A View 21,000 Years in the Making!

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but how about a view which was 21,000 years in the making? The last glacial episode was around 21,000 years ago when most of New York State was covered with ice (click here). And it was just a short 11,000 years ago that the glacier ice disappeared from New York State. But in its wake, we have been left with some of the most beautiful freshwater lakes in the world!

One of my favorite drives is from Geneva, NY to Watkins Glen, NY on route 14 along Seneca Lake. And the views of Seneca Lake start at the Hobart and Williams Colleges right in Geneva and last for about 35 miles until you decend into the little village of Watkins Glen, NY. It’s an incredible half hour drive with Seneca Lake on the left and with vineyards and wineries dotting both sides of the road all the way to Watkins Glen.

A great place to stop along the way is at the Glenora Wine Cellars as driving and looking at the scenery doesn’t mix very well on today’s roads! Either from Glenora’s tasting room or from their parking lot, one can enjoy an incredible view of the vineyards, Seneca Lake, and the distant hills as they slowly rise on the other side of the Lake. If there was just one picture to describe the Finger Lakes, this would be it:

Seneca Lake is the largest and the deepest of the Finger Lakes being formed by the advancing and retreating of huge sheets of ice two miles thick. Seneca Lake contains half of all of the fresh water in the Finger Lakes (click here) and boaters and fisherman come from all over to enjoy the clear cold water.

The late afternoon sun was still warm as we were seated in the outside dining area of the Seneca Harbor Station restaurant in Watkins Glen. This old 1876 railroad station has been completely remodeled into a lovely restaurant where one can sit inside or outside (weather permitting) and enjoy a glass of wine and the lovely view of the Seneca Harbor.

This Post Has 3 Comments

    1. Bill, I am not a geologist, but my info came from the Paleontological Research Institution, 1259 Trumansburg Road, Ithaca, NY.
      Their web site is the first “click here” in my article. Two miles thick of ice seems like a lot of ice to me too, but what really amazes me is that the Finger Lakes were formed so recently.

  1. No one really knows how old. But there are INTERGLACIAL deposits at a few sites. These are places where organic datable deposits are found that date to the previous interglacial. I think is thus a safe bet that the lakes have been there through at least two major glacial advances and possibly more. The expert on this is Art Bloom at Cornell.

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