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Searching for Spring in the Finger Lakes

Spring has been playing “hide and seek” here in the Finger Lakes. Even though it’s only the first part of February, our temperatures are acting more like spring temperatures with daytime highs in the thirties and nighttime lows in the twenties. With only about one-quarter of our normal snowfall, the ground is bare which makes it seem like spring is just around the corner.

There’s plenty of water flowing out of Canandaigua Lake but the volume is not what it usually is at this time of year without the melting snow. The flow of water over the old ruins of the Oliver Phelps grist mill which was started in 1791 is rather tame for this time of year as it usually is “boiling” as it passes out of the raceway outlet. At one time around 1846, Normal C. Little owned and operated the mill as well as a store and this place became know as “Littleville” which is what the locals around Manchester-Shortsville, NY still call this place.

Downstream, the water passes over some rapids and creates some beautiful white splashes of water in contrast to the dark blue of the water. The night time temperatures are still quite cold, and the water freezes on the limbs and branches which have fallen into the outlet. Some of the branches look like “candles” that have been made just like the old hot wax dipped candles, but these have been formed by layers of freezing water.

The Canandaigua Outlet continues across Main Street in Shortsville. There one can see the ruins of an old manufacturing building along the stream. At some point in time, it too was perhaps powered by the flow of water.

The Finger Lakes railroad crosses the Canandaigua Lake outlet just a little further down the stream. The trestle looks a bit rusted and unsteady to me, but there are trains which pass very slowly across this trestle several times each week.

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