Lower Taughannock Falls Waterfall Wednesday blog cover
Adventures,  Painting Series,  Waterfall Wednesday

Waterfall Wednesday: Lower Taughannock Falls

Today we get to talk about the last waterfall in the Waterfall Wednesday blog series!  We’re back at Taughannock Falls State Park in Trumansburg, New York one last time for Lower Falls.  

I think I take for granted sometimes growing up in the region and being familiar with the pronunciation of so many Native American influenced names.  For those not familiar with this area, Taughannock is pronounced “Tuh-GA-nick”.  The name is said to come from one of two sources – either the Algonquian and Iroquois words for “great fall in the woods” or after a Lenape chieftain who was killed in a nearby battle.

Photo of Gorge Trail at Taughannock Falls State Park by Laura Jaen Smith

Taughannock Falls State Park was created in 1925 and has three waterfalls within its 750 acres.  Lower Falls and Taughannock Falls can be found along the Gorge Trail; Upper Falls can be accessed from Jacksonville Road and the South Rim Trail.  The park has camping sites, hiking trails, swimming, fishing, guided tours, a marina and boat launch, and a beachside summer concert series (more about the concert series here).

Today’s waterfall – Lower Taughannock Falls – is a 20 foot waterfall with a 70 foot crest.  The waterfall features a tully limestone cap like several other waterfalls in the region (Carpenter FallsCowshed Falls, Ludlowville Falls and Tinker Falls each have this feature).  

Photo of Taughannock Falls from Gorge Trail in autumn by Laura Jaen Smith

Often Lower Falls is overshadowed by Taughannock Falls which can be found 3/4 miles away at the end of the Gorge Trail.  Taughannock Falls stands at 215 feet tall and is the tallest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains.  I previously talked about Taughannock Falls here and shared many pictures from my wintertime visit to the park.  One thing that is nice about this park is that it is accessible year round and the hike is fairly easy and level for beginners.

The location around Taughannock Point on the lakeside portion of the park was once home to the Seneca Native Americans.  When White settlers arrived to the area after the Sullivan Campaigns, they found abandoned crops and an apple orchard.  It’s said that Abner Truman, a retired Revolutionary Soldier who Trumansburg is named after, transplanted apples from this old orchard to his nearby farm. 


Photo from Taughannock Falls State Park looking towards inlet to Cayuga Lake by Laura Jaen Smith
Photo of Lower Taughannock Falls in autumn by Laura Jaen Smith

Like most waterfalls in the region, nearby settlements utilized the water power for industry.  In 1814, a gun factory was built above Upper Falls to make government contracted rifles for the Civil War.  The site later became an oil mill, flax mill, then a tobacco house before being left in ruins in the mid 1800s.

In the 1870’s Victorian hotels popped up in the area for tourists who arrived via steamboats on Cayuga Lake and railroads.  (Anyone else think the idea of arriving via steamboat sounds really cool and so very Victorian??)

The land surrounding the waterfalls was purchased by the state in 1925 and was developed into Taughannock Falls State Park with the help of the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression.  

Painting Lower Taughannock Falls

Lower Taughannock Falls by Laura Jaen Smith. Square acrylic landscape painting of waterfall during autumn at sunset. Pink sky and reflected purple water.
Lower Taughannock Falls, 6"x6" acrylic on wood panel; click to view purchase details

Lower Taughannock Falls was one of my favorite waterfalls to paint from the 50 New York Waterfalls project.  I loved playing with the different pinks, purples, and blues of the sunset reflected in the water below the falls.  This painting ended up being my featured painting for the 2018 Summer Mosaic show.  

The painting of Lower Taughannock Falls is available to purchase in my etsy shop.  There are also two phone backgrounds available featuring this waterfall that can be found here

50 New York Waterfalls Collection by Laura Jaen Smith

If you would like to view all 50 waterfalls from this painting series, you can see them here on my gallery page.  You can also catch up with blog posts that you’ve missed, or revisit your favorites by clicking on the picture of the corresponding waterfall.

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about each waterfall as much as I have had researching each!  Do you have a favorite from the series?  Is there a waterfall that you like that wasn’t part of the series?  I would love to know!

Leave a Reply