Enchantment Awaits as Spring Arrives

Rock City Park - "See the people?" (Photo Courtesy of Cattaraugus County Tourism)

Article Contributed by
Walt Pickut

Rock City Park – “See the people?” (Photo Courtesy of
Cattaraugus County Tourism)

The Enchanted Mountains are just a short car trip away… and they’re calling with a special invitation.

“It’s a place to come and forget all your cares,” said Jacqueline Gardner of Cattaraugus County’s Tourism board. The scenic uplands of the Chautauqua-Allegheny Region are home to more than 3,500 square miles of peaceful forests, rolling hills, clean, sparkling lakes, scenic waterways, gentle valleys sculptured by Ice Age glaciers and unique attractions that will once again draw tens of thousands of tourists from across the United States.

So why not enjoy a visit with Chautauqua’s enchanting next door neighbor?

This week’s Jamestown Gazette features a complementary 2018 Guide to Cattaraugus County and the Enchanted Mountains, including a large, full color map and 2018 Events Calendar, 54 pages of remarkable photography, fascinating history and hundreds of tour sites, restaurants, and attractions to enjoy for a day or a weekend or a week. Find out why people who live there love it and are so proud of it.

 An Amazing Place

Cattaraugus County is home to unique attractions. The beautiful Allegheny State Park, for instance – though only one of the county’s 18 State Forests – “…has grown generations of wonderful family traditions and happy memories, and at least one big Country Music hit,” Gardner said. It is the largest state park in the entire state of New York and the 3rd largest State Park anywhere in the United States, measuring in at 64,800 acres (262 km2). Allegheny State Park has been a New York favorite since its founding nearly a century ago.

Cattaraugus County is also home to a sovereign nation, the Seneca Nation, the largest of the Iroquois Confederacy, or Six Nations. Their government pre-dates the United States. “We work well together in welcoming visitors and guests,” Gardner said. The new Seneca Cultural Center in Salamanca will open this summer on August 1. An event unique to the area is the Annual Indian Foods Dinner every October, presenting authentic pre-colonial Iroquois dining. Learn more on pages 22 and 23 in the Guide. Visit SenecaNation.com, it is so much more than its popular and glamorous casinos.

Johnny Cash was once awarded honorary citizenship in the Seneca Nation for his moving and haunting, “As Long as the Grass Shall Grow” (Bitter Tears album – Ballads of the American Indian), a long and poignant ballad lamenting broken treaties and the sacrilege and tragedy of the flooding of vast tracts of Seneca land (10,000 acres) by the Kinzua Dam project completed in 1965.

“Castle” sculpture at Griffis Sculpture Park. (Photo Courtesy of Joe Cascio)

Tourism: Proud Roots

“Tourism in Cattaraugus County is all about what we know and love, and we love to share it with our neighbors,” Gardner said, a transplanted Chautauqua County native herself. “We like to find out what people like, and we like to offer them that. We help create links between people and the places they love.”

The tourism industry in Cattaraugus County – home to thirteen villages, dozens of scenic country hamlets, thirty-two townships, and two cities – is centered around the chambers of commerce in Olean and Ellicottville and Randolph’s Community Development Corporation. “In Cattaraugus County, right in the middle of the Chautauqua-Allegheny Region, we have tons of exciting events and sites to see,” Gardner promised.

Sights, Action, Cameras

A single history spans the county borders all across Western New York’s Southern Tier. It offers sights, activities and uncountable opportunities for scenic photography, action video and great memories.

The famous Underground Railroad that offered the hope of life and liberty to escaping Southern slaves in the Civil War era, for example, boasts of roots in Cattaraugus County as deep as Chautauqua’s.

Olean’s “Tar and Feather Incident” (2018 Guide, p. 25) is a source of local pride. Apparently, a pair of Southern bounty hunters came to Olean once hoping to make money by capturing runaway slaves. A few local citizens told them just where to look. “The secluded spot they found, however, earned them nothing better than angry Oleanders and a bucket of tar and feathers,” Gardner explained with obvious pleasure.

“And if you like boating,” Gardner added, “come and visit Onoville Marina’s free docs, a gateway to 91 miles of uncommercialized shoreline.” For the most avid outdoor fans who enjoy hiking, biking and horseback riding, there are also miles and miles of trails with access to true, primitive camping in real-live bear country. Cattaraugus County’s deep forests are also rich in prize-stocked Geo-trails for geocaching enthusiasts. (See page 30 and 38 for Water and Woods & Greens and more.)

Mountain Biking Trail System at the Summit Area of Allegany State Park. (Photo Courtesy of Tom LeBlanc)

Another Way

The 21st Century way of life is often fast-paced and sometimes frenzied. Step back to a quieter age and a slower pace along Cattaraugus County’s Amish Trail. Find the tour guide back to that more peaceful way of life on page 24 of the Guide. A companion lifestyle more centered in contemporary life can be found in the region’s active arts and local theater. (Arts and Culture, pages 18 and 21).

“One of my favorites,” Gardner said, “is Griffis Sculpture Park in East Otto with its 250 amazing sculptures and statuary, some even created for climbing, and the wonderful nighttime lightshow for a whole different experience.

A Taste to Remember

No tourism guide could be complete without prime space devoted to fine food and drink. The 2018 Enchanted Mountain Tour Guide opens with page after page of local eateries, from “cheap eats” to haute cuisine to good old, down home country eatin’ places.

And for the thirsty tourist, Cattaraugus County offers a tasteful selection of country and city oases, many of a kind already familiar and popular with Chautauqua County residents – a host of local craft breweries, wineries, and distillery tasting rooms. Whether it is old fashioned craft brewing or industry-forward new flavors of the brewer’s art, regional, award-winning winemaking or old-world vodka distilling, Cattaraugus County offers beverage creations of every type and taste to tempt the thirsty tourist.

Be Enchanted

Jacqueline Gardner, with Economic Development, Planning and Tourism of Cattaraugus County, invites all Southern Tier residents and the whole world to visit and experience the unique sights and activities of Cattaraugus County this spring and summer (not forgetting the fall colors and winter sports). And while there, experience the many ways that the entire Chautauqua-Allegheny Region is one in its history, in spirit and in hospitality. Visit EnchantedMountains.com or EMfun.us to learn more, call (716) 938-2242 or email: JCGardner@CATTCO.org.

Bon Voyage Chautauquans, and a hearty welcome from the enchanting neighbor next door.

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Walt Pickut
Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.