Beebe Lake

To the southeast of north campus lies Beebe Lake. It is a little over a mile in circumference and has a bridge and a waterfall on each end. There is a nice path that goes around the lake which many people use for jogging or biking. It is a nice break from the concrete, asphalt, and brick of the campus.

Most of the lake is about wading depth and good for canoeing. The eastern bridge (Sackett Foot Bridge) is over much deeper water and is a popular spot for “gorge jumping” (the term Cornellians use to describe jumping from a ledge or a bridge into a gorge). There is an island in the lake that is overgrown with thick foliage; it is one of the most inaccessible areas at Cornell. The western bridge (Triphammer Foot Bridge) is a common way to and from north campus, and it goes over a large waterfall (Triphammer Falls) which is visible from the Thurston avenue bridge.

Beebe Lake from West Bridge Beebe Lake from East Footbridge
From the east From the west
Canoeing on Beebe Lake East End of Beebe Lake
Canoeing Dam to the west
Beebe Lake Stone Bridge

Beebe Lake Falls

Stone bridge to the east
(picture from “Explore Cornell“)
Triphammer falls,
as seen from Thurston Ave. Bridge

According to Cornell’s online audio/visual tour of the campus, the hockey team used to practice and have games on Beebe Lake when it froze over in the winter. There also used to be a toboggan slide leading to the lake, but it was closed due to safety concerns. Also discontinued was the “aquatic carnival” held every spring. You can see videos of these past events on the “Explore Cornell” website. When Cornell was just Ezra Cornell’s farm, Beebe Lake was a swamp. In the spring, the path around the lake can still become rather muddy. In the 1980s, a bunch of silt and other material had to be removed from the lake to preserve its appearance.

Beebe Lake LoopThe path around the lake is known as the “Beebe Lake Loop,” and is considered part of the plantations. A sign at one point on the trail (near the Triphammer bridge) tells a little bit of the history of the lake. The sign says that a walk around the loop will take no more than 45 minutes, but I can’t imagine it would take more than 25 minutes to walk, even stopping occasionally along the way. You can pretty much see the entire loop in the top right picture in the table above. The trail was built/created by the class of ’59, so it has been around for quite a while. Beebe Lake itself has been around since 1898.

The loop is a great way to get to some other parts of the plantations, such as the herb garden. If you want to walk around the path and go to the herb garden, it’s probably best to do so at the beginning of the school year, as it gets cold and snowy really early.


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Thurston Avenue Bridge

Thurston Bridge from far away

The Thurston Avenue Bridge, the shortest way to and from north campus, is currently closed for construction. According to, the project costs about $10 million dollars. You can see the manufacturing of the arches at a separate location. The purpose of the rehabilitation is to maintain the bridge properly and support an increase in traffic. From the “City of Ithaca” website: “Traffic counts taken in 2005 indicate that approximately 8,500 vehicles travel across the bridge on a daily basis. At the evening rush hour, about 1020 vehicles, 950 pedestrians and 60 bicyclists cross the bridge in an hour. Even higher pedestrian and bicycle counts occur in the morning.”

Because of the closure, students have to go over the Beebe Lake/Triphammer footbridge to travel. It isn’t that much more of a walk, but when you are late, those few minutes matter. The closure also disrupts TCAT bus routes and makes driving around campus much more difficult. The bridge is closed for a scheduled 3 weeks now and should open again on September 29th, but overall construction won’t be completed until October 31, 2007. During this time the bridge will alternate between half-closure and complete closure.

North Foundation Workers on Thurston Bridge
North foundation Workers on one arch

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