You know you are old when events of geological significance begin to occur during your lifetime. As long as most alive can remember there has been a column of rock rising up at the base of the Helderberg Escarpment known by many as Pillar or Chimney Rock. It was actually once part of escarpment. Over who knows how many years, a crevice eroded away between the giant tower of rock and the cliff it was once attached to and eventually it stood on its own as a towering column as high as the cliff itself. A couple of days ago it fell down.
News traveled fast in our neighborhood, which lies along the base of the mountain. Many of us who live here have grown up here and spent a lifetime studying the cliffs in all seasons. We don’t know yet of anyone who heard it fall but one neighbor, Dwight Anderson, who lives on the flats right below the section of the escarpment where Pillar Rock had stood, came home one day and thought something seemed strange. He studied his environs and soon determined that Pillar Rock, which was visible from his back door, was gone. He called another neighbor, Tim Albright with the news. Yesterday Tim called my husband, and that’s how I found out. This morning my husband went down the road to take a look and it is true—Pillar Rock is no more.
Pillar Rock stood near the base of Yellow Rock Falls, an area which is in Thacher Park but is not accessible to the public. As teenagers however we frequently set out from our own backyards and climbed up to the base of the escarpment. The huge, limestone blocks of staggering size that litter the slope beneath the cliffs had fallen once, as Pillar Rock would eventually do. We spent hours scrabbling amongst these enormous boulders as big as cars and along the Upper and Lower Bear Paths that run the length of the escarpment. It was possible to walk along a narrow path in between Pillar Rock and the cliff and of course we did.
If you want to learn more about Thacher Park, check out the book of antique photographs I helped Tim Albright put together, John Boyd Thacher Park and the Indian Ladder Region http://www.amazon.com/Thacher-
Also, this Saturday local people will have a chance to talk to state officials about what we think the future should hold for Thacher Park. The state folks will be at the Emma Treadwell Nature Center on Saturday, April 28 from 9 to 5 to hear comments. http://nysparks.com/events/