HomeVisit our Gift ShopsElmira LinksOur Book Store

Chemung County History Timeline 1779 - now

1779 - Battle of Newtown
1779 - Mammoth or mastadon tusk found - sent to England for scientific testing - never returned
1783 - Matthias Hollenback opens the Newtown trading post in the vicinity of today's Kennedy Valve. First
settlers arrive in Newtown (Elmira), Chemung, Big Flats, Breesport, and Horseheads.
1788 - John Hendy built a log cabin and began farming in West Elmira.
1789 - Sarah Breese was the first white child born in Chemung County (Horseheads).
1790 - Town of Dewittsburg in the vicinty of today's DeWitt Avenue on the East Side.
1791 - "Treaty of Painted Post" signed in Elmira on today's Madison Avenue owing to high water in Painted
Post. The treaty made it "safe" for settlers to move to our area.
1792 - First framed house built in Elmira.
1799 - First grist mill on Newtown Creek.
1800 - Newtown (Elmira) added to regional mail route.
1801 - First post office opened in Newtown (Elmira).
1803 - First "highway" built - Newtown (Elmira) to Watkins Glen.
1815 - First newspaper "The Telegraph."
1817 - Berwick Turnpike.
1822 - Town of Southport (included all of the Southside from the river to Bulkhead)
1823 - Towns of Veteran and Catlin.
1824 - First bridge over Chemung River opened at Lake Street.
1828 - Newtown changed name to Elmira after Elmira Teall - child of the East Side. Elmira Gazette founded.
1830 - Ground broken for the Chemung Canal connecting Elmira to Seneca Lake, the Erie Canal, the Great
Lakes, and beyond.
1832 - Elmira and Williamsport Railroad.
1833 - Chemung Canal opened.
1836 - Chemung County formed. Originally was part of Montgomery County, then Tioga County.
1840 - Great Fire of 1840 - lost Lake Street Bridge.
1844 - John W. Jones arrives in Elmira.
1845 - Town of Fairport changes name to Horsheads.
1846 - Plank Road (toll road) established between Elmira and the Pennsyvlania State Line. (Today's Pennsylvania
Avenue).
1848 - St. Peter and Paul's Church (first Catholic church in Elmira) opened.
1849 - The Erie Railroad opens service to Elmira.
1852 - Gleason's Water Cure on East Hill opened.
1853 - John Arnot's Gas Works opened on Madison Avenue. Provides fuel for Elmira's first street lamps.
1854 - Junction Canal (from Chemung Canal to Sayre, Pennsylvania) opened. Elmira & Williamsport
Railroad completed.
1855 - Elmira College founded.
1858 - Woodlawn Cemetery opened. Elmira YMCA organized.
1859 - Elmira Free Academy opened - provided free education to anyone who desired.
1860 - Lake Street Church organized.
1861 - Elmira designated as a military depot for the Civil War - soon became a Prison Camp.
1862 - Chemung County Courthouse erected. Horseheads business district destroyed by fire.
1864 - John Jones buries 2,963 Confederate prisoners of war in Woodlawn Cemetery.
1870 - Local girl Olivia Langdon married Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) in Elmira.
1873 - First fire engine from LaFrance Fire Engine Company.
1876 - Elmira Reformatory opened.
1877 - First telephone in Jervis Langdon's office. Graves in Wisner Burying Ground moved to Woodlawn
Cemetery. Burying Ground became Wisner Park.
1878 - Chemung Canal abandoned owing to great railroad service.
1881 - Big tornado strikes downtown.
1882 - Delaware, Lackawanna and Western brought service to Elmira.
1883- Electricity is provided in Elmira.
1885 - Horseheads renamed North Elmira.
1886 - Elmira Armory constructed.
1888 - Arnot-Ogden Hospital opened.
1889 - City of Elmira purchased Eldridge Park. Chemung and Cowanesque River floods - 13 dead
1892 - Elmira Heights land lottery brought new settlers.
1893 - First automobile.
1895 - Elmira's City Hall erected. Eclipse Bicycle Company opened in Elmira Heights.
1899 - Steele Memorial Library opened at corner of Lake and Market Streets.
1901 - Statue of Thomas K. Beecher dedicated in Wisner Park.
1902 - Big flood in Elmira.
1904 - Elmira's coldest day to date January 5 - 30 degrees below zero. Lyceum Theater burned down. Rorick's
Glen theatre burned down.
1906 - First "hard surface" road to Horseheads.
1908 - St. Joseph's Hospital opened.
1909 - Elmira lost its beloved Ross Marvin - murdered by Eskimos
1910 - Mark Twain buried in Woodlawn Cemetery.
1911 - Original Sullivan's Monument collapsed.
1912 - Gibson Train Wreck kills 39. The second Sullivan's Monument dedicated.
1913 - Arnot Art Gallery (Museum) opened.
1918 - Spanish influenza killed 134 in Chemung County. Prohibition closed Elmira's 49 saloons. The bobbed hair
fad hit Elmira's women.
1923 - Concrete road from Elmira to Lowman opened.
1924 - Southside High School opened. Iszard's department store opened.
1929 - Mark Twain Hotel opened on Gray Street.
1930 - First national gliding and soaring contest held at Harris Hill.
1932 - First radio station WESG (now WENY) broadcast.
1933-34 - Erie and Lackawanna Railroad tracks elevated through city of Elmira.
1935 - Chemung River Flood - 43 dead and 44 million in damage.
1937 - Completion of river dikes in city to help prevent flooding.
1939 - City buses replace trolley cars. Dunn Field opened.
1940 - First parking meters. Langdon Plaza opened.
1943 - Chemung County Airport opened.
1944-45 - Italian prisoners are brought to the "Holding Point" in Horseheads for the rest of the war. German
prisoners are (briefly) brought to Van Etten.
1946 - 4.95 inches of rain brought the Great May 28th Flood. Cappy's Cards and Gifts opened. Tornado uprooted
1000 trees.
1947 - WELM radio's first broadcast.
1948 - Hamlin's music store opened on Water Street.
1949 - Elmira Drive-In opened on Route 352. Tom Sawyer Motel opened on Lake Road.
1950 - Elmira's first parking lot opened on the site of the razed Rathbun Hotel (corner of East Water and Baldwin
Streets). First television reception in Chemung County from Binghamton's Channel 12. Elmira's population
this year is 49,716 (Our highest was 55,700 in 1942).
1951 - Mount Saviour Monastery opened. Chemung Speedrome opened.
1952 - Fluoridated water introduced to Elmira. Westinghouse Electric plant in Horseheads opened. Four-lane
Route 17 opened from Elmira to Lowman.
1953 - Jones Court opened. Chemung County's first television station (WECT Channel 18) went on the air and
after a hiatus came back in 1956 at WSYE. Shepherd's Food Market opened in Pine City. Horseheads Gas
Pipeline exploded.
1954 - Remington Rand plant on South Main Street produced its 15 millionth typewriter. Hurricane Hazel brought
90 mph winds recorded at the airport. Horseheads Center Street School opened.
1955 - Cable TV introduced with a $125 installation fee and a $3.50 a month charge. Notre Dame High School opened.
1956 - Red Jacket Motel opened on Route 17. Mayor Edward Mooers served as Elmira's mayor form 1956-1962.
Loblaw's Super Market
1957 - Elmira City School District consolidated 29 school districts (including Ashland, Baldwin, Southports,
and Town of Elmira) and ended the era of one-room school houses.
1958 - Dedication of Chapel Park in Southport.
1959 - Minier's Super Market opened in Big Flats. Midtown Plaza opened with 15 stores and 200 parking spaces
opened in downtown Elmira. Chemung County enacted a sales tax.
1960 - The new Elmira Free Academy building on Hoffman Street replaced the old one on Lake Street.
1961 - Elmira football hero Ernie Davis became the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy. New
Lake Street bridge opened. Broadway and Pine City Elementary Schools opened. Grand Central Plaza
opened in Horseheads. Chemung County's 125th Anniversary Parade.
1962 - New Horseheads Village Hall opened.
1963 - Centertown Park-Shop developed with 540 parking spaces. Elmira got "Zip Codes."
1964 - Elmira celebrated its 100th anniversary as a city.
1965 - Ann Page (A&P) plant opened in Horseheads. Church Street became one-way from Madison Avenue to
Coleman Avenue. West Elmira Branch Library opened. ElCor opened.
1966 - Blizzard caused drifts 15 feet high.
1967 - Arnot Mall opened. Worst airplane crash related to Elmira - Mohawk Airlines with 34 onboard crashed
near Blossburg, PA after just leaving the Elmira airport.
1969 - WENY television opened in the Mark Twain Hotel.
1970 - Erie-Lackawanna Railroad discontinued service. Elmira's first McDonald's opened (North Main Street).
1972 - Tropical Storm Agnes brought Elmira's worst flood to date - June 23 - after 8 inches of rail from Hurricane
Agnes. Remington Rand plant closed.
1973 - Last link of Route 17 completed between Waverly and Nichols.
1974 - New Walnut Street bridge opened (due to 1972 flood).
1975 - New Main Street bridge opened. New Fitch's Bridge opened. Demolition of all buildings on the river side of
Water Street in downtown Elmira between Lake and Main Streets.
1976 - Easing of "blue laws" allowed shopping on Sundays.
1977 - Clemens Center for the Performing Arts opened.
1978 - Arnot Mall added 84 stores.
1979 - New Steele Memorial Library opened on East Church Street.
1980 - New Southside High School opened.
1981 - Summer of Gypsy Moths - ate all our trees. First Burger King opened on Washington Avenue.
1983 - First area supermarket "scanners" used at Tops Market on Lake Street.
1984 - First Pizza Hut opened, first video store (Rent a Flick) opened in Diven Plaza.
1986 - Chemung County native Geoff Bodine won the Daytona 500.
1988 - Iszard's 30th and last Christmas Parade.
1989 - Southport Prison opened. Eldridge Park's carousel horses auctioned in NYC.
1993 - The Big Blizzard dumped 23 inches of snow. Wal-Mart opened in Big Flats.
1994 - Chemung County impleted the 911 system.
1996 - Elmira's Cat Leash Law in effect. Cats must be on leashes outdoors! Wegman's supermarket opened.
1997 - Eldridge Park got a new look.
1999 - Hillary Rodham Clinton visited Elmira.
2000 - (Coach) First Arena in Elmira opened.
2006 - Eldridge Park reopened its Carousel.
2008 - The American Hotel on West Third Street, built in 1835, torn down before it could fall down on its own.
The Express film about Ernie Davis opened in October to good reviews. Repeal of the Cat Leash Law.
2009 - Pesky seagulls converge on downtown. City officials flummoxed.
2010 - Armory Building (1886) razed. Seagulls "eliminated" from Chemung River island.

Home | Books | Links | Visitors | Reunions/Events | Gift Shop
| Barnes Library | Facebook
Copyright Chemung County History 2011. All rights reserved.
Please email for permission to reprint.
Please visit our Book Store and Gift Shops - they help to sustain this website

web design by Janowski Web Design