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Exploring the Caves of Rochester, NY

November 15th, 2012

Rico Cave in the Genesee River gorge near Lower Falls. [Flickr PHOTO: bobbybeans]
Just when I think I’ve done everything there is to do in Rochester, I discover another little hole in the wall. Literally. Check out these photos of what is unofficially known as “Rico Cave” near Lower Falls…

Rico Cave in the Genesee River gorge near Lower Falls. [Flickr PHOTO: bobbybeans]

Apparently it’s called Rico Cave because there’s a rock painted with the Puerto Rican flag outside the entrance. But that’s just from what I’ve read online. If anyone knows more about this, please leave a comment below. You can see more photos from Bobbybeans’ Flickr photostream external link.

Rico Cave in the Genesee River gorge near Lower Falls. [Flickr PHOTO: bobbybeans]

Below is a birdseye view of the cave. It’s located between Lower Falls and the Driving Park Bridge in the western wall of the gorge.

A birdseye view of the cave in the western gorge wall, near Lower Falls. [IMAGE: Bing Maps]

In the video below, the photographer attempts to show us an opening in the ceiling of the cave. The photographer seems to think this enire chamber may in fact be man made. And I believe him. Look how geometric that tunnel opening is. Very strange…

But Rico Cave isn’t the only mysterious chamber we can find in the gorge walls. How many of you have seen the cave (below) in the High Falls rim?

Mysterious cave next to High Falls. [PHOTO: storagelocations.com]

Or this little doorway? Definitely not natural…

This little doorway in the eastern wall of the High Falls gorge is definitely not natural. [FLICKr PHOTO: jde75]

Now, I’m not 100% sure about the cave – it may be a channel from the old RG&E hydro power station #4 immediately to the right. But I do believe I’ve cracked the mystery of the little doorway…

This mechanical drawing of Saint Paul Street and the eastern wall of High Falls gorge shows what's behind the door in the previous photo; a Saint Paul Street drainage tunnel. [via City of Rochester Engineer]

This mechanical drawing of Saint Paul Street and the eastern wall of High Falls gorge shows what’s behind the mysterious door. It’s actually a Saint Paul Street drainage tunnel! (Click for a larger view)

The drawing is a bit difficult to decipher, but it looks like there may be a second drain tunnel closer to the falls there on the left. Could the cave also be a drain opening? Possibly.

The only way to tell for sure may be to climb up in there and see. But a word of caution to any would-be explorers… check the weather report before you venture inside one of these caves. This past August, three people had to be rescued external link from another of these caves beneath Seth Green Drive. They were on a geocaching expedition when rains came and quickly flooded the tunnel they were exploring.

Rochester’s a lot of things. But BORE-ing ain’t one. AAH HA HA! Eh.

UPDATE: The High Falls “mystery door” was, in fact, part of a storm water collection system for the Upper Falls area. It was designed by The Sear-Brown Group, Inc., a local design & engineering firm (now Stantec) in the 1970′s. It was soon abandoned however, when it was replaced by the major sewer tunnels that were built by Monroe County’s Pure Waters program in the 1980’s. One of the designers of the system contacted RocSubway after this article was published. He is searching for some of the old drawings and we’ll share them here if they turn up!

UPDATE: Here are the drawings of that storm water collection system that emptied out into the High Falls basin…

A cutaway/elevation view of the storm water collection system that emptied out into the High Falls basin via the mysterious door.

An overhead/plan view of the storm water collection system that emptied out into the High Falls basin via the mysterious door.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, November 15th, 2012 at 8:08 am and is filed under Rochester Destinations, Rochester Images, Urban Exploration, Video. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

18 Responses to “Exploring the Caves of Rochester, NY”

  1. RaChaCha says:

    “Rico” is for sewer/stormwater overflow, IINM. Monroe County Pure Waters could confirm. Notice that you can’t see the rock strata in the walls, as they’ve been treated with spray-on concrete to help protect them from erosion when water rushes in.

  2. Aww, man! Now I have no reason to get down and sneak into that door! :)

  3. Dick Halsey says:

    That cave near the lower falls is probably an exit for a mill race. There used to be a few mills on that land near there where that weird black sculpture now is.

  4. Mittens says:

    I was there about 8 years ago. Cool place, thanks for reminding me about this place.

  5. Dick Halsey says:

    I have pictures of the mills that used to be at the lower falls on this web page: http://mcnygenealogy.com/pictures/pic-02/0063.htm

  6. UPDATE: The High Falls “mystery door” was, in fact, part of a storm water collection system for the Upper Falls area. It was designed by The Sear-Brown Group, Inc., a local design & engineering firm (now Stantec) in the 1970′s. It was soon abandoned however, when it was replaced by the major sewer tunnels that were built by Monroe County’s Pure Waters program in the 1980’s.

    One of the designers of the system contacted me after this article was published. He is searching for some of the old drawings and we’ll share them here if they turn up!

  7. Jeff Morgan says:

    For those wanting to venture into that door, dont bother. First you need a small boat and ore. I did this a few years back needless to say i was almost knee deep in stagit nasty water. i went a good 15 feet before my hi powered LED light didnt do much and i had no more ambition to get any further lol.
    i traveled 3 hours just for this and a couple other things in rochester, the door was the biggest waste of 2 hours lol

  8. UPDATE: At the end of this post I just posted the drawings of that storm water collection system that emptied out into the High Falls basin via the mysterious door.

  9. Carl says:

    I have always wondered if anyone could tell me anything about the old building right inside the St. Paul side of the falls? What was it, any inside pics, etc?

  10. chase tyler says:

    Finally, something interesting that can’t be torn down!
    Rejoice, Rochester subway!

  11. Alicia says:

    So how do you get to “Rico Cave?” Also, are there any urban exploring clubs/gatherings/events? Love to know more!

  12. Martin Jones says:

    This might not be the place to ask, but what is that building to the left of high falls? Has anyone explored it and posted pictures?

  13. @Martin, that was an old hydro power station. It used to be owned by RG&E but was recently purchased by Friends of the GardenAerial for use in the future GardenAerial project.

  14. Martin Jones says:

    Has anyone explored the old hydro station in the past few years? Would be cool to see pics of the inside.

  15. April says:

    http://www.lowerfalls.org/waterfalls/

    Check out the first late on this guy’s site. Lower falls, and it looks like it’s drawn from *drumroll* inside a cave… so perhaps it was natural and the cementing is somewhat recent.

  16. April says:

    Sorry, “plate”, not late.

  17. April says:

    I found where the hole in the ceiling of the cave goes. It’s not particularly pleasant to get to, and these pics are bad given that it was getting dark by the time we found it, but I’ve attached them…

    Also, not directly related, but interesting anyway, pictures of them redoing the tunnel for the lower falls hydro plant…
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/rgande/8281549040

    and here’s some info about how they did it…
    http://www.rge.com/OurCompany/News/2012/121712stationfive.html

  18. Nico says:

    Hi, My name is Nico Tiezzi. I am a second year film major at RIT. I am currently helping a Fourth year producer from the same school, with one of the films he is working on and he wanted me to find out about Rico cave. Since it was from your website that we found out about the cave, I was hoping you could answer some questions or point me in the right direction. things I need to know are who we would need to contact to use the Cave as a location in the movie? How do we get to the cave? Is it even feasible to get equipment and crew down to the cave? thank you very much, I appreciate any information you can give me!


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