Gowanda, New York
U.S. Post Office, Gowanda NY, August 2010
Location of village within Erie County
|• Total||1.6 sq mi (4.2 km2)|
|• Land||1.6 sq mi (4.2 km2)|
|• Water||0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)|
|Elevation||761 ft (232 m)|
|• Density||1,700/sq mi (650/km2)|
|Time zone||Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC-4)|
|GNIS feature ID||0951430|
Gowanda is a village in New York in the United States and lies partly in Erie County and partly in Cattaraugus County. The population was 2,709 at the 2010 census. The name is a local native term meaning "almost surrounded by hills" or "a valley among the hills." The Erie County portion of Gowanda is part of the Buffalo–Niagara Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area, while the Cattaraugus County portion is part of the Olean Micropolitan Statistical Area.
Gowanda Airport (D59) is a general aviation grass strip and is part of the Gernatt Family of Companies' land, located northwest of the village.
- 1 Geography
- 2 Demographics
- 3 History
- 4 Notable recent events
- 5 Notable people
- 6 Communities and locations in Gowanda
- 7 Correctional facilities
- 8 Educational institutions
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Gowanda is located at (42.463197, -78.936350).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 1.6 square miles (4.2 km2), of which 1.6 square miles (4.1 km2) is land and 0.62% is water.
The village is split by Cattaraugus Creek, the dividing boundary between Erie and Cattaraugus counties with the northern part of the village in Erie County and the southern in Cattaraugus.
The village is located on US Route 62 as well as County Road 4 (Broadway Road), NY-39, and NY-438. The NFTA provided bus service in the area until it abandoned the route in 2011; the Seneca Transit System began serving the village in 2013.
The New York and Lake Erie Railroad has a depot in Gowanda, from which it runs both freight and occasional passenger rail service.
The Cattaraugus Reservation is to the west of the village.
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,842 people, 1,161 households, and 667 families residing in the village. The population density was 1,772.3 people per square mile (685.8/km2). There were 1,277 housing units at an average density of 796.4 per square mile (308.2/km2). The racial makeup of the village was 62.47%% White, 0.49% African American, 41.54% Native American, 0.35% Asian, 0.21% from other races, and 1.20% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.41% of the population.
There were 1,161 households out of which 27.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.1% were married couples living together, 12.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.5% were non-families. 36.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.26 and the average family size was 2.98.
In the village the population was spread out with 23.5% under the age of 18, 6.8% from 18 to 24, 26.0% from 25 to 44, 20.1% from 45 to 64, and 23.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 89.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.5 males.
The median income for a household in the village was $29,565, and the median income for a family was $39,094. Males had a median income of $32,279 versus $25,281 for females. The per capita income for the village was $16,323. About 9.5% of families and 14.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.2% of those under age 18 and 9.5% of those age 65 or over.
Early inhabitation by American Indians
The area was first inhabited during the Stone Age by Algonquian American Indians who were a nomadic people. An Algonquian mound from the first or second Stone Age is located on the farm of Walter Cain in the area of Rosenberg along Zoar in Gowanda. The mound is believed to be about 3,500 years old, with artifacts including spearheads, copper heads, and stone implements of a crude nature having been excavated from the site. In the latter half of the 14th century, Iroquois traveled to the area and lived along the Cattaraugus Creek. They were war-like and proud, considering themselves to be "chosen people." Other tribes lived in the area around this time, with the Erie people (a tribe of the Iroquois) being defeated, driven out, and/or assimilated within the Iroquois Confederacy; and the Seneca people arriving later.
After the American Revolutionary War, the colonial government secured land treaties with the Iroquois nation in Western New York in 1784 and 1788. In 1796 and 1797, Robert Morris purchased lands, including American Indian lands, and mortgaged them to the Holland Land Company of Wilhelm Willink and 11 associates of Amsterdam, Holland. Lands except for 10 American Indian reservations were purchased by Morris in 1797, with the Cattaraugus Reservation of 42 square miles being among those lands that were excluded from the purchase. Thereafter, two land offices of the Holland Land Company were opened in Batavia, New York and Danby, Vermont. Many early settlers to Gowanda were from the Danby, Vermont area, with many of them being Quakers.
Settlement and incorporation
The village was settled in 1810, and was originally called "Aldrich's Mills." Turner Aldrich and his family, who were Quakers, were the first Caucasians to settle in Gowanda. He and his family of three sons and three daughters sailed up the Cattaraugus Creek from Connecticut, taking 707 acres of land, now comprising a large portion of what is Gowanda today. Aldrich built a saw mill and grist mill, the grist mill being built in 1817, with records of farmers coming from a 30-mile radius for their grain to be ground. At that time, farmers and pioneers traveled along American Indian trails through the dense forest, with wagons being pulled by oxen.
Jacob Taylor, a Quaker missionary from The Friends Yearly Meeting of Philadelphia, was sent in 1809 to serve the American Indians in the area, and is the man for whom Taylor Hollow is named. In 1811, he also built, owned, and operated both a saw mill and grist mill. Other missionaries accompanied Taylor, and though they called themselves a family, they were not related.
Though originally called "Aldrich's Mills," the village later adopted the name, "Lodi," though there was confusion in mail delivery due to "Lodi" in Seneca County, New York, so that name was dropped when the village was incorporated, though the post office retained the name, "Persia." American Indians in the area had once identified it as "Juc-Gowanda," meaning "A valley among the hills." The word, "Juc" was dropped, and the name, "Gowanda" was adopted. The Village of Gowanda was first incorporated in 1848, and was re-incorporated in 1878 under a new state regulation and extended its territory to absorb the nearby hamlet of Hidi.
A historical book about Gowanda identifies 120 men, including Caucasians and American Indians, who were Gowanda residents and who fought in the American Civil War in New York regiments. The same book also identifies six additional men who had been Gowanda residents, but who enlisted and fought in the Civil War with regiments from Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.
A little-known fact about Gowanda, not written in any history books and known only to some locals, is that it was a station in the Underground Railroad. A functional underground tunnel of the Underground Railroad, still in existence today, connects a former train drop-off area of the New York and Lake Erie Railroads near the foot of Gowanda-Zoar Road to an outlet on the property formerly owned by William and Evelyn (Merrill) Glazier, a local surgeon and nurse. The home was used as a safe house for former slaves escaping to free states and Canada from Southern states around the 1860s and the time of the American Civil War. A homemade railroad sign is posted on the property at the location of the tunnel's outlet.
Although not located within Gowanda but long associated with Gowanda, the Thomas Asylum for Orphan and Destitute Indian Children (also known as the "Thomas Indian School") was built following a gift of 50 acres of land on the Cattaraugus Reservation, and was incorporated in 1855. In June 1856, the institution opened and was immediately at capacity in housing 50 orphaned American Indian children. The Thomas Asylum housed and schooled orphaned American Indian children for decades, until the latter part of the twentieth century.
In 1894, the Erie County Legislature passed an Act that gave rise to the Homeopathic State Hospital (later known as the "Gowanda Psychiatric Center" prior to being much later-converted into correctional facilities) in Gowanda and Collins, New York. Land purchased for the State Hospital by Erie County included 500 acres and was known as the "Taylor tract." When the State Care Act was effected in 1894, the land was transferred to the State of New York, which then conveyed it to the State Hospital. Today, the correctional facilities are still situated along Taylor Hollow Road in Gowanda, with such road named for the farmer who owned the land that was purchased and used, originally, for the State Hospital.
Tanning and glue industries
Important historical industries that flourished in Gowanda during the twentieth century, but which also polluted the adjoining Cattaraugus Creek, include the Peter Cooper Corporation Glue Factory and the Moench Tannery. The first tannery in Gowanda was begun by Samuel T. Munger in 1829, although one was already in operation by Smith Bartlett since 1815 in Collins. In 1829, to tan one side of leather in six months was considered quick work. Other tanneries in operation in Gowanda were by the Benton Brothers; K. Webster (which was purchased by Agle & Sons in 1860); and Albert Gaensslen. In 1852, Albert Gaensslen converted the former wool factory in Gowanda to a leather plant with 12 liquor vats. The Gaensslen Brothers tannery manufactured only shoe sole leather. Gaensslen Brothers tannery was established in 1855; reorganizing as Gaensslen, Fisher & Company in 1896, following the partnership with E.C. Fisher. In 1879, the Gaensslen Brothers tannery "included 250 liquor vats and shipped 20,000 sides of sole leather to Cleveland each year." Additionally, the Agle & Sons tannery was expanded, containing 40 liquor vats and annually finishing 700 sides of leather by 1879.
A glue factory was originally started in association with the Gaensslen Brothers Tannery in 1874 in order to utilize the tanning waste. At that time, 30,000 pounds of glue was produced, annually. The first construction of the Richard Wilhelm's Eastern Tanners Glue Company plant, however, began on May 5, 1904. In 1898, tanning factory waste from the now-reorganized Gaensslen, Fisher & Company tannery produced 300,000 to 400,000 pounds of glue. In 1899, the tannery was purchased by C. Moench & Sons. Although it was purchased by the Brown Shoe Company in 1925, it existed as the Moench Tanning Company, Incorporated.
America's glue capitol
A 1976 historical book about Gowanda states that the Eastern Tanners Glue Company begun by Richard Wilhelm, and later purchased and operated by the Peter Cooper Corporations, was "the largest glue making plant in the world." Gowanda, therefore, was known as America's glue capitol.
Notable recent events
Cultural events and entertainment
Featured in AAA's travel guide, Gowanda features the Hollywood Happening, bringing a focus to the historic and restored Hollywood Theatre. The Hollywood Happening was previously called the Harley Happening but was changed after much controversy in the Gowanda Penny Saver News due to monetary sponsorship by the two largest contributors, Gernatt Family of Companies and Reid's Harley Davidson. It lasts from Friday to Sunday, usually the first weekend in June. Main Street of Gowanda is shut down for the event, which provides parking for numerous motorcycles and beer tents. Many local Western New York rock, country, and blues bands are featured. There are also several food and merchandise vendors who sponsor and participate in the event. Attendance for the 2008 Hollywood Happening was estimated to be around 22,000 people for the entire weekend.
Beginning about 2000, the Harvest Heritage Festival has been held every year in the fall, with many local business and private home owners opening up their residences for historical garden tours. A scarecrow contest is also held where local businesses compete in building scarecrows. Afterwards, the scarecrows are hung up around town to scare the children on Halloween. Gowanda also features Pine Hill Cemetery tours that are free and open to the public. The events usually last two hours, and are held every weekend during the month of October at midnight. Tours include period reenactments of those buried in the cemetery, and detailed stories of their lives. A staged reenactment of the 1861 murder of Private Lee Crawford and Beulah Snyder also takes place. Locally-brewed Chuck Barlow's Millhouse Cider sponsors the event, and offers refreshments during the festivities.
Parts of the 1987 comedy movie Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, starring Steve Martin and John Candy, were filmed at the Gowanda Train Depot, as well as the Olympia Diner on Jamestown Street. The New York and Lake Erie Railroad, a short rail line serving northwestern Cattaraugus County, is headquartered in Gowanda and offers freight and occasional passenger service.
Throughout the years, Gowanda has regularly experienced flooding. In August 2009, a great flash flood occurred in Gowanda and devastated much of the village. One man drowned; and houses and cars were washed away. A total of two fatalities were caused directly from the flooding. During the flood, Gowanda’s water reservoir at Point Peter Road was completely destroyed, leaving the village without water. It was estimated that it would take one year to rebuild the reservoir. New York State declared the village a disaster site, as did President Barack Obama. FEMA was tapped to assist the town in rebuilding. In January 2014, it was announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo that Gowanda would be compensated with $700,000 in monies from FEMA for expenses paid in rebuilding the village after the 2009 flood.
The Tri-County Memorial Hospital (Tri-County) was devastated beyond repair during the 2009 flood, and was demolished. Initial plans were to relocate the hospital to another location in Perrysburg out of the flood zone which would utilize $18.5 million in FEMA aid. TLC, the operators of Tri-County, would have needed to raise $2.3 million to fund the project. The proposal came under fire from residents of towns to the southeast, such as Cattaraugus and Little Valley, who noted that Gowanda is located less than 15 miles from hospitals in either direction (Dunkirk and Springville), while residents of Cattaraugus and Little Valley must travel 25 miles or more to the nearest hospital (which, until the flood, was Tri-County).
In July 2013, TLC announced it was abandoning its plans to reconstruct the hospital, noting that the existing hospitals in the region had more than enough capacity to meet demand, and would instead maintain an urgent care facility in Gowanda. Gary Rhodes, interim CEO of Lake Erie Regional Health System of New York, stated that it would not be economical to rebuild the hospital due to declining revenues, decreasing area population, and because of other hospitals within the system being nearby. The hospital's closure had a significant negative impact on the village, leading to the closure of the local Burger King and declines at several local businesses.
Flood of 2014
Gowanda experienced another flood, resulting in a state of emergency, when two waterways, including the Cattaraugus Creek and Thatcher Brook, flooded their banks in May 2014. Two elderly residents were evacuated from their homes as a safety precaution. One elderly resident was hospitalized as a result of injuries sustained when a tree fell and she was hit; her injuries are not life-threatening.
As a result of the flood, Gowanda's water reservoir was damaged and contaminated, being shut down. Residents were asked to conserve water, and not use it for activities such as washing their cars. Mayor Heather McKeever stated that the most costly facet of clean-up from the flooding may likely be the reservoir's repair, with initial repair estimates of approximately $500,000. Residents also pumped flood waters from their basements, and semi-truck loads of mud were hauled away as part of clean-up efforts.
Officials used a system called "Code Red" to notify residents to take precautions due to the rains. Residents were notified, electronically, at 7:30 am, and waterways had overflowed by 8:45 am. About 200 families in Gowanda were affected by the flooding, with 30 homes being flooded with water and mud. The children of Gowanda had school that day. The bus drivers were given a hard time about going on to certain closed roads.
- Albertus W. Catlin, US General
- John Elliot, Songwriter
- Daniel Garnsey, former US Congress Member
- Daniel R. Gernatt, Jr., Chief Executive Officer and mining magnate of Gernatt Family of Companies
- Dianna Gernatt Saraf, Attorney and legal consultant at the Gernatt Family of Companies
- Joseph Giglio, New York State Assemblyman
- Bill Paxon, Former US Congress Member
- Jared Sidney Torrance, founder of Torrance, California
Communities and locations in Gowanda
- Springwood Trailer Park – A trailer park in Gowanda on Sandhill Road.
- Chang Hu Park – A memorial park dedicated to the late Dr. Chang Hu who was influential in the town's planning and building process.
- Gowanda Central School System - A public school system that includes Gowanda Central High and Middle Schools, Gowanda Elementary School, and Aldrich Street (primary) School.
- Gowanda Correctional Facility – A NYS Medium Security prison located right next to Collins Correctional Facility separated by Middle Road. Middle Road is the border between the town of Collins and the village of Gowanda.
- Hutzenlaub Hill – A large hill on the outskirts of Gowanda which have had several German immigrant families settle there over multiple generations.
- Maltbie Hill – Home of the Maltbie Hill Coasters Association.
- McIntosh Woods – Woods located between the town of Collins and the village of Gowanda. It was named due to the now wild McIntosh apple trees which were planted for the former psychiatric facility patients to enjoy.
- Creekside Park – located along the Cattaraugus Creek in the heart of Gowanda which was revitalized into a historic park area.
- Zoar Valley – A scenic valley formed by Cattaraugus Creek.
Formerly the Gowanda Psychiatric Center, the Gowanda Correctional Facility, which opened in 1994, and the Collins Correctional Facility, which opened in 1982, are adjacent to the village. They are medium security prisons, and overlook the village below.
Gowanda Correctional facility houses more than 2,300 inmates, and is the second-largest prison in New York State. It also features one of the largest sex offender counseling programs of the New York State prison systems. Collins Correctional houses 1,700 inmates.
Gowanda is home to Gowanda Middle School, Gowanda High School, Gowanda Elementary School, Gowanda Christian Academy, and St. Joseph Roman Catholic School which are all primary and/or secondary schools. St. Joseph School is part of St. Joseph Parish.
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- Kirby, C.D. (1976). The Early History of Gowanda and The Beautiful Land of the Cattaraugus. Gowanda, NY: Niagara Frontier Publishing Company, Inc./Gowanda Area Bi-Centennial Committee, Inc.
- Historical sketch of the Village of Gowanda, N.Y. in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of its incorporation, August 8, 1898. Buffalo, NY: The Matthews-Northrup Company, Leonard, I.R., Reprinted 1998, Salem, MA: Higginson Book Company.
- 2003 St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Eden Prairie, MN: Olan Mills Church Directories, January 2004.
- Community gets gift of Hollywood Theater for restoration, Buffalo News - Southern Tier Edition, Buffalo, NY: Berkshire Hathaway, 16 December 1996, O'Brien, B. | Accessdate 2 November 2013.
- Gowanda reeling under new job loss: Closing of tannery follows shutdown of psychiatric center, Buffalo News, Buffalo, NY: Berkshire Hathaway, 30 May 1992, Robinson, D., In Highbeam.com, Retrieved 12 November 2013
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13.
- Village of Gowanda, NY: Bridging two counties, est. 1848, VillageofGowanda.com, Gowanda, NY, Retrieved 12 November 2013
- IMBd: Planes, trains & automobiles: Filming locations, IMBd.com, Retrieved 12 November 2013
- New York & Lake Erie Railroad, nylerr.com, Retrieved 12 November 2013
- Gowanda to receive $700K in FEMA funding, The Post-Journal, Jamestown, NY: The Post Journal, 31 January 2014, Retrieved 3 February 2014.
- Over $700K going to Gowanda, The Observer, Dunkirk, NY, 31 January 2014, Retrieved 10 February 2014.
- A change of plans: LERHSNY will not rebuild Tri-County in Perrysburg, The Observer, Dunkirk, NY: John D'Agostino, 28 July 2013, McDonnell, S., Retrieved 12 November 2013
- Gowanda declares state of emergency due to flooding, WGRZ.com, Buffalo, NY: WGRZ, 14 May 2014, Retrieved 14 May 2014.
- Heavy rains flood Gowanda, Silver Creek, N. Collins, The Buffalo News, Buffalo, NY: Berkshire Hathaway, 14 May 2014, Retrieved 14 May 2014.
- Streets in Gowanda turn to rivers carrying mud, WIVB.com, Buffalo, NY: WIVB, 13 May 2014, Lenihan, E., Retrieved 14 May 2014.
- Spirit of Gowanda - 1995 Annual Report, Gowanda Area Chamber of Commerce, Gowanda, NY, February 1996.
- 1996 Awards Presented at Chamber Dinner, Gowanda Penny Saver News, Hamburg, NY: HK Publications, 8 January 1996.
- Gernatt Companies, Collins, NY, Retrieved 30 October 2013.
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