- Green Lakes State Park
Green Lakes State Park is a
New York State Parkthat is visited nearly a million times each year; [ [http://www.webcitation.org/5XDnmtNAl "Parks at a Turning Point: Restoring and Enhancing New York’s State Park System"] , November, 2006 report issued by [http://www.ptny.org Parks and Trails New York] . Archived at WebCite from [http://www.ptny.org/pdfs/advocacy/State_parks_report.pdf this original URL] 2008-04-20.] it is located just east of the city of Syracuse in upstate New York. The park is strikingly scenic, and has several other distinctions. It has a "masterpiece"Dodson, James (2001). "The Dewsweepers: Seasons of Golf and Friendship" (Dutton Adult), p. 181. ISBN 0-525-94582-2 .] golf course designed by Robert Trent Jonesvery early in his career. Green Lake itself is perhaps the most studied "meromictic" lake in the world.Hilfinger, Martin F., Mullins, Henry T., Burnett, Adam, and Kirby, Matthew E. (2001). "A 2500 year sediment record from Fayetteville Green Lake, New York: evidence for anthropogenic impacts and historic isotope shift," "Journal of Paleolimnology", Vol. 26, pp. 293-305.] Round Lake has been designated as a National Natural Landmarkby the U.S. Department of the Interior. [ [http://www.nature.nps.gov/nnl/Registry/USA_Map/States/NewYork/NNL/RL/index.cfm "Round Lake"] entry in registry of National Natural Landmarks. National Park Service website. Retrieved December 11, 2006.] Finally, the park preserves the largest stand of old growth forest in Central New York. [http://www.webcitation.org/5XDoEgYVr "Green Lakes State Park: Old Growth Survey"] , page from the web site of [http://www.championtrees.org The Earth Renewal and Restoration Alliance (TERRA)] . Webpage archived at WebCite from [http://www.championtrees.org/oldgrowth/surveys/GreenLakesSP.htm this original URL] 2008-04-20.] Green Lakes State Park was named as one of the Top 100 Campgrounds in the nation in 2004. [Noted at [http://nysparks.state.ny.us/parks/info.asp?parkID=23 New York State Parks: Green Lakes State Park] , official State of New York website for the park. Retrieved December 24, 2006.]
The park is centered on two small lakes, Green Lake and Round Lake, which have an unusual blue-green color. The lakes lie at the base of a gorge that is somewhat longer than a mile in length. The lakes and the gorge are remnants of the ice ages, and (as described below) exemplify some of the unusual geology of upstate New York.
The park's area is convert|2104|acre|km2 . Nearly half this area is old-growth forest that includes many very large specimens of tuliptrees, sugar maples, beech, basswood, hemlocks, and white cedars. One particularly impressive grove of trees, lying immediately to the southwest of Round Lake, is now called the "Tuliptree Cathedral". Green Lakes State Park is likely the finest old growth forest in central New York, according to a website affiliated with the New York Old Growth Forest Association.
Camping and recreation
At its northern end, Green Lake has a sandy swimming beach, lawns for sunbathing, and a building with changing facilities and a concession stand; Green Lake is certainly one of the most popular swimming beaches in Central New York. Adjacent to the beach, there is a boathouse with rowboat and paddleboat rentals. The park has an 18-hole golf course (designed by
Robert Trent Jones) and a clubhouse in its southeastern quadrant. Above the western cliffs along Green Lake there is as a " frisbee" golf course, 137 campsites, and also eight cabins for those who prefer a less rustic experience. There are several formal picnic areas throughout the park, including some with picnic shelters that can be reserved for groups.
There is an extensive network of hiking trails throughout the park, including about convert|10|mi|km|0 of cross-country ski trails. Some of the trails are also available for mountain biking. The development of the lake area is mostly contained at its northern end. The western shoreline of Green Lake is undeveloped, and Round Lake itself is essentially in wilderness. Of this region, Mary Notarthomas has written that "When walking on the lake trails, one is cradled between the rich, vibrant, almost alien blue-green waters on one side and thickly vegetated, steep wooded inclines on the other.." [Notarthomas, Mary (2006). [http://www.webcitation.org/5XDoVjQt7 "Green Lakes on the Allegheny Plateau"] , page from the [http://www.ttrn.com "Travel Talk Radio Network"] website archived at WebCite from [http://www.ttrn.com/greenlakes.htm this original URL] 2008-04-20.]
Old Erie Canal State Historic Parkruns by the north entrance to Green Lakes State Park (just above the top of the aerial photograph). The Erie Canal, which was abandoned in 1918, is still continuous within this State Historic Park, and the old towpath is now a walking and bicycling path. The Park extends convert|36|mi|km|0 from the Buttermilk Creek aqueduct in DeWitt to the [http://www.eriecanalvillage.net|Erie Canal Village] , which is near Rome.
Green Lakes State Park has an 18-hole public golf course designed by
Robert Trent Jonesin 1935. [Cornish, Geoffrey S. and Whitten, Ronald E. (1993). [http://www.webcitation.org/5XDomPzWd Online excerpt] from "The Architects of Golf" (Harper-Collins) ISBN 0062700820. Online version archived at WebCite from [http://bigred2.athletics.cornell.edu/golf/jones.html this original URL] 2008-04-20.] The course was one of Trent Jones' earliest. In lieu of payment for its design, he was given a lease for $1.00/year, and he operated it himself for several years. Jones opened the course on May 6, 1936. He'd invited Sam Sneadand Gene Sarazento play an exhibition match, and 13,000 people came to watch.Petty, Warren R. (1991). "Green Lake State Park" in "People and Places: Fayetteville, Manlius, Minoa and Neighbors Volume II" ( [http://manliushistory.org Manlius Historical Society] ), pp. 127-144.]
James Dobson has written of the course that "the original little masterpiece at Green Lakes, where Wendy and I and sometimes the other Dewsweepers slipped away to chase the game among the gloriously mature evergreens and admire the long view over a dark blue glacial lake, to the very foothills of the Adirondacks themselves, remained just about my favorite Trent Jones golf course of all." Trent Jones attended the 50th anniversary of the opening of the course in 1986.
The movement to acquire the land around Green Lakes for a state park began around 1924. The history has been described in a memoir by Betsy Knapp. [Knapp, Betsy (1989). "Rocks, Fields And Beauty Forever: One Family's Memories of Fayetteville's Green Lakes" (privately printed).] Knapp, a descendant of the family that acquired and farmed this area in the early 19th century, noted the particular role of Harry Francis, then a professor at the New York State College of Forestry at Syracuse University.
convert|725|acre|km2 were purchased for the new park in October, 1927.cite journal |year=2004 |month=Spring/Summer |title=New York's Heartland: The development of the state parks program in central New York 1925-1950 |journal=The Preservationist |publisher=New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation |volume=8 |issue=1 |pages=14-19 |url=http://www.webcitation.org/5ZdM85NHp |accessdate=2008-07-27] In 1929, the Administration Building was built according to plans by
Laurie D. Cox, who was active in the design of several New York state parks. The first superintendant of the park, Arvin Henry Almquist, lived there for four years. The building, which had been boarded up for many years, was re-opened in 2008.cite news|title=Building Green Lakes State Park: A 1929 Structure Served Several Purposes |last=Herron |first=Frank |date=June 27, 2004 |work=Syracuse Post Standard |page=H1 ]
During the Depression, the New York State Department of Conservation (under the administration of then-governor
Franklin Delano Roosevelt) and later the Civilian Conservation Corps(CCC) constructed the parks' buildings, cabins, golf course and trails. CCC camps SP-12 and SP-38 were created on the property of the park, comprising about 330 men working on the facilities. These men hauled loads of sand from Sylvan Beach (on nearby Oneida Lake) to create a sandy beach; they dug the basements of the park buildings by hand.
Since 1928, the park has increased to convert|2104|acre|km2 with additional acquisitions in 1960, [Petty, Warren R. "loc. cit" indicates that the 1960 acquisition was acquired by eminent domain from its owners Howard and Robert Cross.] 1975, ["New York State Will Enlarge Green Lakes Park," "Eagle-Bulletin and Dewitt News-Times", Vol. 85-12, No. 4, January 24, 1974. Parts of the "Amos tract" were purchased at the southwest border of the park, and in the immediate watershed leading to Round Lake.] 1995,Smith, Robert L. (1995). "State Buys Land as Buffer for Green Lakes," "The Syracuse Post-Standard", December 28, 1995. Ms. Betsy Knapp left a bequest to the park of 17 rolling acres at its southern edge, between the Signal Hill and Golden Acres neighborhoods of Fayetteville. The parcel included land that Knapp's great-great-grandfather David Collin III began farming in 1817, as well as a rare outcropping of
dolomiteknown as Indian Oven Hill.] ["State Adds convert|278|acre|km2 to Green Lakes Park," "Syracuse Post Standard" December 15, 1995. The State of New York paid $2.16M to purchase land convert|278|acre|km2 at the western boundary from William Camperlino.] and 1996. [Weiner, Mark (1996). "State Adds convert|126|acre|km2 to Green Lakes Park; Farmland is Purchased on North Side of Park," "Syracuse Herald Journal" January 29, 1996. The State of New York purchased land along the northern side of the park the from the estate of the Teske family.] Plans to add an additional convert|1000|acre|km2 to the park have apparently been frustrated.
Why is there a gorge here?
The cliffs surrounding Round Lake are about convert|150|ft|m|0 high, but the rocky gorge in which the lake lies is much deeper than this. The bottom of Round Lake is about convert|180|ft|m|0 below its surface. Round Lake's bottom lies in sediments which may be another convert|150|ft|m|0 deep. There is thus nearly convert|500|ft|m|0 gouged out of the bedrock here.
This deep gorge was formed towards the end of the last
ice age- about 15,000 years ago - by an enormous river of water. The river originated in the melting, retreating ice sheet, and it flowed east through this channel on its way to the sea. The Niagara Rivergorge lying below Niagara Fallsis an active example of this type of gorge formation; its depth is about convert|326|ft|m|0, which is somewhat shallower than that at Green Lakes. There are several other similar gorges in the same region as Green Lakes State Park, in particular at Clark Reservation, at Smoky Hollow (convert|1|mi|km|1|sing=on south of Clark Reservation), and at Pumpkin Hollow (about convert|10|mi|km|0 west of Clark Reservation).Van Diver, Bradford B. (1980). "Upstate New York: Geology Field Guide," (Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, Dubuque). ISBN 0-840-32214-3.] Geologists call these gorges and hollows "the Syracuse channels." [Allmendinger, R. W. (2005). Visualization from the west of the " [http://www.geo.cornell.edu/geology/classes/RWA/EAS_210/General/FL_topo/SyrChan.html Syracuse channels] ." Visualization of " [http://www.geo.cornell.edu/geology/classes/RWA/EAS_210/General/FL_topo/FLfromNE.html Finger Lakes from the Northeast] ," looking back towards the Syracuse channels. Retrieved December 27, 2006.]
Where did the lakes come from?
Green Lake and Round Lake are probably the remnants of the "
plunge pools" of enormous waterfalls that existed during this era. However, the presence of two distinct lakes is not fully understood.Hilfinger, Martin F. and Mullins, Henry T. (1997). "Geology, Limnology, and Paleoclimatology of Green Lakes State Park, New York," in "Field Trip Guide for the 69th Meeting of the New York State Geological Association", edited by Todd W. Rayne, David G. Bailey, and Barbara J. Tewksbury (New York State Geological Association, ISSN 1061-8724).] As expected for plunge pools, the lakes are fairly deep in comparison to their area. For example, Round Lake is convert|180|ft|m|0 deep, and has a diameter of about convert|700|ft|m|0.
Why are the lakes green?
Nearly half of the water that enters the lakes comes directly through the bedrock into which they are embedded. [Takahashi, T., Broecker, W., Li, Y. H., and Thurber, D. (1968). "Chemical and isotopic balances for a meromictic lake," "Limnol. and Ocean. 13", pp. 272-292 (as discussed in Hilfinger and Mullins).] This water contains a heavy load of dissolved minerals that are not present in water that enters through the surface from rain and snow. The high concentration of sulfur in the deep waters had already been reported by 1849; the lake's waters also have a high concentration of calcium and magnesium. This mineral concentration leads to "whiting" events each year in which small crystallites of
calciteand other minerals precipitate from the water. At these times of year the lakes appear particularly green, and the small crystallites are deposited in a layer underneath the lakes' waters. Thompson, J.B., Schultze-Lam, S., Beveridge, T.J., Des Marais, D.J. (1997). "Whiting events: Biogenic origin due to the photosynthetic activity of cyanobacterial picoplankton," "Limnology and Oceanography" 42(1), 133-141.] The notable shoreline "reef" at Deadman's Point (see photo) on Green Lake was built up by this precipitation over thousands of years.
Climate history and Green Lakes
Nearly all lakes undergo mixing of their deepest waters with their surface waters at least once a year. This mixing does not occur for Green Lake and Round Lake. They are rare,
meromicticlakes. Waters deeper than about 55 feet (18 m) do not mix with the surface waters; as a consequence, they are essentially devoid of oxygen, and are rich in calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. The meromictic character of the lakes is due both to their relative depth compared to their area, and to the influx of mineral rich ground waters.
Because of this lack of physical mixing, as well as the absence of growing plants or crawling animals in their oxygen-depleted depths, the deep bottoms of the lakes have relatively undisturbed annual layers of sediment (or
varves) that preserve an historical record, somewhat like tree rings do. These varves are being used to study the climate of this area of New York over the last several thousand years.
External links (including park contact information)
* [http://nysparks.state.ny.us/parks/info.asp?parkID=23 New York State Parks: Green Lakes State Park] , official State of New York website for the park with contact and camping reservation information.
* [http://nysparks.state.ny.us/golf/info.asp?golfID=1 Green Lakes State Park Golf Course webpage] with contact information, times and fees.
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tt8k0WbAnFs "The Underwater World of Green Lakes"] , video obtained using a robotic submarine by [http://www.esf.edu/chemistry/teece/Research/GL/default.htm Dr. Mark A. Teece] .
* [http://www.pbase.com/bgates/greenlakes Photographs by Bob Gates] at Green Lakes State Park.
* [http://www.nyfalls.com/lakes/greenlakes.html Photographs by Matthew Conheady] at Green Lakes State Park.
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