Prior to the arrival of European settlers in the region, Havana Glen was once used by the Seneca nation who resided at the base of the glen. A ceremonial mound was located nearby. A flat area above Eagle Cliff Falls was used as a Council Chamber until 1792 when the Seneca nation was driven from the area.
The natural oasis was first made accessible to the public in mid-1867 via the construction of elaborate bridges and stairways through its narrow canyons and rugged hillsides. The private tourist attraction allowed hikers to snake their way through the glen from its base at the Portal Cascade towards Odessa.
The first waterfall that the visitors encountered was the Portal Cascade, where McClure Creek made its final plunge into the basin of Seneca Lake. A narrow path led to Sylvan Bridge that spanned the stream above the first waterfall, followed by the appearance of Eagle Cliff Falls, the highest in the glen at 50 feet. Stairs bolted to the rock face led to the “Pride of the Senecas,” where Curtain Cascade and Central Gorge came into view.
Above the third waterfall came Hermit’s Cove, Whispering Falls and Glen Chaos, or piles of broken rock, followed by the Glen of the Falls, Echo Falls, Fairies’ Cascade and Summit Falls.
In 1917, Shepard Niles acquired the park to preserve its natural and historical features. The land was later donated to the Finger Lakes Park Commission who in turn gave it to the town of Montour Falls for use as a public park.