Waterfall Of The Eternal Flame, A Unique Place In New York

The Cascade of Eternal Flame, as its name implies, is a fantastic place where fire is never extinguished. This happens completely naturally, but it alludes to hundreds of rituals that exist in various cultures.
Cascade of the eternal flame, a unique place in New York

Located in the state of New York is the waterfall of the eternal flame, more exactly in Chestnut Ridge Park. Behind a waterfall, inside a cave, there is a solitary flame that burns on the ground without wood to feed it.

All kinds of speculations have been elaborated around its origin, but only recently has science intervened to unravel the mystery. The interesting thing is that it is said that this fire has been lit for several centuries, as a memory of time.

The waterfall of the eternal flame is a place that attracts the attention of curious and leaves experts speechless, so it is worth visiting. But it is also a space for interiorization that raises questions about humility, loneliness and enlightenment.

Brief history of the eternal flames

The eternal fire or flame has a long tradition in religions  and cultures around the world. For example, in the religion of Zoroastrianism, it was a common practice to light one of these flames. There is evidence from 2000 years before our era in Turkestan, a historical region located between the Gobi Desert and the Caspian Sea.

In ancient Persia, during the Achaemenid dynasty in 550 BC, Mithra and Ahura Mazda were worshiped , and an eternal flame was included as part of their worship rituals. In the same way the Greek culture did it with its god Zeus, which was equivalent to Ahura Mazda.

Herodotus mentions in several of his books part of these rituals, which also included climbing high mountains to offer sacrifices to Zeus and, apparently, to carry out cremation activities. It was also a practice in Judaism, since they kept an eternal flame in the synagogues.

Usually these eternal flames were fueled with olive oil, firewood, or charcoal. They always had a symbolism associated with enlightenment and creation, in one sense, or with purification and destruction, in another.

The cascade of the eternal flame burns from a gas leak.
Flickr.com / Grow WNY.

Aspects of interest about this attraction

Since the human species recognized the benefits of fire, it wanted to dominate it, but first it had to find a way to keep it burning. This aspect was essential in case domestic fires were extinguished at some point.

In most cases, this responsibility was assumed throughout history by religions and rulers as a symbol of power. Hence, even today in the sanctuaries of all religions a fire is kept burning.

In a large number of villages that worshiped the sun, fire was venerated, probably in an indirect allusion to the sun king. An example of this is found in the Chaldeans, for whom fire was the supreme deity.

In this sense, it was forbidden to throw impure objects into the fire. For this reason, in various cultures  only the nobility could feed the fire with expensive essences and flowers ; maybe that’s where the incense came from.

In other cases, it was the priests who designated themselves as protectors of the fire and kept all the secrets related to it, as a tool to exercise dominion over the subjects.

Origin of the Eternal Flame Cascade

Although there are hundreds of eternal flames scattered throughout the world, only rarely has anyone taken the task of investigating their origin. For the case at hand, a group of geologists from Indiana University decided to investigate why this phenomenon occurs and the impact it could have on the greenhouse effect.

This study concluded that the eternal flame cascade is the result of a hydrocarbon seepage  from an underground reservoir. These travel through different layers of the subsoil, pushed by pressure and through small cracks. Basically, what rises to the surface is a mixture of ethane, propane and methane gases.

They claim that these gases originate in the Upper Devonian period, about 380 million years ago, and that the deposit is about 400 meters deep. They also explain that the small cracks through which the gases escape are the result of tectonic displacements.

Finally, it is stated that in this area it is not the only leak, but that it is populated by a large number of microfiltration; hence the characteristic smell of the sector. Additionally, they draw attention to this type of methane emissions, since they represent about 30% of the total gas expelled into the atmosphere by natural sources. Therefore, they make an important contribution to global warming.

The park where the waterfall of the eternal flame is

Chestnut Ridge Park , home to the Eternal Flame Falls, is only 5 square kilometers in size and is the largest in all of Erie County. It has adequate spaces for practicing various sports such as hiking, mountain biking, water skiing, fishing, children’s attractions and areas adapted to enjoy picnics.

The Eternal Flame Waterfall is located in Chestnut Ridge Park.
Flickr.com / joe diebold.

This recreational space presents a landscape of rolling hills with plenty of water sources. That is why it is very popular within the community and, therefore, it is visited especially on weekends.

The grotto serves as protection against the wind and water to the flame. The fire is about 5 meters high and the flame is only about 15 centimeters. Meanwhile, the waterfall is 9 meters high and approximately 4 meters wide.

The Eternal Flame Waterfall is off the beaten track, but is accessible from a path in the southern part of the park. You can consult the website of the place, where you will find a map with key points and instructions that must be followed.

Recommendations to visit it

If what you are looking for is to appreciate the waterfall of the eternal flame in all its splendor, it is advisable to visit the area during spring or after heavy rains. If not, the waterfall is most likely dry or flowing with very little water.

To access the waterfall of the eternal flame, it is necessary to travel a path of approximately 2.5 kilometers. This should be done with special caution, as this terrain is eroded and forms slippery mud in combination with the water.

Finally, there may also be objects such as rocks or tree roots that are not detectable with the naked eye and, therefore, can lead to falls and accidents. However, it is only after the short journey that we can see that the effort was well worth it.

Cover image: Flickr.com / Craig K.

The waterfall of fire: a strange phenomenon

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