Triphammer Upper Falls Waterfall Wednesday blog cover
Adventures,  Painting Series,  Waterfall Wednesday

Waterfall Wednesday: Upper Triphammer Falls

I haven’t quite pinned down why this waterfall is one of my favorites.  Maybe it’s because it falls at angular steps.  Maybe it’s because it’s in such an urban setting.  Maybe it’s because it satisfies some need to find out where things start.  Maybe it’s the beautiful lake and waterlilies nearby.  Either way, Upper Triphammer Falls is a favorite from my 50 New York Waterfalls series

Photo of Triphammer Falls Fall Creek Gorge Ithaca NY by Laura Jaen Smith

Upper Triphammer Falls is located at the top end of Fall Creek Gorge in Ithaca, New York.  The six waterfalls of this gorge are tucked in between the Cornell University Campus – Upper Triphammer Falls, Lower Triphammer FallsRocky FallsFoaming FallsForest FallsIthaca Falls (each featured previously here on the blog). 

It’s been harder than I would expect to find the size for this waterfall.  It took a lot of searching but I was able to find that the combined height of upper and lower falls is 55 feet, with lower falls being between 35-40 feet.  I guess we could say that Upper Triphammer Falls is roughly 10-15 feet in height (yay, math!). 


Upper Triphammer Falls is best viewed from a distance on the East Avenue Bridge or close up via the Triphammer Footbridge.   Triphammer Footbridge can be found behind the Martin Y. Tang Welcome Center building.  Like the name suggests, it connects each side of Fall Creek for pedestrian traffic.  

The newest bridge that stands at the site now is 120 feet long, weighs 127 tons, and was built in 1997.  It utilized Cornell College of Engineering minds in the construction and uses materials that were designed for longevity – such as an electronic de-icing mat to minimize snow and ice; a silica mix with concrete aggregates and additives to make the surface more durable; and non-corrosive aluminum rails that protect from deterioration by the constant water spray. 

Photo of Beebe Lake Dam Fall Creek Gorge Ithaca NY by Laura Jaen Smith
Photo of Beebe Lake Fall Creek Gorge Ithaca NY by Laura Jaen Smith

Another one of the neat things about this waterfall is that it is at the very beginning of Fall Creek Gorge.  Just above you can see Beebe Lake Dam and Beebe Lake which feeds into the gorge.  Beebe Lake was created in 1832 by Ezra Cornell to increase water and power to the plaster and flour mills in the gorge owned by Jeremiah Beebe.  When the dam was built, it flooded the area above entrapping roughly 53,000,000 gallons of water creating Beebe Lake. 

Beebe Lake provides a serene escape within the busy city campus.  It is the center of a seven mile long natural area with varied plant and wildlife.  Over the years Beebe Lake has been host to every thing from paddling classes, hockey games, and swimming to educational lessons on ecology and hydraulics. 

Photo of Beebe Lake Fall Creek Gorge Ithaca NY by Laura Jaen Smith

Painting Upper Triphammer Falls

Upper Triphammer Falls by Laura Jaen Smith. Square acrylic landscape painting of waterfall in Fall Creek Gorge Ithaca. 50 New York Waterfall Series.
Upper Triphammer Falls, 6x6 acrylic on wood panel, 2018

I think my favorite part about painting Upper Triphammer Falls was the angular steps of the falls.  I like the pretty blue color that was created on the flat portions and how fast the water rushed on the vertical parts.  

Upper Triphammer Falls is part of the Ithaca Gorge Collection of five waterfalls (currently available) – Ithaca Falls (framed) also available to complete the set).  This is my favorite gorge from the 50 New York Waterfalls project because each of the six waterfalls in the gorge gets its own name.  Each is beautiful and unique, and there is so much rich local history surrounding them. 

Have you visited this gorge yet?

Fall Creek Gorge Collection by Laura Jaen Smith. Five waterfall paintings Ithaca from 50 NY Waterfall Series.

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