Phantom Beauty

I go here often enough, its beauty is unmatched in the area, however I find it very difficult to come away with interesting photographs, it is wild, chaotic and messy with mud, twigs, pine needles, leaves and heavy shade. There is no negative space in the broader sense or the macro. It’s all jumbled. In a sense it gives me deeper respect for the preserve. I can only capture it in the present and in memory.


At the O.D. von Engeln Preserve at Malloryville, more than a mile of eskers — ancient river beds that once ran through glaciers — wind through a pocket of forest adjacent to Fall Creek. At the foot of the eskers, groundwater bubbles up in a constant stream of minerals that nurture rare plants and a wide variety of animals.

The amazing diversity of wetland habitats within the preserve, from bogs to fens to wooded swamps, nurtures a variety of rare plants and natural communities found in few other places in New York.

In 2001, AES Cayuga, the NY State Electric & Gas Company, the Howland Foundation, the Rothenberg Family Foundation and Trex Company helped support construction of a new trail system and information kiosk, and publication of a new preserve brochure.

The preserve is named for Cornell geology professor O.D. von Engeln (1880-1965), who wished to see the site managed and protected as a nature preserve and bequeathed funds that, years later, made its protection possible. Neighbors and longtime Conservancy supporters Bob and Gwen Beck, and their sons, Nathan and Gordon, made a critical donation of 35 acres at the heart of the preserve. Bob Beck who chronicles the preserve’s story in “The Journey at Malloryville Bog: Commitment, Teamwork and Tenacity in Defense of Land and Nature” (2013), was honored with The Nature Conservancy’s “Friend of the Land” award for his efforts in the 1980s & 90s to protect these diverse wetlands from adjacent gravel mine and concrete plant development.

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