Last week Cornell Plantations, along with it’s partners at Cornell University, and with representatives from the city of Ithaca re-opened the Cascadilla Gorge Trail.
The trail was closed for 6-years while we completed a $2.75 Million restoration project. There will be two guided hikes led by Todd Bittner, Director of natural areas at Cornell Plantations. The first is Friday, September 26 beginning at 3pm. The second is Friday, October 3 beginning at noon. The hikes are free, but pre-registration is required: http://bit.ly/ZHrmz0
In the next few posts, we will be telling you the story of the gorge trail, and today, we begin at the beginning…
The gorge has changed slowly but steadily over time. The gorge continues to widen and deepen, at about 1/8” per year. These changes don’t come evenly though, as centuries may pass before large blocks of the gorge collapse. A more recent change has been the loss of native biodiversity, with many native wildflowers, shrubs and trees being replaced by an invasive, non-native flora.
Construction of the trail system began in 1929 and was completed in 1931. The work was enabled by a $175,000 (approximately $2,400,000 in 2014 dollars) gift from Colonel Henry W. Sackett (class of 1875 and Cornell Board of Trustee member) for development of trails in both Cascadilla and Fall Creek Gorges. The map is notable for what it proposed as well as what is no longer present. The Dewitt Place covered bridge and a 40’ tall dam just upstream as well as multiple gorge trail entrances and staircases have long since been abandoned or removed.
Stone Foot Bridge
The Sackett funded trail project constructed this iconic stone arch footbridge. The bridge today appears nearly identical to the one built in 1930, though the surrounding forest has changed significantly.
College Avenue Bridge
This circa 1930’s photo of the College Avenue Bridge shows portions of the trail below, which have been changed repeatedly over the intervening 85 years.
The planning for the parkland known today as Treman Triangle, was one of the more contentious projects funded by the Col. Henry Sackett gift. Papers Livingston Farrand archived at Kroch Library documented a significant difference of opinion about the parks future design between the benefactor, Sackett, and Cornell Architecture Professor, Gorton Davis. The photo shows the park following its construction, circa 1930.
Join Amy Stewart in the Herb Garden on September 17 from 4:30-6:30 for a pre-lecture coctail party featuring drinks from her book, “The Drunken Botanist: The Plants that Create the World’s Great Drinks.” Light hors d’oeuvres by Agava will also be served. Participants must be 21 or older and prepared to show proof of age. Pre-registration is required. Fee: $50 ($45 for Plantations members & volunteers, and Cornell stduents). Click here to REGISTER TODAY!