Eternal Flame Falls, Orchard Park, New York

If you go to the waterfalls of Shale Creek in the southeast corner of Chestnut Ridge Park, you may notice a strange orange-red light behind the water and think it’s just your eyes playing tricks on you.

Can something really burn under water? You’ll actually smell the golden flame because it’s fired by methane gas escaping through the cracks.

The water sometimes extinguishes the flame, but you can easily start it up again with a lighter.

Address: Eternal Flame Hiking Trail, Orchard Park, NY 14127, USA

Height: 9.14 m


There are thousands of flames around the world that are able to burn constantly because of gas seeping through the soil, or because of man-made structures.

Some of the man-made flames are kept alight for religious reasons, others were lit in honour of famous people who had died, such as the eternal flame at the Kennedy memorial.

However, natural eternal flames, like the one in New York, are rare.

This is because natural eternal flames can only be kept alight by gas ‘macro seeps’.

Gas usually comes through soil, where bacteria eats the methane converts it into carbon dioxide.

Alternatively, gas comes out in a location where it disappears quickly, so can’t keep a lit flame burning.

In the case of the New York flame, a ‘macro seep’ of gas comes from a natural hollowed-out chamber.

Because the gas is contained and isn’t converted, the flame is kept alight eternally.

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