LITTLE VALLEY - Part of a new economic development initiative, "Paths Through History" promoted statewide by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is highlighting the past in an attempt to bring a brighter future. Cattaraugus County is emerging as a leader in the Western New York region, according to county officials. A new website to show these efforts has gone live.
"We have such a rich history in this county," said Sue Cross, Mansfield-based historian and website volunteer. "For some reason, we are always lost between Chautauqua and Allegany counties. We are in the Chautauqua-Allegany region. Somewhere between those two counties, we are lost. This is a way for us to make sure we are out there for people to see."
Since September 2012, historians throughout Cattaraugus County have been meeting with Crystal Abers, Economic Development, Tourism and Planning director, and her staff on how to bring more attention to the rich history of the county, as well as bring people in to see historical points to build a tourism and economic development base. Two of those historians presented to members of the legislative development and agricultural committee what has happened in the last 14 months to build a solid plan and program.
Cross and Sid Edmunds, Lyndon historian, said the county is full of historical points, so much so that they are still in the process of assembling stories and tales of the history that might bring more people to the area.
"We are working on histories from every township in the county," Cross said. "We haven't gotten that far, but we are working on it."
Cross, a retired schoolteacher, said she would have liked to have a tool like this website when she was still teaching. The site, bringing attention to people and places all over the county, delves into the stories that tell the personal side of Cattaraugus County.
Edmunds said the site has promise. As a historian, he said it offers opportunity for two things, for people to see history and to give historians more of an active role in strengthening the communities.
"This (website) can only get better. This is just the beginning," he said. "It's a great site for people around the country and the world to see the historical significance of Cattaraugus County."
"What we have been able to do has made many in the rest of the state, as well as in the region, take notice," Abers said. "They are trying to emulate what we are doing. We are not done, however. Next year we will be working on some other great ideas."
The website can be viewed at www.historicpath.com.