19th Century Enfield Falls

A Bit of History

Enfield Falls, like many other towns, grew around its grist and sawmills. Farmers coming to this mill about the middle of the 19th century could do errands while waiting for their grain to be ground. In Enfield Falls at that time, there were two sawmills, a shingle mill, cooperage, tannery, carding factory, store and hotel. By the late 19th century there was also a post office.”

As farmers turned asway from growing wheat, Enfield Falls evolved from a busy milling center to a place appreciated for scenery and a quality hotel. Robert and Henrietta Wickham build and ran the hotel for many years during the middle of the 19th century. The hotel hosted popular dances in its ballroom. Guests could also dine and rest at the hotel.”

This placard from the Mill Museum at Treman Park is the source of much of today’s information. I used italics and quotes to attribute this source.

The sign in the heading of this post “hung near the hotel at least as early as 1883. In that year, D. Morris Kurtz mentioned it in his “Ithaca and Its Resources”: “At the foot of the hill is the Enfield Falls Hotel, but you look around in vain for the falls or even any sign of them. Upon the side of the stable into which our horses are driven is nailed a small board, on which is painted ‘Admission to the Falls, 10 cents.’ In reply to our inquiry the bright little urchin that takes charge of the team says, ‘Down there they are,’ pointing to the rocky wall which apparently forms the eastern and an unsurmountable boundary to the valley. And to ‘down there’ we proceed……

Treman Gorge Trail from the Old Mill enters a narrow gallery looking here southeast along Enfield Creek, passing over a stone footbridge. This was the control point in the 19th century for collecting the ten cent admission fee. Here are some photographs of the entrance as it exists today. The retaining wall, footpath and stone bridge were constructed in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The site was far rougher for those earlier visitors.

Photograph captured on a midsummer morning. Robert H. Treman State Park, Ithaca, Tompkins County, New York

Copyright 2023 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills