Letchworth Park Memories
Page 1


What is your family's favorite memory or photograph
of Letchworth Park?

"Lelah, Cora, Lizzie Strauss, Edith, Beulah, (and) Eva 
(On) Mound at Entrance to Letchworths Glen Iris- Portage Falls
July 20 - 08"

(go to the Memories)


 Thousands of visitors have enjoyed Letchworth Park since it was created in 1907. During the Centennial Celebration we invited those visitors and their families to send in their favorite photograph and memory of Letchworth Park. Although the centennial is officially over, you can still share your special memory of the Park.

To participate, you can email either Tom Cook or Tom Breslin, sending your memory and a photograph. The photograph should be in .jpg format and 72 dpi is sufficient. The memory should consist of no more than 250 words, and should be included in the text of your email, not as an attachment. Please put "Letchworth Park Memories" in the heading of your email. You can also send us the memory though our guestbook. Be sure to include what identification you would like for your story. This could be your full name or something like " A & C Smith and family, Ohio".

Go to Page 2


By sending the photograph and memory you are giving us the right to publish it on this website. We reserve the right to reject or edit any photograph or text that we believe is not suitable for this family website. Although the site is copyrighted, we cannot be held responsible for further use of the photograph or text by others. Also - if you send an memory in - please be patient!


 This is one of my favorite photographs in our family album. It was taken around 1930 and shows my Grandparents, Mother, and Uncle posed on the south lawn of the Glen Iris with the Museum in the background. The family lived in Rochester, and had driven to the see the Park for the first time. My Mother, only a teenager at the time, always fondly recalled her first visit to Letchworth Park. She remembered the Museum and the winding roads and how beautiful the forests were - especially to a city kid. Her love of the Park was passed on to her children. She was thrilled when her youngest son began to work summers in the History Program and always looked forward to her next visit to the Park. I took her there as much as possible up until her death in 1999.

For many years we thought the visit shown here was the first connection my family had with Letchworth Park. Recently we discovered a letter from her Great Grandmother, written when a teenager attending the nearby Gainsville Female Seminary. In the letter, written to a cousin in 1860 talked about "our game to Portage and the concert world." Elnora Hunt Allen was probably the first in our family line to see what would become the Park - I wonder if she met Mr. Letchworth on the Portage Bridge?

Tom Cook, Nunda NY


 This photo is one of our favorite memories of Letchworth since it was our first visit to the park. We had just moved to New York state because I had been assigned to the Warsaw office of the Conservation Department as a forester and we were living in an apartment in Castile. The lady on the left in the photo was a neighbor, Anna Brownell and she told us we just had to visit Letchworth park-- so we did. My wife Lucy is holding our first son Vincent, aged 8 months. This was the spring of l959 and it took me ten years to wangle a transfer to a job in the park and another ten after that before becoming Park Manager.

Tom & Lucy Breslin, Berwick PA

 I was born and raised in Wellsville NY. Really miss visiting Letchworth....My biggest thrill was taking my 5 - year son to see the goldfish at the Glen Iris Inn pond for the first time. I've never seen his eyes so big! My son, Ryan, was about 5 at the time, so it must have been around 1999-2000. His birthday is September and we drove to the Park to see the Fall foliage and stopped by the pond. We always remember to take bread crumbs for the goldfish.

Chris Graves & Family, North Carolina

 I hail from Buffalo, New York and have visited Letchworth State Park since I was a child. My family would hold their annual picnics (at) Letchworth every year since I can remember. I have always loved the Park tremendously and I have always been intrigued by Mary Jemison and her life. In fifth grade I wrote a story about her and told her courageous story of survival and of how much I am intrigued by her.

A few years ago, I visited the Park with a friend. (it was her first visit) The day was beautiful and we stayed all day enjoying all the sites and I of course had to show her Mary Jemison and let her know that she is truly my idol. (My friend) wanted to "climb" the gated area to get a closer picture; I said no because that would be disrespectful and that it would be wrong. The gate is obviously there to keep people from desecrating/vandalizing her statue. We took pictures all day of many areas we visited. On the way home from Letchworth that night. We experienced car trouble. Now this began shortly after we left the Park and continued through our hour plus drive home to Buffalo. I seriously thought I was going to die that day because of the twists, turns and hills. Luckily we made it to Downtown Buffalo and somehow made it home safely. The problem with the car, as we later found out was the alternator belt. So all the way home I was praying and calling to Mary's spirit to protect me and get me home safe.

The day came when we developed the pictures we had taken; I couldn't wait to see them all. As I was looking through these pictures, I came across many of Mary Jemison with her head cut out of the pictures, until I came across one of those pictures with me standing by the Lower Falls (which we all know is no where near the Council Grounds) and low and behold a complete picture of Mary Jemison's statue was in in the picture with me, which truly looked like the statue was "floating" by. I cannot describe the feeling I got when my sister pointed this amazing picture out to me. I understand this was a double exposure and all but that was the only picture in that pack of Mary Jemison's complete statue and I was in the picture; not my friend! I truly think about that frequently. I feel that her spirit was there to protect me that day!

Lynn Krug , Buffalo NY

The McCune Family Vacation 1970 St. Louis to Buffalo.

During my family's summer vacation in 1970 we traveled from St. Louis to Buffalo to visit my uncle. While In Buffalo we took several day trips. One such trip happened to be Letchworth Park. In the picture I'm in the middle and the oldest at 10 years. Memories are faded as it has been 35 years ago, but I do remember walking stone paths, looking down at rapids from a bridge and very distinctly an ice cream vendor as we were leaving.

Dave McCune


My memories of Letchworth are some of the most wonderful ones I will ever have. The quality of family time we have spent together in the park is something we look forward to every year.

I will never forget the time we were all hold up in our trailer because there was a skunk outside of our door. I have it on tape, you would think it was a bear.

The Dan Rhinehardt Family
Niagara Falls NY


The Rhinehardt Family & Relatives


Greetings from Yorkshire, NY

Letchworth Park has always been THE place to visit. About the first place in Western New York to take out-of-state visitors, and a most remarkable geological specimen.

My earliest recollections are of the time of the building of the Mount Morris dam and what we throught was a gigantic project. Over the years our family has visited nearly all the areas of the Park including the Portageville areas. We're always impressed with the Council Grounds and Mary Jemison's statue. Glen Iris dimmers are always unexcelled as is the view of the falls.

Happy Anniversary!!

Harold & Sharon Spencer
Yorkshire, NY

I have no photo, but my father told this story. This took place shortly after his arrival in the US from Germany. He was a new physician at Craig Colony in the summer-fall of 1924. It was his responsibility to keep the patients from going onto that high railroad bridge while on outings....

A yearly pilgrimage was made to the park by our family from the late 30's on. He always got out and looked at where he had been, and said how foolish to be out on the bridge. Then he grinned and laughed.

A.F. Kurtz (nee Lahvis)

My father ran the tower at the end of Portage Bridge during the late 1930's and the 1940's. I used to be around there a lot as a little girl. I made friends with Mrs Mudge who was living in the Cascade House at the time.

It was a marvelous place for a little girl to visit. There were elegant pieces of furniture, many of them imported from India and other countries around the world. I particularly remember a buffet which came from India and had a curved, sliding wood top which somehow rolled up around the top front of the buffet. It was a beautiful piece.

Mrs Mudge took me to visit the only two story "outhouse" I have ever seen. It was a part of the hotel, not exactly an "out" house. And it was two stories high, serving both the main floor and the second floor.

She showed me their guest register and led me through the large rooms on the first floor. I was mightily impressed.

Today I treasure a beautiful glass vase entwined with silver vines and leaves and with a silver lip at the top. Mrs Mudge gave it to me in the 1930's. It was something she prized greatly and she wanted it saved (she was very elderly at the time). I have kept it and guarded it carefully through many moves of my own family

Joyce Dubert Everingham, Tuscon

I have so many good memories of Letchworth Park it's hard to pick one. On Columbus Day about 1962 our family (Jim, Sue and 5 chldren ages 15 to 6) walked from our home in Castile to the Erie Reservoir in the Park and had a picnic. The leaves were beautiful and everyone had a good time. The Park area we were in was fairly remote so we were pretty much on our own.

Jim Van Arsdale, Castile, NY

I remember riding east, across Ontario from Michigan, some fifty years ago in a semi-roadworthy coupe loaded with unsecured passengers to visit the homelands of my forefathers. Finally there, the museum at Letchworth featured the man my patrilineals referred to as, "Uncle Mo," Moses Van Campen. Davy Crockett, my hero at the time, had nothing on this guy. I could feel the Major's blood coursing through my miniature veins and wanting more than anything my own flintlock rifle and tomahawk.

I've been back a few times; the latest as an adult from Connecticut with a troop of Boy Scouts to raft the Genesee. On the second day, we visited the museum. One of the scouts asked if Moses was a relative and of course I was waiting for this. I became grandiloquent and all puffy-chested, inferring that he and I were cut from the same genetic cloth (even though I was a slightly out-of-shape computer jockey and not a sharpshooting frontiersman).

In the parking lot, after the self-promoting history lesson, a favorite scout/cynic asked, "Hey Mr. VC, is that one of your relatives, too?" When I turned around, he was pointing at a handicapped parking sign that read, "Van Accessible." Humility might well be a family trait, too.

Jim VanCampen, Jaffrey Center, NH


A Philadelphia native, my wife began visiting Letchworth in the 1960s when both her older sisters attended Houghton College. When Jean and I matriculated as Houghton students in the early 1970s one of the first places Jean insisted on showing me was Letchworth Park. Thus began a love affair with the Park that has lasted nearly forty years. During our college days we would often picnic in the Park or simply spend an afternoon enjoying its spectacular beauty and refreshing solitude. Whenever family or friends would come to visit, a trip to Letchworth was always on the agenda. We even took a geology course in which many afternoon lab hours were spent studying the rich rock formations throughout the Park. After several years of living on the West Coast we moved back to Pennsylvania, but we didn,t forget Letchworth. For twenty years now, a highlight of each year is our annual visit to the Park and the Glen Iris Inn. Through all these years, and now multiple decades, Letchworth retains its timeless splendor. It remains a special place to us in so many ways. We already have our reservations for next year!

Dean & Jean Curry, Pennsylvania

[The image below contains two photos of Jean in Letchworth, taken by Dean: The image on the left was taken in 1972; the one on the right, recently.]


My grandfather, Perry Wilson, was one of the first Letchworth Park Employees, coming in the 1930's. This picture shows him on the porch of the Prospect House (behind the present day Administration Building) where, as general park foreman, he lived. People would come at night to watch Grandpa's "bandits" come to call. The late Arch Merrill wrote in his book, "The white Woman and Her Valley," that "these shy creatures would grab a bit of bread crust, then retreat back into the shadows. But they will swarm all over Perry Wilson, even sit upon his lap."

My father, Bill Wilson, continued the family tradition of park employment and I have many memories of growing up in the park system. As a little girl Letchworth was always a place for animal adventures (I was allowed to bottle raise a family of baby skunks once and vividly remember going to the Barracks Grounds with my Dad and Grandfather to let them go.) wonderful park employees (Tabby Hamilton and Clair Gelser always had a quarter for me) and secret places (inside the Bat Cave and old logging trails at Lower Falls.)

I fondly recall riding the grader with my dad when the North End (Harvey Pool area) was being built and using the DeGoyler Entrance (now closed) to go and get apples. Grandpa always had apples (and ice cream!) for his raccoons. I learned where Eagle Hill, Snake Hill, and Gibsonville Hill were and how they got their names. Hours were spent watching J.J. Palermo, a master stonemason, repair and add to the work of the CCC men while Don Gibson's appearance in uniform (Don was one of the first Park Rangers, now the Park Police) always put his little girl on her best behavior.

Thank you for the chance to walk down Memory Lane for a moment as the Park celebrates its 100th birthday.

Cathie Wilson Gehrig Mt. Morris, New York



I first visited Letchworth State Park in 1973, shortly after moving to Rochester with my two daughters, Suzanne, 12 and Angela, 6. I had been very worried about taking my children from the friendly hometown that I had grown up in, Cazenovia N.Y., and moving them to what seemed to me the huge metropolis of Rochester. I truly became alarmed the day Suzanne came home from her new school and announced that her teacher was taking the whole class white water rafting in the Grand Canyon of the East.

I turned to their stepfather who had brought us to this place and demanded to know just where this "Grand Canyon of the East" was located. I had never heard of Letchworth State Park. So on the weekend we packed a picnic lunch and headed for Letchworth State Park to see the rapids. These photos of my two girls will give you some idea of the effect their first view of Letchworth Gorge had on them.

I never could have imagined that 28 years later I would be fortunate enough to work at Letchworth State Park in Mr. Letchworth's museum. My favorite story of the park is the inspiring story of Letchworth's life.

(Top Photo: Suzanne;  Bottom Photo:Angie)



Leonora Brown, Interpretive Programs Assistant, Letchworth State Park

As a child, our parents with the four kids, often plus a friend or two, made an annual fall visit to Alleghany State Park. Those memories of the 1950s and 60s treks are rich, warm, varied and are treasured by each of us.

When our son was born we had moved to the Rochester area and Letchworth was much closer and his Dad and I had investigated it randomly for years. When Rick was a toddler we began our own similar tradition with an annual fall visit to Letchworth.As he grew, so did our adventures thru the late 70s, 80s and 90s.

We have particular trails we 'must' trek, one location that gets a new year carved into the side of a towering tree to mark our passage on each visit. Counting the stairs to return up from the gorge still helps us to take 'one more step'.We have floated toy boats down the 'rills' in races, flew gliders off the precipices, watched balloons loft in a mist, and always fire up a grill for a hot picnic lunch in the park.

Rick was a train buff from his very early days and every year we have climbed the trestle and waited for a train to pass, shivering and quaking the bridge beneath our feet. As the years passed he brought different buddies to share the day, play catch, or accompany climbs to other points that Dad and I didn't venture out to, but rather took pictures of for the album. In his teens the 'buddy' became the current girlfriend, and the carving tree has added hearts and various names. For the past 6 years Dad and I have been accompanied by Rick, his wife, Mandy and our twin granddaughters, Jaime and Autumn.

If it's cold on our designated trip day we bundle up, bring extra charcoal and blankets, some firewood and find a corner of a shelter along our tour where we can put a fire in the fireplace, cook our burgers and continue to build the tradition for the next generation. If it's a warmer sunny day we glory in the colors, catch frisbees in the open area and trek the familiar trails. We'll be making that trip again this October, 2006


(Photo - here's one digital we can find from several years ago - 2001- twins were about 2 1/2, this year they are 7 1/2 our picnic under the shelter, I think at the area called Middle Falls where there was a small refreshment stand and a large open area, swings/slide and restroom.)


Elaine & Hal, Webster, NY

I have lived in this area most of my life. Sometimes, I think we all take for granted just how beautiful and awe inspiring this place truly is. It is so accessible to those of us from the surrounding communities, that I suppose we lose site of all her splendor! This just became apparent to me recently. I was trying to schedule a meeting place for some friends and me this summer, they are from southern states. They all thought the Adirondacks sounded beautiful and they had never been.

I was all set to go along, when I said, "Well, we could always go camping up at Letchworth." None of them had a clue what I was referring to, and it finally occurred to me that not everyone has seen this magnificent park!
Needless to say, that became our first choice, they are all very excited to see it, and when I said it was a mere ten minute drive from my home, they couldn't believe how lucky I am to have such a nice retreat, literally, in my back yard!

Suddenly, I feel pretty grateful myself!

Happy 100th Birthday, Letchworth

Michelle Finegan, Geneseo, NY


I would like to say thank you for all the memories Letchworth Park has given to me over the past 55 years. I lived my early years in the Village of Castile and spent many happy times in the Park. I have revisited the park many times since and for the past six years have lived in Portageville. Thanks for all the memories.

Floyd W Fladie, Portageville, NY



Attached is a photo of my great-grandmother, Isabel Innes Coghill, a Scottish immigrant to Chicago, who came to visit my grandfather and family in Buffalo every few years. The photo was probably taken in the mid- to late 1930's, since she died in 1944 at age 79.

Our family spent many weekend afternoons in Letchworth while I was growing up in the 1960's and 70's. I remember walking across the trestle and looking down, way down! Another favorite was watching the turkey vultures soaring below us at Inspiration Point.

Later, as a college student at Geneseo, I spent as much of my leisure time as possible at the park. My wife and I stayed at the Genesee Falls Hotel in Portageville on our honeymoon (the Glen Iris was booked too far in advance).

We have taken our children there many times.

Matt Stengel, Penfield, NY

(Note- this photograph was taken looking north from the overlook in front of what is now PineWood Lodge. Inspiration Point is to the right of Mrs. Coghill.)


This is a picture of my husband, Jan Vrooman, taken early this fall by a red maple tree which he remembers having planted at the request of Peter Pizzutelli. Peter was the popular concessionnaire of the Glen Iris Inn for many years, and he was concerned that too much sun was coming in the windows of the new dining room. Jan came to the park in 1966 as a Junior Park Engineer from Allegany Parks, and retired in 1995 as Assistant Regional Manager of the Genesee Region. The park has so many memories for me, starting with school picnics every year; my first employment after business school, and finally, meeting Jan!

Bonny Qutermous Vrooman, Castile, New York



(Note: This Letchworth Park Memory started with a query by Chris regarding Kisil Point in the Park. We explained that it is located at Highbanks Camping Area and asked him for additional information on the family. His reply is found below. We thank Chris for sharing his family's memories of the Park.)


I am told that my grandmother was born and lived in Letchworth Park....Kissel was their last name. She was born in 1920. She and her sisters came and visited in the late 80's early 90's

Here is a picture of my Great- grandma Mary Kisil and my Grandma Stella whos real name was Anastasia Kisil. Mary and her husband Jacob were the original owners of the land on Kisil trail. They had 6 children 5 of which lived on the land with them. Kate, Sofy, Anne, John and Stella. The one child stayed in Kiev with her grandma. All of the girls were born on the land. I remember my grandma saying how she would play in the river and loved to catch grass snakes. Stella passed in September 2002.

I am still researching so anything pertaining to the land that you may be interested in I will pass along. Thank you again

Chris McAuliff



My family has been holding our family reunion at Letchworth for the past 39 years. I do not ever remember at time when we didn't make the annual trip. We rent out a pavilion and make a day of it. I remember waking up at 5:30 am to make the hour journey. We start the day by having breakfast at the park by 7:30. Since our reunion is traditionally in September/October, the air is always crisp and inviting to take a hike somewhere. As the youngest of 15 cousins, I was always taken somewhere on an exciting adventure. However, I must say that the most exciting and terrifying was the trip across the trestle. I think I must have been about 6 years old for that adventure. It was also the trip that got my older cousins in MUCH trouble. Little did we know that our parents were hiking below. By noon it is time for lunch and games at the pavilion. I remember spending many long hours playing in the sand with the climbing turtle and swinging to my hearts content. We still make the trek once a year for the Mallory reunion. This year I look forward to introducing my daughter to our family tradition.

Carrie Miller Kozody, Medina, New York


We have just learned that Mr Peter Pizzutelli, shown on the left, passed away on March 25, 2011 in Henrietta where he had resided with his wife Cora. Peter and his wife were Inn Keepers at Glen Iris from 1967 until his retirement in 1986. The couple made many friends for Letchworth Park in the process of becoming beloved and respected business people.

When I joined the staff at Letchworth in 1968 my work related to park development at Letchworth and the grants program for municipalities seeking development money. At that time Peter Pizzutelli and wife Cora were the “Inn Keepers” at Glen Iris. They were a very generous and gracious couple as my family and I experienced. Trailside Lodge had just been constructed and the administration had a contest to select a name. I won and the prize was a free meal at Glen Iris. We had made very few visits to the Inn because we feared our three youngsters would not fit the formal dining atmosphere. However this seemed like a great opportunity to acquaint them with fine dining at the Inn and do it in an inexpensive way because Lucy and I were going to eat “free”. We were very proud of the kids and we had a very pleasant experience. Peter and Cora both visited with us at the table and complemented the kids. We took this as something special for us. Over the years that I worked with them it became obvious that this was part of the secret of their success. They were very gracious to everyone that visited the Inn and they educated their employees to be the same way. Needless to say they would not let us pay for the meals for the children. Later years when I became Park Manager I worked a lot with them in my duties related to concession management and that relationship solidified my opinion that no one would ever replace them in the capacity of Inn Keeper which, of course , was proven because Peter and Cora retired while I was still Park Manager.

Tom and Lucy Breslin, Berwick PA


I grew up on Schenck Road. My parents took us hiking many evenings and Sunday afternoons. We cooked breakfast at Wolf Creek many times, went camping and always enjoyed this "jewel" that was just down the road. I am still loving it. It is part of my soul!

Charles, Alan, Cynthia and Laura May Myers on a Sunday afternoon in 1949.
Ann Myers enjoying the Park on a Sunday afternoon about 1984.
Ann Myers Liberatore and Laura May Myers after a wonderful lunch at the Glen Iris Inn 2010.



Go to Page 2


For More Memories and to learn how you can contribute, go to the top of the page.


Tom Cook Tom Breslin


Return to the main Centennial Page

Return to Table of Contents

All rights reserved by Tom Cook & Tom Breslin