FINDLEY?LAKE - These days it is getting harder and harder to find something that is both inexpensive and will hold the childrens’ attention. If you think you’ve tried it all, think again.
There is an off the road attraction that catches everybody by surprise. Located just one block up from Findley Lake, right on Route 430, is summer fun.
The Town of Dry Gulch Gemstone Mine has been a labor of love for its designer and builder, Sheriff Bill.
“You just can’t see it from the road,” said Sheriff Bill, who is otherwise known as Bill Marlette. “Many people just drive by and see the two stores on the property. They figure that it’s all contained on the inside of the store.”
On the contrary, the Gem Mine portion is separate from the stores. It is far back into the woods, complete with secret trails, a spring-fed gold trough, a miniature town and working railroad, a museum, a black light rock display where the old miner, Fuzzy, lives and a cave of wild-west critters including snakes, iguanas, bats and birds. The acres of trails are fenced in and very kid-safe.
“Over thirty years ago, I built my first gem mine for kids,” Sheriff Bill said. “It was done as an after thought to keep the kids out of trouble while moms were shopping in the stores. Now, a generation later, these same moms bring their own little ones to Dry Gulch.”
Sheriff Bill said the adult visitors to his business, at the time just children, love to reminisce about the time they spent at Dry Gulch when they were young.
“I can’t begin to tell you how many moms, dads and teachers, have personally thanked me for providing this throwback to yesteryear and reinforcing the simpler times when kids used to have fun playing outside in the dirt. You can see in the parents’ faces, just how fed up they are with indoor computer games, mindless t.v. channels, and constant bugging to go to the malls.”
Sheriff Bill said he tries to take an interest in each child; demonstrates the fun and reward of exploring; gives the children free reign; and allows the children to have fun outside.
“It’s not rocket science,” he said. “Just show the kids that you have an interest in what they are doing, provide some basic interaction and continue each season to build new and exciting displays within the facility. Do all that, and they just keep wanting to come back.”
A group of students from Westfield Academy and Central School, pictured above, visited the Town of Dry Gulch in Findley Lake last summer.