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Nature's Eternal Flame
November 20, 2012 8:03 PM   Subscribe

Just off the trail in Chestnut Ridge Park, New York, there is a small waterfall called the Eternal Flame Falls. Natural gas wells up from the earth and escapes just underneath the waterfall. Once in a while, it goes out and is re-lit by the next hiker that comes along.
posted by empatterson (31 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sorry that the links aren't very meaty.
posted by empatterson at 8:06 PM on November 20, 2012


Well that is cool. Thanks!
posted by Miko at 8:11 PM on November 20, 2012


Neat! I forgot about this place. I grew up in West Seneca, the whole area has some fascinating features. My personal favorite place was Hunter's Creek.
posted by Bridymurphy at 8:14 PM on November 20, 2012


a friend of mine lived next to hunter's creek park. he took me to the eternal flame too, and it was lit when we arrived there. beautiful area.
posted by maximum sensing at 8:17 PM on November 20, 2012


Wait--what? A natural flame inside a waterfall?! What?

So cool--thanks for posting. How on earth did it get lit in the first place?
posted by LarryC at 8:22 PM on November 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here in Washington State, we have Flaming Geyser State Park. It's not in a waterfall, but it's next to a river. Oh, and the "geyser" is about the size of a cigarette lighter flame. You know those natural wonders that make you question your place in the universe? Yeah - it's not one of those.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:28 PM on November 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


I had no idea such things existed - now I want to go hiking there and relight the flame if need be. Thanks for the post!
posted by rtha at 9:22 PM on November 20, 2012


You have got to be kidding me. Neat!
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:45 PM on November 20, 2012


So, some dude comes along and ignites Mother Earth's farts. Who knew?
posted by Goofyy at 9:58 PM on November 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Crazy, I saw something like that in Turkey, the Chimera which is outside Olympos. A field of rocks with small flames coming out of them. Must have been amazing thousands of years ago when the gas pressure was higher.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 10:03 PM on November 20, 2012


Wonder who was the first to light it? Hope they did it on a day that the breeze was blowing.. otherwise all that natural gas building up...
posted by rjc3000 at 10:03 PM on November 20, 2012


Once in a while, it goes out ...

So, not really eternal. I propose a name change to The Somewhat Intermittent Flame Falls.
posted by marsha56 at 10:17 PM on November 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


I had no idea such things existed - now I want to go hiking there and relight the flame if need be. Thanks for the post!

This is a nice sentiment, but trust me, I wouldn't plan any trips around the flame. I think you would be disappointed. On the other hand, Buffalo is a great town (really), and this could be one part of a fun trip.
posted by pickinganameismuchharderthanihadanticipated at 10:37 PM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


now I want to go hiking there and relight the flame if need be.

Considering methane's contribution to climate change is many times that of carbon dioxide keeping it burning is a good idea, but honestly things like this need to be capped and sequestered before the rising sea levels drown us all.
posted by three blind mice at 1:19 AM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Say my name, sun shines through the rain ...

(I'll get me coat)
posted by scruss at 4:23 AM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I grew up like a mile from there! Chestnut Ridge Park also has one of the best toboggan runs in the area.
posted by troika at 4:36 AM on November 21, 2012


So it's a fire swamp?
posted by blue_beetle at 4:46 AM on November 21, 2012


I blame fracking.
posted by oneironaut at 4:51 AM on November 21, 2012


At the end of this trail you can also climb up the "cliff" using the exposed tree roots, which is fun for kids (my kids doing this).

It was strange this morning seeing a post about a place only a couple of miles from where I live, by an OP with the same last name. For a second I thought I had posted it myself, in my sleep.
posted by Eyebeams at 4:55 AM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Eyebeams, how high and how vertical is that?
posted by oneironaut at 4:57 AM on November 21, 2012


And since someone mentioned Hunters Creek, here it is in fall and in winter.
posted by Eyebeams at 4:57 AM on November 21, 2012


Maybe 50-60 feet, and 75-80 degrees (?). (EDIT - No it's not that steep. I don't know how to measure that. Maybe 60 degrees.) I was terrified the first time I watched my kids do it (they were about 12 and 15).
posted by Eyebeams at 5:00 AM on November 21, 2012


Chestnut Ridge Park also has a very nice frisbee golf course. ;-) Thanks for this post.
posted by Eyebeams at 5:02 AM on November 21, 2012


"We were able to get it going with a cigarette lighter we carry for emergencies"

Only paranoid sekrit tokers ever specify this. It's cool, Ruth, it's cool.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 6:02 AM on November 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


I remember some debate as to whether or not the flame is fueled by natural natural gas or piped natural gas since it has the smell of natural gas used in homes which is apparently an added odor. Anyone know?

I grew up in the area and am visiting for Thanksgiving and had just been thinking this would be a great day-after-Thanksgiving hike as I haven't been in years, but it doesn't look like the weather will be cooperating. Sigh. Buffalo.
posted by radiomayonnaise at 6:56 AM on November 21, 2012


Not having a light while sitting by this Falls is definitely an emergency...oh, and nthing the 'I grew up in this area' meme.
posted by sfts2 at 7:28 AM on November 21, 2012


> but honestly things like this need to be capped and sequestered before the rising sea levels drown us all.

That's the dumbest thing ever.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:31 AM on November 21, 2012


I remember some debate as to whether or not the flame is fueled by natural natural gas or piped natural gas since it has the smell of natural gas used in homes which is apparently an added odor. Anyone know?

That’s what I was wondering when the article said you could smell the gas as you approached.
posted by bongo_x at 10:36 AM on November 21, 2012


Wow, what a cool little thing! I wonder how it was first discovered that you could light it, because it seems just smelling gas and thinking, "hm, maybe I could set something 'round here aflame" would not be very wise.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:23 AM on November 21, 2012


radiomayonnaise - Too bad you can't go today or tomorrow, right now it's 61° F and sunny, and the forecast for tomorrow is similar.
posted by Eyebeams at 12:05 PM on November 21, 2012


the article said you could smell the gas as you approached.

Could be sour gas — methane with hydrogen sulfide.
posted by scruss at 6:29 PM on November 21, 2012


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