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

 Do you remember the horses of Letchworth Park? We don't mean Mr Letchworth's teams. We are talking about the horses of the Genesee Region's Mounted Patrol that were a favorite of visitors for almost two decades. In this photo essay we share some...

Memories of the Mounted Patrol


By 1980 Letchworth State Park had completed more than a half century of land acquisition and physical development. An expansion of recreational activities was underways, and new programing often drew large crowds to the Parks for concerts, craft shows, and other activities. It was decided to begin a mounted patrol unit in the Genesee Regions that would increase the ability to control the growing crowds at events. The Mounted Patrol became much more than that as the officers and their horses become attractions themselves.

Retired New York State Park Policeman Lenny Carfley shares his memories of the unit he helped start:

"In 1981, Sgt. Munger , told me that the State Parks Commissioner, Orin Lehman was interested in starting a mounted unit in the Genesee Parks. My daughter's horse,Tammy was available for us to use.
Saratoga State Parks already had a mounted unit under the supervision of Sgt. Richard Pelzer, who along with Bob Larocca came up to Darien with their horses and gave
me a training course that entailed riding and public safety. Tammy worked out well, especially with children who got to touch and pet the horse. later, a second horse, Misty was added and also worked out well.These two horses we took to Downsville for a week of basic certification school. Dennis Yueckstock and I were the only certified for the Genesee region.... "

"In 1983, while on routine patrol at Darien State Park, a Pitbull dog that was off the leash and chasing geese in the lake, came out of the water and attacked Tammy, who reared and threw the officer, Carfley to the ground. The dog had clamped its jaws on Tammy's throat. the horse suffered a 36 stitch wound. The owners were arrested by Officer Carfley and a trial followed. The owners were to confine the dog for life but skipped the state with the dog. Tammy did not work well after the attack and a new horse, Tony was purchased by Officer Carfley from the Rochester Police Dept. "
(Above) - Images of the first of Letchworth's mounted patrol horses, Tammy. Officer Lenny Carfley poses with Tammy in the top left image. Tammy and all the horses were very popular with children.

(Left)- The patrol horses traveled in style between the parks in the Genesee Region and beyond. Here Tony and Sarge are prepared for duty at the Official Lighting of the Middle Falls in July of 1987. Park Police men Lenny Carfley and Dennis Yueckstock.


"As I said, we started out with Tammy and acquired Misty, soon after. Later, I purchased Sarge from Rochester PD. He was a gentle giant, part Clydesdale and quarter horse. When Dennis and I trained, Sarge was the horse that fire crackers were lit by Dennis and thrown at me and Tony. Sometimes the firecrackers were dropped and Sarge never moved. A couple of years later, Tony and Sarge were taken to Downsville for the refresher school....

Tony and Sarge were used for the concerts at Letchworth and the Hoe-downs at Hamlin . I used Tony for patrol at Darien. I remember one time when an elderly camper stopped me and complained about a group of young men camping in the A area. They were using profanity and loud music. I went to the campsite on Tony and told them to quiet down and turn the music down. They became argumentative and I told them to pack up their tent and leave. They stalled and I turned Tony into a spin around on their tent ropes and the tent came down. They packed up without another word and left.

We also spent time patrolling the picnic areas and the beach. We got a report that a young child was missing at the beach. Dennis and I closed the water and did a search in the water on the horses. Horses can sense if a body is under the water. It turned out that the child was setting on a picnic table watching the search. "

"Dawn, was a Black horse (that) did not work out, wrong disposition. We gave her to a horse farrier who had trouble with her also....0ther horses were only with us a short time. Mo was a work horse cross and Scott (Ritchie) rode him for a competition at Darien and for the Letchworth Arts and Crafts show...."

(Above, left: Tammy with Officer Carfley standing on back, Officer Yuecstock on Dawn; Above Right: Officer Dick Pelzer from Saratoga. He and Charley Brown came to help the Letchworth Park Policemen with some training. )

In its seventeen years of operation, the Genesee Region's Mounted Police Unit carried out a wide range of assignments. Officer Carfley remembers...

"When Tammy was the only mount we had, I worked the security for Senator Patrick Moynahan at Trailside. Can't remember date but it had to be around 1981 or 1982.

I will list details we went on in a column and not necessarily in order. but as close in order as I can.

  • Tony and Decker- Dennis (Yueckstock) and I - Funeral detail in Perry for Chief Paul Slusarczyk around 1985.
  • Tony and Sarge- Woman's nuclear protest- Seneca Army depot, along with Saratoga mounted unit and State Troopers.
  • Tony and Sarge - Security detail for Gov. Cuomo - Niagara falls.
  • Tony and Sarge - St. Patrick Day Parade- Syracuse.
  • Tony and Sarge - July 4th parade in Belfast NY
  • Tony and Sarge - Memorial day parade - Corfu NY
  • Dennis and I worked the 1/2 Marathons at Letchworth for many years.
  • We also worked the Arts and Crafts shows until 1998.
  • We also worked the Concerts on Weds at Letchworth.
  • We had many horse competitions with other Mounted units and won ribbons. The other park officers competing were, Jim Comfort, Scott Ritchie, Dick Pelzer, Bob Larocca, Gary Wade.
  • We patrolled Darien and Letchworth camping areas and undeveloped areas of Darien .
  • We trained with Monroe County Sheriff Mounted unit.
  • Scott Ritchie and I worked the Hamburg Fair with Tony and Decker.
  • We also were in the parade at Strykersville NY.
  • We participated in the Caravans for Cancer providing traffic Control for these caravans.Tony and I provided " hands on " for disadvantaged children in Batavia NY.
  • Tony and Sarge , Dennis and I provided the Seniors at the Cloisters Nursing home with a show of Mounted Police tactics."


Officers Jim Comfort and Decker (left) and Lenny Carfley and Tony at a Letchworth Concert series event in 1988.

Other Park employees played supporting roles in the Mounted Patrol. Office Scott Ritchie recalls that Tom Cervone was the horse farrier, and "Big Jim" (Jim Slusarczyk, retired Park Manager of Hamlin Beach and Darien State Parks) pitched in to feed the horses, as did the maintenance men when the officers were on other details.


The Batavia Daily News documented the end of the Genesee Region's Mounted Patrol in an 1998 article shown below.


Darien Park's Mounted Patrol Ends with 'Lenny's' Retirement 

by Marilyn Pfalzer

Darien- The end of the (1998) summer season at Darien Lake State Park on Harlow Road marked the end of the mounted patrol era. Leonard Carfley of Route 77, retired, and he took the horses he rode in the park for eight years, back home to their barns on the Carfley family farm.

The park won't be the same without the horses ­ "Sarg and Tony" -­ and the man who became known as "Mr. Lenny" through the years, Park Manager James Sluzarczyk, said. A native of Pennsylvania, Mr. Carfley moved to Western New York in 1944. He is a graduate of Burgard High School at Buffalo, where he taught for 18 years before becoming a Buffalo School District vocational coordinator two years ago.

The state park position was a second job. "I began 18 years ago as a park ranger," he said. He was promoted to a state park policeman after attending the state police academy in 1975, and "loved every minute of the work." His duties occasionally took him out of Darian ­ to Niagara Falls where he and his horse helped keep a crowd of 300,000 under control during a concert in the skies, to the Seneca Army Depot to keep nuclear protesters in line, to the annual Letchworth Park Arts and Crafts shows where bumper to bumper traffic made it difficult for police vans and cars to maneuver, on to the State Fair and annual St. Patrick's Day parades at Syracuse, hoedowns and the Caravan for Cancer at Hamlin State Park.

Patroling the 1,800 acre park on horseback weekends was a nice diversion from his regular job, Mr. Carfley said. "There was always time to stop when I heard a child call 'Hi Mr. Lenny' and wait while a small hand gave the horse a friendly pat on the nose."The lake job wasn't confined to law enforcement. Reflecting on his career, he recalled many times when novice c amperes, flashlights in hand, sought his help in emptying camping gear from brand new boxes and setting up for the night.

His jobs at school and the lake left little time to spend with his family, including his wife, Kathleen, who teaches at Burgard, and children, Audrey Mattson of Perry; Leonard, who joined the Genesee County Sheriff's Department this summer; Helen Jennings of Attica, and Karen Carfley of Arcade.

The Carfley children grew up in the park. "When the kids were younger, we used to camp out here," he said. "We didn't have time for vacations anywhere else, anyway." He and his wife took their first real vacation in April when they visited the West Indies.

(Below, right to left: Tony at parade in Corfu NY in 1994, Tony, Tony on duty near Niagara Falls

A decade has passed since the mounted officers and horses of the Genesee Region's Mounted Patrol have been on duty in Letchworth Park. All the horses have passed away, enjoying their final years in "retirement" on private farms. But even though the patrol is gone, Misty, Tony, Sarge and the other horses, as well as the dedicated Park Policemen who rode them, will live on as special memories of Letchworth State Park.

(Right: Lenny and Tammy)


We thank Officer Lenny Carfley for sharing his memories and photographs with us!




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