Eternal Flame Falls
North Boston, New York
Location: Central Erie County, Seufert Road, Shale Creek Preserve, Chestnut Ridge Park.
Starting from the main entrance to Chestnut Ridge Park located on Route 277, drive south for 1.3 miles to Seufert Road and turn right. In roughly 250 feet there is a gravel parking area on the shoulder of the road. Parking is avalable from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. only.
The trailhead is an old road marked by two white brick pillars and a gate. Follow the trail northwards for roughly 0.1 of a mile to a kiosk which has a map of the area trails that will lead you the the falls. A large Redwood log is located near the kiosk.
Shale Creek has cut a deep glen in the southern end of Chestnut Ridge Park and created Eternal Flame Falls. The falls is 30 feet high with a 10 foot crest and faces west northwest. It is developed in Hanover Shale of the Late Devonian Epoch. The shale consists of a greenish-gray to gray colored shale with some black bands. It is 85 to 95 feet thick.
For a MapQuest map of the area click here.
The flame, found in a small grotto on the right side of the falls, is produced by the emission of natural gas coming from cracks in the shale. Because of changes in the pressure of the escaping gas, the flame’s height can vary from 3 to 8 inches. I have seen three flames in the back of the grotto. Flooding, pressure changes and ice may occasionally extinguish the flame, but it is easily re-lit with a lighter.
These natural emissions of gas are sometimes called “Burning Springs.” In addition to Eternal Flame Falls, I have located 6 other burning springs in the survey area. Only one of these is found by a small (3 feet high) waterfall, with the flame being at the top of the falls. The other burning springs are found along creek beds.
The first commercial attraction at Niagara Falls was a burning spring. In the late 1700’s a forceful emission of gas was discovered on the Canadian side of the Niagara River in the Dufferin Islands area, about 0.7 of a mile upriver of the Horseshoe Falls. A barrel with a pipe sticking out of the top was placed over the vent. A cork was put in the pipe and allowed the gas to build up. After an audience was gathered, the cork was removed and the gas was lit. Guide books of the time listed this as a place that one must visit. It continued to operate until the late 1880’s, when the area was turned into a park.
For a ACME Mapper 2.0 map of the area click here.
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Facebook Group: Chestnut Ridge Park AKA The Ridge
Copyright © 2007 by Scott A. Ensminger.
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