County, composed of nineteen towns, extends from the Adirondacks to the
Mohawk Valley. The vast forests to the north provide wood products and
the recreational opportunities of the Adirondack Park while the southern
valleys are favorable for agriculture and dairying. Various products are
manufactured in factories along the Mohawk River and its larger tributaries.
Tourism increases yearly due to the Erie Canal, New York State Thruway,
and the Adirondacks.
members of the Iroquois Confederacy, inhabited the area that was to become
Herkimer County prior to 1720. The Palatines settled on the Burnettsfield
Patent granted by Governor William Burnett in 1723. While thriving on
the fertile valley soil and utilizing the available waterpower for mills,
the Palatines fought to protect their homes during the French and Indian
War and the Revolution.
Herkimer's force of 800 Palatines succeeded in holding off an attack of
British and Indians at Fort Stanwix in 1777, thereby protecting the Mohawk
Valley. Fort Herkimer and Fort Dayton provided protection for the settlers
who were able to maintain their prosperous farms at the end of the hostilities.
by the state of Sir William Johnson's large Royal Grant brought flocks
of New Englanders who settled north of the Mohawk. They rapidly cut down
the virgin forest, burned the wood creating a potash industry, and began
to grow wheat. Communities developed near sources of waterpower and soon
the hill country was home to many small villages.
expansion provided access to land more suitable for growing wheat, Herkimer
County farmers realized that dairying would be a more profitable use of
their land. The lack of a mass market for milk led to the production of
cheese. By the 1850s Little Falls was the location of a world famous cheese
market. Later the railroads gave access to the downstate market for milk
and the cheese industry began to decline.
Canal caused the development of large valley villages and provided a means
to transport goods east and west. The oldest Herkimer County industry,
Remington Arms, still plays a major role in the county's economy. During
the last 200 years, many products were produced in Herkimer County including
rifles, typewriters, farm equipment, furniture, textiles, shoes, data
recorders, bicycles, nutcrackers, paper, and dairying equipment. Immigrants
from Ireland and later from eastern and southern Europe arrived to work
in local industries and agriculture, providing a diversity of culture.
First a part
of Albany County, this area was set off as Tryon County in 1772. Later
changed to Montgomery County, it was still too large and Herkimer County
was cut off and established in 1791. Later additions and subtractions
were made until 1817 when Herkimer County assumed its present form.
County is a treasure trove of history and scenic beauty, a great place
to visit and a wonderful place to live.