I want to write about my trip to Ohio but I keep running into interesting items as put pictures from this summer on Flickr. Eventually I'll get around to three months of blogging about obscure sights in Ohio. First, though, how about an obscure town in Leatherstocking Country?
The village of Cherry Valley has fewer than 600 people living in it but you could base a geography course on the town and its surroundings. The town sits in a glacial valley that connects the Mohawk River Valley to the north with the Susquehanna Valley to the south. The ease of passage through the valley made it a preferred travel route for the Iroquois Nations. Settlement by Europeans began in 1738. Cherry Valley became prosperous after 1799, when a turnpike connected the village to Albany.
That prosperity was short-lived. The Erie Canal bypassed the town in 1825 and the railroads bypassed the town just a few years later. That's not to say interesting things haven't happened in Cherry Valley. The Revolutionary War Battle of Cherry Valley, aka THE MASSACRE, took place 330 years ago last week. Colonel Ichabod Alden, who was tomahawked in THE MASSACRE, mainly because he ignored the 1778 security briefing equivalent of "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US".
In 1837 Samuel F. B. Morse stayed with his cousin in Cherry Valley. It was while in Cherry Valley that Morse perfected the telegraph. The town also apparently had a well-known finishing school for girls at the site of the elaborate water fountain. The water was "valued for its pleasant taste and medicinal properties" according to the historical marker next to it.
The railroad finally arrived in 1870, breathing new life into town. Some time after the railroad arrived someone installed this amazing door handle on a Main St. business. The turnpike became what is now US Route 20 in the early 20th century. Cross-country travelers passed through Cherry Valley until the NYS Thruway was built after World War II. Later Rt. 20 was re-routed to go around town, so there's really no reason to drive through Cherry Valley today unless you're taking the scenic route from the Thruway to Cooperstown, twelve miles to the south.
That's a shame as it is a nice little town. There were a lot of sculptures on display when I passed through and I saw signs for an outdoor music series. The revolutionary war link above mentions that, unusual for a frontier town, "the people of Cherry Valley were intelligent and of good moral character". Makes you wonder if those qualities the early settlers of the town brought with them are, in part, self-perpetuating and carry on to the present.