Pluto Falls Waterfall Wednesday blog cover
Adventures,  Painting Series,  Waterfall Wednesday

Waterfall Wednesday: Pluto Falls

This week we’re back in Watkins Glen State Park to talk about Pluto Falls.  Did you know there are 19 waterfalls in this park?  For my 50 New York Waterfalls project I painted seven of the main ones.  

Photo of Watkins Glen State Park Gorge Trail NY by Laura Jaen Smith

Watkins Glen State Park is located along Route 14  on the southern tip of Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes Region of New York.  The main feature of the 778 acre park is the Gorge Trail that travels a mile and a half along Glen Creek.  

So far I’ve shared about Triple Cascade with historic photos, walking behind Cavern Cascade, renovations around Sentry Cascade, and Central Cascade with its resident artist.  

Pluto Falls is found around the area towards the end of the trail after Rainbow Falls called Frowning Cliff and Spiral Gorge.  Pluto Falls is about 9 feet tall and was named for the ruler of the underworld in classical mythology.  Something fun I found out while researching more about this waterfall – the planet Pluto wasn’t discovered and named until 1930, about 25 years after Watkins Glen State Park was created and even more years since the waterfall was named. 

What became Watkins Glen State Park in 1906 was previously Freer’s Glen, a privately owned resort created in 1863 by Mordalden Ells.  Ells wrote a guidebook for the park in the 1970’s where he described Pluto Falls:

Photo of Pluto Falls Watkins Glen State Park Gorge Trail NY by Laura Jaen Smith
Photo of Watkins Glen State Park Gorge Trail NY by Laura Jaen Smith

“…on which the rays of sun never shine.  It appears like a subterranean gallery, of the air is damp and cold, and the dashing and rumbling of the Fall, as it echoes through the pass, adds to the gloomy sublimity of the spot.  As we draw nearer we ascend a short rocky staircase, where we obtain a fine view of the fall, which is one of singular beauty, and essentially different in form from any we have yet seen as it falls into a dark basin which is very deep, and extends about thirty feet under the rock on the edge of the stream.”

Due to his descriptions of the gorge and waterfalls, the resort drew thousands of visitors from America and Europe.  It placed Watkins Glen as a Victorian tourist destination alongside Niagara Falls, Saratoga Springs, and the Catskill Mountains. 

Painting Pluto Falls

Pluto Falls by Laura Jaen Smith. Square acrylic waterfall painting of waterfall in Watkins Glen State Park from 50 NY Waterfalls series

Like Mordalden Ells mentioned in his guidebook description, Pluto Falls and this section of Watkins Glen State Park has such a different look than the other areas of the park.  The colors are much darker and the textures are sleeker due to the extra moisture.  In fact, if you look at the six paintings of the park below, you can see how different each of these main waterfalls are in shape, colors, and textures.  

I really enjoyed playing with these different textures while painting Pluto Falls as well as creating the dark blue green of the water.  

Pluto Falls is available to own as part of the Watkins Glen State Park collection. 

Have you visited Watkins Glen State Park?

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