Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Along the Way: Conestoga Falls

Ganoga Branch of Kitchen Creek
Photograph courtesy of Susan
 I want to start with stating that the trails winding through Ganoga Glen and Glen Leigh are steep in spots and can become slippery. Please be careful while visiting and hiking the area of the falls and please wear proper footwear.

By the time we left Mohican Falls, the number of people had definitely doubled on the trail. And, by now my legs were aching and we weren't to Waters Meet yet. Part of me was jealous as I watched much younger - and thinner - people who zipped past me.

The best part of this section of trail was it leveled out some. Most of the Falls Trail is a constant downhill, but we had easier walking here, if only for a short distance. As we passed through this section of the trail, I was happy to see that others were resting on the larger rocks - evidently I was not the only person who was tired.

The small drop at the top of Conestoga Falls
With the start of the slide
Photograph courtesy of Susan
This section of Kitchen Creek's Ganoga Branch was one of the nicest sections, not only for the ease of hiking, but also for the countless mini-falls along the way. Literally each step was a different view of the beauty of the glen. Each rock, with water flowing over it, was a new and different mark of beauty.

And then we arrived at Conestoga Falls..

As we scrambled down the rocks to get our first look at the Conestoga Falls, a strange feeling came over me of disappointment. The sources I had read said this waterfall was not very photographic. However, I was hoping that the falls would at least have something to compare with the beauty of what we had already encountered, but to be honest, they were (and forgive me for saying this) plain and boring. 

The start of the slide - Conestoga Falls
Photograph courtesy of Kevin
Conestoga Falls is mostly a slide with water flowing through a narrow chute. Unlike the other waterfalls at Ricketts Glen, it fans out very little, except for the first small drop at the top and another small drop at its base. The falls lives up to its type as a slide - it was like watching water flowing down a sliding board.

With a height of seventeen feet, the waterfalls named after the Conestoga Indians was to me the biggest disappointment of all of the named falls. If they hadn't been named on the map - and we were searching for and photographing all of the named falls - we would not have spent as much time at these falls as we did.

Even when we got to the base of Conestoga Falls, the falls appeared mostly obscured and what real beauty they may have held was hidden by the brush and trees..

The Conestogas, who were native to Pennsylvania, got the short end of the stick. Of all of the falls in the glen, this one was the least impressive and they received the honor of having their name associated with them.

Kitchen Creek looking upstream from the top of
Conestoga Falls
Photograph courtesy of Susan
In the history of the state, one has to feel remorse for the Conestoga Indians. Also referred to as the Susquehannocks, they lived along the Susquehanna River, from the Chesapeake Bay to southern New York. In 1600, it was estimated that there were roughly 6,000 members of the Susquehannocks living in twenty different tribes scattered throughout the river valley. Captain John Smith, in 1608, recorded that the Susquehannocks had a large village, numbering roughly 2,000, at present-day Lancaster (though he never visited it to verify this estimate). In 1615, Samuel Champlain visited one of their cities near the New York/Pennsylvania border called Carantouan that had 800 warriors present during his visit, These warriors came from Carantouan and two neighboring villages.

Sadly by 1677, the vast majority of those Indians were gone, killed off by disease and war. Those remaining moved westward, mixing in with other Indian tribes. A couple hundred remaining Susquehannocks settled in Conestoga Town, in present-day Lancaster County. By 1763, the census lists twenty-two Conestogas still living. On December 14, 1763, a group of settlers known as the Paxton Boys would attack the Conestogas in response to Pontiac's Rebellion. The remaining fourteen Conestogas were placed in a Lancaster jail for "their protection." The Paxton Boys tracked them to the jail and on December 27, the sheriff, fearing the mob, turned the keys over to the boys who massacred the defenseless Indians.

A view from the to of Conestoga Falls
The pool at the base it barely affected by
The waters entering it
After taking a couple of pictures we set out downstream to locate the next of the waterfalls within Ganoga Glen.

Again, please be careful while visiting and hiking the area of the falls

A note of thanks: A big thank you goes out to Susan and Kevin for joining me on this adventure and also for allowing the usage of their pictures in this article.

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