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County is treasure of geological history

June 21, 2008
Our county is not only a treasure of plant and animal life, but also a treasure of geological history, as demonstrated by the photographs and reports I receive from many of you. I thought it would be appropriate to highlight a few of these physical areas as well as the living things and give credit to those of you, past and present, who have contributed items. Those of you who have lived in this area for several years may also be familiar with the geological history of our region’s physical development as well as the treasure of living things we have to observe and enjoy.

To observe the physical development of our area, all one needs to do is take a ride to Westfield, Dunkirk or Silver Creek, view the shore of Lake Erie along the way, and observe the lake and marvel at the wonder of the development of this geological phenomenon. This area was once covered by a huge glacier and as the back and forth movement of this glacier took place, it cleared an area of rock and soil about two to four miles wide, which eventually produced the region referred to today as the Lake Erie Plain. You will observe the flat and somewhat rolling appearance.

After that, I suggest you drive to the intersection of Routes 5 and 60, aim the car south and drive toward the village of Cassadaga. As you pass the intersection of Route 60 and Route 20, you will start to climb a small hill. The last glacier that covered this region helped form this small hill due to its back and forth motion thousands of years ago. This region is referred to today as the Allegany escarpment.

Since the escarpment was higher than the lake plain, drainage occurred in several locations. The following streams in our county flow toward the lake: the Chautauqua, Canadaway, Walnut and Silver Creek, with some being referred to as creeks. Along this plain we also see the development of major transportation routes, known as Routes 5 and 20 and the New York State Thruway. The physical action that I have just described created the habitat for the variety of plant and animal life found in our area.

As the area developed geologically, plant and animal life eventually moved in, creating some of the well-known life zones we are familiar with today. With the seasonal changes we experience over the year, we have recorded a vast variety of this life. Data collected by local residents have recorded 341 species of birds that nest, migrate or appear here on regular or rare occasions, and 49 species of mammals, such as rabbits, squirrels and deer. A good variety of reptiles and amphibians, which include snakes, turtles, salamanders and frogs, exist here, numbering about 35 species along with countless numbers of insects and plants. I am indebted to my instructors — including the late Willard F. Stanley and my column’s predecessor, Allen Benton — for their countless contributions to my database of photographs, and to many area residents for their submission of article ideas and photos as well as locations of various wildlife forms. Some of these areas I will report in this article, while other locations will never be reported for the protection of those species.

I would like to again remind you to send your pictures and article ideas to me by e-mail at or by U.S. mail to 38 Elm St., Fredonia, N.Y. 14063. If sending by U.S. mail, please put your name and address on the back so proper credit can be given. Thank you.

Article Photos

Submitted photo
An Eastern Chipmunk, photographed by George Giambra of Fredonia.



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