Updated 04/11/2013 03:41 PM
Your Hometown: Robert H. Treman Park
Its rugged gorges and majestic waterfalls have been carved out over centuries but nature had a little help in creating what we now know as Robert H. Treman Park in Tompkins County. In this week's edition of Your Hometown, Tamara Lindstrom takes us on a journey through one of New York's most beautiful parks.
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A short walk through the trees reveals a scene that has captivated visitors for more than a century.
Park visitor Yuri Borovsky says, "This is like, wow, you know? It's hard to describe it really. Upstate New York is so blessed with all the waterfalls and all the water just coming from everywhere. You can just go in there and jump in."
"The natural of beauty of upstate New York, the Southern Tier is something I always want to come back to. This is a place that I've always loved," said Ian McMurtry a park visitor. "The gorge is stunning. The camping is great. The trails are wonderful. It's just a great place to be."
In the late 1800s, tourists flocked to the land surrounding Enfield Falls, just outside of Ithaca. By 1920, a generous gift ensured the area would be open for all to enjoy.
Park Manager Jim Dunn says, "Robert Treman, who was a wealthy banker and businessman in Ithaca, understood that it was something well worth saving. So he started buying land up there intentionally with the idea that he would turn it over to the state and make a state park."
The park is known for its stunning views, but many of them would have been virtually inaccessible to visitors had it not been for about 100 young men willing to do some hard work when there was little work to be found.
"The purpose of the C.C.C. was to take these young men who were out of work because of the Great Depression, put them to work, give them some direction, give them a job," explains Dunn.
The Civilian Conservation Corps set up camp in the park, and set to work.
Dunn says, "They had all these young men with both civilian advisors and army officers as the supervisors, to build the trails. And they blasted and they dug and they shoveled and the masons recruited helpers out of the crew."
The result was a network of carefully crafted trails that would guide visitors through the gorge and over the falls, all built to be one with the landscape.
"They made a conscious effort to stay natural, to use natural materials so it would blend in with nature," Dunn says.
But Mother Nature will always have a say in the architecture of the park. In the summer of 1935 a massive flood swept through the park, destroying much of the work that had already been done and permanently changing the landscape.
Dunn says, "The pool house here was almost lost. Much of the gorge trail was washed away. Equipment was lost. It was just a remarkable flood. You can still see where the front steps were lost off the pool house and are now in the creek."
The floodwaters dug a bubbling creek down to bedrock, took out campsites and masonry, and forged a new path for the running water.
But the corps went right back to the work repairing the damage.
Dunn says, "All the things you can have to picture having to do after a flood, they had to do. And it was throughout the park. Rebuilds of trails that they had built just the year before, and campsites. Everything was affected by that flood."
Though the C.C.C. made the repairs and eventually moved on, it's a job that never truly ends.
"Maintenance people and masons and painters and carpenters have been working on the park ever since," Dunn says,
Keeping the one thousand plus acres beautiful and welcoming for the next chapter in this park's ever-changing story.
Dunn says, "The history is ongoing. And I think people should become part of the history and come on out to the park and enjoy themselves."
If you plan to visit Treman Park, make sure you check the state park website for camping and swimming information.
I Love My Park Day is a new statewide effort to celebrate and enhance the state’s parks and historic sites. It’s sponsored in part by YNN and Time Warner Cable Sports Channel and will take place on Saturday, May 4th.
Volunteers from across the state will be participating in cleanup and improvement events at parks throughout the region. If you would like to take part or donate to the cause, visit www.ptny.org.