About Our Community
The Horseheads district, in the Southern Tier of New York State, is ideally located close to the beautiful Finger Lakes Region and near a number of metropolitan areas.
Close to home are a number of cultural and recreational areas, including the Clemens Center for the Performing Arts, the Corning Museum of Glass, the Wings of Eagles Discovery Center, Watkins Glen State Park, and more.
Over the last several years, our area has experienced tremendous economic growth, with a great deal of new housing construction, the rapidly-expanding Airport Corporate Park, and several retail plazas opening within the district. The highway running through the district, Route 17, is currently undergoing a conversion to Interstate 86. (For more information about the area's economic picture, visit the Southern Tier Economic Growth Web Site at www.steg.com.)
Several colleges and universities are within a two-hour drive, including Elmira College, Corning Community College, Ithaca College, Cornell University, SUNY Cortland, Syracuse University, the University of Rochester, and Rochester Institute of Technology.
Horseheads is located in Chemung County, which boasts a number of favorite sons and daughters, including PGA Golfer Joey Sindelar and former major league baseball player Kirt Manwaring, who are both Horseheads graduates. Hailing from Elmira, our neighbor to the south, are NASA Astronaut Eileen Collins, Designer Tommy Hilfiger, and the late Ernie Davis, the first African American to win college football's Heisman Trophy. NBC Anchor Brian Williams lived in Chemung County for several years as a child.
Mark Twain, legendary humorist and writer of many beloved classics including The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, wrote many of his works in Chemung County.
About the name "Horseheads"
In 1779, General John Sullivan, with some five thousand Continental Army soldiers, set out to defeat the Iroquois, whose warriors and crops had helped sustain the British army.
In August, 1779, they fought a major battle in Newtown, and the British and Iroquois were sent retreating through the Chemung Valley. After the battle, Sullivan's army camped in what is now the Village of Horseheads.
The demanding campaign of hundreds of miles marching through virtually impenetrable forests and swamps took a serious toll on the army's pack horses.
On September 24, 1779, the men mercifully disposed of a large number of pack horses in what is now Hanover Square, grateful for their faithful service. The natives called the area "the Valley of the Horses' Heads," arranging the sun-bleached skulls along a trail that ran through the area. The first settlers entering the valley in 1789 found the skulls and named the place "Horseheads."
The Village of Horseheads was incorporated in May 1837 as "Fairport" in recognition of the prominent role played by the community in the operation of the Chemung Canal. The name of Fairport lasted only eight years when residents elected to change the name back to Horseheads.
With thanks to the Village of Horseheads for their help in telling this story.