Early Roads of Allegany County, NY

Thanks to the Research of Richard Palmer the following article was found printed in Ontario Repository, Canandaigua, Sept. 3, 1807 telling of advertisement for building the Bath to Angelica Turnpike.


(The following article is clipped through research by Mary Rhodes)

Allegany County Democrat 3/13/1924


“How many of us who are now privileged to speed along over good roads in luxurious automobiles ever stop to think how great is the contrast between the way we travel in 1924, and the way our great-grandparents traveled in 1824?” said the Belfast Blaze in an article on “Transportation in Allegany County.”

“Perhaps if we will allow our minds to run back over a little past history, it will make us appreciate better than ever the privileges we enjoy.”

“One hundred and twenty-five years ago [1799], when the first settlers pressed their way into the primeval forests of Allegany County, they found a hard road to travel, if indeed they found any road at all. Travel those days was largely by boats which followed the rivers. For these early settlers, the problem of transportation, of getting supplies from the nearest settlements, which were often fifty and a hundred miles away, and of hauling their products to market, was a serious one. For many years, Dansville, with its outlet to Philadelphia and Baltimore by way of the Susquehanna River was the nearest outlet for this region. If your grandfather lived here in the vicinity seventy-five years ago, perhaps the older of you have heard him tell how he had to haul heavy loads in wagons and sleds over the rough, hilly road to Dansville.

“The first road to be constructed in the county was begun in 1801 or so. It followed the stream up from Hornellsville (now Hornell) up through Almond, Andover, there following the course of Dyke’s Creek down to the Genesee at Wellsville, thence by Marsh, Honeoye and Oswayo Creeks to the Allegany River and Olean. In 1808 another road was built down the river from Wellsville to Caneadea, crossing the Genesee at Transit, where the first bridge in the county was built. Another main road was built in 1820 from Angelica to Olean by way of Friendship.

“Soon after the completion of the Erie Canal, agitation was started toward the construction of a canal down the Genesee Valley from Rochester to Olean. Work was begun on the project in 1836, but owing to the hard times of 1837, and to political difficulties, the work was not entirely completed until twenty years later, the 1856. This canal passed through Hume, Caneadea, Belfast and Cuba, thence to Olean. This Canal was not a paying investment of itself, yet contributed largely toward converting the pine forests of Allegany County into improved farm lands, and enriched its people.

“Judge Phillip Church, maintained in records of the county as one of the most outstanding characters in pioneer history of the county, was one of the first to agitate the idea of a railroad running up from New York City, through the Southern Tier Counties of New York State. A meeting was held at Angelica in 1831 in which ways and means were discussed for bringing in the road. Similar meetings held along the line of the proposed route finally resulted in the road being started in 1835. Like the Genesee Valley Canal, the road was slow in being completed and was not opened through our county until 1851. The opening of this railroad was a wonderful event for the people of Allegany County and a great celebration was held on the day [February 12, 1851] when the first passenger train came over the road bearing many notable persons, including President Fillmore and Daniel Webster.

“Various other projects were started after the completion of the Erie, many of which turned out to be failures. Of the routes actually built the most prominent were the roads from Angelica to Hornellsville (now the Shawmut), the Western New York and Pennsylvania which came up the Genesee River from Rochester to Olean, and a narrow gauge road from Angelica crossing the Genesee a little above Transit Bridge to Friendship, Nile, Bolivar and Olean. Part of this road was afterward used by the Bolivar, Eldred and Cuba narrow gauge road. The main division of the latter road was from Wellsville through Bolivar to Ceres. This is the railroad which entered Wellsville, crossing Main street just below the Sanitarium. This road did a fairly good business for several years, but was finally abandoned in 1893. The Wellsville, Coudersport and Pine Creek R.R. was chartered in 1881 and built twelve miles south from Wellsville through Genesee. Pa. This road is a part of the Buffalo and Susquehanna system.

“The building of improved State highways since the advent of the automobile marks another period with which we are all familiar in the advancement that has been made in the means of transportation.”