Cattaraugus Village Historian Patrick Cullen shared a portion of his vast collection of vintage Cattaraugus postcards with the public during the Cattaraugus Area Historical Museum's recent open house. The event was held on what been established as the museum's regular open date - the second Sunday of the month, from 1:30 until 3:30 p.m.
In addition to several physical albums of old photos and cards, Cullen brought along his trusty laptop, into which he's scanned some 350 vintage postcards. He set the machine up to perform a leisurely scroll, much to the viewers' delight. "Actually, I have another 850 or so to put in," Cullen told his audience.
Of particular interest were numerous pictures of "pre-fill" days. They depicted the original stretch of winding street that joined upper and lower Washington Street, just east of the present United Methodist Church. Shot during the early years of the 20th Century, they showed the narrow street looping around a couple of sharp bends across an even narrower (and rather flimsy-looking bridge) which at that time spanned the steep ravine between the "business district" and "the flats." So different was the road's appearance in those days, that many who viewed the scenes couldn't identify the spot. It was during the 1930's that thousands of tons of dirt were brought in to fill the ravine and to raise and straighten the road for those few hundred feet, (which is why locals took to calling that stretch "the fill").
Asked how long he's been collecting, Cullen responded, "just about all my life." He said that even as a youth, he was fascinated with all things historical. Through the intervening years, he's gathered a sizeable assortment of local memorabilia, most recently turning to the internet as a route to further finds.
About six years ago, Mr. Cullen founded the American Museum of Cutlery, where an impressive display of early knives, along with other sharp instruments and related objects can be viewed. It's located just a few doors up Main Street from the Historical Museum.