Potato Hill State Forest

History along the Finger Lakes Trail

Potato Hill State Forest

Berkshire, New York 13736, United States

Created By: Diane Lebo Wallace


The majority of Potato Hill State Forest was acquired in 1938 and 1940, with two additional purchases in 1975 and 1980. The name of this forest attests to the large scale planting of potatoes in the area by early Irish Immigrants. The highest Tompkins County production recorded was 316,334 bushels in 1845. By 1865, Tompkins County production had dropped to 166,300 bushels, but potatoes were still raised on a decreasing scale until the 1960's. Previous owners of the land included the Kendall, Hotaling, Royce, Cortright, Delola and Michaud families, as well as the Federal Land Bank.

Since soil erosion was a serious problem on the newly acquired farmlands, a massive tree planting campaign began. The labor used to create these tree plantations was provided by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a work program established by the Roosevelt Administration to create jobs. The Slaterville Springs Camp S-125, hand planted more than 602,000 tree seedlings on Potato Hill State Forest between 1939 and 1941. In 1965, the Caroline Center Youth Camp hand planted an additional 2,000 trees. Almost all the seedlings planted were softwood species, with Norway spruce, red pine and white pine being the most frequently planted species.

Learn more about the history of New York's state forests

FLT Map M18

This point of interest is part of the tour: History along the Finger Lakes Trail


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