present location.

Another interesting feature in the park is the arboretum with its collection of the various kinds of timber thriving in a northern climate. The first tree was planted in 1912. Today this tree garden has over 400,000 trees of 55 kinds and is the home of countless birds and animals.

Rochester is not far away, and it is planned to shorten the distance by constructing from Letchworth Park to that city a parkway which will follow the general course of the Genesee is such a way as to permit fast driving and at the same time take every advantage of the view.




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