100th Anniversary of T-burg’s Smith Woods

Smith Woods is a magnificent, diverse tract of old growth forest located across from the fairgrounds, just south of the village of Trumansburg. Some of the trees are more than 200 years old, with a recently fallen hemlock dating back to 1663. The Cayuga Nature Center is pleased to announce the official transfer of Smith Woods from the H. A. Smith Charitable Trust to the Center.The earliest records (1817) indicate that the tract was owned by Nicoll Halsey, a U.S. congressman who built a grist mill along Taughannock Creek. Mr. Halsey cleared lots of land south of Trumansburg, but for some reason, Smith Woods was left mostly intact. Halsey eventually sold the land to the local bank for debt repayment. After a few years, it was purchased by Henry Smith, a wallpaper manufacturer from New York City who vacationed in the area. When Smith died, he passed the tract on to his son, Arthur. A. Smith, who did not wish to vacation in the area but was a conservationist. He established a trust and sold the land to it for $1.00. The date of this transaction was February 27, 1909.For the past 100 years, the woods has been managed by community members serving as trustees of the trust. However, the Smith Woods board was not associated with an institution, so the property was not fully used for “educational and recreational purposes” as established in the charter. In 2005 the Smith Woods board began searching for a partner to help with themanagement of the property. The Cayuga Nature Center enthusiastically embraced the opportunity as the missions of both entities are nearly identical. A loop trail was established, school groups, scouts and community groups began using the woods for educational purposes, and invasive species were removed.In 2007, attorney William Shaw initiated the process of transferring ownership to CNC. What appeared at first to be a simple transaction was complicated by the lack of documentation and official records from that time period. Through considerable effort, Shaw was able to obtain approval from the state attorney general for ownership transfer to the Cayuga Nature Center. For more information about Smith Woods visit www.cayuganaturecenter.org/smithwoods/To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Smith Woods and to reinforce the intent of the original charter, a series of four wildflower walks will be held on Saturday May 9th. Hikes will occur every two hours beginning at 9:00 a.m. from the Sure Save entrance. Wildflowers should be blooming at their peak that weekend. Hikes are over flat terrain and are suitable for all ages.For more information about the event call CNC at [607] 273-6260.

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