The Highbanks section of Letchworth State Park—including the Hogsback pictured below—is one of the Genesee Valley’s natural beauties. Looking out across the river, it’s not just the breadth of landscape that amazes but what you might call the depth of time. Trying to think about our area’s past and its ecology together is the goal of OpenValley; it uses archival materials to create historical exhibits with a contemporary focus upon sustainability.
Bathers, friends of Martha Blow Wadsworth (wife of Herbert Wadsworth), frolicking in the falls at the Triphammer site in the southern part of the town…
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Letchworth State Park, the “Grand Canyon of the East,” is known for its vistas of natural beauty seen by more than 650,000 visitors every year. Uncountable photographs have been created at overlooks along the gorge’s rim—Mt. Morris Highbanks, Hogsback, Gardeau, Big Bend, Inspiration Point—and at its three major waterfalls near Portageville. Sightseers also have paused to document viewpoints from other perspectives: from the gorge’s bottom, the park’s numerous trails, and even looking back into a past implied by the Seneca Council House and Mary Jemison monument. It seems appropriate, then, that in 1967 the Eastman Kodak Company (located forty miles downriver in Rochester) created a tourist map entitled “Picture-taking In Letchworth State Park.” This exhibit adopts Kodak’s twenty so-called “Picture Spots” as a framework to explore how our conceptions of nature and the picturesque have changed over time at a single location. Individual sections, each focusing upon a representational medium, are arranged in roughly chronological order beginning with William Pryor Letchworth’s purchase of the Glen Iris tract in 1859. Taken together, the goal is to elicit new appreciation for the park as a dynamic place; its beauty was in part created by the actions of committed individuals and a growing environmental awareness.