(Courtesy of the Gowanda Area Historical Society)
The Gowanda Historical Museum is located at 2 Chestnut Street, Gowanda. Hours of operation are: 1:00PM – 4:00 PM Thursdays, April through December.
The name “Gowanda” is derived from the Seneca Indian phrase meaning “a valley among the hills” or “under the cliffs,” referring to the village’s location below the Zoar Valley gorge along Cattaraugus Creek. Occupied by various Indian tribes before the American Revolution, the westward movement of our growing nation brought the first settlers here from New England early in the 19th century.
What is now Gowanda was settled in 1810 by Turner Aldrich, who bought 707 acres on both sides of the creek from the Holland Land Company. He cleared the land, built a cabin, a sawmill and a gristmill. The settlement was called Aldrich’s Mills until 1823 when the name was changed to Lodi. The village was incorporated as Gowanda in 1848.
Ahaz Allen settled next in 1812, erecting a cabin above Aldrich’s in what is now called Hidi. The first white child born here was his daughter, Caroline, in 1813. The next year he dug a race, dammed the creek, and built a sawmill. Allen built the first frame house here in 1815 on what is now Beech Street. It burned and was torn down in 1970.
Those who followed these pioneers to this beautiful valley have each left their mark, large or small, in its streets, buildings, factories, businesses and institutions. The history of Gowanda is charted through fire and flood, economic boom or bust, immigration and migration, and the inevitable march of time.
1820 First Bridge over Cattaraugus Creek
1820 First Post Office, Aldrich Street
1824 First School, Buffalo and Mechanic Streets
1820 First cemetery, near Seneca Street
1827 First newspaper, “Lodi Pioneer”
1835 Town of Persia formed from Perrysburg
1856 Great fire destroys downtown Gowanda
1861 Flood destroys Main Street Bridge
1861 Col. Thomas J. Parker commands 64th NY Regiment in Civil War 1867 Pine Hill Cemetery
1870 Many brick homes and stores built
1874 Railroad station opens
1881 Bank of Gowanda opens
1884 Fire Department organizes
1889 Iron bridge on Main Street opens
1889 Gowanda Cooperative Savings and Loan Association organized
1896 Gaensslen, Fisher & Co tannery located in Hidi
1898 Gowanda State Homeopathic Hospital opens
1904 Eastern Tanners Glue Co built
1912 J.N. Adam Memorial Hospital opens in Perrysburg
1926 Hollywood Theatre built by Wilhelm family
1956 New Junior-Senior high school dedicated
1963 Iron bridge replaced by modern bridge