Otto Stadial and Gowanda Interstadial

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Information compiled by Liesel Rickert and Chantel Abramowski 5/31/2012 for the Cattaraugus County Geology Trail

Stadial site in Otto

The stadial site in Otto is a place like no other. Otto is one of only two known places in New York to have preserved till layers from first three glacier movements (of four) during the Pleistocene Ice Age. Here you will find yourself hiking along the bank side and experiencing things that you have never seen before. The till was deposited by the Wisconsin glacial event that occurred about 64,000 years before present to about 12,300 years before present, during the Pleistocene Epoch and covered almost all of New York. Each layer was deposited by a different advancement of the glacier (caused by cooling and warming). These are called stadials and interstadials respectively.

If you aren’t in any hurry you can take a scenic route to the site and see what interesting things you might find. Along the way you will be fascinated by the rock patterns along the creek bottom or other evidence that a glacier activity had occurred several times in New York’s geologic past. These include different colors of each till layer (because they are made up of different types of soils and bedrock sediments), striations on rocks (scratches from the glacier moving over the rocks), compacted masses of till (which means it was not sorted by size of particles), and angular rocks (rocks are rounded when moved by a stream but not when moved by a glacier). Once you have arrived at the stadial site you will be in utter amazement just by seeing the preserved piece of geologic past that lays right before your eyes.

striations on rock at Otto stadial site

Striations on rock at Otto stadial site.

striations on rock at Otto stadial site

Two adjacent till layers at Otto stadial site

Gowanda Hospital Interstadial Site

To top it all off you can go visit the Gowanda Hospital Interstadial Site afterwards to fulfill your fascination which is only a mere 20 minutes away. This is the other site in Western New York that shows the till layers dropped by each retreat. Both sites have till layers that look similar and seem to be deposited at the same time by the same glaciation. So come on down to Otto and Gowanda, New York to experience the history that shaped our state. You will not come across places like these everyday so why not take advantage of it now and start your adventure today!

Gowanda interstadial site till layers topped by soil
Gowanda interstadial site till layers topped by soil

Map of sites

Map is at


Otto Stadial Site

Otto Stadial Parking Coordinates: 42°21’3.744’N, 78°50’17.894”W (updated 2017-06-16)

Otto Stadial Site Coordinates: 42°21’8.849’N, 78°49’55.696”W

Park at coordinates given. 1) Walk down to the creek on the south side of the parking lot and follow to the left to reach the strata layers. To the right you will find till and other evidence. 2) Head east on the road next to the parking lot until you see the bridge before you. Before you reach the bridge, turn off into the field to the right (at 42°20’34”N, 78°48’44”W) and head down to the Cattaraugus Creek on the left. The strata will be in front of you.

Gowanda Hospital Interstadial Site

Gowanda Hospital Parking Coordinates: 42°29’42.8”N, 78°55’41.8”W (updated 2017-06-16)

Gowanda Hospital Interstadial Site Coordinates: 42°29’41.5”N, 78°55’50.6”W (updated 2017-06-16).

Park alongside the road.

United States
42° 20' 21.0012" N, 78° 51' 59.0004" W

General Information

  • Wheelchair Accessible: Unknown
  • Parking: Unknown
  • RV Parking: Unknown
  • Bus Parking: Unknown
  • Pets Allowed: Unknown
  • Accepts Credit Cards: Unknown
  • Internet Access: Unknown
  • Conference / Meeting / Banquet: Unknown
  • Playground: Unknown
  • Indoor Pool: Unknown
  • Outdoor Pool: Unknown
  • Swimming:
  • Boat Launch or Dock:
  • Fishing Access:
  • Equestrian Trail Access: Unknown
  • Bicycle Trail Access: Unknown
  • Hiking Trail Access: Unknown
  • Mountain Biking Trail Access: Unknown
  • Snowmobile Trail Access: Unknown

Please note

Please note that this information may change and may be incorrect

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