Cazenovia Park Falls
Buffalo, New York
with assistance from Bill Kae
Location: In the southeast corner of The City of Buffalo, NY on Cazenovia Creek in Cazenovia Park.
Starting from Exit 55 on Route 90, follow Ridge Road to the west for 0.5 of a mile Abbott Road and turn right (north). Follow Abbott Road northwards for 1.5 miles and turn right (northwest) onto Cazenovia Street. In 0.3 of a mile, just after crossing Cazenovia Creek, turn right (southeast) entering the park on Cazenovia Parkway.
Follow the parkway for 0.2 of a mile and find a place to park. From your parking spot walk to the west, along the edge of the baseball fields, heading towards Cazenovia Creek. In roughly 500 feet you will come to the creek. The falls is a short distance to the north.
The falls can be viewed from the Cazenovia Street Bridge over the creek and from trails on either side of the creek banks, but access to the falls is available only from the northern creek bank.
Cazenovia Park Falls drops 6 vertical feet in a horizontal distance of 150 feet. The creek is 183 feet wide. The falls is horseshoe shaped with a small vertical drop located in the middle of the creek. The northern side of the falls is primarily two small cascades followed by a gradual slide. The southern side of the falls has several step like drops.
The falls is developed in Oatka Creek Shale of the Middle Devonian Epoch giving the shale an age of between 398,000,000 and 385,000,000 years. The shale is a dense black in color and fissile (tends to break into thin sheets), with a oil like oder when freshly broken.
The land for the original park was purchased in 1890. Construction of the park began in 1893 and was based on a design submitted by Fredric Law Olmsted, a famous landscape architect. In 1896 the area now occupied the baseball fields was dug out, and a dam was erected a little ways upstream of Cazenovis Street to create a lake. The lake drowned the falls and covered 20 acres of the then 76-acre park. The lake was a popular spot for canoeing and boating, but suffered from a build up of silt and sewage sludge. The lake was dredged in 1909. In 1929 a flood washed out the dam. A new dam was built the following year.
In 1965 the concrete dam was removed as part of a flood control project. With the lake gone the falls revealed itself – the existence of which was known only to those still around before the creek and park were flooded. Remnants of the concrete abutments of the dam still remain and can be seen just down stream of the falls on either side of the creek bank.
The appearance of the falls changes dramatically with changes in the volume of Cazenovia Creek. In times of flood the creek may rise as much as 9 feet, drowning the falls. During the dry summer months, when the creeks volume is very low, the falls may be split into two and much of the creek bed is exposed.
The creek is named for Theophilus Cazenove, of the Holland Land Company. The falls is a popular spot with fishermen. If your timing is right you may be able to see fish jumping up the falls.
Cazenovia Park Falls is one of two known waterfalls located in the City of Buffalo, the other being Serenity Falls.
Serenity Falls is located on Scajaquada Creek in Forest Lawn Cemetery. It is a series of seven small step-like cascades spread out over a distance of 200 feet along the creek. The cascades have a total vertical drop of 12 feet.