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We had visited this area of New York in the fall of 1989 (our first year on the road). We weren't writing much then except for a diary I (Barb) was keeping. When we decided to head east from Spokane to visit Vermont I was also thinking of how exciting it would be to visit western New York (especially Letchworth) so we could share it with you. But two things happened that I hadn't expected. First I came down with a cold that left me feeling dragged out and secondly I looked at the park differently than we had the first time around. It was still pretty and the campground was wonderful, but after seeing parks in the west, well frankly it has been hard for me to begin writing the glowing report I had planned to do. It is still worth a visit if only for the quiet beauty of the park and surrounding areas.

Often referred to as the Grand Canyon of the east, Letchworth State Park is a very large state park (14,350 acres) in western New York. The center road in the park is 17 miles long and runs along the gorge created by the Genesee River; the many pull outs offer outstanding views. Three waterfalls are of particular interest. The upper, middle and lower falls reach heights of up to 600 feet. While not spectacular when comparing falls in the west, these falls are normally very pretty. This year though New York is suffering a drought and it shows in the lack of water in the gorge and flowing over the falls. One of the brochures here suggests that visitors do a little white water rafting here but this year there is barely enough water to wade in. 

Thirteen years ago I remember being in awe of the railroad trestle over the gorge; it is so high up. I had a vested interest; my grandfather and two of my uncles worked on the Erie Railroad (two were engineers) and traveled over this bridge many times. I don't think I would like that.

When we were here before we hiked along the gorge. There are many miles of hiking trails in the park. We didn't hike this time, because of my darn cold. Last time we took off nearly every day for rides out and away from the park to visit charming little towns here and there. We also biked two different routes. This time we drove to Perry which is just outside of the west entrance of the park and the best day was the day we drove through Warsaw and to the quaint town of Wyoming. In each town in western New York you will find plenty of big homes on main street or church street and a good assortment of churches with tall steeples. I love the architecture. 

As we were driving around we noticed big signs forbidding trucks on route 20A which went to Warsaw. We figured there must be an old bridge, but the day we took off in the Toyota to visit that area, we discovered the real reason. First of all there must have been 20 warning signs as we approached Warsaw which ordered trucks, RVs and cars with trailers to exit that road. They gave alternative suggestions and finally when it was too late for an alternative road, they provided a turn around. They just didn't want any big vehicles coming into town. We were really puzzled until we started down the very steep, curvy hill which ended at the stop light in the center of town. Whew!!!!

 We didn't stay in town long as our destination was Wyoming a little further northeast, but the big church (center photo) really caught our attention. If you look closely that brick building behind the tree there is a continuation of the church you see in the foreground. The big houses were hard to photograph because of the gates, trees and heavy foliage. 

At first glimpse Wyoming looked like a small community on the edge of being run down. Some of the large old houses were in need of some tender loving care. We drove up and down the village streets twice trying to see what was so good about this town which was described as a "gaslight village"; we saw the gas lights, but little else at first. It was past lunch time though so we parked and entered the Gaslight Village Cafe. The moment we entered we were enchanted. The first thing we saw was the counter full of decadent desserts, pretty flowers, special little touches and it was all wrapped with romantic instrumental music softly playing in the background. There was only one other couple in the place as it was late in the afternoon. Being the romantic that I am, I imagined that we had wandered into that special secret place where only lovers go. 

The menu was delightful and we choose a sesame chicken salad which perfectly matched everything else in the cafe. The large bowl of greens were crisp, the chicken was hot and freshly prepared and the dressing was to die for. Mixed into the salad were grapes and little sections of melon. We were also served fresh breads. 

The Gaslight Village Cafe/Cannonball Run Pub exterior           Tempting desserts

The interior of the Cafe (we sat in one of the booths)        The interior of the Cannonball Run Pub is reminiscent of English Pubs

Some of the houses on main street

After lunch we realized that there was a cluster of shops near the Cafe (all owned by the same man) and we explored them all. 

The grocery store exterior and interior. Notice the wooden floors and the sign stating that they also sell gas and kerosene. 
All are a sign of the times. 

The Gaslight Christmas Shoppe was full of darling ornaments and good smells.
The Christmas shop is housed in an 85 year old former fire hall built as a centenial gift for the village and believed to have been toured by such famous personages as President Theodore Roosevelt. 

The post office (left) also houses Lydia's gift shop.  On the left is Silas Newell's Provisions
Lydia's is dedicated to the matriarch of the village, the noted Mrs. Lydia Avery Coonley Ward, who summered in the village at her lovely Hillside Estate during the early part of the century and who was the cultural heart and soul of Wyoming for decades. Silas Newell's Provisions is named for the founder of Wyoming. This store is a unique experience and is based on the 19th century country stores. It features everything from home made fudge to rustic furniture and from gourmet foods, candles and pottery to an extensive array of unusual gifts and gadgets.

A couple other shops and the church complete with steeple.

We had a great time exploring Wyoming and on the way enjoyed sights of the beautiful farms which dotted the hills surrounding Letchworth State Park. If you have never visited western New York, just do it. Take some long drives and it won't matter where you go, you will find friendly people who are willing to share their town with you. 

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