Genesee Falls in Wyoming County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
The Railroad High Bridge
Letchworth State Park
Towering 234 feet above the Genesee River and stretching 800 feet from end to end, the original wooden railroad trestle provided William Pryor Letchworth with his first view (in 1858) of the gorge and waterfalls that were to become part of his 1,000-acre estate. The original High Bridge was finished in 1852 and was constructed of a million board feet of lumber from the surrounding hillsides. It was built so that any one of its timbers could be removed for repair without weakening the bridge.
Having survived the turmoil of the Civil War, the wooden bridge burned in 1875. A few months later, an iron one was erected; it is still used by freight trains today.
The original wooden High Bridge was 23 years old when it was destroyed by a fire in 1875. The Genesee Valley Canal operated under the bridge with barges carrying freight from the lands to the south. this active rail line is owned today by the Norfolk-Southern Line; it is private property and off limits to park visitors.
Neat & Nearby!
Walk the Mary Jemison Trail (#2), which leads you through a small old growth area, that features magnificent 150-year
Take the Gorge Trail (#1) as it passes all three waterfalls and traverses the length of the Great Bend Gorge before connecting to the St. Helena Trail (#13). Exposed in the gorge walls are several million years of history.
Black-throated Green Warbler: Listen for the black-throated green warbler's soft, lisping song of "trees, trees, trees, murmuring trees." This warbler regularly nests in the hemlock trees of the nearby woodlands. Photograph courtesy Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Photographer: Mike Hoplak.
Beyond the old growth area, the Mary Jemison Trail (#2) joins an abandoned section of railroad. This railroad cut, made to climb uphill towards the village of Castile, was dammed and converted to a water reservoir for steam trains. Today it still holds water and has often been used by beavers.
Beavers: Beavers are active mainly at night, but occasionally can be seen out and about during the day. They are well adapted to living in water, with webbed feet and a broad, flat tail for swimming. Photograph courtesy United State Fish and Wildlife Service. Photographer: Tom Smylle.
Red Squirrel: Red squirrels are very vocal, eating a variety of nuts, fruits, and seeds, especially the green seeds of cone-bearing
Sugar Maple: under ideal conditions, old growth sugar maple trees can live more than 350 years, reaching heights of over 120 feet.
Erected by Letchworth State Park.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Animals • Environment • Horticulture & Forestry • Railroads & Streetcars. A significant historical year for this entry is 1852.
Location. 42° 34.667′ N, 78° 3.056′ W. Marker is in Genesee Falls, New York, in Wyoming County. Marker is on Park Road, on the left when traveling north. Marker is on the grounds of Letchworth State Park in a small parking area at the southern end of the park, just south of the Portage Railroad Bridge. Marker is one panel of a three panel shelter style marker. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Castile NY 14427, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Welcome to Letchworth State Park (here, next to this marker); Portage Bridge (a few steps from this marker); In Grateful Memory of William Pryor Letchworth (approx. 0.6 miles away); The Council Grounds Ca. 1907...and Under Restoration (approx. 0.7 miles away); Welcome to the Seneca Council Grounds (approx. 0.7 miles away); Mary Jemison (approx. 0.7 miles away); This Ancient Seneca Council House (approx. 0.7 miles away); To the Memory of Mary Jemison (approx. 0.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Genesee Falls.
Also see . . .
1. Letchworth State Park. New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation website entry (Submitted on August 17, 2014, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York.)
2. Portage Bridge. Historic Bridges website entry (Submitted on August 17, 2014, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York.)
3. The Portage Bridge. Glimpses of the Past website entry (Submitted on August 17, 2014, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York.)
Credits. This page was last revised on December 29, 2021. It was originally submitted on August 17, 2014, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York. This page has been viewed 371 times since then and 18 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on August 17, 2014, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.