class="titleheading">State Historic Markers :: Historical Area Markers in New York State - Page Three
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Central Area (OTSEGO,HERKIMER, ONEIDA, CHENANGO, BROOME, MADISON, OSWEGO)
The valleys of the Upper Susquehanna River were natural routes for Indians, traders and settlers. Oquaga, near Windsor, was an Indian fur-trading post and became an objective of the Sullivan-Clinton Campaign of 1779. From a dam at the outlet of Otsego Lake, flood waters were released to float General James Clinton's troops down the river to join General Sullivan's forces from Pennsylvania at Tioga. They defeated the Tories and Indians at Newtown, near Elmira, and devastated the Indian settlements of western New York, thus securing this area for the United States. In 1785 an Indian treaty opened this region for settlement.
Many settlers of the Southern Tier counties of New York came from Pennsylvania. A Philadelphia merchant and landholder, William Bingham, gave his name to the city of Binghamton. In 1837 the Chenango Canal connected the Erie Canal with the Pennsylvania coal regions, and in 1848 the Erie Railroad opened communication with metropolitan New York, and later through to the Great Lakes. Important manufactures have included cigars, shoes, leather goods, photographic material and business machines.
#1 - Route 81, southbound, south of Binghamton between Kirkwood, N. Y., and Great Bend, Pennsylvania
Oneida Indians of the Iroquois Confederacy lived here and named the lake O-wahge-ha-ga, "where the yellow perch swim." Tuscaroras coming from North Carolina to make the sixth nation of the League settled to the east. A large tract was reserved for the Oneidas in 1788, but portions were gradually ceded while most of the Indians emigrated to Wisconsin.
John Lincklaen of the Holland Land Company purchased a rectangular area of 64,000 acres and promoted settlement. In 1793 he founded Cazenovia village on Chittenango Creek, the outlet of the lake, and named it for Theophile Cazenove, the general agent of the company. This became an important stop for drovers and stagecoach travelers on the western turnpike. In 1807 Lincklaen built "Lorenzo," a Georgian dwelling, which was followed by other fine residences in Federal and Greek revival style. Situated on a beautiful lake, four miles in length, Cazenovia attracted summer residents and became a popular resort.
#2 - Route 20, west of Cazenovia
The overland route westward from Albany which crests the divide between the Mohawk and Susquehanna valleys was an invitation to settlers. George Croghan, Indian agent and western land speculator from Pennsylvania, in 1768 staked out a large tract near Otsego Lake. During the Revolution the frontier settlements suffered from British, Tory and Indian raids from Canada. The most famous was the Cherry Valley Massacre of November 11, 1778. In 1779 the troops of General James Clinton were floated down the Susquehanna from Otsego Lake to General John Sullivan's men at Tioga. The Sullivan-Clinton Expedition devasted Indian lands and secured the frontier.
Renewal of settlement came after the Revolution when Judge William Cooper founded Cooperstown. The Cherry Valley Turnpike, chartered in 1799, opened the stagecoach era, encouraged westward migration and the rise of small communities along its route.
Remaining largely rural and agricultural, the region has become famous as the setting for the romantic tales of James Fenimore Cooper. Resorts and tourist attractions have flourished, and Cooperstown is well known for its historical and folk museums and its baseball hall of fame.
#3 - Route 20, west of Sharon Springs
Following exploration by Champlain and Hudson in 1609, the first permanent settlement began in the Hudson Valley in 1624. Dutch rule was displaced in 1664 by the English, who named New York after the King's brother, the Duke of York and Albany. Conflict between England and France over posts in western and northern New York ended in 1763. Then the American Revolution brought the ravages of war to all parts of the State. At Saratoga (Schuylerville) in 1777 was fought the decisive battle of the Revolution.
One of the thirteen original states, New York adopted its Constitution in 1777. George Washington referred to the State as "the seat of the Empire," and New York City became the first capital of the United States. The State has had a pivotal position in national politics, with numerous New Yorkers serving in the Presidency and other high offices. An exceptional variety of natural resources and a population augmented by immigration make New York a leader in agriculture, industry, finance and the arts. Unsurpassed transportation routes also spurred New York's development and the growth of the Nation. New Yorkers continue to add significant chapters to the history of the Empire State, fulfilling its motto of EXCELSIOR - "ever upward."
#4 - Route 81, northbound, midway between Kirkwood, New York,, and Great Bend, Pennsylvania
The ceremonies outside the village of Rome on Independence Day, 1817, climaxed years of discussion about building the Erie Canal. Dignitaries and local citizens assembled at sunrise to attend the start of construction. Judge Joshua Hathaway, a veteran of two American Wars, spoke and began the excavation. Judge John Richardson, the first contractor, then turned the earth. Cannon boomed as others started digging.
Benjamin Wright, "the father of American engineering," assisted by John B. Jervis, supervised construction of the section between Utica and the Seneca River. In the first year, 15 miles were constructed. By October, 1819, the 98-mile section was completed, and the first boat traveled from Rome to Utica.
When finished in 1825, the Erie Canal was considered the foremost engineering achievement of the time. The 363-mile canal crossed the State and became the main route between the Atlantic Ocean and the Great Lakes. Western New York flourished with new, cheap transportation. The canal insured the place of New York City as the Nation's greatest port and city, and it hastened development of the Midwest.
The modernized State Barge Canal System, consisting of the Erie, Champlain, Oswego and Cayuga-Seneca Canals, was completed in 1918.
#5 - Fort Stanwix Museum, Rome
General Nicholas Herkimer (1728- 1777) one of the first American-born generation of the Palatine Germans who settled the Mohawk Valley, leading farmer-trader of the Valley, and hero of the Battle of Oriskany, built HERKIMER HOME in 1764.
As Brigadier General of the Tryon County Militia, Herkimer commanded the American forces who marched to the relief of Fort Stanwix (Rome) when the fort was besieged during the three-pronged British invasion of New York in 1777.
At Oriskany, August 6, 1777, British regulars and Indians ambushed Herkimer's troops. The General was wounded and died ten days later. He lies buried beside the homestead.
#6 - Thruway, eastbound, at Indian Castle Service Area (milepost 210)
#7 - Herkimer Home, Little Falls
Where the Mohawk Valley narrows and pierces the ridge separating the Great Lakes from the Atlantic watershed are "The Little Falls," the first portage in travel up the river. Here lived the Canajoharie Indians, the Mohawk Upper Castle. The intervale above the falls was settled in 1723 by Palatines coming from the Schoharie valley and was named German Flats. As a key location in travel to the interior, it was fortified by the English and was frequently attacked by the enemy in the French and Indian War and in the Revolution. From here General Nicholas Herkimer led the militia to relieve Fort Stanwix and to oppose the British invasion at Oriskany in 1777. Tories and Indians from Canada again in 1778 made a destructive raid.
Influx of settlers from the east after the Revolution populated the towns of Herkimer and Little Falls. In 1796 the Great Westem Navigation Company, headed by Philip Schuyler, built locks here for a pioneering canal. The completion of the Erie Canal in 1825 brought new industries and commerce. Herkimer cheese became famous; other manufacture included paper, boxes, furniture and knit goods.
Modern travel, on highway, railroad and barge canal, still converges at this ancient pass.
#8 - Thruway, eastbound, at Indian Castle Service Area (milepost 210)
The Oneida Indians joined the Mohawks, Onondagas, Cayugas and Senecas, about 1550, to form the Five Nations, or Iroquois Confederacy. This was the legendary "Great Peace" made by the Indian statesmen, Hiawatha and Dekanawidah. Called "People of the Standing Stone," from an upright rock at their meeting place, the Oneidas had their principal settlement south of Oneida Lake. In 1722, the Tuscaroras coming from North Carolina settled west of the Oneidas and became the sixth Iroquois Nation. Living along the Mohawk River trade route and near the source of the Susquehanna River, the Oneidas were hunters, traders and farmers. Influenced by their missionary, Samuel Kirkland, the Oneidas sided with the Americans during the Revolution, while others of the Confederacy aided the British. Some of their lands were opened for settlement by the Fort Stanwix Treaty of 1768; later more Oneida land was ceded to the State.
Early in the nineteenth century, turnpikes were built through this region providing a principal route westward and were followed by the Erie Canal in 1825. Later came the railroads and improved highways. The fertile soil of this bottom land is intensively cultivated for large-scale truck farming.
#9 - Thruway, westbound, at Chittenango Service Area (milepost 266)
#10 - Thruway, eastbound (milepost 250)
The Oneida Indians joined with the Senecas Cayugas, Onondagas and Mohawks in 1700 to form the Five Nations, the Iroquois Confederacy. This was the legendary "great peace" made by the statesmen Hiawatha and Dekanawidah, and was ruled by the council or Longhouse at Onondaga. Called "People of the Standing Stone," for a rock which was their traditional meetingplace, the Oneidas dwelt between the Mohawks to the east and the Onondagas. In 1722, the Tuscaroras from North Carolina settled just west of the Oneidas, thus forming the Six Nations.
Living along the Mohawk River trade route and near the upper Susquehanna, the Oneidas became traders and farmers. On the eve of the Revolution, they and the Tuscaroras were influenced by the missionary Samuel Kirkland to side with the colonies, while the other nations joined the British. Some of their lands were opened for settlement by the Fort Stanwix Treaty of 1768, and more by later cessions to the State. Most of the Oneidas later migrated to Wisconsin, but a remnant lives on the Onondaga reservation.
#11 - Route 31, west of South Bay
The Battle of Oriskany was one of the bloodiest engagements of the American Revolution. British and Indians here ambushed the Tryon County militia as they were marching to the relief of Fort Stanwix (Rome). General Nicholas Herkimer, though wounded, rallied his forces and directed the fighting until the enemy fled.
Defeated at Oriskany and unable to force the surrender of Fort Stanwix, the British retreated to Canada. These reverses, with their defeat at Saratoga, thwarted Burgoyne's plan to divide the colonies by conquering New York.
#12 - Thruway, westbound, at Iroquois Service Area (milepost 210)
#13 - Thruway, eastbound (milepost 250)
#14 - 0riskany Battlefield, Oriskany, New York
Arriving at Valley Forge in February, 1.778, this German-born officer found "an army of skeltons naked, starved, sick, discouraged," and undisciplined. By day he drilled them for the victorious campaigns of that summer. By candlelight he wrote a MANUAL OF ARMS, which is still the basis for the discipline of our armed forces.
"His services were indispensable to the achievement of American Independence."
#15 - Thruway, westbound, at Schuyler Service Area (milepost 227)
#16 - Thruway, eastbound, at Oneida Service Area (milepost 244)
Onondaga Indians, the keepers of the council fires for the Iroquois League, lived here. French soldiers and Jesuit missionaries came from Canada in 1654 to seek their friendship. In that year, Father Simon Le Moyne discovered salt springs in the area. Salt works were set up in 1788, soon after the first permanent settlement. Salt manufacturing flourished until the 1860's. For many years the tax on salt supplied the State's chief revenue. This industry gave the name Salina to the original site of Syracuse. The Erie Canal and the Oswego Canal, connecting the Erie at Syracuse with Lake Ontarlo, ushered in an era of prosperity and expansion after 1825. Railroads and highways followed the east-west water level route and stimulated industrial growth.
Situated on the edge of the fruitful lake plain beside Onondaga Lake, Syracuse is near the geographical center of New York State. Serving a wide area, her industries, which began with the salt works, have been many and varied: chinaware, alloy steel, automobiles and automotive gears, air-conditioning and typewriters, chemicals and electronics - these reflected the industrial growth of America. The first New York State Fair was held in 1841 in Syracuse, where it has been an annual event since 1890.
#17 - Route 81, southhound, near Central Square
Salt springs were discovered in this area in 1654 by Father Simon Le Moyne, a French Jesuit missionary from Canada, who had come to convert the Onondaga Indians. Salt extraction began in 1788, shortly after the arrival of the first settlers, and the settlement was named Salina. It proved so profitable that the State derived a large revenue from the salt tax. Salt manufacture flourished until the 1860's.
When the Erie Canal was completed in 1825, Syracuse was established and later included Salina. The Oswego Canal connected the Erie at Syracuse with Lake Ontario. Railroads later were constructed radiating from Syracuse, which became a commercial and manufacturing center.
Situated on the edge of the fruitful lake plain, beside Onondaga Lake, Syracuse is near the geographical center of New York State. Serving a wide area, her industries, which began with the salt works, have been many and varied: chinaware, alloy steel, automobiles and automotive gears, air- conditioning and typewriters, chemicals and electronics. These reflected the industrial growth of America. The first New York State Fair was held in 1841 in Syracuse, where it has been an annual event since 1890.
#18 - Route 81, northbound, Central Square
Indians living in the valleys of the Unadilla and Susquehanna Rivers played an important role in the region's early history. Fur traders from Albany and the Mohawk Valley reached out to Oquaga (now Windsor), and a mission to the Indians was established there. The Treaty of Fort Stanwix In 1768 drew a line along the Unadilla River and southward marking the western limit of white settlement, but failed to bring peace to the frontier. During the Revolution, the Mohawk leader Joseph Brant organized the Indians of the area, and these joined Tories in terrifying raids upon the settlements. In retaliation, the Sullivan-Clinton campaign of 1779 destroyed the villages of the Indians and burned their corn, thus forcing them to leave the region.
After the Revolution came land speculators, like Robert Harpur, who in 1795 founded Harpursville, with a grant of 30,000 acres, and brought in settlers from the Mohawk Valley and New England. Lumber and agricultural products from the area were rafted down the Susquehanna to market. In 1869 the Albany and Susquehanna Railroad, which became a part of the Delaware and Hudson line, was completed, and industry developed along its route. Farms were principally devoted to dairying; and creameries and factories for milk products were established.
Travel and transport, once so heavy on the river and railroad, have been largely replaced by motor traffic on modern highways.
#19 - Route 7, east of Afton
Rivers and streams flowing southward make this area a part of the great Susquehanna River Valley. Early fur traders from the Mohawk Valley dealt with Indians as far as Oquaga (now Windsor). Large colonial land grants were obtained by George Croghan around Otsego Lake and by Sir William Johnson along Charlotte Creek but few settlers came until after the Revolution. Retaliating for Tory and Indian raids on Cherry Valley and Cobleskill, General James Clinton's troops came down the valley in 1779, floating on the dammed-up waters from Otsego Lake, and forced the Indians to leave their devastated lands.
In 1786 William Cooper came from New Jersey, founded Cooperstown, and opened the land to settlers. Lumber and farm products were sent down river on rafts in periods of high water to markets as distant as Harrisburg and Baltimore. The Albany and Susquehanna Railroad, later a part of the Delaware and Hudson line, opened in 1869 and spurred economic development. Railroad shops were located at Oneonta, and creameries and factories for milk products served the dairy farmers of the area. Traffic on improved highways has succeeded that on rails and river, stimulating resorts and centers of recreation.
#20 - Route 28, southbound, north of Oneonta, north of junction with Route 7
Situated on the important Mohawk Valley route between the Hudson River and the Great Lakes, Utica has long been a travel crossroads. Indian trails converged there, and Fort Schuyler was built on the site in 1758. The community which grew around the fort's ruins became the village of Utica in 1798.
During the American Revolution, patriot militia under General Nicholas Herkimer at Oriskany, on August 6, 1777, halted an invasion by the British, compelling them to raise the seige of Fort Stanwix (Rome). Tories and Indians raided Mohawk Valley communities until 1781. With peace, land speculators reopened the area to settlement.
Governor De Witt Clinton at Rome in 1817 started the construction of the Erie Canal, completed in 1825. The Erie Canal, its Chenango branch to Binghamton (1836), and railroad service (1837) increased Utica's importance as a transportation center, and the area prospered. Industrial production started early with textile mills along Sauquoit and Oriskany Creeks. At Ilion, Eliphet Remington pioneered in manufacturing firearms. Rome became famous for its iron, copper and brass works.
Makers of electrical and electronics equipment have replaced textile factories, while fertile farmlands continue to provide dairy products.
#21 - Thruway, westbound, at Chittenango Service Area (milepost266)
#22 - Thruway, westbound, at Schulyer Service Area (milepost 227)
#23 - Thruway, eastbound, at Oneida Service Area (milepost 224)
#24 - Route 12, southbound, south of Remsen
This Indian word meaning "around the hill" was applied by the Oneida Nation of the Iroquois Confederacy to the Utica area. It referred to the way their trails circled the nearby hills. These paths were often used by white settlers on their way west. When Governor George Clinton purchased the Indian lands in 1788, a tribal member likened the transaction to being crowded off a log.
The Sacred Stone of the Oneidas, which is maintained in Utica's Forest Hill Cemetery, is a reminder of the past Indian culture of the area. This rounded, oblong stone served as an altar for many Indian rites and for the councils of the entire Iroquois Confederacy. According to the legend, the stone miraculously appeared in an Indian village at the foot of Oneida Lake and magically followed the tribe from one settlement to another.
#25 - City of Utica, near entrance to Utica Zoo. Roscoe Conkling Park, Steele Hill Road
This area was once the gathering place for Tories and Indians bent on the destruction of American frontier settlements. In 1777, General Nicholas Herkimer met with Chief Joseph Brant and discussed a peace which might have ended the bloody raids on the Mohawk Valley. Brant was not intimidated by Herkimer's large escort of Tyron County militia, but, instead, challenged the Americans, saying that he was "ready for war." Herkimer returned north, but the two met again on the bloody battlefield at Oriskany.
After Oriskany, in 1779, American forces destroyed the Indian villages - real towns of stone houses with glass windows and brick chimneys - and burned the corn. This left the Iroquois homeless and starving - the unfortunate victims in a white man's war. The result was a migration of the Senecas and many of their Iroquois brothers to Canada.
#26 - Route 51, three miles north of Mount Upton
(relocated to I-88 rest area, westbound, between Otego and Wells Bridge).
Construction of the Erie Canal began at Rome on July 4, 1817, to take advantage of the "long level." That portion of the canal between Utica and Salina (now Syracuse) was planned first because there were relatively few obstructions and because the level surface required no locks. In October, 1819, the 98-mile section between Utica and the Seneca River was completed, and the first boat traveled from Rome to Utica.
The State-financed Erie Canal was constructed by local contractors, who used their ingenuity to build a canal across New York, then largely a wilderness. The 363-mile canal was 40 feet wide and four feet deep; 83 locks took it over different land levels. The canal was hailed as the foremost engineering achievement of the time.
When finished in 1825, the Erie Canal became the main route between the Atlantic Ocean and the Great Lakes. Western New York flourished with cheap, new transportation. The canal insured the place of New York City as the Nation's greatest port and city, and it hastened development of the Midwest.
The modernized State Barge Canal System, consisting of the Erie, Champlain, Oswego, and Cayuga-Seneca Canals, was completed in 1918.
#27 - Route 46, (Erie Canal Park) near Higginsville
The majestic Mohawk Valley has been the scene of many key events which have helped to shape the character and destiny of New York State and the Nation. This was once the home of the proud Mohawks, one of the main tribes of the powerful six-nation Iroquois Confederacy. As the main gateway between the Adirondack Mountains, and the Allegheny Plateau, the valley came to be used by French-Catholic missionaries, land-hungry settlers moving west, foreign travelers, French and Indian raiders, British tory, and American troops. During the French and Indian War and the American Revolution, it was a vital center of action - the main highway for east-west communication and a major point of contact between the contending armies.
The Erie Canal and the New York Central Railroad followed the valley route and gave a new direction to its history. Internal improvements led to intensive settlement and industrial growth. While the valley has changed in many ways over the years, it still retains one element of the past - its incomparable beauty.
#28 - City of Utica, on Oriskany Street, near Genesee Street
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