In the 19th century, the Genesee Valley Canal passed through the lands which would become Letchworth Park. Although the Canal was abandoned in 1878, those who hike along the old canal bed can still find traces of that engineering wonder, especially along Trail #7.
Until their death, J. Hayward and Emily Madden of South Livonia were considered to be the leading experts on the Genesee Valley Canal. Among their extensive research files and resources were notebooks documenting each section of the old Canal.
In June of 1978 I visited with the Maddens and took the notes found in Part I, which identify important landmarks of the Canal in the sections in or near Letchworth Park.
The photographs below are modern photographs of some of the features as they exist now. Each photograph is dated. (If you have a photograph of any feature listed in Part I which is not featured below and would like to have it added to this page, please let us know.)
SECTION 57 (starts near the Parade Grounds and extends to the Slide Area by Middle Falls).
The wall once protected the men and animals that walked along the towpath of the Genesee Valley Canal. On the other side of the low stone wall is a drop of over three hundred feet. Imagine riding a mule along it!
Canal Waste Weir Trail 7
Built to drain the excess water from the Canal, these stone walls channeled water from the canal. This water would tumble into the gorge, forming the Bridal Veil Cascade. A wooden bridge carried the towpath across the weir. See Image 68
These photographs were taken from the filled in canal bed, looking through the weir. The bright area beyond the stones is the Letchworth Gorge.
Photo by Tom Cook August 2001
You are looking up the old Genesee Valley Canal bed along Trail #7, which runs parallel to the canal to the left of this photograph. The canal bed in most places is still easy to trace - and can, in some spots, still hold some water.
Also see Image 24 for a view of this section from across the gorge, and our Glimpse of the Genesee Valley Canal
Notebooks of J. Hayward and Emily Madden, South Livonia, New York