Monday, July 1, 2013

Upstate New York, A - K

It’s a big state.  Number one, there are plenty of people – and that’s including those outside of NYC too.  Second, there’s also a fair amount of land.  Put the two together, and we’ve set a new record for the number of posts for a single state.

This week, we’ll look at upstate towns from A to K.  Next week, those from L to Z.  And, finally, The Big Apple and Lawn Guyland.

10. Fish House

Well, I could find next to nothing about this place …  But I can recommend many, many excellent seafood restaurants throughout the Empire State.  There’s Morgan’s, and Cyril’s, Ed’s Chowder House, Foley’s, Clark’s, and Joe Willy’s. 

There’s also the Hamilton Fish House and the Stuyvesant-Fish House (neither of which even serve seafood), as well as Fish House Punch (which is a drink, and not something you’ll ever see in a boxing ring).  Go ahead, type in “fish house ny” on Google and see what you get.

This little town is part of the larger Northampton, and is just a little northwest of Albany.  The Conklingville Dam covered half the town in 1930, so the place now features a lot of lakefront property it did not have before.

Oh, the name?  Turns out a local squire had a fish camp in the area back in the 18th Century.

There you go!

9. Big Moose

Named after Ron “Big Moose” Nabronski, former offensive tackle for the Rochester Steamrollers …

Big Moose actually gets its name from Big Moose Lake.  As for the lake?  Well, there are plenty of moose around here.  And moose do get big.  So …

Big Moose the town is in the Adirondacks, and appears to be tres picturesque.

By the way, Big Flats, Big Tree, and Big Indian are also in NY.  And they say everything’s bigger in Texas!

Wow, it is pretty

8. Hollowville

Well, this could be an incisive judgment on suburban soullessness.  Honestly, though, it might just mean that this place is in a deep valley.

Hollowville is in the little strip of New York to the east of the Hudson.  It’s right between Coxsackie and Saugerties, and is actually part of the town of Claverack – all three of which are a heck of a lot of fun to say.

There’s not a whole lot to Hollowville (which seems fitting), but I do know it has a post office, as well as a trailer park and couple of dozen houses.

Said post office

7. Armonk

I think I just like to say this one.  Armonk, Armonk, Armonk.

It’s from the Algonquian, and means “beaver,” or maybe “fishing place,” or perhaps “headquarters of a large computer company” (okay, I made that last one up).

But, yes, that is indeed why Armonk sounds so familiar.  It is, in fact, the official headquarters of the International Business Machines Corp.  It also happens to be the headquarters of MBIA and Swiss Re as well.  Those are really big financial companies, though you probably have to work in the financial industry (like me) to have ever heard of them. 

And all that is why the average house price here is about a cool million.  It also explains why the average Armonkian pulls in a pretty respectable $120,000, close to tops in the country.

Now, I don’t think I could close this entry without mentioning famous son Dave Barry, probably my favorite humorist of all time.  Yup, Dave attended the wonderfully named Wampus Elementary School here, and was later named “class clown” at nearby Pleasantville High School.

Okay, who forgot to turn out the lights?

6. Cattaraugus

Sounds like an upper respiratory condition. 

Even better, though, is what this translates to in Iroquois – “bad smelling shore.”  The town is named after nearby Cattaraugus Creek, which owes its name to the natural gas that seeps out of its mud.

Cattaraugus is home to over 1,000 people.  Local industry includes Setterstix (lollipop sticks) and Chester-Jensen (“We know heat transfer!”).

Some of the fun local Cattaraugans
you can meet on Facebook

5. Cheektowaga

Heaven / I'm in heaven / And my heart beats / So that I can hardly speak / And I seem to find / The happiness I seek / When we're out together / Dancing cheek to waga

Well, I’m afraid Cheektowaga doesn’t translate into anything quite so elegant as that Berlin / Astaire classic.  In fact, it means “crabapple place.”  In Iroquois, that just so happens to be ji-ik-do-wa-gah.

Would you believe this place has almost 90,000 people?  It’s basically a suburb of Buffalo.  Cheektowaga has a huge Polish-American population – about 40% of Cheektowagans claim a Polish heritage.

Cheektowaga culture

4. Ausable Chasm

Man, that is one ausable chasm, huh?  Of all the chasms I’ve ever seen, that has got to be one of the most ausable.

Well, wouldn’t you know.  “Ausable” is not an adjective.  It does not mean the ability to be “aused.”  And it’s pronounced “aw-SAY-bul,” not “AW-suh-bul.”

Actually, it’s French.  The name comes from the Au Sable River, which runs through the chasm.  And au sable is simply French for “sandy.”  Sandy River.  B-o-r-i-n-g.

Ausable Chasm the town is merely an adjunct to Ausable Chasm the chasm.  And the latter happens to be known world-wide as nothing less than “The Grand Canyon of the East” and “America’s Oldest Natural Attraction.”  It’s about two miles long and 150 ft. deep, and features a waterfall, zip lines, rafting “adventures,” gift shops, and lots and lots of French-Canadians (it’s just south of Montreal).  It even merits a reference in

Remember, it’s ausable!

3. Fishkill

This one comes from the sticks of dynamite local Native Americans would throw into the river from the banks here. 

Seriously, it’s from the Dutch, and means “fish stream.”  A stream with fish in it – who woulda thunk it?

This town of 2,000 is up the Hudson from the Big Apple.  It was once – for a very short time – the state capital.  Oh, would you believe PETA once asked Fishkill to change its name?  It's true!

New York state sounds like a rather murderous place.  In addition to Fiskill, we’ve also got Peekskill (“Mr. Peeck’s stream”), Cobleskill (“Mr. Kobell’s stream”), West Kill, Manor Kill, and Kill Buck (actually named after an Indian chief)


2. Golden Glow Heights

Why do I keep picturing a couple in bed without any clothes on with the sheets pulled up and smoking cigarettes?  You know, the classic New Yorker cartoon.

Well, this place is just outside of Elmira.  So, I’m imagining that golden glow might be the local chemical or perhaps nuclear plant. The town’s on some raised ground across the Chemung River from “The Queen City” (yup, that’s Elmira’s nickname).

Where did the name come from?  I’m imagining the particularly fevered brow of some mid 20th Century developer, though I could be wrong.

Hey!  Nice place, huh?
(Google Images search = 
"golden glow heights ny")

1. Choconut  Center

The town of Choconut Center is filled with chocolately, nutty deliciousness.

Actually, it’s simply named after the local Indian tribe, the Ochugnut. 

And it’s really just a neighborhood of Johnson City, on the border with Pennsylvania.  There is also a Choconut Township in PA, by the way.

According to this incredibly detailed document, I now know that Choconut Center:

  • Occupies 3,688 acres
  • Is 96.3% White
  • Claims 7.7% of its citizens have graduate or professional degrees
  • Has a median housing price of $85,700

(Google Images search = 
"choconut center ny")

Honorable Mention: 

  • B-o-r-i-n-g –  Churchtown, Forest, County Line, Central Square, Centralia, Centerville
  • Short and sweet – Ira, Jay, Cato
  • Just a little out of place – Harvard, Bangor, Dayton, Akron, Cleveland, Jamestown (Lucille Ball's birthplace), Atlanta, Jacksonville, Florida, Alabama, Cuba, Andes, Alps, Galway, Dublin, Belfast, Edinburg, Dunkirk, Belgium, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Denmark, Dresden, Barcelona, Genoa, Elba, Italy, Athens, Corfu, Ithaca, Corinth, Damascus, Jordan, Egypt, Cairo, Carthage, Angola (as well as Angola on the Lake), Bombay, Delhi
  • Just a little off-color – Climax, Beaver Falls, Beaver Lake, Beaver Dams, Athol, Butternuts, Coxsackie (“stream outlet”)
  • Numerically oriented – Five Points, Fourth Lake, Charleston Four Corners
  • Orthographically challenged – Gouverneur, Clymer, Conker, Boquet, Busti
  • Native American mouthfuls – Hoosick, Chemung (“big horn”), Conewango, Canandaigua, Canajoharie (“pot that washes itself”), Chittenango, Irondequoit
  • Miscellaneous mouthfuls – Hartwick Seminary, Brasher Iron Works
  • Atypical adjectives – Gray, Fine, Covert
  • Abnormal nouns – Champion, Bliss, Basket, Bath, Inlet, Escarpment, Clay, Conquest, Cutting, Candor, Calcium, Deposit, Alcove, Armor, Arcade, Herrings, Hicks, Kidders, Kabob
  • Alliterative apotheosis – Covetown Corners, Henderson Harbor, Bucks Bridge, Crum Creek
  • Fun to say – Ancram, Dorloo, Fluvanna, Fredonia, East Pharsalia, De Peyster, Depew, Breakabeen, Callicoon Center, Croton-on-Hudson, Claverack (Dutch for “clover fields”),  Herkimer, Kinderhook, Chazy (as well as West Chazy and Chazy Landing), Garbutt, Esopus, Ephrata, Cazenovia, Churubusco
  • Just plain weird – Burnt Hills, Java Center (and Java Village), Endwell, Childwold, Chateaugay, Beach Sandy, Gang Mills, Hart Lot, Holland Patent, Jacks Reef, Fly Summit, Farnham Irving, Feura Bush, Horseheads
  • Too many villes – Circleville, Constableville, Earlville, Factoryville, Furnanceville, Flackville, Downsville, Clockville, Cowville (and Bullville)
  • I’d like to introduce you to – Burt, Gerry, Howard, Homer, Hector, Clarence, Clyde, Byron, Irving, Elton, Ebenezer, Alfred, Ava, Alma, Amber, Gilbert Mills, Campbell Hall, Glen Aubrey
  • I’d like you to introduce you to Eddy – Pond Eddy, Long Eddy, Hale Eddy, Fishs Eddy
  • Ghost towns (in NY?) – Happy Valley, Irish Town, Doodletown

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