April 1989

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The Outlet Trail


Ralph W. Seager

Come walk with me down this waterfall staircase
that descends from Keuka to Seneca Lake.
We'll follow the path of the old Fall Brook Railroad,
retracing the way the trains used to take.
We'll bend by "Old Bluenose" which glaciers discarded,
leaving their keepsake to landmark the trail,
and work our way downward past ice-era ages
that cut through the gorge of Genesee shale.
Moss rose and dogwood reach out their greetings
while wild phlox stand pale and shyly apart.
Indian paintbrush sways at our footsteps
as clusters of berries clutch at the heart.
We draw ever closer to the cascade's cadenza,
where its musical art of wood, wind, and reed,
and the drum's somber booming from tympani bullfrogs
tunes the cataract's concert which our ears may well heed.
We stop by the mill sites that stand silent duty
like outposts that plead for the garrison's return.
Their lift gates are rusted, the mill races empty
where the grinding of grain was man's main concern.
And here, the canal, with its locks of stone blocks
that never would earn the promise fulfilled.
Gone is the mule path, the barge and the cargo,
the grist and the lumber that once was here milled.
This still is the homeland of the furred and the feathered,
the scaled and the gilled. The kingfisher clatters
the echoing chasm where sun-sleeping turtles
siesta the logs, and the garter snake scatters
his jewels like a necklace when its string becomes broken
and spills as it shatters. We cannot fail
to safeguard this treasure. The wealth of the Kingdom
is a heritage won and must always prevail.
So it's up to the living, like you who walk with me,
to become the caretakers of the Outlet Trail.
© 1984, Ralph W. Seager
The work of developing and maintaining the Keuka Lake Outlet Preservation Area and the Outlet Trail goes on. Anyone wishing to help out is invited to contribute. Individuals who donate $10 become "Friends of the Outlet" and receive a periodical newsletter and members-only guided tours of sites along the trail. Those who donate $25 or more are special patrons. Checks should be made out to the KLOPA Commission and mailed, c/o Yates County Historian, 110 Court St., Penn Yan, NY, 14527.
Index to Frances Dumas's series about mill sites along the Outlet Trail
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