Watkins Glen is located in New York State, south of Seneca Lake in Schuyler Count. Watkins Glen is a State park, through a beautiful gorge, with a hiking trail that winds and climbs up through the gorge, passing over and under some waterfalls. It's some of the most beautiful scenery I've ever seen in my life.
The Glen was a wilderness in 1794, when John Watkins took ownership of some property there. It was inhabited by Seneca Indians, who were friendly to the white settlers.
A developing town grew up around the gorge, and it was named "Watkins Glen" in honor of its founder, John Watkins, and in honor of this beautiful, striking, remarkable gorge.
Steamboats ran on Seneca Lake then, and the glen became a popular destination for day-trips.
Bought by New York State in 1906, Watkins Glen became the first state park in the Finger Lakes.
In 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps to put young men to work during the Great Depression. They built up the paths of stone and made stone stairways along the gorge. They hand-cut tunnels in the gorge, through solid rock.
Watkins Glen International
The nearby Watkins Glen International race track draws thousands of visitors every year. It isn't affiliated with the park.
Road racing came to Watkins Glen in 1948. The first race was an amateur road race called the "Watkins Glen Grand Prix". It was held at noon on October 2, 1948. The winner was Frank Griswold in a pre-war Alfa Romeo 8C2900 coupe. Another prominent entrant was Charles Addams, the cartoonist who created the Addams Family.
Watkins Glen International auto race track has long been known around the world as the home of the United States Grand Prix, which it hosted for 20 consecutive years, from 1961 to 1980. For over 50 years, the Glen has nearly every class of auto racing, from NASCAR to Formula One to the Indy League. NASCAR racing returns to the Glen in 2010.
Summer Jam at Watkins Glen, 1973
The Summer Jam at Watkins Glen in 1973 was a major rock concert, starring The Band, The Grateful Dead, and the Alman Brothers Band. It broke the world record at the time and got an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records for "the largest audience at a pop festival". Over 600,000 people attended. It was huge. 150,000 tickets were sold at $10.00 each, but the rest of the people got in for free. They ran out of tickets.
It was a lot like Woodstock, with beautiful weather until the early evening, when it began to rain. Everyone ended up covered with mud. It was a lot like Woodstock in that the facilities (the Glen racetrack--hosts of the event) were not adequate for the crowd that showed up. No one expected this big of a turn-out. One New York Times leader--leading article--after the event showed the record-breaking crowds and said that two people who went to this party disappeared, forever. They never came home and no one ever found out what happened to them.
Sentry Bridge at Watkins Glen
Watkins Glen is a very special and popular place to visit; both the racetrack and the park.
There are even some geo-caching sites, about 40 of them, in the park. They require a hike; the scenery is gorgeous !
Geo-caching is an international adventure game. Caches are set up all over the world. The GPS location is then published on the internet. People then go find the caches, using a hand-held GPS. It's like a treasure hunt.
Whatever you like to do, whether it's hiking or biking or horseback riding; whether you're a big race fan or want to find a hidden cache, Watkins Glen is well worth a visit.
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