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Monthly Archives: October 2014

Rickett’s Glen

Waterfalls in Ricketts Glen State Park, Benton Pa

MORE PHOTOGRAPHS CAN BE FOUND ON THE GALLERY PAGE OF THIS WEBSITE

Ricketts Glen United Methodist Church Waller, PA

Ricketts Glen United Methodist Church Waller, PA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have frequently heard about beautiful Ricketts Glen from other photographers and have wanted to photograph it for some time.  But every time I scheduled the trip, something came up and I had to cancel out.  Well, we finally got there in May and it was everything I thought it would be and more.

Mary Lou, my wife and assistant, does most of the planning for our photography excursions.  We left Florida and made 2 stops on our way to Ricketts Glen.  One in Greenville NC to do some scouting for future photography excursions and to spend the night.  Our second stop was just north of Philadelphia PA to visit family and friends and to stock up on water and “vittles”.

Ricketts Glen Seneca Waterfall

Ricketts Glen Seneca Waterfall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We spent five (5) nights at the Country Farms Bed and Breakfast in Benton PA.  The accommodations at the B&B were great and out host and hostess were exceptional.

Before I get into the specifies of the shoot let me give you a little background and history which I obtained from Wikipedia and the Pennsylvania Park Service.

Glen-Leigh

Glen-Leigh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Background

About 300 to 250 million years ago, the Allegheny Plateau, Allegheny Front, and Appalachian Mountains all formed in the Alleghenian orogeny. This happened long after the sedimentary rocks in the park were deposited, when the part of Gondwana that became Africa collided with what became North America, forming Pangaea. In the years since, up to 5,000 feet (1,500 m) of rock has been eroded away by streams and weather. At least three major glaciations in the past million years have been the final factor in shaping the land that makes up the park today. The effects of glaciation have made Kitchen Creek “unique compared to all other nearby streams that flow down the Allegheny Front”, as it is the only one with an “almost continuous series of waterfalls”.  Prior to the last ice age, Kitchen Creek, and Phillips Creek to the east, had drainage basins of similar area and slope, and both watersheds were confined to the Allegheny Front. This changed when receding glaciers formed temporary dams on two of Kitchen Creek’s neighboring streams on the Allegheny Plateau; South Branch Bowman Creek to the northeast and Big Run, a tributary of Fishing Creek to the northwest. The headwaters of South Branch Bowman Creek were very close to those for the Glen Leigh branch of Kitchen Creek, and the headwaters for Big Run were very close to those for the Ganoga Glen branch.

Glen Leigh IV

Glen Leigh IV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the glaciers retreated to the northeast about 20,000 years ago, glacial lakes formed. Drainage from the melting glacier and lakes cut a sluiceway, or channel, that diverted the headwaters of South Branch Bowman Creek into the Glen Leigh branch of Kitchen Creek. The retreating glaciers also left deposits of debris 20 to 30 feet (6.1 to 9.1 m) thick, which formed a dam blocking water from draining into Big Run. Instead water from Ganoga Lake and the area that later became Lake Jean was diverted into the Ganoga Glen branch of Kitchen Creek. These diversions added about 7 square miles (18 km) to the Kitchen Creek drainage basin, increasing it by just over 50 percent to 20.1 square miles (52 km). The result was increased water flow in Kitchen Creek, which has been cutting the falls in the glens since. The gradient or slope of Kitchen Creek was fairly stable for its flow when it had a much smaller drainage basin, as Phillips Creek still does. The increased basin size means that Kitchen Creek in the glens is too steep for its present amount of water flow. As Kitchen Creek continues to cut into the rock and erode it up the Allegheny Front, the creek’s slope will decrease and become less steep. In the future, the creek’s flow and slope are predicted to become similar to those of other nearby creeks with similar size drainage basins. This process could take so long that a new glacial period might occur before the transformation is complete.

Glen Leigh V

Glen Leigh V

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

History

Rickett’s Glen State Park is in the Susquehanna River drainage basin.  The earliest recorded inhabitants of which were the Iroquoian-speaking Susquehannocks.  Their numbers were greatly reduced by disease and warfare with the Five Nations of the Iroquois, and by 1675 they had died out, moved away, or been assimilated into other tribes.  After this, the lands of the Susquehanna valley were under the nominal control of the Iroquois, who encouraged displaced tribes from the east to settle there, including the Shawnee and Lenape (or Delaware). On November 5, 1768, the British acquired land, known in Pennsylvania as the New Purchase, from the Iroquois in the Treaty of Fort Stanwix; this included what is now Ricketts Glen State Park.  After the American Revolutionary War, Native Americans almost entirely left Pennsylvania.  Luzerne County was formed in 1786 from part of Northumberland County, and Fairmount Township, where the waterfalls are, was settled in 1792 and incorporated in 1834.   About 1890 a Native American pot, decorated in the style of “the peoples of the Susquehanna region”, was found under a rock ledge on Kitchen Creek by Murray Reynolds, for whom a waterfall is named.

Hawlksbeard

Hawlksbeard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ricketts family began acquiring land in and around what became the park in 1851, when Elijah Ricketts and his brother Clemuel bought about 5,000 acres (2,000 ha) on North Mountain around what is now known as Ganoga Lake. By 1852 they had built a stone house on the lake shore, which they ran as “a lodge and tavern”.  Elijah’s son Robert Bruce Ricketts, for whom the park is named, joined the Union Army as a private at the outbreak of the American Civil War and rose through the ranks to become a colonel. After the war, R. B. Ricketts returned to Pennsylvania and began purchasing the land around the lake from his father in 1869; eventually he controlled or owned more than 80,000 acres (32,000 ha), including the glens and waterfalls. Ricketts and the other settlers living in the area were not aware of the glens and their waterfalls until about 1865, when they were discovered by two of the Ricketts’ guests who went fishing and wandered down Kitchen Creek. In 1872 Ricketts built a three-story wooden addition to the stone house; this opened as the North Mountain House hotel in 1873, and was run by Ricketts’ brother Frank until 1898.

Moss-on-Rocks-II

Moss-on-Rocks-II

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today The waterfalls in Ricketts Glen State Park are on the Allegheny Front, which is the boundary between the Allegheny Plateau to the north and the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians to the south. The headwaters of Kitchen Creek are on the dissected plateau, from which the stream drops approximately 1,000 feet (300 m) in 2.25 miles (3.62 km) as it flows down the steep escarpment of the Allegheny Front. Much of this drop occurs in Glen Leigh and Ganoga Glen, two narrow valleys carved by branches of Kitchen Creek, which come together at Waters Meet. The branch in Glen Leigh has eight named waterfalls and lies north of the confluence, while the branch in Ganoga Glen has ten named waterfalls and lies to the northwest. Ricketts Glen lies south of and downstream from Waters Meet; here the terrain becomes less steep, and there are fewer named waterfalls. The DCNR names only four in Ricketts Glen, all on Kitchen Creek;[3] the USGS GNIS names these and one more on the creek,[4] and Brown’s book on Pennsylvania waterfalls adds a sixth named falls on a tributary.

Ricketts Glen State Park, PA- Rock and Root

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are 24 named waterfalls in Ricketts Glen State Park ranging in height from 9 to 94 feet (2.7 to 29 m), along Kitchen Creek as it flows in three steep, narrow valleys, or glens. Ricketts Glen State Park is named for R. Bruce Ricketts, a colonel in the American Civil War who owned over 80,000 acres in the area in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but spared the old growth forests in the glens from clear cutting. T Ricketts named 21 of the waterfalls; most have Native American names, and others are named for relatives and friends. In 1879, Ricketts started the North Mountain Fishing Club, and he renamed Long Pond as Ganoga Lake in 1881, based on a suggestion by Pennsylvania senator Charles R. Buckalew. Ricketts also used the name Ganoga for the tallest waterfall and the glen it flows through. In 1889 Ricketts hired Matt Hirlinger and five other men to build the trails along Kitchen Creek. It took them four years to complete the trails and stone steps through the glens. The wooden addition to the stone house was torn down in 1897, and the hotel and fishing club closed in 1903; the stone house remained the Ricketts’ summer home.  The park, which opened in 1944, is administered by the Bureau of State Parks of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). Nearly all of the waterfalls are visible from the Falls Trail, which Ricketts had built from 1889 to 1893 and which the state park rebuilt in the 1940s and late 1990s. The Falls Trail has been called “the most magnificent hike in the state” and one of “the top hikes in the East”

Oneida-Waterfall

Oneida-Waterfall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Shoot

Our plan was to spend two (2) days photographing the falls and two (2) days photographing the local area.  However, I came down with a stomach virus on the second day and was laid up for two (2) days.  On the 3rd day I was convalescing and did not want to get too far away from the bathroom but did manage to get a few photos of the farm.   On the last day we got a few photos of the town of Benton and Waller. We did attempt to go back to the falls on the last day but it was a Saturday and the place was packed.  So my recommendation is that if you do attempt to photograph Ricketts Glen and you do not want sightseers in you photographs then go through the work week and preferably when school is in session.  Since we focus on black and white photography, during our preparation investigations we determined that the best times for us to photograph this area would be the Spring or the Autumn.  We wanted a clear shot of the falls and water in the falls.  We decided to not do the Autumn time of the year because the falls are often not full, howeve,r the falls are very beautiful against the Autumn colors.  In the early spring, the falls are sometimes roaring and the mist from roaring waterfalls can make them almost impossible to photograph.  So we decided to try to time our journey in the late spring when the falls are full but before they become obscured by vegetation.  We did plan correctly and have captured some amazing images.

Fungus and Dry Leaves

Fungus and Dry Leaves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The entrance to the visitors’ center is right off PA Route 487 approximately 5 miles off of PA Route 118.  To get to the waterfalls proceed on the paved road past the visitors’ center then over a small bridge.  Lake Jan will be on the left on the way to another paved road on the right just over the bridge.  There is a sign indicating the falls trail is down this road.  There is a parking lot with restrooms and the trail head begins there.

Before we went on our hike we checked in with the Park Ranges at the visitors’ center.  They recommended we begin our photographing by visiting the Adams falls.  Of the 24 named falls, Adams Falls is the most accessible. It can be reached from PA Route 118 and is a short walk from the parking lot and toilet faculties. Then photograph Harrison Wright, Sheldon Reynolds, and Murray Falls which are between the Waters Meet and Adam Falls.  The Park Rangers also suggested that when we did the falls loop that we go across the Highland Falls Trail to Glen Leigh then work our way down Glen Leigh to the Waters Meet then up Ganoga Glen and that was the route we took. One word of caution is that you should not judge the Glen Trails by the Highland Trail.  The Highland Trail is wide and an easy walk while the Glen Trails are steep narrow and we can be very slippery.

Below is an Image map of Kitchen Creek and its waterfalls in Ricketts Glen State Park, as well as other prominent features.

Map

Map

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We arrived at the falls early in the morning but it had rained off and on the night before so it was quite slippery in places.  So make sure you wear good hiking boots and hiking pole were plus for us. Also, it is always a good practice to have another person accompany you on a hike.  We did manage to get a few good photographs of the Adams Falls.

Glen-Leigh-II

Glen-Leigh-II

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Midway Crevasse

Midway Crevasse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kitchen Creek falls can be seen by crossing the road and following the trail to the right along 118 and Kitchen Creek.  The creek will disappear under the road.  The falls is right where the creek goes under PA Route 118.  Kitchen Falls is actually under PA Route 118.  It’s a bit tricky to photograph so be very careful. I do like the images we captured there.

If you choose to do the falls loop from PA 118 the Falls Trail is a 7.1-mile (11.4 km) loop hike. Starting at PA 118, it is 1.8 miles (2.9 km) north along the creek through Ricketts Glen to Waters Meet, where the trail divides. Following the Glen Leigh branch, it is 1.2 miles (1.9 km) north through the glen to the Highland Trail, then 1.0 mile (1.6 km) west along the Highland Trail to Ganoga Glen. Turning southeast, it is 1.3 miles (2.1 km) through Ganoga Glen back to Waters Meet, then the 1.8 miles (2.9 km) through Ricketts Glen is retraced, but heading south back to PA 118.

Old Car Waller

Old Car Waller

 

 

 

 

 

 

If it important to you to keep track of the name of the falls you are photographing you will want to keep a log as you go along because at the end of the day it will be difficult to remember which is which.  Also don’t forget to keep your eyes open and continuously scan the area for photographic opportunities.  As you can see by the photographs here, even though the waterfalls are the primary attraction, there is more than just waterfalls to photograph here. The waterfall photographing begins where the Highland Trail meets Glen Leigh, immediately you are met with rapids. It is also at this point that the trail begins to get more difficult.  I hope you have as good a time as Mary Lou and I did photographing Ricketts Glen.

Glen Leigh III

Glen Leigh III