Stories of Mt. Washington
Between Hammondsport and Bath, New York, is a beautiful little valley called Pleasant Valley, and running along this valley to the east is a series of wooded hills called Mt. Washington. The plateau on its top is covered with farms and woods, and the view is spectacular.
Our interest in the mountain came in 1970, when we were looking for a piece of farmland to build a home and a farm. We did find a beautiful farm on Mt. Washington, and the farm came with an old house. As we cleaned up and re-roofed the house, we saw that it was very old, and we were curious about the person who had built the house. When had he come here? What was life was like for him and his family? Our neighbors spoke of Mt. Washington as if it were a separate community from the valley below, and we wanted to find out more about it.
With great good luck, we met Helena Howard, who had organized a genealogy group, and found that Helena’s ancestors not only had lived on Mt. Washington, but her great-great grandfather, Benjamin Woodruff, had built our house. We became hooked on the history of Steuben County, and especially of our mountain, and here we have gathered together stories from our neighbors, and from history books written about the county, to tell the story of this community. We have tried to keep our tale limited to the time from when the first settler, Ephraim Sanford came to Wayne in 1793 to the early 1900’s, but found we had to go further sometimes to finish a story started much earlier.
Mt. Washington is a loosely defined area, so we have set our stories about the two centers, North Urbana on the northern end, and Mt. Washington a few miles to the southwest along the Mt. Washington Road, now County Route 113. We follow this road and the tributaries that flow downhill from it.
For these stories, I have defined Mt. Washington as the ridge that runs from North Urbana and the southern portion of the Town of Wayne bordering North Urbana, along Route 87, then on to Route 113, the old Mt. Washington Road, to the outskirts of the village of Bath, with the tributary roads that flow off Mt. Washington Road to cover the beautiful plateau that covers this ridge. Settlements centered around North Urbana on the north end at 1350-foot elevation; and around Mt. Washington about five miles to the southwest at 1800-foot elevation. These two centers had churches, schools and homes. At North Urbana, there was a post office, a blacksmith shop and an inn. Mt. Washington had a creamery.
The roads that ran across the top or down the side of Mt. Washington had names such as Longwell, Lockwood, The Winding Stairs, Hutches, Bootjack, Ovenshire, Woodhouse, Peacock. But roads continued to change names, too, as we shall see.
In the earliest accounts, the ridge is usually spelled Mount Washington, but it soon changed to the shorter Mt. Washington.
We have not included every landowner shown on the old maps, because we were not able to find descendants of all of them. But we have hopes of finding and adding more about all of the first families on Mt. Washington. We welcome more stories, pictures, and genealogies. This is a work in progress.
© 2007, Martha R. Treichler