Copyright
Lewis Halsey.

The falls of Taughannock : containing a complete description of this the highest fall in the state of New York : with historical and descriptive sketches online

. (page 1 of 5)
Online LibraryLewis HalseyThe falls of Taughannock : containing a complete description of this the highest fall in the state of New York : with historical and descriptive sketches → online text (page 1 of 5)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


UC-NRLF



-T37KJ





CAYUCA LAKE.

The passenger boats KATE MORGAN and AURORA have been
recently refitted and repainted, and are now running regularly for the
accommodation of passengers on this beautiful lake.

THE KATE MOBG-AN,

CAPT. GOODRICH,

Leaves Ithaca at 7 o'clock, on the arrival of the morning train from
Owego.

Returning, leaves Cayuga at 3 o'clock, on the arrival of the cars
from the East, and arrives in time for the evening train to Owego.

THE AURORA,

CAPT. DRYER,
Leaves Ithaca at 3 P.M. ; leaves Cayuga at 8 A.M.

Other steamers can be chartered for the accommodation of pleas-
ure-parties.

Each of our steamers has recently been provided with one of Fran-
cis's Patent Metallic Life-Boats.

Travelers wishing to spend a short time at



can be accommodated by taking the morning boat at either Ithaca
or Cayuga, and returning on the boat in the evening.

As the trains connect at Owego, visitors can now leave Taughan-
nock at 6 o'clock in the evening, and arrive in New- York at 7 o'clock
the next morning.

No traveler should neglect the opportunity of taking a trip on this
beautiful lake.



\

I



\



THE



FALLS OF TAUGIIAMOCK:



CONTAINING A



COMPLETE DESCRIPTION



OF THIS THE



Jkll m % State X)f ffcfo-

WITH HISTORICAL AND DESCRIPTIVE SKETCHES,

BY

LEWIS HALSEY.

ILLUSTRATED BY VIEWS OF THE FALLS.



NEW-YORK :
JOHN A. GRAY & GREEN, PRINTERS, 16 AND 18 JACOB STREET.

MDCCCLXVI.



"T31H3



ENTERED, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1866, by
LEWIS HALSEY,

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern
District of New- York.



TO
WILLIAM H. GOODWIN, D.D.,

REGENT OF THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW-YORK,
THIS LITTLE VOLUME

$s $** tcif&Ilg $tt8crib*b.



MAY IT RECALL FOR HIM MANY PLEASANT MEMORIES OF BOYHOOD !



M165391



INDEX.





Page




Page


Accidents, ....


42


Excavation of Chasm,


43


Ancient Fortifications, .


. 57


Extract from Poem,


. 14


Auburn, ....


73






Aurora,


. 70


Fall No. 2, ...


44






Falling Rocks,


. 21


Beardsley, J. C.,


52


Falls House,


53


Beautiful Yiew,


. 54


Farmerville, .


. 71


Bogart's Definition, .


62


Fight with Bear,


29


Bogart, W. H.,


. 63


Formation of the Rock,


. 81


Breaking up of Ice, .


36


Fossils, ....


82


Byron's Velino,


. 20










Ganungueuguch, .


. 71


Canassatego,


68


Geology of Taughannock, .


. 78


Canassatego, Speech of,


. 68


Goodwin, George, .


. 61


Canoga, (Genogeh,) .


70


" Richard, .


28


Casts of Striae,


. 84


Goodwin's Point, .


. 59


Cataract House, .


. 26, 37


Gothic Door,


22


Caves,


. 28


Gun Factory, the Old, .


. 45


Cayuga Bridge, (Wasguas,)


73






CayugaLake,


. 40


Halseyville, .


. 75


Cheever's Article,


14


Hamilton, Rev. D. H.,


56


f T t* f T v


59


High Water, .


33


ins, .




Historical, ....


56




5






Delawares, the,


. 68


Indian Apple-Orchard, .


. 60


Devil's Punch Bowl, .


43


" Village, .


59


Dumont, W. B.,


. 75


Ithaca, . .


. 70


Dust Fall of Staubbach, .


25


Iroquois Confederacy,


. OG



INDEX.





Page


Pa


ge


Lady of the Mist, .


. 21


Song of the Waterfall,


80




50




16


Lodi ....


. 71


Sullivan's Expedition,


59


Long Staircase, .


17


Sulphur Spring, ....


29


Lower Ravine,


. 17










Table Rock, ....


43


Marsh's Point, .


40


Tammany,


67


Means of Access, .


. 46


Taughannock, (an Indian Chief,)


60


Mecklinburgh, .


71


" Falls, Cayuga Lake,


65


Merriman, Col. T. A., .


. 22


" by Moonlight, .


47






" In Winter, .


35


Nameless Hermit of Taug


hannock, 26


" the River and Fall,


87


Name of Fall,


. 61


Taughanic Falls, (Poem,)


93


Ode to Taughannock, .


. . 91


To Taughannock, . . .
Treman, Abner, . ' .


89
60


Parker's Poem,


. 93


Trumansburgh, . .


71


Perry City,


71


Tully Limestone, ....


82


Pictures of Falls, .


. 37






Poetry of Taughannock,


. 86


Upper Ravine, .


43


Pool below Fall, ,


. 21

. . 72


View of Cayuga Lake, .


39


Pratt' s


. 71


Views from Above, .


52


Preface,


9


" " Ravine,


55




. . 21


Waterburgh, ....


74


Red Jacket,


73


Welch's Account, ....


22






Weyburn, Gecrge, .


29


Senecayuga, .


. 71


" Sateuel,


30



PREFACE.



THE want of a description of and guide to the most
lofty of the many cataracts of the State of New-York,
and one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world,
has been felt by all who have ever visited Taughan-
nock.

This want the present publication aims to supply.

If this Tribute to Taughannock shall be deemed an
offering worthy of the theme by those to whom the
Falls are familiar, and shall be the means of making
this favored spot better known to the lovers of beau-
tiful scenery, the design of the author will be accom-
plished.



TAUGHAKNOCK.



To the true lover of Nature, no spot is more at-
tractive, no landscape more beautiful, than that
adorned by her bountiful hand with waterfalls, and
wild ravines, and stately forests.

Unlike other and less favored landscapes, that
which adds to its attractions the music and bril-
liancy of cascades and cataracts is ever unfolding
new beauties. But when a waterfall, whose vast
height adds sublimity to its beauty, grand and
gloomy gorges, and picturesque views of lake
scenery unsurpassed outside of Switzerland, each,
at the same time, present their peculiar attractions,
the admiring traveler, delighted by the beauty and
awed by the sublimity of the landscape, realizes
that he has discovered one of the most favored
haunts of nature.

Such is the wild and varied scenery which turns



12 TAUGHANNOCK.

the attention of the traveler to Taughannock, and,
as the fame of the fall spreads abroad, attracts each
year a greater throng of visitors.

Rich in romantic glens, charming lakes, and
magnificent cataracts, the Empire State may well
be called the Switzerland of America. The most
lofty, and, in many respects, the most beautiful of
her cataracts is Taughannock, situated on a small
stream in Tompkins County, three fourths of a
mile from Cayuga Lake, and ten miles from Ithaca.

The stream, known as Halsey Creek* from the
name of one of the first settlers upon its banks, is
one of the largest of the watercourses which inter-
sect^ the fertile farming lands lying between the
twin lakes Cayuga and Seneca. Taking its rise in
the highlands midway between them, it flows in an
easterly course until at length it unites its waters
with those, of the calm Cayuga.

Flowing with a gradual and gentle descent
through a rich and flourishing country, its banks
are dotted with numerous mills and manufacturing
establishments.



* In our atlases and geographies we find the name thus given, but
the stream should have the same name as the fall.



TAUGHANNOCK. 13

At the distance of a mile and a half from the
lake it would appear that nature had determined to
check the stream in its further progress by erecting
an impassable barrier. This is a rocky ledge, rising
some fifty or sixty feet directly in the path of the
little river. But the stream, by long continued
labor, beginning, perhaps, when darkness was yet
upon the face of the deep, has succeeded in excavat-
ing an enormous channel, from one hundred to four
hundred feet in depth, and four hundred feet across
at its lower extremity. Through this yawning
chasm the victorious waters course triumphantly
onward toward their goal beyond.

This vast gorge, with its frowning cliffs and
towering walls of granite, their grimness relieved
here and there by a bouquet of evergreens, forms the
ravine of Taughannock.

Half a mile after entering this gorge, on account
of a difference in the structure of the rock, while
the height of the banks remain undiminished, the
stream falls perpendicularly two hundred and fifteen
feet into a rocky basin, thus forming a cataract more
than fifty feet higher than Niagara.

The rock over which the water plunges projects
in the center and is contracted on either side, form-



14: TAUGHANNOCK.

ing a triangle which measures some ninety feet
across.

The following jocular but nearly accurate de-
scription of Taughannock was published, several
years ago, in " Gleason's Pictorial," a Boston maga-
zine :

u It lies about (I like to be particular)

One mile from Lake Cayuga's western shore,

On either side the rocks rise perpendicular

Three hundred ninety feet and something more ;

And all the stream, diffused in drops orbicular,
Descends in clouds and falling mists that pour

Two hundred feet and ten, or nearly so,

Before they form again the stream below."

The following eloquent description of the ravine
and falls was written by the celebrated author and
orator, George B. Cheever, who visited them in
1859:

GEORGE B. CHEEVEITS DESCRIPTION.

" The Staubbach of Trumansburgh is worth
going a great distance to see.

" It is nearly a third higher than any other
cataract in our State.

" At present it is the very perfection of beauty,



TAUGHANNOCK. 15

while the natural mountain gorge, midway in the
progress of which it tumbles over the crags, is one
of the grandest and most picturesque in the world
out of Switzerland. It reminded me much of the
lovely and romantic pass above Chiavenna, in the
Italian Alps. The gorge is at least four hundred
feet in depth, the mountain sides rising jagged and
perpendicular, though with the green forests here
and there clinging to their faces, trees apparently
rooted in the rocks without a particle of soil to
nourish them, and declivities covered with luxuriant
wild shrubbery from the top to the bottom of the
gulf. Here and there the mighty crags advance
half-way across the ravine, round and perfect as
battlemented castles or solid piers, that at some
distant age might have supported a stupendous
natural bridge. At the bottom of the ravine and
at the foot of the fall, looking up the great height,
and watching the extremely graceful and beautiful
descent of the spray, (for the water begins to break
into spray almost at the moment when it begins its
plunge over the precipice,) you feel that nowhere
in the world can it be possible that a more perfectly
beautiful waterfall can be in existence.

" The jagged rock rift, through which the river



16 TAUGHANNOCK.

rolls before it makes the plunge, is some two hun-
dred feet in depth, the rocky channel becoming a
triangle at the brink, and the water plunges some
two hundred and twenty feet more to the bottom,
where the ravine is upwards of four hundred feet
perpendicular. The fall is, in truth, the Staubach
of Switzerland most absolutely reproduced, and of
concentrated beauty and grandeur.

" When the stream is swollen almost to the ut-
most capacity of the channel by autumnal rains, or
a spring freshet, the beauty of the cataract changes
into overwhelming sublimity. It is clothed with
the majesty, grandeur, and thunder of Niagara.

" At present you miss the roar, the voice, the
sound of many waters, the thunder shaking the
earth ; because the volume of water is not deep
enough to preserve itself consolidated down the
dizzy height of a plunge so tremendous. The
coquetting air takes the cataract by its curls on the
very forehead of the crags, and tosses and frays it
into millions of tiny, fleecy jets, and tangled, shin,
ing threads of diamonds and dewy light.

" Each drop gives way to the temptation of a
separate display, and with white wings, as of a
thousand doves or albatrosses, the vision lights



LOWER RAVINE. 17

softly at the bottom of the gorge, with no more
noise than the wind makes when it stirs the leaves
of a mighty forest.

" But when the volume of water is deep enough
in its grand and gloomy channel, all this by-play of
its forces is constrained and concentrated in a unity
of purpose and of plunge, and it rages and roars
down in unceasing thunder as well as eternal foam.
The sublimity then is almost terrific."

LOWER RAVINE.

To obtain the best view of the falls, it is neces-
sary to descend to the bed of the ravine, and fol-
low it upward until we stand at the foot of the
majestic column of water, which towers two hun-
dred feet above us. The wearisome descent of the
steep stairway is forgotten in the enjoyment of the
grand and beautiful scenery with which we are
there surrounded.

Leaving the Taughannock House, (which will be
described hereafter,) we follow a path winding along
the bank of the ravine until we arrive at a long,
steep, and crooked flight of steps. This was built
by the present proprietor of the Taughannock



18 LOWER RAVINE.

House, in 1859, and is soon to be replaced by
another and more substantial staircase.

Clambering downward, remarking as we descend
the course of a landslide which swept away a por-
tion of the steps, we at length arrive at the bottom
of the ravine.

Here we find ourselves entering, apparently, the
atmosphere of another climate. The ravine, al-
though from two hundred to four hundred feet in
width, is shut in by walls so lofty that, except at
midday, a large portion of its bed is untouched by
the rays of the sun. The air, delightfully cool,
fragrant with the perfume of wild roses, and vocal
with the music of sweetly murmuring waters,
seems to instill new life and vigor into our veins.
Venerable forest-trees overshadow us with their
rich and variegated foliage, and tower upward in a
vain endeavor to catch a glimpse of the rising and
setting sun. Creeping vines twine luxuriantly
around and above us. Brilliant flowers and hand-
some mosses are seen on every side. By a winding
path, we advance toward the Great Fall, now, for a
moment, threading the thick mazes of the over-
shadowing forest of evergreens ; now, as we pass
an opening, delaying to gaze upward at the Lilipu-



LOWER RAVINE. 19

tian specimens of humanity on the bank above,
unable to recognize them as our friends who are
watching our onward progress ; now, reposing be-
neath the sheltering branches, seated upon the fall-
en trunk of a forest tree. From time to time, we
cross, on rustic bridges, the stream which meanders
through the charming ravine as if conscious of its
beauties, and unwilling to bid them a final farewell.
At length a sudden curve in the banks brings us
unexpectedly in full view of the Great Fall. Here
the chasm widens, and the more lofty walls form a
spacious amphitheatre. On either side the granite
masses tower majestically upward, and seem to
shut us in by an impassable barrier. Before us,
from the frowning cliff hundreds of feet in height,
the mad waters take their terrible leap. The
mighty white column seems clothed with awe-in-
spiring grandeur. The water as it approaches the
edge of the fall is of a deep green color ; as soon
as it leavesthe edge it spangles into a thousand
transparent shapes, then, mixing and commingling,
it is dashed into clouds of snowy foam, and de-
scends mists to the depths below.

We never became wearied with gazing upon the
grand and beautiful picture which looms up so



20 LOWER RAVINE.

majestically before us. We are continually dis-
covering new attractions. We clamber up the
steep bank to view the picture from another stand-
point. Now we decide in favor of a perspective
view ; now we advance, through a storm of misty
rain, to the very face of the fall. Everywhere we
are delighted. Everywhere we are impressed by
the beauty and sublimity of the scene before us.

We recall Byron's unrivaled description of Ye-
lino :

" The roar of waters ! from the headlong height
[Taughannock] cleaves the wave-worn precipice ;

The fall of waters ! rapid as the light

The flashing mass foams, shaking the abyss ;

The hell of waters ! where they howl and hiss,
And boil in endless torture ; while the sweat

Of their great agony, wrung out from this

Their Phlegethon, curled round the rocks of jet
That gird the gulf around, in pitiless horror set,

"And mounts in spray the skies, and thence again
Returns in an unceasing shower, which round,

With its unemptied cloud of gentle rain,
Is an eternal April to the ground,

Making it all one emerald : how profound
The gulf! and how the giant element



THE KAINBOW. 21

From rock to rock leaps with delirious bound,

Crushing the cliffs, which downward worn and rent
With his fierce footsteps, yield in chasms a fearful rent."

THE KAINBOW.

" Here," writes a visitor, " we saw distinctly the
prismatic colors of the rainbow, mingled with the
agitated and gold-green waters."

POOL BELOW THE FALL.

Below the fall, and flowing to the foot of the
perpendicular rocks on the right, is a dark pool,
perhaps an hundred feet across, and from twenty-
five to forty feet in depth.

Large masses of rock are frequently dislodged
from the lofty banks, by the action of the winter
frost or summer rain, and thunder downward to
the ravine below.

THE LADY OF THE MIST.

On the right (or north) of the fall may be seen,
when the water is low, a wonderful specimen of
Nature's handiwork. It is the apparent represent-
ation in the rock of a female, in a half sitting, half



22 THE GOTHIC DOOR.

reclining posture, one hand resting on the rock by
her side, while with the other she withdraws her
drapery from contact with the mist and spray.
Upon her head is an Egyptian head-dress,* or, as
it sometimes appears, a helmet, resembling those
seen in ancient pictures of Minerva.

This wonderful conformation in the rocks was
first noticed in 1865, by Colonel T. A. Merriman,
of Auburn. The remarkably distinct outlines of
the figure can be easily traced by the visitor stand-
ing a fourth of a mile away on the bank in front of
the Taughannock House.

THE GOTHIC DOOR.

Towering far upward on the right of the fall is
a deep indentation in the rocks, bearing a striking
resemblance to a gigantic Gothic door, its lofty
arch rising higher than even the fall itself. This
singular formation is alluded to in the beautiful
poem by Mr. Parker :

9

" I love to think that in thy rocky walls,

Where stands the strangely perfect Gothic Door.

* " Such as are seen on the numerous bas-reliefs in the catacombs,
and among the ruins of Egypt."



MR. WELCH'S ACCOUNT. 23

The genii have reared their magic halls,

With crystal column and with pearly floor."

On account of the frequent changes, produced
by the crumbling away of the rocks, the Gothic
door has lost much of its symmetry and beauty,
but the resemblance is still easily traceable.

The following extract is from the correspondence
of the New- York Observer.

MR. WELCH'S ACCOUNT.

" But there is a feature of the lake scenery yet in
store for us, surpassing any thing that we have seen,
alas, too often unknown to the tourist, and therefore
passed by unnoticed, which would itself repay the
traveler for a journey across the State, if there were
nothing else worth seeing along the entire way. I
refer to Taughannock Falls, ten miles below the head
of the lake.

" The steamboat landing is unpretentious and by
no means attractive ; but the number that lancj there
is steadily increasing, and will continue to hereafter,
as it becomes better known, until the accommoda-
tions shall become the best on the lake.

" A few rods from the shore, and quite out of sight



2-i MR. WELCH'S ACCOUNT.

from the steamer, the tourist is suddenly confronted
by the mouth of a grand gorge, three hundred feet
deep, perhaps one third as broad between perpen-
dicular walls of solid rock, with a waterfall pouring
down its rocky bed. This gorge extends back for a
mile, deepening and widening into the heart of the
mountain with fantastic curves and overhanging
cliffs, and a frontlet of pines on either brow. The
adventurous pedestrian may thread the entire gorge
with, perhaps, the single risk of wet feet as he passes
from island to island on the way.

u Before he reaches the second or grand fall, he
will observe an almost perpendicular ladder of more
than two hundred steps, ascending to the summit of
the cliff. If he decline to thread the entire length
of the ravine, he may make the circuit of the public
road, the side of which borders the brink of the
gorge, permitting him to trace its windings as he
proceeds, and look down into its dizzy depths.

" Then he can descend from the road by the per-
pendicular ladder to the bottom of the ravine on his
way to the second fall. The gorge swells upward
and around him into a magnificent amphitheatre,
echoing and reechoing with the noise of the distant
rapid and fall. Suddenly there breaks upon his



MR. WELCH S ACCOUNT. 25

view a cataract, making a single leap of two hun-
dred and fifty feet from a pathway sixty feet wide
and a hundred feet deep, which it has cut through
the solid rock. Sometimes, when the gorge is filled
with water, it is a raging cataract, shaking the firm
hills with its thunder. Now, when the stream is
low, it forms one of the most beautiful cascades that
any land can boast. It resembles the Dust-Falls of
Staubbach, which is the pride of Switzerland ; though
inferior in height, yet it is superior to it in some
other respects ; its waters are nearer milky white,
the height is not so great as to dash it completely to
dew-dust in its fall; it has just water enough to re-
tain some consistency, and yet descent enough to
make it thin, and light, and soft, as a pendent vail
of snowy gauze, with which the air is fondly sporting
and which occasional gusts from below lift into suc-
cessive graceful snowy folds, inwrought with colors
of the rainbow, which float awhile before the eye
ere they sink into the seething lakelet that circles
below. No words, however, can convey a just idea
of the commingled beauty of cascade, precipice, cliff,
and gorge; the pencil has made the attempt, but,
in the sketches I have seen, has sadly failed to do
it justice.



26 THE HERMIT.

" Opposite the fall stands the Taughannock house,
for the accommodation of visitors. From either story
of the house the fall is visible, through the leafy trees.
The easy swing and rustic seats are each arranged
to command a peculiar view. The perfume of pine
fills the air with healthy fragrance, and its whisper-
ing music floats upon the breeze. Unpretentious
but most satisfactory entertainment cheers the vis-
itor, and prepares him for an after-dinner stroll to
the third falls or succession of charming cascades,
eighty rods beyond, which should by no means be
neglected, for these alone are sufficient to repay one's
delay at Taughannock.

" My only regret was that I must bid adieu so
soon to the lovely scene. It was, however, with the
firm resolve that whenever I might enjoy a sail over
Cayuga Lake, I would not pass Taughannock by."

THE HERMIT.

IN the summer of 1826, there appeared in the vil-
lage of Trumansburgh a stranger. None knew, or
could learn, who he was or whence he came. His
whole history was shrouded in obscurity. The story
of his former life he never told ; and even his name
and home remained concealed.



THE HERMIT. 27

Seeking no associates, inviting no confidences, and
seeming ever to avoid the society of men, the curiosity
of the villagers suffered no abatement concerning
him. To them he was an unsolved enigma.

In a short time, however, the stranger disappeared,
and for several days was unheard from ; but, on ac-
count of his eccentric habits, little notice was taken
of his departure.

A few days passed by, when a lad, wandering in
the ravine of Taughannock, discovered the mangled
body of the recluse, lying near the water, a short
distance below the fall.

His death was as mysterious as had been his life.
JSTone ever knew, whether, attracted by the fascinating
beauty of the cataract, he had ventured too far and
fallen a victim to his rashness, or whether, weary of
life, he had madly cast himself into this horrible
abyss.

By stranger hands the body of the poor unfortu-
nate was buried, and no friend came to weep over
his grave. He had lived unknown and unloved he
died unmourned.

Such was the sad, mysterious fate of the NAME-
LESS HERMIT OF TAUGHANNOCK.



28 CAVES.



CAVES.

Not far from the mouth of the ravine, and half-
way up the north bank, are three small caves, in
length from forty to one hundred and fifty feet.

They, with several others which have since been
filled up, were excavated, some thirty years ago, by
a superannuated Methodist minister, Richard Good-


1 3 4 5

Online LibraryLewis HalseyThe falls of Taughannock : containing a complete description of this the highest fall in the state of New York : with historical and descriptive sketches → online text (page 1 of 5)