A HIDDEN WONDER
The beautiful and impressive Cohoes Falls is a waterfall that is
located on the mohawk river in New York State within the City of
Cohoes and the Town of Waterford. These falls are classified as a
block type waterfall. A block or sheet waterfall is formed from a
wide river. When the water spills over the edge, it looks like a
big sheet, especially if the flow isn't broken by any stray rocks
protruding from the back-wall. A block waterfall is usually wider
than it is high.
Apart from Niagara falls, The Cohoes Falls is the largest
waterfall in eastern United States. The Cohoes Falls are remarkably
wide measuring in at 1000ft! By comparison, Niagara Falls at the
American side is about 830ft wide. How else do the falls measure
up? Cohoes falls is between 70ft to 90ft high at the south end ,
whereas Niagra Falls at the American side is 100ft high. No
comparison to the Horseshoe falls which measures in at 163ft.
Still, at peak spring flow the Cohoes Falls is an awe inspiring
Another amazing comparison can be made regarding the retreat of
Cohoes falls to that of it's more famous Canadian counterpart.
Niagara Falls has receeded more than 7 miles since it's beginnings
whereas Cohoes Falls has retreated up river only about 2000ft. The
difference can be explained with a good look at the rock of Cohoes
Falls when water volume is lowest in the winter. The bed of the
river is an indurated(or hardened)shale and sandstone that that is
shaped like a steeply descending hill at the falls rather than a
vertical drop-off. So the river water follows this sloping contour
more smoothly than it would if falling abruptly leading to vastly
decreased erosion meaning a much slower rate of recession.
A Prehistoric Giant Unearthed
This area is also paleologically important as this same river
bed held the intact skeleton of what is now known as the Cohoes
Mastodont. The discovery was made in one of the deepest potholes
ever excavated in the Mohawk river valley. In September, 1866,
workmen were excavating for a foundation for an addition to the
Harmony Mills at Cohoes. In these digging operations the men came
upon the lower jaw and single foot bone lying on a ledge of rock at
the side of a filled-in pothole. Further excavation, to a depth of
fifty feet, brought to light the principal parts of the skeleton
lying on a bed of clay and broken slate above a layer of waterworn
pebbles, with which the powerful water currents had drilled this
great pothole. This lower layer was ten feet thick and showed that
the pothole was old before the mastodon was here entombed. The fill
in the pothole above these bones consisted of fifty feet of muck,
peaty soil, fragments of tree limbs, rotten beaver-gnawed wood,
washed here by the flood of the great Iromohawk. On top of this was
a layer of artificial fill, the work of modern man.
The Cohoes mastodon is the only actual specimen found within the
To claim the Earthcache:
limits of the Mohawk Valley and its location was on its very
eastern edge. There is reason to believe, however, that these
animals ranged the more level parts of our Valley just as they did
other parts of the State.
At the IP, you'll see an informational marker where you'll learn how this river trench was formed. On the map on the marker locate the giant lake to the west of the Adirondack mountains. This enormous glacial melt lake drains to the Atlantic ocean and created the Cohoes Falls. PLEASE EMAIL US WITH THE NAME OF THAT LAKE AS GIVEN ON THE MAP AND ALSO HOW LONG IT TOOK FOR THE FLOW TO CARVE THE MOHAWK TRENCH.
Also, please submit a picture of yourself with your GPS with the falls in the background. Earthcache guidelines state that this photo request be optional, but it's a very photogenic area! Great photo ops can be had at The Falls View Park(open seasonally 9am-dusk)or from the park located at the end of School Street in Cohoes.
TO LOG THIS CACHE DURING WINTER OR DURING THE PARK'S OFF HOURS PLEASE USE THE WINTER IP ADDITIONAL WAYPOINT INCLUDED WITH THIS LISTING.