Turning Point Park: an ecological jewel looks to the future

Turning Point Park: an ecological jewel looks to the future

Democrat and Chronicle, 10 Sep 1978, Sun, Metro

Throughout this year, George Payne has written about and photographed the progress of the Lower Fall Foundation towards making the Lower Falls Park and Gorge a World Heritage Site.

Recently, George has shown how the proposed site is imprinted with the work and visions of Frederick Douglass, Seth Green, perhaps American’s most important fisherman and Frederick Law Olmsted.

Today, George looks at Turning Point Park, considered a “zone of interest” within the Lower Falls project.

Since its opening in 1977, Turning Point Park has been a popular recreational and nature loving destination. George’s montage of contemporary images of the park is interlaced with Turning Points past.

Turning Point Park: an ecological jewel looks to the future

Photography by George Payne


The Boardwalk at Turning Point Park

Located in the Charlotte neighborhood near Lake Ontario on Rochester’s northwest side, Turning Point Park covers 275 wooded acres along the banks of the Genesee River. As one of the most ecologically diverse marine bio-habitats in the region, it is no surprise how fast it has become one of Rochester’s least best kept secrets.


Red Rock Falls

The park boasts osprey, herons, egrets, mallards, geese, swans, kingfishers, gulls, and many other birds. There are deer, rabbit, fox, ferrets, moles, beavers, squirrels, chipmunks, snakes, salamanders, snapping turtles and painted turtles, frogs and toads, dragonflies and butterflies, and a million other splendid critters that will never be seen by the naked eye.


The Famous Snapping Turtle


Democrat and Chronicle, 21 Jul 1985, Sun, Metro



Creek to Red Rock Falls



Working the Genesee


Democrat and Chronicle, 30 Mar 1992, Mon, Metro East


Democrat and Chronicle, 20 Aug 1977, Sat Metro

About the two falls at Turning Point Park
Size/Types: Red Falls is a seasonal cascade riddled with large rocks and downed trees (as well as some garbage). It starts its 60 ft journey from a culvert under the railroad tracks and flows down a layer of red sandstone part of the way.
Brown Falls, is in a heavily wooded area in the southern end of the park, about halfway down into the gorge. It is a 35 ft high seasonal cascade.

Best time to visit: In winter or spring; after heavy rain or snow-melt.

Flow: Low.

Waterway: Unnamed seasonal tributaries into the Genesee River, which empties into Lake Ontario 2 miles to the north.


Democrat and Chronicle, 20 Aug 1977, Sat Metro

Time: Thirty minutes to an hour. Carefully scrambling to the bottom of each waterfall will take quite some time.
Seasons/Hours: Open year-round, from dawn until dusk.

Admission: Free

Handicap accessibility: The paved portions of the Riverway Trail and from the parking lot to a lovely view of the gorge are accessible. Beyond that are steep gradients and irregular dirt trails.

Pets: Allowed if on a leash. For your pet’s safety, and the safety of other hikers, keep your pet on the leash. It doesn’t matter if your dog is “friendly,” it’s the law. Please clean up after.

Accommodations: Trails; informational signage; fishing access from the wooden docks.

See nyfalls.com 


Red Rock Falls


Creativity abounds

ecology-1ecology-2Green Changes for Turning Point Park

see also You may soon be living in New York State’s first EcoDistrict and Learning for the Long Haul: The Campus Sustainability Movement Grows


An award winning achievement in engineering.


Democrat and Chronicle, 10 Sep 1978, Sun Metro


Democrat and Chronicle, 5 Oct 1986, Sun, page 77

Turning Point’s boardwalk and trail won the American Public Works Associations’ Transportation Project of the Year” Award ($2-$10 million category) in 2008. The trail consists of 3 main parts: 1) the 2,968 ft land-based trail that utilized an old railroad bed to transition from the top of the bank to the river’s edge, 2) a 3,572 ft-long bridge over the Genesee River Turning Basin, and 3) an all-new land-based trail, 3,406 feet in length, through Turning Point Park North and adjacent to the Genesee Marina. City Website


View from the former rail line

A history of Rochester’s Railroads

Point Park also features a gorgeous Rain Garden, an eco-friendly way to use natural vegetation as sediment filters. When it rains or snows, flowing sediments and pollutants from the nearby parking lot are captured by the garden’s vegetation. The water-loving plants act as filters and clean the runoff before it reaches the river. The rain garden is stocked with a wide variety of hardy plants that aid in the process, from ostrich fern and filipendula to coneflower and New England aster.

Learn more about how the Turning Point Rain Garden  works.

City Website


Rain Garden


Democrat and Chronicle, 21 Jul 1985, Sun, Metro


Democrat and Chronicle, 15 Nov 2000, Wed, Metro


A World Heritage Site in our Backyard: preserving and profiting from the history, culture, and ecology of the Lower Falls Gorge

You may soon be living in New York State’s first “EcoDistrict”


About The Author


Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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