High Falls

Rochester’s High Falls Historic District

Welcome to the High Falls Historic District. Rochester’s 96-foot High Falls was considered one of the wonders of the American wilderness.  About 10,000 years ago, deposits from the retreat of the last glacier began diverting the Genesee to its present location.  From Rochester to Lake Ontario, the river drops about 300 feet.  Waterfalls occurred as the river met rock that was resistant to erosion. The Genesee River gorge was created by the upstream migration of these falls.

Looking out over the gorge, you can see rock formations of shale, limestone and sandstone, with bands of iron ore. These sedimentary rocks, formed by the accumulation of deposits that came from what is now the Hudson Valley, are more than 400 million years old. Soils from the then Alpine-like mountains were washed into a shallow sea. The sediment compressed and cemented to form layers of rock. The red sandstone, locally called Medina sandstone, provided an excellent building material and is often found on Rochester sidewalks, curbs and older buildings.

Rochester kids know the story of Sam Patch, a 19th century daredevil, who had conquered Niagara Falls.  Sadly, Sam jumped from High Falls to his death on Friday the thirteenth of November, 1829.  Tap this link to hear a wonderful story about Sam Patch by Nate DiMeo of the Memory Palace.

Download the free Tour Blend app, or tap the photo below for a free, audio-narrated tour of the High Falls Historic District.

Tap this graphic for a free, audio-guided tour of High Falls, including the Historic District

Rochester’s High Falls is located along the Genesee Riverway Trail, a scenic multi-use trail which runs through Rochester from Lake Ontario to the Erie Canal.  It is a designated National Recreational Trail, and connects to both the statewide Erie Canal Heritage Trail and the Genesee Valley Greenway Trail, which continues south along the Genesee River.

This website was created by the Genesee River Alliance. Be the first to learn about events and activities along the river by signing up for the Genesee River Alliance Enews.