Chemung County History Timeline 1771 - NOW
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Thank you, the Management.
Earliest records - The Elmira area was called Kanawaholla or Canaweola by the Cayuga Nation of the Iroquois Confederacy
1771 - First map made of the region "Country of the Six Nations" by Guy Johnson (Cheming County was a blank space)
1777 - Possibly some Spanish travelers visited the area (Spanish Hill near Waverly)
1778 - George Washington's troups surveyedthe Chemung County area
1779 - Mammoth or mastadon tusk found - sent to England for scientific testing - never returned.
1779 - Battle of Newtown.
1783 - Matthias Hollenback opened the Newtown trading post in the vicinity of today's Kennedy Valve.
1783 - First settlers arrive in Newtown (Elmira), Chemung, Big Flats, Breesport, and Horseheads.
1784 - Tryon County became Montgomery County
1787 - John Breese, first permanent settler in 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)
1789 - Terrible weather-related famine hit the area. Residents lived on beans and roots.
1790 - Village of Newtown laid out. Earliest streets - Sullivan, Water, and Church. Village of Wisnerburg laid out - earliest streets - Main, Water, and Gray
1790 - Town of Dewittsburg organized in the vicinity of today's DeWitt Avenue on the east side
1791 - Tioga County split from Montgomery County (included today's Chemung County)
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 -Township of Chemung established
1792 - First frame house in Newtown (Elmira)
1793 - First lodge. Masons
1794 - Makeshift courthouse was the tavern "The Stoner House"
1795 - First church - First Presbyterian Church of Elmira
1796 about - First real courthouse built on corner of Cross (Market) and Main (Sullivan) Streets
1797 - Louis-Phillippe, the French Duke of Orleans visited Newtown and stayed at the Kline House
1799 - First grist mill on Newtown Creek
1800 - Newtown (Elmira) added to regional mail route
1800 - First use of the name "Elmira" as a place. Supposed named for Elmira Teall, daughter of Nathan Teall.
1801 - First post office opened in Newtown (Elmira) - mail service took 4 days by horseback to Wilkes-Barre
1803 - First "highway" built - Newtown (Elmira) to Watkins Glen
1803 or 1804 - Last remaining local Native Americans left and went to the Batavia, NY area.
1807 - First turnpike from Elmira to Seneca Lake
1808 - "Elmira" meaning "fair outlook" - official TOWN name change from Newtown to Elmira on April 6 - "Town of Elmira, Village of Newtown".
1812 - First Baptist Church built in Wellsburg
1815 - Two newspapers in county The Investigator and the Telegraph
1817 - Berwick Turnpike from Wellsburg to the Pennsylvania state line opened
1819 - First stage coach in the area - Wilkes-Barre to Elmira
1819 - John Arnot moved to Elmira
1822 - Town of Southport established (included all of the Southside from the river to Bulkhead)
1822 - Towns of Big Flats, and Erin established
1823 - Towns of Veteran and Catlin established
1824 - First bridge over Chemung River opened at Lake Street
1824 - Courthouse moved to Market Street
1824 - Elmira Gazette newspaper founded
1826 - First dam built across Chemung River
1827 - First restaurant in Elmira opened
1828 - Second dam built in the Chemung River at foot of College Street.
1828 - Name change from "Village of Newtown" to "Village of Elmira"
1828 - First tavern in Horseheads
1829 - Resident Amira Matthews Thompson published a volume of her poems "Lyre of Tioga." Earliest known literature in area.
1830 - Ground broken by oldest resident John Hendy for the Chemung Canal connecting Elmira to Seneca Lake, the Erie Canal, the Great Lakes, and beyond. Link for more info
1830 - First fire company
1832 - Elmira and Williamsport Railroad opened
1833 - Chemung Canal opened. Link for more info
1833- First purchase of a fire engine
1834 - Trinity Church organized
1836 - Chemung County formed. Originally part of Montgomery County, then Tioga County.
1836 - Baldwin Street Academy (one of first schools)
1836 - First county poorhouse opened
1836 - Second Street Cememtery opened
1837 - Name Horseheads changed to Fairport
1839 - The old Presbyterian church's bell announced the time for the local area.
1839 - First fire chief Silas Haight appointed
1840s - Tusk found in the Chemung River - while on loan to Lafayette College (Easton, PA) destroyed in fire
1840 - Great Fire of 1840 in Elmira - lost Lake Street Bridge
1844 - John W. Jones arrives in Elmira. Link for more info
1844 - First telegraph office in Elmira opened - line ran to Ithaca (Cornell, Sage, & Co.)
1844 - First organized fire department in Elmira (Hook and Ladder Company)
1845 - Town of Fairport changes name to Horseheads
1846 - First telegraph line Elmira to Ithaca
1846 - Park Church organized
1846 - First attempt at a daily newspaper - the short-lived Daily Karlon, weekly papers at the time were the Gazette, the Republican, and the Chemung Democrat
1846 - Plank Road (toll road) built between Elmira and PA State Line. (Today's Pennsylvania Avenue)
1847 - Photography introduced in Elmira
1848 - St. Peter and Paul's Church (first Catholic church in Elmira) opened
1848 - Fire Company No. 3 organized
1849 - Erie Railroad opens service to Elmira
1849 - Illuminating gas introduced in Elmira
1849 - Burning of the Eagle Tavern
1851 - The full length of the Erie Railroad opened, President Fillmore and Daniel Webster were in Elmira to celebrate
1851 - President Millard Fillmore and Daniel Webster stayed at the Rathbun House while in town to celebrate completion of the Erie Railroad to Lake Erie
1852 - Gleason's Water Cure opened on East Hill
1852 - Maps still interchangeably use the words 'Tioga River" or "Chemung River" for today's Chemung River
1853 - Tusk on Big Island (near today's Dunn Field) on Elmira's Southside. On display at local restaurants of the time - has since disappeared.
1853 - Chemung, New York - remains of mammoth found while digging the Junction Canal. Today's whereabouts unknown
1853 - First store in Lowman
1853 - John Arnot's Gas Works opened on Madison Avenue. Provided fuel for Elmira's first street lamps.
1854 - Elmira & Williamsport Railroad completed
1854 - Eureka Engine Company(fire department) and Young American Fire Company organized
1854 - Junction Canal (from Chemung Canal at Washington Avenue in Elmira to Sayre, PA) opened
1854 - Thomas K. Beecher becomes pastor at the Park Church
1855 - Elmira College founded as "Elmira Female College
1858 - Woodlawn Cemetery opened
1858 - Elmira YMCA organized
1859 - First school board
1859 - Elmira Free Academy incorporated
1860 - Lake Street Church organized
1860 - Elmira Rolling Mills chartered
1861 - Organization of the local military outfit " the Southern Tier Rifles" soon incorporated into 24 infantry organizations mustered in at Elmira, as well as 6 cavalry organizations
1861 - Elmira designated as a one of 3 NY military depots for the Civil War (3 barracks) - the one along the river soon became a Prison Camp.
1862 - Chemung County Courthouse erected
1862 - Elmira Free Academy opened - provided free education to anyone who desired.
1862 - Horseheads business district destroyed by fire
1863 - Jewish synagogue erected on High Street
1864 - Elmira became a city
1864 and 1865 John W. Jones buried 2,963 Confederate prisoners of war in Woodlawn Cemetery. Link for more info
1864 - First steam fire engine purchased
1866 - Huge fire in Elmira December 23
1866 - Independent Hose Company organized
1867 - Opera House opened in Elmira
1868 - Southern Tier Orphans Home on Franklin Street opened.
1869 - Elmira Waterworks organized
1870 - Local girl Olivia Langdon married Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) in Elmira. Link for more info
1870 - AME Zion church built
1870 - Lehigh Valley Railroad extended to Elmira
1871 - Elmira Driving Park incorporated
1871 - First horse-drawn trolley car Elmira to Horseheads
1871 - St. Patrick's Church erected
1871 - Elmira & Horseheads Railway opened - cars pulled by single horses
1872 - Golden Glow, New York - 2 mammoth molars and jawbone found. Today's whereabouts unknown.
1872 - Chemung Canal abandoned
1873 - First concrete sidewalks
1873 - First Sullivan's Monument dedicated
1873 - Letter carrier service established
1873 - First fire engine from LaFrance Fire Engine Company
1873 - First trolley cars to Eldridge Park
1874 - St. Mary's Church opened
1874 - Huge fire in Elmira on Water Street - many buildings burned
1875 - American Girl (racehorse) died on the track at Eldridge Park
1875 - St. Patrick's Church opened
1876 - Elmira Reformatory opened
1876 - Elmira native Lucius Robinson elected governor of NY
1877 - Graves in Wisner Burying Ground moved to Woodlawn Cemetery. Burying Ground became Wisner Park.
1877 - First telephone in Elmira in Jervis Langdon's office
1877 - Home for the Aged opened on Grand Central Avenue
1878 - Chemung Canal abandoned owing to great railroad service
1878 - First paid fire department, and last parade of volunteer firemen
1878 - State Reformatory completed
1879 - Centennial anniversary of Newtown Battle
1881 - Big tornado strikes downtown Elmira
1882 - Delaware, Lackawanna & Western brought service to Elmira
1883 - Electricity is provided in Elmira
1883 - The Elmira Daily Herald
1884 - First Catholic church erected where Sts. Peter and Paul building is located
1885 - Elmira native David Hill becomes NY governor
1885 - Horseheads renamed "North Elmira"
1886 - Elmira Armory constructed
1887 - Maple Avenue Railroad established
1888 - Arnot-Ogden Hospital opened
1888 - Elmira Advertiser fire
1889 - Chemung and Cowanesque River floods - 13 dead (same day as the famous Johnstown flood)
1889 - City of Elmira purchased Eldridge Park and lake. (Formerly Wisner Lake) Link for more info
1889 - Elmira City Club opened
1889 - First automobile in Horseheads
1891 - Electric trolleys takes over horse trolleys
1892 - Elmira Heights land lottery brought new settlers
1893 - First automobile seen in Elmira
1895 - Eclipse Bicycle Company opened in Elmira Heights
1895 - Elmira's City Hall erected
1897 - Elmira Country Club opened
1899 - First Steele Memorial Library opened
1900 - King Organ Factory closed
1900 - Elmira, WAter, Light & Railroad formed
1900 - Rorick's Glen park opened
1900 - Glen Route - 90-minute trolley service to Watkins Glen
1901 - Statue of Thomas K. Beecher dedicated in Wisner Park
1902 - Big flood in Elmira. Link for more info
1903 - Joveite factory explosion
1904 - Rorick's Glen theatre burned down
1904 - Installation of electric system
1904 - Lyceum Theater fire on Lake Street
1904 - Elmira's coldest day to date January 5 at 30 degrees below zero
1906 - First "hard surface" road from Horseheads to Erin
1906 - Kennedy Valve opened
1908 - St. Joseph's Hospital opened
1909 - Elmira lost its beloved Ross Marvin. He was murdered by Eskimos on the Peary Expedition in the Arctic.
1910 - Mark Twain buried in Woodlawn Cemetery.
1911 - Original Sullivan's Monument collapsed
1912 - Arctic League formed
1912 - Gibson Train Wreck kills 39 (Elmirans were on the train)
1912 - Second Sullivan's Monument dedicated
1913 - Arnot Art Gallery (Museum) opened at bequeast of Matthias Arnot
1913 - The Elmira-Lowman highway paved
1913 - Huge downtown fire, Telegram building, Thompson, Connelly, Amusu Theater buildings
1915 - Police shootout - Edward Westervelt killed officers Charles Gradwell and John Finnell
1915 - YWCA formed
1918 - Spanish influenza killed 134 in Chemung County
1918 - Prohibition closed Elmira's 49 saloons (came early in Elmira – the rest of the country went dry in 1919)
1918 - The bobbed hair fad hit Elmira's women
1919 - Panosian's shoe repair store opened on the Southside
1922 - Glen Route trolley suspended
1923 - Concrete road from Elmira to Lowman opened
1924 - Iszard's department store opened
1924 - Southside High School opened
1927 - Brand Park pool opened
1927 - Caton Avenue airport opened
1929 - Mark Twain Hotel opened
1929 – Sullivan Campaign Pageant at the foot of East Hill with a crowd of 75,000 watched
1929 - The Hungerford brothers unveiled their "Rocket Car"
1930 - First national gliding and soaring contest held at Harris Hill
1930 - Gorton Coy sidewalk collapsed - two killed
1930 - Strathmont mansion completed
1931 - Dixie Barbecue opened
1932 - First radio station WESG (now WENY) broadcast
1933 - FBI raid at Briggs' Brewery
1933 - Mammoth molar found while excavating the Sheriff's house on William Street. Today's location - local Historical Society
1933 and 1934 - Erie and Lackawanna Railroad tracks elevated through city of Elmira
1934 - Elmira boxer Art Sykes knocked out by Joe Louis in the eight round
1935 - Chemung River Flood - 43 dead and 44 million in damage locally
1935 - Horseheads' cartoonist Eugene Zimmerman "Zim" died
1936 - Big Island, Elmira - mammoth tusk found. "Mislaid." Today's whereabouts unknown.
1936 - Rossi Bowling Lanes opened
1937 - Completion of river dikes in city to help prevent flooding
1939 - March 11. City buses replaced trolley cars
1939 - Dunn Field opened
1939 - In a city wide vote, Elmirans voted NOT to keep the former Langdon home as a possible Mark Twain museum. The building was razed shortly after.
1940 - Langdon Plaza opened on the site of the former Langdon home.
1940 - Big Flats, NY - Mastodon skeleton found. Now in possession of Painted Post Museum, Painted Post, NY.
1940 - First parking meters in Elmira
1942 - Elmira's highest population 55,700
1943 - Chemung County Airport opened
1944 - Italian prisoners are brought to the "Holding Point" in Horseheads for the rest of the war. German prisoners were (briefly) brought to Van Etten.
1946 - 4.95 inches of rain brought the Great May 28 Flood
1946 - Cappy's Cards and Gifts opened
1946 - Tornado uprooted 1000 trees
1947 - WELM radio's first broadcast
1949 - Elmira Drive-In opened on Route 352
1949 - Tom Sawyer Motel opened on Lake Road
1950 - First television reception in Chemung County from Binghamton's Channel 12
1950 - Elmira's first parking lot opened on the site of the razed Rathbun Hotel
1951 - Chemung Speedrome opened
1951 - Mount Saviour Monastery opened
1952 - Fluoridated water introduced to Elmira
1952 - Westinghouse Electric plant in Horseheads opened
1952 - Four-lane Route 17 opened from Elmira to Lowman
1953 - Jones Court opened
1953 - Chemung County's first television station (WECT Channel 18) went on the air and after a hiatus came back in 1956 at WSYE
1953 - Horseheads Gas Pipeline exploded
1953 - Shepherd's Food Market opened in Pine City
1954 - Local Remington Rand plant produced its 15 millionth typewriter
1954 - Horseheads Center Street School opened
1954 - Hurricane Hazel brought 90 mph winds recorded at the airport
1955 - Notre Dame High School opened
1955 - Aunt Jemima visited Elmira for 3 days in March
1955 - Cable TV introduced with a $125 installation fee and a $3.50 a month charge
1956 - Red Jacket Motel opened on Route 17
1956 - Loblaw's Super Market opened
1956 - Elmira-Horseheads arterial higway opened
1956 - Mayor Edward Mooers served as Elmira's mayor until 1962
1956 - Escapee from Elmira Reformatory captured on Mt. Zoar
1957 - Elmira City School District consolidated 29 school districts (including Ashland, Baldwin, Southport, 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
1959 - Midtown Plaza opened with 15 stores and 200 parking spaces in downtown Elmira
1959 - Chemung County enacted a sales tax
1959 - "Do it yourself" long distance telephone dialing
1960 - Construction began on the new Elmira Free Academy building on Hoffman Street to replace the old one on Lake Street
1960 - Consolidation of Erie and Lackawanna Railroads
1961 - Grand Central Plaza opened in Horseheads
1961 - New Lake Street bridge opened
1961 - Elmira football hero Ernie Davis became the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy. Link for more info
1961 - Chemung County's 125th Anniversary Parade
1961 - Broadway and Pine City Elementary Schools opened
1962 - New Horseheads Village Hall opened
1963 - Elmira got "Zip Codes"
1963 - Centertown Park-Shop developed with 540 parking spaces
1964 - Elmira celebrated its 100th anniversary as a city. Elmira Free Academy's class of 1965 began at the brand new building on Hoffman Street
1965 - Ann Page (A&P) plant opened in Horseheads
1965 - Church Street became one-way from Madison Avenue to Coleman Avenue
1965 - ElCor opened in Horseheads
1965 - West Elmira Branch Library opened
1966 - Blizzard caused drifts 15 feet high
1967 - Worst airplane crash related to Elmira - Mohawk Airlines with 34 onboard crashed near Blossburg, PA after just leaving the Elmira airport
1967 - "The Mall" opened - later renamed Arnot Mall
1967 - Cash Electric fire on West Water Street
1969 - WENY television opened in the Mark Twain Hotel
1970 - Erie-Lackawanna Railroad discontinued service
1970 - Elmira's first McDonald's opened (North Main Street)
1972 - Remington Rand plant closed
1972 - Tropical Storm Agnes brought Elmira's worst flood to date - June 23 - after 8 inches of rain
1973 - Last link of Route 17 completed between Waverly and Nichols, NY
1974 - New Walnut Street bridge opened (due to 1972 flood)
1975 - New Main Street bridge opened (due to 1972 flood)
1975 - Demolition of all buildings on the river side of Water Street in downtown Elmira between Lake and Main Streets
1975 - New Fitch's Bridge opened
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
1980 - New Southside High School opened
1981 - Summer of Gypsy Moths - ate all our trees
1981 - First Burger King opened on Washington Avenue
1983 - First area supermarket "scanners" used at Tops Market on Lake Street
1984 - First video store (Rent a Flick) opened in Diven Plaza
1984 - First Pizza Hut opened
1984 - Jones Court Shoot-out, 2 parolees and 1 officer died
1986 - Chemung County native Geoff Bodine won the Daytona 500. Link for more info
1988 - Iszard's 30th and last Christmas Parade
1989 - Eldridge Park's carousel horses auctioned in NYC
1989 - Southport Prison opened
1991 - Eldridge Park rollercoaster torn down
1993 - The Big Blizzard dumped 30 inches of snow
1993 - First Wal-Mart opened in Big Flats
1994 - Chemung County implemented the 911 system
1995 - Kennedy Valve explosion killed one employee
1999 - Wegman's supermarket opened. Thank you, Lord.
1996 - Elmira's Cat Leash Law in effect. Cats must be on leashes outdoors! Like that really worked.
1996 - Lovell's ice cream parlor closed
1997 - Eldridge Park got a new look – flat and level.
1999 - First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton visited Elmira
1999 - Found at a secret location in Chemung County - "The Gilbert Mastodon" - at least one whole skeleton. Now in the possession of Cornell University and currently reside at the Paleontological Research Institution where they are being cleaned, examined, and put on display.
1999 - Elmira's Eileen Collins was NASA's first female space shuttle commander
2000 - (Coach) First Arena in Elmira opened. Who let the dogs out?
2001 - Hygeia plant implosion
2003 - Two convicts escaped from the Elmira State Penitentiary and were missing for three days. Captured in Horseheads on top of Mt. Baldy.
2006 - Eldridge Park reopened its Carousel. Thank you Dr. Lyon.
2007 - Hillary Clinton visited Big Flats
2008 - Repeal of the Cat Leash Law. Meow!
2008 - The American Hotel on West Third Street, built in 1835, torn down before it could fall down on its own
2008 - The Express film about Ernie Davis opened in October to good reviews
2009 - Pesky ring-billed seagulls converge on downtown. City officials flummoxed
2009 - Newest Wal-Mart opened at Southern Tier Crossing in Big Flats
2010 - Armory Building (1886) razed (it began collapsing in 2006)
2010 - Red Jacket Motel on Route 17 demolished for Interstate 86 expansion
2010 - Hamlin's Music Store closed
2010 - Seagulls "eliminated" from Chemung River island
2010 - "Naked Urn" of Eldridge Park caused embarrassment to some
2010 - 36-hour manhunt for a parollee who stole a car focused on the Eastside and Southside - aprrehended near Dunn Field
2010 - Mrs. Walsh's Saloon demolished - more recently known as Matt’s Erie House. Only 3 out of 92 original buildings left now on Railroad Avenue.
2010 - Dr. Lyon resigned from Eldridge Park Preservation Society. Thank you for your work, Dr. Lyon
2011 - April 28 EF2 Tornado in Erin, NY near and along Route 223
2011 - Old Anchorage building torn down after big fire. Historic building at 955 College Avenue. Mrs. Bullock’s home for wayward girls. Although advertised as a “rehabilitation” facility with educational benefits, it frequently had the opposite effect. Seen by many young women as a prison - with many escapes and tragedies on its property.
2011 - August 23 - Chemung County "moved" during the 5.8 East Coast earthquake in Virginia
2011 - The two rival highschool football teams were abruptly combined into one "The Elmira Express" ending the annual Erie Bell game.
2012 - Possible new hotel project at the foot of East Church Street (false alarm). And new motels coming to Big Flats
2012 - Seagulls again “eliminated” from their island in the Chemung River
2012 - Cracker Barrel opened in Horseheads. Thank you.
2012 - Chemung County foreclosed on the First Arena building. Jackals to stay for the time being.
2012 - Runway extension at Elmira-Corning Regional Airport on Runway 6-24 to 8,000 feet in length.
2012 - Elmiran Molly Huddle ran in the 2012 Olympics in London, 5000 meter, track and field.
2012 - July 26 - Tornado struck Elmira - EF-1. Luckily, Elmira struck back.
2012 - Lovell's Ice Cream Parlor was razed.
2013 - Peter Biggs' soap factory corner of East Fifth and Madison, razed due to 2012's tornado.
2013 - The former Junior Achievement building on Railroad Avenue was razed - leaving only 2 of original 92 buildings on the street.
2013 - The Northside Pudgie's Pizza restaurant was razed.
2013 - Eldridge Park received new landscaping
2013 - New trees planted in Brand Park to replace the ones destroyed by last year's tornado.
2013 - 9/16 - All of Route 17 through Chemung County became 1-86
2014 - Former (first) Walmart demolished to make way for new building.
2014 - Our beloved Rosenbaum's and Marvin's buildings were demolished.
2015 - Mark Twain plaque (from grave stone in Woodlawn Cemetery) stolen around New Year's Day, recovered in February.
2015 - New historic district (Clinton-Columbia) added
2015 - Our beloved Harold's buidling was demolished
2015 - Central Hots moved to its newest location on College Avenue.
2016 - American Girl statue is back on view at Eldridge Park
2016 - Opening of the John W. Jones Museum
2016 - Elmiran Molly Huddle competed in the Olympics in Rio, 10,000 meter track and field.
2016 - Popeye's opened in Big Flats
2016 - Development of the strategic plan of Elmira
2016 - Nativity fire in Wisner Park
2016 - New historic district added Main & Water
2017 - Work began on rejuvinating Clemens Square
2017 - Who let the dogs out? Elmira lost its beloved Jackals hockey team.
2017 - Elmira High School deemed toxic.
2018 - Work started on new roundabout at Third, Main, & Park Place.
2018 - Our beloved Cappy's was razed.
2018 - New construction begun at former Rosenbaum's/Harold's location, also at the Miller Building on South Main Street, and the former Jones Court much to the chagrin of naysayers.
2018 - We have a new hockey team, the Elmira Enforcers.
2018 - Tops Market closed on South Main Street
2018 - Our beloved Horigan's restaurant closed.
2019 - Work begins in earnest for our roundabout.
2019 - 100 West Water apartment complex opens with full occupancy.
2019 - Our roundabout finally opened at Third, Main, and Park Place.
2020 - Corona virus COVID19 takes over the world.
2020 - First corona death in Chemung County. April 6, 2020
Like we said at the top of this page, you may use this timeline if you GIVE CREDIT to this website.