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Where’s the Falls in Seneca Falls?

It’s hard to believe that there ever was a water falls in Seneca Falls. In fact a couple of years back as I stood by the locks in Seneca Falls, a man who was locking his boat asked me where the falls were in Seneca Falls. I told him that “I think that you are standing on them.” Well, I know better now. The water falls at Seneca Falls were up river near the old Woolen Mill building. In the 1890’s, the area which is now Van Cleef Lake was a busy industrial site powered by the water which flowed through the Seneca-Cayuga River. In 1916 the “Flats” were flooded and the old #5 lock is now buried under Van Cleef Lake. One hundred sixteen industrial buildings and 60 houses had to be moved to make room for an expanded Erie Canal system that opened up the Finger Lakes to New York City and world markets.

Well, we all know that the Erie  Canal in New York State never did live up to the expectations that were set by it’s founders as most freight today moves by railroad car or by truck. The Erie  Canal stands as a reminder of what often goes wrong with hopes and dreams that are ill timed. The Seneca-Cayuga Canal is now mostly used for recreation by pleasure boaters or by those folks who still enjoy fishing along the river.

On this Sunday afternoon, we did not see any pleasure boaters on the Cayuga-Seneca Canal; perhaps because of all of the rain that have been falling during the week. There were two canal boats tied up in the little harbor behind Seneca Falls. You can go for an extended trip on the Erie Canal in one of these boats and I think that it would be fun to go back about 100 years in time to experience life along the canal when the Canal boats traveled at a grand speed of 2-3 miles per hour.

We traveled to Wolffy’s Grill and Marina (click here) just about 15 minutes from Seneca Falls on Lower Lake Road for our dinner. We love to sit outside and have dinner Lakeside. Wolffy’s will not disappoint if you are not in a great rush. The food is good and the view and cooling breezes from Cayuga Lake were magnificent.

2 thoughts on “Where’s the Falls in Seneca Falls?”

  1. Great blog as always Jim. A friend of mine lives in Seneca Falls directly across from the church on Van Cleef Lake. When the water is clear, you can see remnants of sidewalks leading up from the lake. And Wolfies, what a great place – right ? Glad you enjoyed your journey.

    1. Mary, when I was taking the pictures on Sunday I thought to myself that it would be a good swim for some young scuba diver with a camera to investigate and film the old ruins of the locks and the falls. I know that they have models of the old locks in the museum and up on the hill there is a picture of Van Cleef Lake before it was flooded. I will visit there again. My interest is in the early manufacturing that was done around the Finger Lakes. We do like Wolffy’s as it is right on the water.

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