Fillmore Glen from Long Ago

Cowshed and Dry Falls. Photo by Tyrus Teed circa 1895

So how long have their been "Friends of Fillmore Glen?" It turns out the Dry Creek Gorge was popular long before the name Fillmore Glen was coined. The following article from the Moravia Valley Register of June 26, 1874 provides a colorful description of what is now Fillmore Glen State Park.

The Pinnacle.

Mr. Editor – As an excellent opportunity presents itself just now for the purpose of describing the beauty and grandeur of Nature, I will make a rough attempt to describe a grand precipice, known to the people of Moravia and vicinity, as “The Pinnacle.”  But first, let us begin at the lower part, or end of the stream upon which this stone structure is situated.  The stream is know as “Dry Creek,” from the fact that during the greater part of the summer season scarcely any water can be seen to flow there.  We begin at that portion of the creek east of Mr. Jacob Adam’s house, and follow it in a south easterly direction, to the foot of what is termed, “Dry Falls.”  Here we stop and gaze at the mighty rocks and high banks, on either side, covered with small trees and vines.  At our left, and in front, as we look east, our eyes meet with a large indenture, in the rocky side of the bank, of about 30 feet.  At the top a huge rock projects, like a cover of a shed, which slopes back to the summit of the bank.  Clear cold water is constantly dripping from the edge of this shed.  We clamber up the irregular side of this gorge, and try to cut our name higher than those who have tried before us; at last we give up, discouraged, and descend to safer and more solid ground.
 Our mind is much excited at what we have had in view.  Now, in our admiration, we turn to the right, and before us are the Falls; the water dashing and splashing down over the green covered rocks, striking the huge, pointed rocks beneath, and then moves on with the same musical sound as before.  At the top a wooden bridge spans the stream, builded [sic] for the purpose of transferring wood and logs across.  We climb up the steep, scrubby bank, and pass onto this bridge.  Here we pause to rest and view the beauties of Nature.  On either side, the high, and almost perpendicular banks rise, covered by trees and bushes, quite shutting out the rays of the sun whose only change to visit this place is when it is directly overhead.  Above us, the stream turns abruptly to the left, and is lost from view.  Below, our imagination is thoroughly realized.  Our eyes follow the winding stream until it is lost to sight.  The green pastures, with trees scattered here and there; the cattle grazing; a lonely cemetery, with the stream winding around the base; the hills beyond, thickly studded with wood, can all be seen from this point.
 But the sun is trailing the western horizon, and reminds us of the journey before us.  We descend from the bridge and proceed eastward, following the bed of the creek.  As we round the bluff, we can see far up the stream.  The creek is thickly dotted with stones, so our progress is not hindered by the water.  In a little pool we see small fish darting here and there, some seeking refuge under stones, others at a loss where to go.  On either side, for two miles the ground recedes very sharply, for an average of 40 feet, then abruptly spreads onto level fields.
 We proceed.  At last we arrive at the ruins of an old and dilapidated saw mill.  A part of the bulkhead is still in existence and the main timbers are not quite destroyed by time, and exposure to the weather.  Underneath, the bushes and breaks seek safety; no saw meets the eye; pieces of iron are scattered here and there, being slowly and surely burned up by Nature, is all.  On our left, the trees disappear giving place to shrubs and briar bushes.  We leave the ruined mill and pass on.  Nothing of much interest presents itself, save the growing density of the wood, and the contraction of the gorge.  At last a new sound greets the ear – the sound of falling water.  We increase our footsteps; the sound grows louder and the widths of the gulf decreases, the sides growing more and more perpendicular.  At our left, a little stream comes singing and dancing from the fields beyond, and suddenly is precipitated over a perpendicular precipice, until it meets the larger stream below, and then goes on as gay as ever.  We pause but a moment here, but pass on.  The gorge grows deeper.  We clamber up the side of a fall of ten or more feet, and lift our eyes heavenward.  On either side are perpendicular walls of solid stone, over one hundred feet high, towering toward the sky.  No shrub can grow on this rocky cliff, until near its top; then a few bushes cling as if in fear, to its brink; this is “The Pinnacle.”  On the east side of the stream is an indenture large enough for a medium sized man to stand.  This is disfigured by the names of different persons, and of different dates, which are chiseled in the stone.
 We cast ourselves on the shady ground and rest.  Soon we are warned of the rapid approaching of night, and we regain our feet, find our way out of this deep ravine, and turn our faces homeward.

Moravia  June 20, 1874.
This was likely written by George W. Spafford, born in Moravia in October 1855. George’s uncle, Calvin Spafford, owned farmland south and east of the village where much of Fillmore Glen is located today. George’s father, Samuel Spafford owned a farm on Skinner Hill road that may have abutted Calvin’s land. George married Nellie Lee about 1877 and had one son, Lee G. Spafford, born in 1879. George and his family lived on Skinner Hill and later on Aurora Street in the village. For many years George was an undertaker and was the 1920 census enumerator for the village of Moravia. He died in 1932 and is buried in Indian Mound Cemetery. [reposted from the former website]