Finger Lakes History

Finger Lakes history and culture is on display at many attractions throughout Finger Lakes Central, Seneca County NY. In fact, many of the country’s most important historical events can be traced to people and places in the Finger Lakes region and Seneca County. From the birthplace of Women’s Rights in Seneca Falls to the origins of Memorial Day in Waterloo to the inspiration for one of America’s most beloved motion pictures, It’s a Wonderful Life – Seneca County’s illustrious history is on display at more than 20 museums throughout the area. Other historical sites and monuments offer clues to the vast military secrets lost in abandoned bases and battlegrounds that played prominent roles in the Revolutionary War, Civil War and World War II.

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Among the many military highlights of Finger Lakes Central, the former Sampson Naval & Air Force Base offers an extensive dose of nostalgia and knowledge for people of all ages. Built in 1942 and constructed in just 270 days, the facility was the second largest training ground and technical school for recruits headed off to World War II. More than 20,000 sailors went through Sampson Naval Base — creating an economic boom town for local residents that also transformed the neighboring city of Geneva, NY. In later years, the area directly east of Sampson Naval Base became an Army munitions depot — and would play a major role in the Cold War. Rumored to once house nuclear weaponry, the former depot is now home to a thriving population of White Deer and among the favorite locations for picture-takers looking to capture a unique animal in Seneca County and Finger Lakes Central.

Other fascinating military sites include the Scythe Tree — where the scythe of a former civil war hero still remains embedded in a tree in front of the former family residence and the American Civil War Memorial — a tribute to the many local serviceman lost in battle. In addition, the community of Waterloo, NY is the Birthplace of Memorial Day, having held the first community-wide observance to honor all those lost in service to our country in 1866. To learn more, be sure to check out the National Memorial Day Museum.

Of course, no visit to Seneca County and the Finger Lakes Region would be complete without a visit to Seneca Falls and the birthplaces of Women’s Rights. From the Women’s Rights National Historical Park to the Elizabeth Cady Stanton House to the Wesleyan Chapel at Declaration Park – you can relive the footsteps of exceptional individuals that blazed a trail for future generations.

To help further your knowledge of Finger Lakes history, many communities also feature thriving historical societies that are filled with past treasures and offer glimpses into life in early America.