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See Eternal Flame Falls at Chestnut Ridge County Park

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A natural gas leak provides a flickering flame beneath a waterfall.

All you need is a pair of hiking boots and a lighter to find out how the Eternal Flame Falls got its name.

At the heart of this waterfall is a small flickering flame that is caused by a natural gas pocket and hikers that pass by the falls and relight the gas pocket whenever it sputters out, keeping the flame in an eternal cycle. The eternal flames caused by natural gas pockets are common, but the imagery of a lone flame under torrents of water make Eternal Flame Falls unique.

The imagery has inspired some active imaginations resulting in legends and sightings of elves in the area, and while those legends have obviously been disproved, the falls remains a mystery from a scientific perspective. The natural gas that eternal flame sites give off comes from a reaction caused by old and very hot shale rocks.

The falls, made out of relatively young shale, and as hot as a cup of tea, should be the last place you would expect an eternal flame. Yet, defying all scientific explanation, and the massive amounts of water around it, the flame burns on.