Updated 04/11/2013 03:52 PM
Your Hometown: Chenango Valley State Park
Visitors have been enjoying the natural beauty of Chenango Valley State Park for many decades, but its history goes back much further than that, with glacially formed lakes dating back to the last ice age. In this week's edition of Your Hometown, our Melissa Kakareka takes us on a journey through Chenango Valley State Park and everything there is to enjoy within its borders.
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CHENANGO FORKS, N.Y. -- Swimming, camping, hiking and golfing are all activities that visitors to Chenango Valley State Park can enjoy, but many people don't even know it's here.
"I've met so many people that have been lifelong residents of Broome County that did not know this place existed. It's just amazing and almost a shame that these folks have lived here 20, 40, 50 years and didn't know it existed," said Michael Boyle, park manager.
And many don't know the vast amount of history that lies right within its borders. It's the only state park facility in Broome County and is often considered an ice age wonder. The park is home to Lily Lake and Chenango Lake which are two kettle lakes that were formed by glaciers about 11,000 years ago.
"As ice receded and started to go back north to the poles, it left behind large chunks of ice. Those large chunks of ice, as they melted, they formed what they call kettle lakes," explained Boyle. "The lakes were actually intertwined at one point, and we still don't know for sure if there's underground springs that connect the two. But one is used for a lot of recreation, and one we don't allow any recreation on, we actually utilize that to keep it natural."
Town Historian, Barbara Guernsey said, "The Chenango Canal ran from 1837 to 1876 and went from Binghamton to Utica and the only remaining lock in Broome County is now on the state park property."
The state eventually purchased the land in 1927 and Chenango Valley State Park was opened to the public on Memorial Day in 1930. The master plan for the park was made by Doctor Laurie Coz and his students at the Syracuse University School of Forestry. In 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt put the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration to work in the park as part of a program to help pull the country out of its economic depression. They are responsible for much of what is now the modern landscape.
"They built roads, they put in the water system, the put in the electrical system and they enlarged some of the water areas," said Guernsey.
"A good majority of our stone buildings were built in that time period, so we're looking at 80 to 90 year old buildings that are still in great condition," noted Boyle.
Additional changes and advancements were made over time, including the expansion of the park's golf course and swimming facilities. Helping to provide the region with a state park that is rich in both history and beauty, as it continues to grow and give people something to admire for years to come.
I Love My Park Day is a new statewide effort to celebrate and enhance the state’s parks and historic sites. It’s sponsored in part by YNN and Time Warner Cable Sports Channel and will take place on Saturday, May 4th.
Volunteers from across the state will be participating in cleanup and improvement events at parks throughout the region. If you would like to take part or donate to the cause, visit www.ptny.org.