On a nice summer day the view across Cazenovia Lake is stunning. Sailboats, canoes and powerboats scoot across the surface. Houses and docks line the shore and hillsides rise up as a scenic backdrop.
The historic Lorenzo State Historic Site and Fairchild Hill anchor this scene at the south end of the lake. Fairchild Hill? Yes, that green hillside at the south end of the lake has a rich history too.
In 1872, the Syracuse and Chenango Railroad opened its line from Syracuse to Cazenovia along the west side of Cazenovia Lake, with a station, water tower and turntable on the flat ground west of the Lorenzo mansion. The hillside above was agricultrual, 21 acres used over the years mostly for grazing.
Then, in 1895, Cazenovia’s first golf course was built on the hill – 9 links owned by Charles Stebbins Fairchild – and the area became known as Fairchild Hill. Sheep were used to maintain the open spaces and greens. Manmade hollows served as water hazards.
In 1984 the hillside open space was threatened by development. With the help of 6 neighboring families, CPF bought the property to protect it as the green backdrop for the view south across the lake. The Civilian Conservation Coprs helped clear the fields and constructed trails, benches and bridges.
Now a network of 1.5 miles of trails invites the public through the meadows and woodland, to look out across the lake, visit the railroad turntable site and imagine the railroad and agricultural history of this property so close to the village. Historic markers are placed along the trail and the woods, streams and fields are great places for picnics, fossil searches, birding and listening to cicadas and crickets.
Want to walk or snowshoe on Fairchild Hill? Park in the small designated area behind the brown building at the intersection of Routes 92 and 20 at the south end of the lake. Trail maps can be found at the kiosk along the trail or on CPF’s website at www.cazpreservation.org.