Park Office 585 335-8111
Our Park's Short Story
Stony Brook Glen is a new valley in an ancient landscape. During the Ice Age thousands of years ago, New York State was entombed beneath an enormous continental glacier. When the ice finally melted, some valleys had been gouged out and others dammed up. Rivers changed, streams flowed in new locations.
Stony Brook is one of these "post-glacial" streams. Since the end of the Ice Age it has eroded a gorge in the soft shales of the hillside creating high cliffs and waterfalls. The rocks of the gorge are older than the dinosaurs and represent compressed sediments which accumulated in an ancient sea. Fossils are occasionally found.
Seneca Indians hunted and fished at Stony Brook, before whites moved in over 150 years ago, and built farms and a sawmill. After the Civil War, a landowner built small conveniences for those who walked through the gorge. He charged a small admission fee.
With the construction of a railroad in 1883, Stony Brook became a summer tourist destination. Picnickers came from as far as St. Marys, Pennsylvania to stroll well-kept paths, climb rustic stairs, and go to a dance hall and outdoor theatre in the evenings.
Large, stone and concrete footings cross the gorge from rim to rim near the upper park. They are what remains of two high railroad bridges which supported trains bringing visitors to the park. The Stony Brook railroad station was located where the campground office is today.
Indians had been the first to notice natural gas bubbles rising from the water in the lower park. In 1882 a driller unsuccessfully tried to locate oil by sinking a well near the bubbles. The gas, however, was captured and used for cooking and lighting. By the 1920s the resort at Stony Brook had fallen into decline. The Finger Lakes State Park Commission revived Stony Brook by purchasing land and establishing the State Park in 1928.
During the 1930s, Stony Brook State Park became a bustling center of activity. Federal public works employment programs, including the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration, put many depression-era unemployed youth to work improving park trails and facilities. Laborers were housed in a camp where the present park maintenance building is located.
From an original size of 250 acres in the 1920s, Stony Brook has been expanded to 577 acres. For over a century, visitors have been traveling to Stony Brook to experience its gentle, rugged beauty.