Pratt's Falls Waterfall Wednesday blog cover
Adventures,  Waterfall Wednesday

Waterfall Wednesday: Pratt’s Falls

Mad Scientist by Laura Jaen Smith. Red and green pastel drawing of scientist with skull in hand beakers with liquid.
Mad Scientist, 19x25 pastel on black pastel paper, 2013

Happy Halloween!  It felt like since it is Halloween I should start out with some art that I’ve done that could be considered spooky just for fun.  These are two pieces that I thought would fit that theme.  

Mad Scientist is one of my favorite pastel drawings that I’ve done.  I’ve mentioned this piece before when I shared about portraiture during the Friday Fun Fact Etruscan series.  This drawing was created using a live model during a life drawing class that I took a few years back.  It was really fun to help set the lighting and props to give such a unique look.  I used red, orange, and green pastels on a black paper to create this finished piece. 

Woodlawn Cemetery is from my 2017 Summer Mosaic collection “Around the Finger Lakes” a 50 painting series featuring different landmarks and scenes from around this area.  Woodlawn Cemetery is a cemetery that’s just down the street from me in Elmira.  It’s a place that I will often go walk to feel like I’m near nature without having to drive anywhere.  

While the painting wasn’t created to be particularly spooky, a lot of people feel that cemeteries are eerie places and with the bird sitting on the headstone it feels like a scene that Edgar Allan Poe could be inspired by. 

Woodlawn Cemetery by Laura Jaen Smith. Square acrylic landscape painting of graveyard tombstone with raven on top. Around the Finger Lakes series.
Woodlawn Cemetery, 6x6 acrylic on wood panel, 2017

On to Today's Waterfall

Today’s featured waterfall is Pratt’s Falls in Pompey, New York.  This waterfall is one of the east-most waterfalls that I visited during my project of 50 New York Waterfalls.  It’s located in Onondaga County about six miles southeast of Syracuse.  

The day that I visited Pratt’s Falls, I also visited 5 other waterfall areas (it was a long day) – Fillmore Glen State parkCarpenter Falls, Bucktail FallsTinker Falls, and Stockbridge FallsEach waterfall was beautiful, but the trip was so hurried that I feel like I need to revisit each again to be able to really appreciate them all. 

Photo of Pratt's Falls Park Pompey NY by Laura Jaen Smith
Pratt's Falls, photograph, 2018

Pratt’s Falls is a 137 foot ribbon cascade (which means that the its height is at least twice it’s widest width).  This waterfall reminds me a lot of Waverly Glen in the pictures as it also has little steps that the water falls along.  

The walk to Pratt’s Falls is not very far.  The trail that I took was about half a mile; it was the fifth waterfall on the list for that day so it seemed like there were a lot of steps.  Looking at the trail map, there appears to be a shorter way down to the same place by going left instead of straight from the parking area (something to double check if the trail length or amount of stairs is a determining factor on which way you pick if you visit).  

The park itself is on 300 acres.  There’s hiking trails, picnic areas, a lodge used for weddings and gatherings, and even archery bales set up.

An extra treat today (it is Halloween after all 😉 ), here’s a quick video clip from my visit to Pratt’s Falls!


A Little History

The park contains a historical marker that states that Pratt’s Falls was the site of the first mill in Onondaga County.  It was built at the top of the falls in 1796 by Manoah Pratt, Sr. and Abraham Smith as a sawmill.  In 1798 it was transformed to a flour mill which was in operation until 1874.  It’s been a little difficult to find more information about the mills online, but the local historical society could probably give a lot more details if that is something you have an interest in.

In 1931 the land was purchased by Onondaga, which with the help of the Civilian Conservation Corps, developed the land into the park which opened in July of 1934.

Painting It

Pratt's Falls by Laura Jaen Smith. Acrylic landscape painting of waterfall in Pompey from 50 NY Waterfalls Project.
Pratt's Falls, 6x6 acrylic on wood panel, 2018

A limiting factor that I faced while photographing and then later painting Pratt’s Falls was that it was difficult to get a good angle where I could capture the entire waterfall.  Because of its height and the greenery surrounding it, I was only able portray a smaller portion towards the bottom.  I enjoyed painting the little rocks (really huge but in the distance they look small) and directing the water down the path along them.

I hope you have a wonderful Halloween!  Let me know how you’re celebrating and if you dressed up. 

I’ll leave you with an additional picture that I took while at Pratt’s Falls.  I find the preciseness of this sign oddly amusing, maybe you will too.

Park Speed limit 17 sign with mother and babies geese

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