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Watkins Glen

Updated on October 23, 2011

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

Treasure Hunt

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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    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thanks, leann!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This is such a beautiful place.It must be amazing geocaching there.

    • profile image

      Brian Cheech 

      7 years ago

      I'm looking at this picture I'm thinking where's all the tents and the sleeping bags these people look all nice and neat this isn't right we were on top of the hill not in a valley. The stage did not have a nice little rain bowl decoration on it. And there was for surely no video screen over the top of the stage. And these people are watching a concert. We did not watching a concert we were part of summer jam 1972. At this concert they probably had powder rooms. We had 1000 outhouses for 600,000 people do the math now that was disgusting. I remember summer jam like it was yesterday there was a feeling there I took with me for the rest of my life. If you had the privilege to be there you know what I'm talking about. Maybe I'll write my story it was a great time. I'm thinking that someone should remove this picture and replace it with a real picture at Watkins glen summer jam 1973.

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Upstate New York

      You and Barry should get together.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      That photo is from the US Festival. Not even remotely close to Watkins Glen

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      That is NOT a photo of Watkins Glen Summer Jam 1973. Looks like Cal Jam II in 1978.

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Upstate New York

      Oh, you're welcome, dohn. It's worth the trip. Thank you for your kind comments and all your support.

    • dohn121 profile image


      9 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      I lived in New York State practically my entire life thus far, yet have yet to visit Watkins Glen. I've heard about it but just didn't have the opportunity to go, even when I was dating a girl somewhat close by, in Utica :D

      You showcased some spectacular photos, Paradise7. I'll make sure I visit someday soon :) Thank you for sharing.

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Upstate New York

      It's good to hear from you Catherine. Some friends of mine did the geocaching thing and they had a ball. They were in, believe it or not, Australia at the time.

    • Catherine R profile image

      Catherine R 

      9 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      It looks stunning. Amazing looking rock formations. Now this geocaching - never heard of it. I will have to investigate this right now!

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Upstate New York

      Hello, again, Duchess!! Yes, I was struck by the Times article, too. Two of the pics are mine; two are from a friend, a professional photographer who makes pictures for postcards and Hallmark, and the race picture and the crowd at Summer Jam picture came from the Internet.

      Hey there Brenda Scully!! Who knows, you might some day. It's worth the trip if you ever find yourself ahywhere close. One of THE BEST hiking trails.

      Hello, KCC. Someday I'll find the equipment to go geocaching up there, too. We'll get there, we'll do it, when the time is right.

    • KCC Big Country profile image


      9 years ago from Central Texas

      Absolutely gorgeous! Thank you Paradise7 for causing yet another place to be added to my bucket list! Duchess OBlunt referred me after reading a hub a published today about geocaching. Thanks Duchess, this was a hub I'm glad I didn't miss!

    • profile image

      \Brenda Scully 

      9 years ago

      beautiful photos, wish i could visit.... thanks for that hub

    • profile image

      Duchess OBlunt 

      9 years ago

      What interesting facts. I was blown away by the fact that two people went missing from that concert and were never seen again! That's just a wee bit scary!

      Beautiful pictures. Are they yours?

      Another Hub that is a must to pass on.

      Thank you.


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