Researched, Transcribed & Submitted by Mary Rhodes
From the March 13, 1941 Allegany County Democrat
Note: Hubert D. Bliss was the Editor of the Allegany County Democrat newspaper for many years. His style of writing fits this piece very well and it is probably one of his pieces. He also wrote the book, "Allegany Peaks" just prior to this article so, as Mary noted to me, it could probably be a sequel. Regardless, we will give him credit for writing it!! rt.
Norton Summit Deflated As Road Peak
What is the high point on the Wellsville – Bolivar state highway?
You guessed it. Norton Summit! But you guessed wrong!!
Among the oddities that might be placed in the “Peaks of Allegany” category just coming to light is the fact that Norton Summit has masqueraded under false colors all these years. You need not be expected to believe it – that is, until you have the facts. But the facts do take the Summit down a peg.
From the State Highway survey records in Hornell is gleaned the fact that Norton Summit is 57.5 feet lower than the highest point on the road. In fact, there are two stations points that rise higher than Norton Summit. Both are in the Sawyers – Vosburg sector.
Here are the three high points, so far as toppling Norton Summit from its peaks is concerned:
Sawyers – 1,977.5 feet elevation
Vosburg – 1,941.8 feet
Norton Summit – 1,920 feet.
Sawyers is 4.75 miles east of Bolivar, the village center.
Vosburg is 5 miles east of Bolivar.
The Sawyers high spot is at the watershed divide, from whence waters flow generally east to the Genesee River and west to the Allegheny River.
The Vosburg high spot is actually several hundred feet east of the point, called Vosburg, marking the unimpressive rise of ground toward the eastern edge of the Messer Oil Corporation lease.
All of which may seem confusing, as well as ridiculous. Because at no point on the Wellsville-Bolivar road, except at Norton Summit, does one encounter more than a sizeable hump in the road. The only catch is that those humps are almost continuous after reaching the foot of Norton Summit and heading west toward Allentown and then on to Sawyers and Vosburg.
To persons only casually interested in physical features of the countryside, the general elevation of Sawyers and Vosburg is known as the highest along the route, in view of the fact that it is the watershed divide. But in that section, Route 17 does not traverse any abrupt hill so as to impress one distinctly. Right at Sawyers itself, marking the actual divide, the road in fact winds along the side of the hill so as to give one much the impression of being in a valley.
In contrast to this, the route over Norton Summit starts right in at a sharp grade and for three quarters of a mile it goes steadily up. Then at the top, you get the idea of being on top of the world. The only thing is you are not – you are only on top of Norton Summit.
And Norton Summit is a measly !,920 feet high.
And Vosburg hits 1,941.8 feet.
And then comes Sawyers to put both at its feet, with a peak of 1,977.5 feet.
You aren’t convinced yet? Then go take a peek at the State Highway Department survey maps yourself and get an idea of “what’s peaks” on the Wellsville Bolivar route.
Chug! It’s a dud.
Norton Summit, we mean. All those chugs of a bygone pioneer automobiling day gone to naught. Why, time was when Norton Summit stood as daddy of the hills hereabouts in putting an automobile to a test. And that wasn’t so long ago, as years go. But in automobile annals, it was long, long ago.
Back 30 to 40 years ago, when the first automobiles wheezed or quit at every little hump in the ground, the ride up Norton Hill from either the Wellsville or Bolivar side was something to remember. Up the rough dirt road, the first adventurers never thought of doing it in other than low gear. And they counted themselves lucky to make it. Then came the great achievement era, when the more daring drivers who owned the “last word” in Wintons or Thomas Flyers negotiated the hill in high.
Tell you, there was something to crow about. Back in those days, so long ago. And now, with time itself scarcely eclipsed in that record, comes the revelation that Norton Summit ain’t what it used to be – and never was. Oh, yeah!