Search billions of records on

History of the Town of Webb
From Nathaniel Benton's History of Herkimer County, 1856.


The youngest town in Herkimer County was formed January 25, 1896, by dividing the Town of Wilmurt. It is the most northern town in the county, and was named in honor of Dr. W. Seward Webb. Not only is it the largest township in the county but holds the distinction of being the largest township in New York State. Its 300,000 acres are entirely within the Adirondack State Park.

Arthur Noble, a native of Scotland, purchased land from the State about 1787. He became discouraged and returned to his native land. John Brown, a native of Rhode Island, made the next effort at settlement by building the Remsen road from Forestport to Mill Stream dam. He was followed ten years later by his son-in-law, Charles F. Herreshoff. He expended a large sum of money in clearing the lands, repairing and building mills, houses and roads. It became evident that agriculture was impossible in this area. Iron ore was discovered, a forge was built, and an attempt was made to develop a mine. However, it was soon found that the quality of the iron was not good, and the project was abandoned.

After Herreshoff's death, the people he had brought left the settlement. Iron works, mills, barns and homes went rapidly to decay. The first white family to become permanent residents were the Arnolds, who moved into this area about 1836. At that time the Town of Wilmurt was formed which included the Webb area.

The next thirty-five years saw little change in this northern township. A third effort to develop the Central Adirondack region was made by Dr. George Desbrough and J. Milton Buell. They purchased several thousand acres of land at and near the foot of Fulton Chain and built the Forge House in 1871. This was destroyed by fire in 1924. It was ten years later that the village of Old Forge was dissolved; but the Town of Webb continues to hold its place among New York's vacation lands.

Dr. W. Seward Webb, a resident of New York City and President of the Wagner Sleeping Car Company, visited the area. His interest in sports prompted the idea of building a railroad to the mountains. The Mohawk and Malone Railroad, completed in 1892, brought many vacationers to the region of the Fulton Chain Lakes. This was the greatest contribution ever made to the development of this section. Winter sports began as early as 1910, with serious interest being taken about 1930. The first snow train from Utica was inaugurated in 1936. The development of the snow plow has made it possible to have roads cleared for automobile travel the year around. Today, the Town of Webb is the sportman's paradise. Spring lures the fisherman to its many lakes and streams. Summer brings vacationists to the cool mountains for relaxation. Autumn finds the hunter's garb dotting the landscape. The first snowfall of Winter finds the skiers waxing the hickories, anxiously waiting for the word.