The Crane-Beshar Rhinoceros Creek Reservation, Somers' newest open space, consists of two parcels totaling 115 acres, each of which was once part of Stone House Farm. The parcels flank a beloved Somers landmark, the Stone House, constructed in 1849 by Gerard Crane. Crane was a major figure in the early menagerie business, a unique part of Somers heritage. The Stone House was restored to its current glory by the Robert and Christine Beshar family who generously donated the adjacent parcels to the Somers Land Trust in 2017 to protect the land in perpituity for the enjoyment of the public.
Although the Stone House itself and its surrounding acres remain in private hands and are not part of Rhinoceros Creek Reservation, together with the reservation they preserve a scenic and historic vista on the road leading into the Somers hamlet. It takes only a bit of imagination to once again see the dust kicked up as drovers urge their livestock along the turnpike, passing the Stone House as they go. (Please respect the privacy of the Stone House property.)
Rhinoceros Creek South
The southern parcel, a bit over 55 acres, lies just north of the Somers hamlet on Route 202, sharing its northern border with the property on which the Stone House sits. This parcel serves as the main part of the reservation with a pavilion, patio and native plant garden for educational programs and events. Trails supplement an existing loop road. Here you will find a scenic pond, extensive wetlands, and a variety of habitats including shrub and upland forest, all vital to wildlife. Keen-eyed observers may see black squirrels, great blue herons, colorful songbirds and, of course, the ubiquitous white-tailed deer. Here, too, is the fabled Rhinoceros Creek, which according to old newspaper accounts, had once provided a place for Gerard Crane's rhinoceros to bathe.
An entrance to Heritage Hills runs through the southern tip of the property while a water treatment plant for Heritage Hills sits on a few acres which have been carved out of the parcel. Both Rhinoceros Creek parcels lie over a major aquifer and provide water to Heritage Hills Water District via wells provided for in long-standing easements.
Rhinoceros Creek East
The eastern parcel, almost 60 acres, lies directly opposite Route 202 from the Stone House. It contains a large pond complex bordered by extensive wetlands and forest. A number of informal walking trails exist which will be developed into a formal trail network. The wetlands are rich with several species of fern and are also filled with poison ivy. You may see wood ducks and other species of waterfowl if you walk quietly along the edges of the pond. This parcel borders New York City watershed land along the Croton River corridor and also has infrastructure associated with Heritage Hills Water District.
Crane-Beshar Rhinoceros Creek Reservation Regulations
Open to the public daily from dawn to dusk with access through designated access points only
Hiking on blazed trails only
Nature study and photography
Hunting, fishing, camping require written approval of the Somers Land Trust
The following activities are prohibited and will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law:
Dumping or littering
Off-road motorized vehicle use of any sort
Removal or disturbance of vegetation or wildlife
All violations may be reported to the Somers Land Trust at 914-277-8267
Photos top to bottom: Birdsfoot trefoil and clover– familiar alien species – grace an old field at Rhinoceros Creek Reservation (banner) © Donald Gambino, Aerial photo of Rhinoceros Creek Reservation © Dan Simpson, Bird survey at Rhinoceros Creek, © Donald Gambino, Outlet from Deans Pond flows into pond on Rhinoceros Creek East ©Lauretta Jones, Volunteers posting perimeter of Rhinoceros Creek Reservation © Gail Simpson (2).