TOWN OF UNION, NY – (WIVT/WBGH) Acquired by IBM in the early 1930’s, the Glen is a picturesque, wooded ravine in the Town of Union.

It represents not only a hidden slice of natural beauty, but also a link to our area’s industrial past.

Just over a mile away from one of the busiest shopping districts in the Triple Cities, the IBM Glen is a tranquil, green, natural getaway. IBM founder, Thomas J. Watson acquired the more than 200 acres of land to better the quality of life for his employees and their families.

“IBM had just really come into its own in the Village of Endicott, that’s the birthplace of IBM. They were expanding the benefit programs for their workers and dependents. So, they purchased that to create a country club,” said Gerald Smith, former Broome County Historian.

Over the next decade or so, Watson continued to develop the space by purchasing and installing stone bridges, paving roadways, and creating areas to camp or picnic. One of the most iconic scenes at the Glen is an overlook of Grays Creek Falls from one of the remaining stone bridges.
The bridges cross bubbling creeks and connect the miles of paved and unpaved walking paths around the park. There was said to be 13 bridges during the golden age of the Glen, but an intense flood in the early 60’s wiped out all but two.

The Glen has remained a hidden gem of the community, until the early 2000’s when IBM announced plans to log the trees.

“Basically, about one hundred acres was supposed to be logged, and that’s when people got really upset, that it had been such a part of our community for 100 years basically,” said Smith.

An advocacy group called “Friends of the Glen” was created and petitioned IBM’s decision to log on the property.

“I think IBM at the time, because it had gone through a series of layoffs and was downsizing here, it wanted to still look good to the community. Made an offer, asked if any group out there wanted to take ownership of it and control, and of course that’s when Waterman Conservation Center sort of came to the rescue,” said Smith.

IBM transferred the property over to the Waterman Conservation Center based out of Apalachin, New York in 2004. Waterman manages several nature preserves across the Southern Tier.

“Not only is this a beautiful resource for the community, but it’s also kind of an ecological conservation laboratory,” said Chris Audette, Executive director at Waterman Conservation Center.

As you walk the Glen, you’re traversing through a variety of habitats and landscapes.

“This has different things to offer than say Buttermilk Falls in Ithaca or Chittenango close to Syracuse. So, it’s an opportunity for people to get out and really see the breadth of natural treasures,” said Audette.

Waterman has installed interactive signage throughout the Glen to educate people on native flora and fauna. Since 2007, Waterman has been marking and protecting Hemlock and Ash trees from invasive insects. By this Fall, the center hopes to double the size of the Glen’s parking lot and implement green storm water infrastructure.

So, whether you’re cooling off and wading through Grays Creek, taking in the fall foliage as the leaves change, a snowshoeing expedition, or perhaps just taking the dog for a walk, the Glen is open to the public every day, free of charge.

The trail head, and parking lot for the Glen is located off of Robinson Hill Road in the Town of Union.