This Outdoor Learning Center is
dedicated to Robert B. Woodruff, principal and teacher, who devoted his
40 year career to the students of the Owen D. Young Central School
Outdoor Learning Center of the Owen D. Young Central School consists of
more than 50 acres in a natural setting in the gorge of the Otsquago
Creek, adjacent to the school in Van Hornesville, New York.
OLC is located on the site of an 18th century trail, which became the
road between Fort Plain and Cooperstown in the 19th century. George
Washington was said to have used the trail in 1783 while on route to
Cherry Valley. Washington was searching for sites to establish new grain
mills to replace those that were badly damaged by the British. Shortly
thereafter, the valley was settled by the Van Hornes who saw the
magnificent potential power of the many waterfalls which frequented the
creek. As the village grew, so did the dams, mills, and factories which
produced, flour, cheese, cigar boxes, caskets, distilled spirits and
In the summer of 1984 through
the efforts of the late Janet Nevins Young, work was begun to open the
gorge to the public, and particularly to the students of the school.
After considerable research by Charles Watkins, an ODY faculty member,
work crews of students and community volunteers, began the delicate task
of making the site accessible without unduly disturbing the natural
concerns, preservation of artifacts connected with the early industries
also guided the workers. Bridges were built, paths cleared, picnic
tables constructed, and difficult terrain was made accessible.
WHAT TO SEENature At Work
area is a four-season opportunity for all. Nature lovers can see new
life beginning each spring as the wild flowers and plants break forth
out of their winter sleep and the trees start their budding ritual.
you walk the 1¼ mile trail to the deep woods, you can observe a variety
of wild, many species of trees and babbling brooks racing downward to
join the creek. In the early morning, the observant walker may be able
to see and hear the wildlife, the white-tailed deer, the gray squirrels
or even the gobble of wild turkey on the hillside. As the seasons
change, so do the many scenes within the nature center.
visitors can enjoy cross country skiing or snow-shoeing. If you are a
hearty soul, the ice formations at the waterfalls offer some
breathtaking photo opportunities.
geologist or the amateur rock hound will be interested in seeing how
the creek has cut it's path, dividing the steep shale cliffs on one side
from the limestone formations on the other side.
The Cave Trail
branch of the main trail will lead you to the caves. A visit to the
limestone caves is a must, especially for the younger visitors. Although
not very large, they are impressive and serve as a play area as well as
a learning environment for all. There is also a picnic area here.
the caves there is an easy walk down a constructed walkway to the
waterfalls. These falls have been a delight to artists, photographers,
bathers and fisherman for many years.
amateur archaeologist will want to visit the old sawmill site to see
the remains of the dam and some of the machinery used in the operation
of the mill. The site and foundation of the cheese box factory are also
self-guided facility is open during daylight hours, year-round. If you
wish to meet someone upon arrival to obtain more information, please
call in advance. If you are bringing students or a special group and
would like instruction in a special area of interest, please let us know
and we will try to accommodate your request.
FACILITIESThe facilities of the Outdoor Learning Center
- Picnic Tables
- Charcoal Grills
- Handicap Accessible Toilet Facilities
- Trails, Access to Waterfalls
- Herb Garden
- Limestone Caves - Depicted on a mural at the 1939 Worlds Fair
- New York State Registered Brook Trout Stream
Enjoy peace, the quiet sounds of nature...stop along the trail and listen. Bring a book to read on a quiet summer afternoon.
HELP US PROTECT THE NATURAL BEAUTY
- Remain on the trails
- Protect all plants and animals
- Observe the ban on hunting, camping, use of alcoholic beverages, cutting, vehicular use, and fires (except in designated areas)
HOW TO FIND US The
Robert B. Woodruff Outdoor Learning Center is located in the village of
Van Hornesville on New York State Route 80. Access to the facility is
via the driveway at the north side of the Owen D. Young Central School.
Turn into the driveway, head down the hill and bear to the left; it is a
short distance to the parking area and entrance by the bridge.