Glacial Potholes of Inwood Hill Park

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Glacial pothole in Inwood Hill Park.
Glacial pothole in Inwood Hill Park.

Just off the path, in an area of Inwood Hill Park known as “The Clove,” are a series of rock formations that have fascinated geologists and hikers for generations.

Glacial pothole located just off the trail in Inwood Hill Park.
Glacial pothole located just off the trail in Inwood Hill Park.

These glacial potholes, which look almost man-made, are the product of glacial runoff that occurred during the last ice age some 50,000 years ago.  During a huge melting event “turbulent, rock-fortified swirling water making its way through crevasses reached the underlying bedrock and drilled the holes.”  (A Natural History of New York City’s Parks, Linnaean Society of New York, 2007)

New York Sun, 1931Inwood resident Patrick Coghlan first discovered the three holes, measuring between three and a half and eight feet in diameter in 1931.

Inwood Hill Park Map, Inwood Hill Park on the island of Manhattan, Reginald Bolton, 1932.
Inwood Hill Park Map, Inwood Hill Park on the island of Manhattan, Reginald Bolton, 1932.
1970 Inwood Hill hiker's map.
1970 Inwood Hill hiker’s map.
Princess Naomi poses beside glacial pothole. Source Inwood Hill Park on the island of Manhattan, Reginald Bolton, 1932.
Princess Naomi poses beside glacial pothole. Source Inwood Hill Park on the island of Manhattan, Reginald Bolton, 1932.
Inwood Hill Park glacial pothole.
Inwood Hill Park glacial pothole.
Glacial pothole in Inwood Hill Park.
Glacial pothole in Inwood Hill Park.

Fun Fact: The murder mystery “The Dragon Murder Case” by S.S. Van Dine takes place in a fictionalized version of Inwood Hill.  In the book the potholes were said to be the hiding place of murderous dragons.

The Dragon Murder Case ties place in a fictionalized Inwood Hill.
The Dragon Murder Case ties place in a fictionalized Inwood Hill.
Fictionalized map of Inwood Hill from The Dragon Murder Case.
Fictionalized map of Inwood Hill from The Dragon Murder Case

3 COMMENTS

  1. When I was young my father, Tim Luddy used to take me on long Sunday walks up through the park and then across the HH bridge to Riverdale and back to Vermilyea. He always called this formations the Lady’s Slipper because it looks like the imprint of a womans high healed shoe in the stone.

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