Finger Lakes
Geology Websites

-Brief Summary
-Formation of the _Finger Lakes
-Ithaca is Gorges
-Rocks of the _Finger Lakes
-Fossils in Ithaca
State Parks
-Buttermilk Falls
-Watkins Glen

Buttermilk Creek flows down the east side of the Cayuga Valley, dropping more than 600 feet over 10 separate waterfalls and through two discrete glens. Most of this drop is over rocks of the Ithaca Formation, which is of Late Devonian age. A particularly striking feature along Buttermilk Creek is Pinnacle Rock, a 40-foot pillar of shale left by erosion of the stream around it (probably through cracks that caused weakness on either side). Look for plunge pools and potholes.

The grade in the upper part of the park is much gentler, as Buttermilk Creek winds from Lake Treman through the woods and by picnic areas accessible from West King Road. Owl Creek Gorge, which lies between the campground and Buttermilk Falls, was formed during a long period between two glacial advances.

Behind the ball fields in the lower park lies Larch Meadows, a wetland that has existed since glaciers retreated from New York. It now provides a home to many species of animals and plants. A nature trail encircles Larch Meadows. Information on the trail can be found at the park office and at the ball field comfort station.


During the 1700s, Sapony Indians lived in the village of Coreorgonel near Buttermilk Falls. There were twenty-five log cabins surrounded by cultivated fields and plum and apple orchards. The inhabitants of Coreorgonel fled before the Continental Army burned it on September 4, 1779, during the Revolutionary War.

Like nearby Treman State Park, the initial grant of land for the park came from Robert and Laura Treman. Since 1924, the original 154 acres have grown to the present size of 751 acres.

Ithaca is Gorges by Warren Allmon and Robert Ross
Buttermilk Falls State Park Brochure (available by visiting the State Park)

Note: PRI is not a part of the parks system. For more information about Buttermilk Falls and other Finger Lakes state parks, please call (607) 273-5761.

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The Paleontological Research Institution
1259 Trumansburg Road
Ithaca, NY 14850 phone: 607-273-6623 fax: 607-273-6620
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