The Peregrine Falcon is the swiftest of all birds of prey, slightly larger than a crow, with and nondescript coloration of brown, grey, and white. Peregrine falcons are one of the most widely distributed species of birds, nesting on every continent except Antarctica. The world’s largest urban population of nesting Peregrine Falcons can be found in New York City.
A peregrine falcon can spot its prey from six miles away. Tucking in its wings, diving like a missile, changing direction with precision, ruffling its feathers to control speed, and slamming its talons into its quarry mid-air. Its beak has a type of tooth that acts like a wire cutter, severing the spine of its prey in an instant. Peregrines are avian predators and feed almost exclusively on other birds. Most of their prey is caught on the wing. Peregrine falcons diving at prey has been clocked at speeds of more than 200 mph, making them among the fastest animal on earth.
Peregrine falcons have never been very abundant. Studies in the 1930s and 1940s estimated that there were at least 200 breeding pairs of peregrine falcons in the eastern United States. Then, beginning in the late 1940s, peregrine falcons suffered a devastating and rapid decline. By the mid-1960s, the species had been eliminated from nearly all the eastern U.S.
In the mid-20th century, peregrine falcon populations took a nosedive due to the DDT pesticide poisoning. DDT moved through the food chain from insects, fish, and birds and moved up to larger carnivores, like the peregrine falcon. DDT caused harsh chemicals to build up in the falcons’ fat tissues, reducing the amount of calcium in their eggshells. With thinner shells, the eggs would be easily crushed when incubated by the parent falcons.
DDT was finally banned in 1972, and a partnership between scientists and falconers worked together to breed the birds in captivity and release them to places where they had traditionally nested, including New York City. Peregrines naturally prefer cliffs as a habitat, so the city’s canyons and skyscrapers provide desirable nesting spots for them, along with an abundance of food like pigeons, starlings, and sparrows.
Due to restrictions on the use of DDT, and intensive captive breeding and reintroduction programs across the United States and Canada, the peregrine falcon has made a remarkable comeback. Peregrines have been returned to much of their natural range and have reclaimed many historic breeding sites.
Thacher State Park is home to a 6-mile section of the Helderberg Escarpment, an exposed limestone cliff reaching several hundred feet high. An ideal nesting location for peregrines. Peregrines don’t build nests; they dig an indentation in the ground or in rock cliffs, called a “scrape”. The Helderbergs were a historic nesting ground in the 1950s and earlier. Since the ban on DDT, peregrines were not spotted around the Helderbergs until 2016 when a mated pair was discovered flying around the southern section of the park.
Since 2016, the Helderberg falcons have been monitored for nesting attempts. In 2021, the mated pair was found nesting with a clutch of eggs, but the nest was abandoned after a few weeks for unknown reasons. In 2022, the falcons have been spotted very early in the year, around February. With increased sightings and activity in the southern section of the park. Park staff and visitors are hopeful that this year will be a successful nesting season and may bring 3 to 5 new peregrine chicks into the world.
*SLAP* *SLAP* *SLAP* What’s that!? Oh, is it the tail slapping that beavers use to tell each other to watch out for something nearby? That must mean it’s almost International Beaver Day! Every April 7th, we get a chance to reflect on what these hard-working mammals mean to us!
The American Beaver (Castor canadensis) is a key player in NY State Parks— so key, in fact, that it is considered a keystone species of its wetland ecosystems, playing a major role in keeping ecosystems healthy. This is because beavers are one of the few animals that truly modify their habitats to better suit their needs, which has given them the title of “ecosystem engineers!”
Most people associate beavers with their dams, which are certainly their most influential construction projects, but they build other structures too. Beavers don’t hibernate, instead opting to spend the winter in a cozy, dome-like lodge in the middle of their pond with a passageway that provides easy access to water below the ice. A lodge houses a family (colony) of beavers, including a pair of parent beavers and their young (kits). Beavers mate for life and have 3-6 kits a year. Those lodges must get quite snug!
Beavers also store food caches near the entrance to their lodges, which helps get them through long, cold New York winters. In these caches, the herbivorous beaver stores things like branches, leaves, and green stems that are crucial food sources in winter months.
Their big, watertight dams—made of logs, sticks, mud, and sometimes stone— block running water, creating their own beaver ponds with rich, surrounding wetlands. Beavers constantly work to maintain their dams and build new ones where they hear running water. Beaver colonies can maintain several dams at once, sourcing wood from the forest around their pond. They use their sharp, orange teeth to cut down trees, leaving chewed stumps that can be seen up to 165 feet from bodies of water. Have you ever seen one of these stumps in a State Park? Beavers live in and modify almost any forested body of freshwater from Canada to Northern Mexico, so that’s quite a few waterbodies they may impact.
Living with Beavers
State Parks can be centers of beaver activity, which comes with its own set of challenges between beaver habitation and park infrastructure. Damage to property caused by flooding, plugging culverts, and damage to trees are of particular concern. For instance, Seneca Lake State Park recently wrapped the bases of important trees with chicken wire to prevent beavers from gnawing on them, which worked well.
Other efforts in parks across the state include using devices such as beaver deceivers, culvert protection fencing, and pond levelling devices. Beaver deceivers are a very handy way to keep beavers in our parks while also reducing the risk of flooding for trails, roads, and other amenities we enjoy.
Interpretive programs also play an important role in promoting education and public knowledge of beavers and good beaver stewardship. Trail cameras can allow State Park Biologists to monitor beaver populations and observe their behaviors – and the photos can be used in educational programs too. The Beaver Walk and Talk at Moreau Lake State Park is a very popular educational program that shows off the major beaver lodge at the park. The Bear Mountain Trailside Museum and Zoo is also a wonderful place to brush up on beaver knowledge. Environmental stewardship in NY State Parks is vital to balancing the work of two major ecosystem engineers: beavers and humans. Good stewardship allows for the many environmental benefits of beaver-created wetlands, while also minimizing impacts to park infrastructure.
Prime wetland habitat is incredibly beneficial to all sorts of organisms and even the land itself. In terms of why beavers make dams, the resulting pond and wetlands foster growth of aquatic plants like water lilies—some of the beaver’s favorite summertime snacks. Wetlands also protect beaver colonies from predators such as coyotes and fishers. For other animals, beaver-created wetlands are highly productive environments. Amphibians, fish, invertebrates, large herbivores, and waterfowl flourish in these wetlands, supporting predator populations higher up the food chain like raptors, bears, other semi-aquatic mammals like otters, and more.
As for the landscape, wetlands act like a sponge. Wetlands store water in wet periods and release water as the landscape dries, helping to regulate the water table. They also work to filter sediment and more harmful chemicals, which benefits any animal or person using the water downstream. From the wealth of biodiversity to the maintenance of healthy landscapes, beavers can help make the environment strong and resilient, which is necessary to adapt to climate change now more than ever.
Beavers and their wetlands were once much more abundant than they are today, seeing a massive decline in numbers due to the colonial and post-colonial fur trade. Over the course of the fur trade in New York, beavers were sadly on the brink of extirpation (regional extinction) across the Northeast United States and beyond. Beaver populations dropped so low due to unregulated, commercialized trapping for their fur, which was often made into fancy hats. New York was a center of the fur trade as trapping flourished with widespread and abundant beaver populations upstate, coupled with the easy access to navigable waterways, including the Hudson River, Lake Champlain, and the Great Lakes. At the height of the North American fur trade between 1860 and 1870, trading companies reported buying 150,000 beaver pelts per year.
From the 1600s to late 1800s, the fur trade grew together with cities like Albany and New York City at the expense of beaver populations. Beavers are displayed on the seals of both of those cities as symbols honoring their fur trading past and allude to values such as diligence and hard work. Likewise, the history of the beaver is tightly linked with the entire state of New York, as shown by the beaver’s status as state mammal. We’re lucky today that beaver populations persist and are not just symbols of fur trade history, unregulated trapping, and all that caused their decline.
Rebounding beaver populations are, fortunately, a great conservation success story. Trapping regulations in the United States and Canada around the turn of the 20th century started the end of the decline. Reintroduction programs (moving animals back to habitats where they once lived) along with perseverant beavers hidden away in high mountains, like the Adirondacks, provided seeds for the growth of new beaver populations across New York and elsewhere. In the 1920s, the Palisades Interstate Park Commission even reintroduced three breeding pairs of beavers back to Harriman State Park!
Across their range, beavers number between 10 and 15 million, which is an incredible recovery! But that is only a conservatively estimated 10% of their pre-colonial population. There is much to celebrate about the beaver, but there is still much work to be done. There have been and will continue to be growing pains between beaver populations and people, but if we keep supporting the beaver, then they will help safeguard the natural places we cherish.
This International Beaver Day, let’s reframe our understanding of the beaver. Beavers may be seen as ignoble rodents, pelts for hats, mere symbols on city seals, or unredeemable nuisances, but let’s try seeing them as wetland restorationists— stewards working toward resilient wetland networks and precolonial environments. There is a lot of work to be done to foster harmony between people and beavers, which will require continual human stewardship, but their own current recovery is a testament to how much good conservation work can be achieved over time. So be eager to get out there and explore your local State Park for dams, lodges, and the beavers that built them!
More Beaver Facts!
Beavers are very large rodents. They can grow anywhere from 26 to 65 pounds and be almost 3 feet long with almost another foot of length from their broad tail.
Beavers communicate with each other in a variety of ways. Adults will grunt and young beavers will use high pitched whines. Beavers will even use their big, flat tails to make a loud, slapping noise to warn other beavers in the colony of nearby danger.
Beavers have orange teeth. Their teeth are very hard and contain high amounts of iron, which looks orange to us. It’s not just because they forgot to brush!
Like other rodents, a beaver’s front teeth (incisors) never stop growing. The length of their teeth is kept in check by being worn down when gnawing wood and are adapted to always stay sharp.
Beavers have very special, flat tails. They use their scaly tails to help them swim, communicate, and pat down their dams. A beaver’s tail also helps to store fat and steady their body temperature (thermoregulation).
Beavers have webbed back paws that help them swim better, and the second back toes have split nails they use to comb waterproofing oils into their fur.
So water doesn’t get into awkward places, a beaver’s nose and ears can close completely underwater.
Beavers also have a special membrane for their eyes that they can close to keep the water out called a nictitating membrane, almost like a clear second eyelid.
A beaver’s lips close behind their front teeth so they can chew sticks and other plant material underwater.
Beavers are also known for what’s called a castor sac (hence their genus name Castor), which holds oil that has a strong smell and is used to make a substance called castoreum. Castoreum has been used as a perfume ingredient, food flavoring with a taste like vanilla, and a traditional medicine. Beavers also groom themselves with the castor oil to keep their fur waterproof. The strong scent of the castor oil makes it great for marking beaver territories, too.
Beavers don’t hibernate in the winter and their lodges stay quite a bit warmer than the cold temperatures outside.
Beavers are most active at dawn and dusk (crepuscular) and at night (nocturnal), so keep an ear out for tail slaps after the sun goes down.
Beaver lodges are so well-built and cozy that other semi-aquatic mammals, like otters or muskrat, might adopt them if the beavers ever move out.
Beavers are pregnant with kits from the middle of winter to late spring, so be on the lookout around then for furry, little beaver babies on your adventures in State Parks.
Post by Daniel Fleischman, NYS Parks and Student Conservation Association
As of part preserving New York’s heritage, State Parks recently unrolled a bit of history in the story of a former 20th century paper factory complex in Albany once owned by a New York native who invented modern toilet paper.
Today, the 222,120 square-foot red brick structure on Erie Boulevard, visible to thousands of passing motorists daily on Interstate-787, is a warehouse furniture and home goods retail store. It is now being reimagined as urban apartments with space for a smaller store, with its rebirth fueled in part by state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits.
Such credits are available to commercial properties once a site is added to the state and federal Registers of Historic Places, which is coordinated by the Historic Preservation Office within State Parks. In March 2022, the former Albany Perforated Wrapping Paper Company manufacturing building was recommended by the state Board of Historic Preservation for addition to the registers, opening the door for millions of dollars in rehabilitation tax credits to support the transformation of this historic structure.
Setting the stage for such credits is a critical way that State Parks helps protect and preserve New York’s heritage, by making it more attractive for developers to preserve and reuse historic structures, rather than bypassing such valuable assets to build new elsewhere.
According to recent reporting in the Albany Times Union, developers recently obtained city approval to start a $65 million rehabilitation project that will build up to 260 apartments in the building. Other planned upgrades include a gym, a pool, a beach volleyball court, gardens and a dog park.
But back in 1918, when the first section of this paper goods mill opened in Albany, the factory represented the vision of a Columbia County native, Seth Wheeler, who several decades earlier had made his fortune by inventing a new way to make and dispense toilet paper and paper towels that is essentially unchanged to this day.
Wheeler’s simple yet profound innovation was making paper into a long continuous sheet with perforations that could be easily torn and then putting a perforated sheet on a roll to be easily dispensed. Up to that point, what was then called “wrapping paper” was sold and packaged in pre-cut flat sheets bundled and tied together, which made it more expensive to produce and more difficult for consumers to use.
How could Wheeler have known, when he in 1871 patented a machine to make rolled and perorated toilet paper and later the toilet paper dispenser in 1884 and other related improvements afterward, that he was starting a bathroom debate that continues to this day as to how to hang the paper from the roll _ with the first sheet from the front or the back?
The story of Wheeler and the Albany Perforated Wrapping Paper Company, which he founded in 1877, represents a time when the city of Albany, with its docks on the Hudson River, had easy access to lumber and later paper pulp to make paper goods. His company flourished, with branches in major U.S. cities, as well as in London and Paris. The company held a pulp mill and forests in Nova Scotia and a plant in England.
Wheeler’s new factory in Albany represented the company’s increasing success, which had grown so much that by 1925, the facility employed 1,000 workers to make up to 30,000 miles of toilet paper and paper towels each day for sale to customers around the world. By that point, the company had become the first in America to mass advertise toilet paper, pointing out that the “W” in its initials also stood for “welfare,” given that its product promoted public health and public sanitation.
Seth Wheeler died in 1925, and his business was taken over by his two sons. In 1930, the company was sold to Roger W. Babson, an eccentric financial analyst, investor, and Massachusetts native who oversaw several expansions of the plant. In 1950, Babson sold an interest in the company to a New York City industrialist, who shortly afterward merged it with a larger Chicago rival. That led to a series of financial setbacks, and the shrinking company was sold again in 1957, after which it focused on commercial-grade towels and tissues. The final blow came in 1964, after the plant lost its largest customer and was forced to close.
The massive brick plant, constructed to be fire-resistant, was used for storage until 1985, when the current business of home furniture and other goods opened.
And that brings the story back to March 2022, when the State Historic Preservation Board recommended adding the former Albany Perforated Wrapping Paper Company and 20 other properties to the State and National Registers of Historic Places. Also recommended were other examples of New York State history including early automobile manufacturing and sales sites in Buffalo and Syracuse, a cemetery in the Mohawk Valley that includes the author of the Pledge of Allegiance, and the only remaining 19th-century textile mill in the Lansingburgh neighborhood of Troy, once known as the “Collar City.”
The State and National Registers are the official lists of buildings, structures, districts, landscapes, objects, and sites significant in the history, architecture, archaeology, and culture of New York State and the nation. There are more than 120,000 historic properties throughout the state listed on the National Register of Historic Places, individually or as components of historic districts. Property owners, municipalities, and organizations from communities throughout the state sponsored the nominations.
Once recommendations are approved by the Commissioner, who serves as the State Historic Preservation Officer, the properties are listed on the New York State Register of Historic Places and nominated to the National Register of Historic Places, where they are reviewed and, once approved, entered on the National Register.
The next time someone questions how to hang the toilet paper roll, remember: That debate was started a long time ago in Albany, New York.
Cover shot – Toilet paper rolls from the Albany Perforated Wrapping Paper Company from 1935. (Photo credit – Albany Institute of History and Art) All images NYS Parks unless otherwise noted.
Post by Brian Nearing, Deputy Public Information Officer, NYS Parks
Inside Grant Cottage State Historic Site, where former President Ulysses S. Grant died of cancer on July 23, 1885 after spending his final weeks penning his memoirs, national grief remains frozen in time in the form of flowers.
Now nearly 140 years old, five different Victorian-era funerary floral displays in the parlor draw different reactions from visitors, ranging from “amazing” to “creepy.” But given that relatively few examples from that era survive today, these displays are also a rare look into the past.
While flowers have long been part of burial rituals, it was the tragic death toll of the American Civil War that ushered in the golden age of arranged floral tributes, when such displays became common for soldiers’ funerals.
Upon Grant’s death, such expressions of mourning for a leader who meant so much to Union victory began arriving at the cottage, which is located on Mount Macgregor in Saratoga County, about an hour by car north of Albany. One tribute still on display in the parlor was in the form of an oversized pillow, provided by Union veterans in Philadelphia from the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) that Grant had commanded two decades earlier.
A reporter noted, “Almost every train which arrived at Mt. McGregor has brought beautiful floral mementos from Grand Army Posts and other organizations, and also from personal friends…” making the modest cottage “fragrant with flowers.”
Perhaps the most impressive piece was the enormous six-foot-high “Gates Ajar” tribute which rested in front of the fireplace. Likely custom-built, it was sent by family friend Leland Stanford of California – a native of Watervliet, Albany County who went on to become California Governor and later a U.S. Senator from that state. Its design depicted the gates of heaven, a popular theme of tributes in that era.
For decades, these displays have remained untouched and undisturbed in the cottage parlor, losing their fragrance and much of their color faded, but otherwise intact, other than being understandably dusty. Last year, these artifacts came to the attention of historical florist expert Robert Treadway (co-author of A Centennial History of the American Florist), who visited in August 2021 to inspect under the supervision of conservators from the New York State Bureau of Historic Sites and site staff.
Treadway immediately cleared up two common misconceptions about the displays _ that they were prepared using fresh flowers which dried over time and had been coated in wax as a preservative, neither of which were the case.
Treadway also found that the most prevalent flowers used were immortelles (Helichrysum), a species in the sunflower family also known as everlastings for their long-lasting nature, which had been dried before use. In the Victorian era, immortelle flowers symbolized remembrance and hope in everlasting life, especially to the families of the deceased.
Everlastings were frequently shipped to the United States from Europe and dyed various colors for use by florists. Bunches would be wired to a small stick and inserted into moss which filled a wire framework to create the tributes. It was a painstaking process that involved numerous assistants. Since the displays for Grant were designed only for short-term use, wax coatings on the flowers were deemed unnecessary and not used, according to Treadway’s inspection.
Given that the delicate nature of these artifacts, Treadway and State Parks staff discussed how to best protect and preserve such historic objects for the years to come. Various options were discussed, including coatings, enclosures, and environmental controls, each method with its benefits and drawbacks.
Representing a nation’s mourning over the loss of a war hero and leader, the arrangements reflect a uniquely Victorian outlook on death and the hereafter, each with its own specific meaning.
The “Gates Ajar” symbolized the gates of Heaven, reassuring the grieving that their lost loved one was destined for a better place that, with the gate left ajar so they could follow and be reunited. The pillow set piece represented peace, relief, and eternal rest from the trials of the physical world.
Two floral pieces feature a cross, commonly used as symbols of Christian tenets of grace, forgiveness, and salvation. Two pieces incorporate an anchor, another favorite Christian symbol representing hope amid trial with God being the “anchor of the soul.” One piece features a heart along with the anchor and cross. The heart symbolized the everlasting love of Christ but also the love of those in mourning for the deceased.
Two pieces – the pillow and one of the crosses – also feature a sword, which reflected General Grant’s military career, as well as the virtues of justice, fortitude, and courage.
Victorian set pieces showcased the artistry and creativity of florists during that period. One of the best-known florists, Adolph Le Moult, operating out of New York City, created one of the largest floral pieces ever made for an event in Grant’s honor during a visit to Philadelphia in 1879. Le Moult also created elaborate floral tributes for Grant’s funeral in New York City in 1885.
The goal of florists in the 19th century was not just making impressive arrangements but also ensuring they would last. Florists boasted in advertisements with statements such as, “I can so perfectly preserve even the most delicate flowers that they will last forever.”
Preserved funeral mementos from the Victorian era can be found in public and private collections throughout the world. For example, wax-coated and encased floral pieces from the 1881 funeral of James Garfield are displayed at his home in Mentor, Ohio.
What truly makes the tributes at Grant Cottage unique is their sheer scale and survival to the present despite never have been coated in wax, encased or otherwise protected from the onset or in the decades since. Treadway indicated that the two largest pieces are larger than any others known to exist.
Flowers continued to be used in tribute to Grant by his widow, Julia. While staying at the family’s Long Branch, New Jersey cottage, she continued remembering her greatest love through this mourning ritual:
“On an antique cabinet… is a bust in plaster of the brave old soldier… Behind it hangs a wreath of white immortelles -a widow’s first tribute to memory- with a circlet of white ribbon still clinging to it, typical of wedded love. A slender glass filled with geraniums… Every morning this tiny bouquet is gathered… by the lonely wife who kisses the blossoms and tenderly places them before the face of her hero. The faded flowers are dried and, mixed with their own fragrance, go to make those memory-bags so highly prized by the friends on whom they are bestowed.”
For now, these treasures at Grant Cottage will continue to transport visitors to a moment when family, friends, and a nation were in mourning for an American icon. They are tributes not only to a man, but to the character and ideals he lived by. These aging blossoms speak to humanity’s enduring need to grieve and desire to memorialize those they love and respect.
Post by Ben Kemp,Friends of Ulysses S. Grant Cottage Operations Manager
These , our Earth’s perennial flowers—
The fadeless blooms by Poets sung,
Songs, that from Homer’s Age till ours,
Down the aisles of Time have rung—
In many an emblem do we weave
For passionate Remembrance’ sake;
And howe’er we joy, howe’er we grieve,
Sacred pilgrimages make;
For Loss and Grief, the Asphodels
On our graves we mourning lay;
For Memory, the Immortelles—
Our loved ones live for us always.
Death in Life, Life in Death—how we
This, Love’s Faith, keep reverently.
By Laura G. Collins’s from Immortelles and Asphodels (Everlastings) (1898)
More About Grant Cottage
Located immediately below the summit of Mount McGregor in Saratoga County, the cottage and 43-acre site was recently named a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service.
The cottage is kept as it was during the Grant family’s stay. Open to the public seasonally by the Friends of the Ulysses S. Grant Cottage, visitors can tour its first-floor original furnishings, decorations, and personal items belonging to Grant.
Tours are scheduled to resume for the season on April 30, 2022. Other artifacts on display include the bed where he died on July 23, 1885 and the mantel clock stopped by Grant’s son Fred at the moment of his father’s death.
Grant Cottage first opened as a historic site in 1890 when it was supported by funds raised by veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic.
The grounds surrounding the Cottage served as a tuberculosis sanitarium beginning in 1914, which in 1945 was converted into a veteran rest camp, until 1960 when it was repurposed and annexed as the Rome State School for disabled children until 1976. The Friends of Ulysses S. Grant Cottage was formed in the fall of 1989 to provide programming and tours, and partner with New York State Parks on site stewardship.
When Ann Rutland Schulze goes to the historic 30 Mile Point Lighthouse at Golden Hill State Park on Lake Ontario, she feels at home.
Inside one of the rooms are black-and-white pictures of a former lighthouse keeper and his family who once lived there. Some show their granddaughter, a little girl named Beverly who grew up to become Ann’s mother.
Not too far away, along the banks of a creek, a teenage boy who was fishing got teased by a friend about that girl who lived in the lighthouse with her grandparents. The boy’s name was Richard Rutland, and he later married Beverly. They had Ann and two other children, Julie and Richard.
Now, Schulze , her husband Martin, and their sons Tyler and Shaun, run a family-owned vineyard and winery about a half-hour away from the lighthouse in the Niagara County town of Burt, where visitors can hear stories of a time when a family of six lived in isolation and simplicity in the lighthouse on a bluff overlooking the lake.
One of their wines even features a picture of the lighthouse.
“My mother certainly enjoyed growing up here, and she was so pleased that this place wasn’t just let go after it was closed,” said Schulze. “This lighthouse has been so beautifully preserved as an emblem of the history of this region. It is the official town seal of Somerset. The downstairs of the lighthouse is the way it was when they lived here. It has what the park has named the “Beverly Room,” which has a wicker crib, a rocking chair, and pictures of Beverly and my great-grandparents.”
The 30 Mile Point Lighthouse, so named because it is 30 miles east of the Niagara River, was built in 1875 to help warn passing ships of dangerous shoals in the lake. It was decommissioned by the federal government in 1958 and its light removed, and in 1984 the U.S. Coast Guard transferred the lighthouse to Golden Hills State Park. The limestone structure is now on the Federal and State Registers of Historic Places.
During the decades that passed in between, the lighthouse was a residence for 13 different keepers and their assorted families whose job it was to keep the light lit. The longest tenured of those, Glenn R. Seeley served from 1903 to 1945 with support from his wife, Cora. The couple had four children and also raised Beverly, their granddaughter, after their daughter passed away in childbirth.
“My mother said it was wonderful place to grow up. She remembered her grandfather whitewashing the lighthouse once a year so it could be better spotted by passing ships and making her a concrete pond so she could have goldfish. Her grandfather would walk her to the nearby one-room schoolhouse. And she remembered that the lighthouse got the first telephone in the area,” said Schulze.
Beverly lived there until age 15, when her grandfather retired and moved the family to the nearby village of Olcott. She later went to college, became a public health nurse, and had a family of her own.
All through her life, Beverly remained connected to the lighthouse, coming there with her family for picnics or other events. “My three boys were in the Boy Scouts, and the troop came to the lighthouse when the U.S. Post Office issued a stamp for it in 1995. She was at the ceremony for that,” Schulze said.
A year later, the not-for-profit Friends of the Thirty Mile Point Lighthouse group was formed, to support the preservation of the lighthouse. And in 1998, the light, which had been removed four decades earlier, was restored.
In her handwritten note cards, Beverly recalled the family doing its laundry in a washtub that was originally a copper boiler, and initially having no inside bathroom, only a privy that was cold in the winter. They later got the first inside toilet and telephone in town. She wrote how the children of the assistant keeper, who lived there in a separate residence with his family, taught her how to “swim and fish and play cards.” And that she was so afraid of the massive lightning storms that would cross the lake that she would hide in a closet under the stairs until the crashing passed.
Eventually, Beverly’s health began to fail, and such nostalgic trips to the lighthouse became impossible. Beverly passed away in 2010 at age 80.
Visitors who want to get a taste of lighthouse life can rent the second floor “cottage” of the facility for overnight stays. The former assistant keeper’s quarters, the cottage has a living room with an electric fireplace, bath with an old-fashioned tub, three bedrooms, and an awesome view of Lake Ontario.
Guests will notice the craftsmanship of the building, especially the original wooden double doors, with ornate knobs and lock set. All rentals are made through the website https://newyorkstateparks.reserveamerica.com/ or by calling 1-800-456-2267.
Click through the slideshow below to get a look inside…
Renters are provided with a private picnic area with a barbecue grill and picnic table. This vacation rental offers a private entrance, kitchen with refrigerator, electric stove, microwave, coffee maker, cooking utensils, silverware and dishes, living room with electric fireplace, couch, two chairs and a writing desk, full bath with an old-fashioned bathtub, three bedrooms with queen size beds and pillows and a view of Lake Ontario that is stunning.
Visitors looking at the lighthouse’s “memory book” will see some entries written by Beverly herself. The lighthouse cottage is more than just a place to stay. It is place of beauty, reflecting lives filled with long nights, hard work, rough waters, violent storms, joy, heartbreak, and family bonds that don’t break.
Post by Brian Nearing, Deputy Public Information Officer, NYS Parks
About Golden Hill State Park
Located in Niagara County, this park along the Lake Ontario shoreline covers 510 acres. Created in 1962, the park has 59 campsites, six yurts, two pavilions, a new playground, a volleyball court, softball field, two picnic areas, hiking trails, a disc golf course, and a boat launch.