irresponsible parenting has its rewards

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We took the kids and a friend to Letchworth State Park (south of Rochester) yesterday, and I took a lot of photos. It's hard to resist, especially at this time of year.

At the south end of the park, above the Upper Falls, there's a railroad bridge called the Portage Bridge. It's a working bridge, and as such is of course off-limits. It's up pretty high, too, as you can see.

Portage Bridge

When the boys questioned me about the "No Trespassing" sign, I assured them that it referred only to cars, and we made our way up onto the trestle. There were plenty of other people up there, as well...we weren't the only trespassers, by a long shot. And before you get too worried, there's plenty of space on either side of the tracks--if a train had happened to come by, it would have been very scary but not deadly.

Boys on Bridge

The reason the boys look so excited and happy is because of the view that we had from the bridge (not to mention the pockets full of pebbles they tossed down into the river gorge).

View of River

So yes, I broke the law. But it was worth it. And the whole day was a great reminder of how beautiful an area we live in.

(If you want to see all the photos from the day, I've put them in a Flickr Photoset.)

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I thought about heading over to Letchworth State Park (south of Rochester) today to see the fall foliage. Unfortunately, I’m down with a minor cold (along with nearly everyone else in school), in middle of midterms, and a major paper... Read More


I wouldn't have let you, but Mary would ... Didn't you used to go out trespassing with her? I remember that quite distinctly -- you were eight, like Alex.

Great pictures!

Why don't you try panorama? It would be more cooler!

Wow, I haven't been there since I was little.. but what a view!

So maybe it was a little illegal... it's still worth the view. Wow!

Very neato - especially with the fall colors :-)

I love the pictures - fall colors are always so lovely. I would like to visit the bridge sometime and the river below it (if not go on the bridge itself). Being fairly new to Rochester, this looks like an interesting place to go.

Damn. You're a better irresponsible parent than I. Keep on questioning authority. BTW, more Southern Tier adventures...

I am heading up there for a wedding on Thursday and can't wait to see the color. I've missed it for 30 years and keep hoping each time I'll hit it. Letchworth State Park was a major part of our lives growing up in Perry, NY - picnics, wedding receptions, family reunions or just a morning out for breadfast. You can't find a more beautiful place. And, yes, we have all climbed up onto the tressel. My sister got caught when a train came over. Thanks for the pictures.

I love your blog and adore your fall pictures, and the falling water. I live near Paris, but sometimes would like so much to go outside !

Of course, it is not easy with children and their safety : but in other times, every one was on its own safety to pass or not in places...

Gee, great pictures. I would have been too concerned about going on the bridge re train times regardless of the distance from track to safety rail


Thanks for posting these shots. That's all the motivation I needed to get out before the leaves are past peak.

Just so you know, the railroad occasionally complains and the police are obligated to write tickets for being on the bridge. It's not just a ticket. Since you go around a gate to enter the property, it is criminal trespass, a misdemeaner. Not something easy to get out of! Not a good lesson to teach the kids.

Sean, my kids are learning that one always has to balance risk and reward. I think that's okay.

To Liz Lawley,

I am the Regional Director for the Genesee State Park Region, headquartered at Letchworth and have 26 years of experience in parks, mostly at Letchworth but also serving at Niagara Falls and Hamlin Beach. I see examples of this "irresponsible parenting" every day and it never fails to amaze me how parents are willing to risk their children's safety (or their own)for a better view, a "funny" picture or simply because of their disregard for rules and law. I have seen many injuries and deaths as a result of this type of attitude: "It's OK, nothing will happen to us." There are safe public areas and those that are not and are restricted for very valid reasons. I, don't disagree that we need to teach our children to balance risk and reward but not in this type of situation. There is no justification for letting them think that an activity that breaks the law and endangers them is OK!

Richard (and Sean), I do appreciate your view on this. In retrospect, it probably wasn't my best idea (and I wouldn't have given this the title I did if I hadn't know that).

If it makes you feel better, we regularly visit state and national parks, and that's the one-and-only time we've ever strayed from the approved paths. I do know that the restrictions are there for a reason.

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This page contains a single entry published on October 12, 2004 12:38 PM.

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