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Older than the hills?

Gilboa Fossil Forest
Gilboa Fossil Forest
samuel hoff

Wattieza early prehistoric trees resemble a modern tree fern, over 34’ tall with fronds instead of leaves. Wattieza reproduce through spores and are estimated to date back 385 years.

Nine of these rare Wattieza fossil trees are exhibited within a visitor’s center at an educational kiosk, in Gilboa NY. In addition the visitor center has new permanent displays of logging saws, antique farming tools and artifacts from early days of Gilboa.

The visitor center is one half mile from Gilboa Dam on land owned by the town of Gilboa. The trees are on loan from the N. Y. Department of Environmental Protection. A gift shop is open with fossil jewelry, wood toys, t-shirts and souvenirs.

12:30 PM to 4:30 PM Saturday $ Sunday
July 2nd to September 4th
122 Stryker Rd
Gilboa, NY 12076

A cotton mill was a major boon for early town economy of Gilboa until destroyed by flood in 1826. The upright stumps of the fossilized trees were first uncovered by the flash flood. The town was like many settlements of the era, workers in 1870 were blasting a site for a stone quarry. They discovered the fossilized remains of tree stumps that were identified as ancient Wattieza.

A water project for New York City in the 1920’s required excavation for a dam in the Gilboa area. The project unearthed large upright tree stumps of a fossil forest. The find was of great interest to an international research team of paleobotanists. They found evidence they were Earth’s earliest forest trees.

Gilboa was first settled about 1760, and named after the biblical site Mount Gilboa, Israel, This was where Philistines killed King Saul's sons, after which Saul took his own life (1 Samuel 31:4). Blenheim-Gilboa Reservoir is in the northwest part of Gilboa. Damming of Schoharie Creek formed Schoharie Reservoir south of the town. The dam is at the south east of the reservoir.

Gilboa NY is a town 64 miles southwest of Albany of population of 1,215. Gilboa is 56 miles southeast of Cooperstown NY and 156 miles north of New York City. It is on route 30, a few miles north of its junction with route 23.

Gilboa is north of Catskill Park, a 700,000-acre forest preserve protected from many forms of development under New York state law. The Catskills are well known as a source of painting and a destination for New York City vacationers. It offers opportunities for recreation with over thirty peaks over 3,500’.

Gilboa NY is a 222-mile drive of 3 ½ hours from Rochester. Drive east on I-90 Thruway to exit 29 taking route 10 south after Herkimer.

A visit to see the Wattieza prehistoric trees of Gilboa NY can be part of an interesting vacation for the summer. The area abounds with possibilities for a great vacation.

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