Garvies Point Museum and Preserve
Barry Drive, Glen Cove, Nassau County, NY
62 acres


From Long Island Expressway, Northern State Parkway, Northern Boulevard, or Meadowbrook Parkway, exit on Glen Cove Road, northbound. Continue on Glen Cove By-pass (Route 107 north, keep left at fork) to last traffic light facing Glen Cove Fire House. Turn right and follow signs to the museum.


On the North Shore, the walker finds beaches of sand, pebbles, and boulders, backed by high morainal bluffs. This spot in Glen Cove, Nassau County, is famous for its beds of lignite, its multicolored clays, its large number of iron pyrite clusters, and its red shale fossils. (Gray shale fossils are found on Eatons Neck just north of Asharoken Beach.) Also, the most extensive Indian "midden" diggings on Long Island are at Garvies Point.

The woods are generally thin and less rich in species than those on the mainland, and tree associations have been materially changed by the introduction of the black locust.

Southward from the undulating North Shore, the hills taper off into plains gently sloping to Great South and Moriches bays. Much of this strip, with a covering of low pitch pines, stunted oaks, laurel, sweet fern, and bayberry, resembles the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. Suffered from repeated fires, and in consequence much of the forest is thin and dwarfed.

There are two terminal moraines of Long Island, which are the long frontal dump heaps of two different advances of the last of the continental ice sheets, the Wisconsin Glacier. The older one is Harbor Hill Moraine, which extends from the Narrows of New York Bay through Brooklyn (including Prospect Park), Cypress Hills, and Forest Park and northeastward along the North Shore to Orient Point.

The Ronkonkoma Moraine runs from Little Neck southeastward through the middle of the island to Montauk Point. The two moraines cross like the blades of a pair of scissors in the Wheatley Hills, north of Westbury. Eastward, as they separate, the area between them widens gradually into a fairly level intermorainal area of pine barrens.

Between the Ronkonkoma Moraine and the Atlantic Ocean to the south follow, in succession, the Ronkonkoma outwash plain, the salt marshes, Great South Bay, the barrier islands, and the outer beach.

North Shore Beaches. The pebbles and boulders are interesting geologically. They are from many of the rock formations -- sedimentary, igneous, or metamorphic -- on the opposite Massachusetts, CT and Westchester shores and from even as far away as the Berkshires and the Green Mountains.


In 1688 white settlers purchased "the Carpenter Tract" from the Matinecock Indians.

The preserve is on the former estate of Dr. Thomas Garvie, a immigrant physician from Scotland who discovered deposits of clay suitable for pottery on his property.

Early 1800's -- the area known as Garvie's Point.

1963 -- Nassau county acquired the land.

1967 -- the museum opens. Standing in the museum you have a sweeping view of the Hempstead Harbor.

(Cynthia Blair, Newsday Names of Long Island;


Five miles of nature trails that wind through glacial moraine, including forests, thickets, and meadows.


The museum contains exhibits on Long Island's geology and Indian archeology.

The Nassau County Dept. of  Parks says:

Garvies Point Museum and Preserve offers a strong combination of educational opportunities. The permanent museum exhibits are devoted to regional geology and Indian archaeology. Geology exhibits illustrate Long Island’s distant past, with dramatic post-glacial dioramas showing the evolution of the region’s landscape over the past 20,000 years and explaining how the present land features have come into existence. The archaeological exhibits trace man’s movement from Asia to the New World and follows his subsequent rise toward civilization. In a series of carefully-prepared dioramas, scenes from the everyday life of the Long Island Indian are depicted. Other exhibits explore the first Indian contact with the Europeans and the ultimate demise of the Indian culture. The science of archaeology is the subject of several additional exhibits, including a model of an archaeological excavation, an authentic archaeological laboratory (visible through a glass wall in the exhibit hall), and a display of prehistoric Indian artifacts. Changing exhibits present various collections that include minerals, fossils, Indian artifacts and local historical items.  

Much of the present Preserve was formerly part of the estate of Dr. Thomas Garvie, a physician and prominent Long Islander who emigrated from Scotland to Glen Cove in the early nineteenth century. The Preserve features 62 acres of glacial moraine covered by forests, thickets, and meadows. Nearly five miles of nature trails wind through the property.

On view are a variety of natural phenomena, including: wooded areas which exhibit various stages of succession and contain 48 species of trees; woods and meadows whose rich plant life attracts more than 100 species of birds; high cliffs along the 2,000-foot shore line which exhibit erosional features such as alluvial fans, talus slopes, and slumping; and extensive, multi-colored clay deposits which were once mined.

A self-guiding nature trail for the visually impaired is located near the museum. Descriptive signs in braille and sighted text explain a variety of natural features. The recently added trail was a project of the Glen Cove Lions Club, Inc. Admission: Fee.

Garvies Point Preserve

Glen Clove, NY

July 28, 1990

leader: Eva K. Hawkins

We descend among Black Cherry, Oak, Beech, Sassafras, and Tulip Trees as well as large glacial boulders, to the shore of this lovely 72-acre preserve with a picturesque view of Hempstead Harbor. Glacial deposits at Garvies Point are unusually thin, 3 to 5 feet, and thus the underlying 70 million year-old Cretaceous sediments become exposed along the shorefront cliffs. An abundance of red shale and sandstone (formed from Cretaceous sediments) covered the beach, and slippery, Cretaceous clay could be seen at the base of the cliffs.

Rocks of the upper shore were blackened by a dried film of blue- green bacteria and inhabited by innumerable small snails, Littorina sp., extending to the middle shore. The mid-littoral, subjected to strong waves, showed a dense covering of the Acorn Barnacle (Balanus balanoides). Large plants of the rockweed Fucus vesiculosus settled among barnacles; herbivores cannot graze there effectively. Fucoids also produce phenolic compounds functioning as a chemical defense against herbivores. The green algae Ulva lactuca, Enteromorpha intestinalis, E. linza, and Cladophora sp,, as well as small Blue Mussels, were common in this area. The uncalcified red alga Hildebrandia rubra encrusted rocks and stones below low tide, and the dominant Irish Moss of the sublittoral, Chondrus crispus, grew with attached byrozoa near low-water mark; it was frequently damaged by smaller herbivores finding refuge among its palatable blades; collected specimens of Chonarus showed great morphological plasticity.

The incoming tide brought forth specimens of the subtidal red algae Solieria tenera and female plants of Grinnellia americana; we mounted these on shore. Overturned rocks and stones revealed hermit crabs in dog whelk shells, starfish, sponges, amphipods, and other small invertebrates.

After lunch we visited the preserve's attractive archaeological museum exhibiting Indian spear points, potter fragments, arrowheads, tools, and other artifacts, some of which date back as far as 3000 BC.


Dr. Patrick Louis Cooney

Acer negundo (box elder)
Acer platanoides (Norway maple)
Acer pseudoplatanus (sycamore maple)
Ailanthus altissima (tree-of-heaven)
Amelanchier sp. (shadbush) 5/1/93
Aralia spinosa (Hercules club)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Carya spp. (hickories)
Fagus grandifolia (beech tree)
Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree)
Paulownia tomentosa (empress tree)
Pinus rigida (pitch pine)
Populus grandidentata (big tooth aspen)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Prunus sp. (white cherry) 5/1/93
Pyrus malus (apple tree) 5/1/93 soon
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)
Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust)
Sassafras albidum (sassafras)

Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry) 5/1/93
Euonymus alatus (winged euonymus)
Lindera benzoin (spicebush) 5/1/93
Myrica pensylvanica (bayberry)
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose)
Rubus phoenicolasius (wineberry)
Viburnum dentatum (downy arrowwood?)
Viburnum acerifolium (maple-leaf viburnum)
Vinca minor (periwinkle) 5/1/93

Celastrus orbiculatus (Asiatic bittersweet)
Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle)
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Smilax sp. (greenbrier)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)

Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard) 5/1/93
Artemisia vulgaris (common mugwort)
Erythronium americanum (trout lily)
Hemerocallis fulva (tawny day lily)
Impatiens capensis (orange touch-me-not)
Lemna sp. (duckweed)
Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese knotweed)
Polygonum virginianum (Virginia knotweed)
Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum (water cress)
Solidago sempervirens (seaside goldenrod)

Phragmites australis (giant reed grass)

Chondrus crispus (Irish moss)
Cladophora sp.
Enteromorpha intestinalis
Enteromorpha linza
Fucus vesiculosus (rockweed)
Grinnellia americana
Hildebrandia rubra (red algae encrusted rocks and stones below low tide)
Solieria tenera (red algae)
Ulva lactuca (sea lettuce, green algae)