Yesterday's Light

Images in Space and Time

Back to the Bluffs

Eroding drumlins, Chimney Bluffs SP, Huron, NY

My first visit to this place was last fall.  Even though it’s always been in my backyard, so to speak, I’d never bothered to see it firsthand.  So back I went this week, with wife and grandson in tow, to take another look.  Interestingly, the wind was blowing furiously off of Lake Ontario, just as it was last fall.  Which makes it a tiny bit dangerous, since the trail up to the top of the bluffs runs right along the edge.  Slip or trip over one of the many tree roots growing on the trail and it’s a long slide down.

What caught my attention in this image of the 3 toothlike structures is the rocks that are embedded in them.  If you look closely, you can see some large stones protruding from the sides of each.  Kind of like pointed candy bars filled with peanuts.  The question, of course, is what the heck created these things?

The answer is (or was) ice.  Ice that was part of the last great glacier to come south out of what is now Canada.  When it receded some 12,000 years ago, it left large deposits of dirt, stones, and everything else that it had picked up on its way south.  Not to mention gouging out countless channels that became present day streams and rivers.  The structures you see here were once very large drumlins (oblong hills of dirt and stone).  Basically the same kinds of structures that created the entire Finger Lakes region.  But thousands of years of erosion have taken their toll.  Most of the structures near the lake have long since disappeared.  These are the only ones left.

And someday (relatively) soon they’ll be gone.  Geologists say that these bluffs are eroding at a rate of 1 to 5 feet per year.  They’re always changing.  And believe it or not, there’s actually red sandstone in these things (along with limestone and metamorphic Canadian rocks).

But don’t worry – you still have time to visit.  Just be careful on that narrow trail up at the top.


8 Responses to “Back to the Bluffs”

  1. Don

    Haven’t been here in a while but the images are still great went back a week or two amd some are really fantastic.

  2. oneowner

    Hard to believe the Bluffs were on the State Park endangered list (for closing) not too long ago. Like you, my first visit to the Bluffs was late in life, but I’ve returned several times since. It’s a great Park with some challenging photo ops. Folks say it’s best seen from a boat to get the full impact. That’s never going to happen for me. This is a really nice shot and I like the monotone.

    • Paul Maxim

      Thanks, Ken. Actually, my intent on this trip was to walk along the beach and shoot the bluffs with a wide angle lens from below. But my grandson wanted to do the trail up through the woods. So that’s what we did. Besides, the clouds weren’t cooperating. What I wanted was to get some of those big cumulus clouds in the background, but they were staying too far to the south. Maybe next time.

      Yeah, no boats for me either. Especially on a day as windy as Tuesday was.

    • Paul Maxim

      Thanks, John. It’s New York’s version of “The Badlands”!

  3. meanderingpassage

    It’s hard to determine the scale of these toothlike structures from this photo. How large are they?

    I wish we had some of that glacier ice here the next couple of days…they’re forecasting 100°+ (100-104) the next four days.

    • Paul Maxim

      I’d guess that these things are 20 – 30 feet tall. They’re definitely not little.

      Yes, much of the country could use a little glacial ice. I can’t remember ever seeing so much widespread heat so early in the summer. Missouri and Kansas are baking in 110 degree heat. Sooner or later, the national power grid is going to start showing its age. Not to mention the fires out west. Hell, we’re the “cool” spot here in NY. It’s only in the upper 80’s. I don’t envy you right now quite as much as I do in January……….


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