Hornell, the Maple City

Known as the “Maple City” for its many maple trees, Hornell is tucked quietly in the rolling hills of the Canisteo Valley. To some, Hornell will always be a railroad town, and it’s no wonder, given its rich railroad history dating back to the 1800s. In 1850, the New York and Erie Railroad arrived. A year later, the first passenger train came to town with two celebrated passengers on board, President of the United States Millard Fillmore and Secretary of State Daniel Webster. The emergence of the railroad signified major change, bringing prosperity to the small community that had previously depended upon lumber, fur and agriculture as its main businesses.

Eventually Hornell became the primary maintenance facility for the entire Erie line. In addition to the many everyday people who now passed through town, it wasn’t uncommon to see the rich and famous. Originally a small settlement, Hornell began to resemble a medium-sized city with hotels, banks, silk mills, woodworking factories, breweries, fairgrounds, a horseracing park, shoe factory, tannery, and even an opera house (which showed its first movie in 1909). But, as trucks became a more viable means of transporting freight, the railroad began to fade.
Although the Erie line no longer stops in Hornell, after being a presence there for 120 years, there is a wonderful city-funded museum located in the newly renovated Hornell Depot which showcases the era of the Erie Railroad.

Hornell itself hasn’t faded. It’s managed to thrive over the years thanks to a number of small businesses and the concerted efforts of the community and the Hornell Partners for Growth (HPG). In addition to some interesting specialty shops, including a three-story antique store, downtown remains active with a number of exciting events, several of which are run by the HPG.

There is an assortment of things to see and do in the Hornell area, from shopping downtown to fishing and kayaking in the Canisteo River. Trips to wineries in Hammondsport and to the Corning Museum of Glass are short and easy drives.

Hidden Gems:
The Hornell Erie Depot Museum showcases the era of the Erie Railroad and contains more than 700 artifacts.

The Twin Hickory Golf Club and the Hornell Golf Club offer a variety of challenges and plenty of wonderful scenery.

Christ Episcopal Church on Main Street contains several beautiful, authentic Louis Comfort Tiffany stained-glass windows.

Club 57 – Italian-American

Italian Villa – authentic homemade Italian and American cuisine

Marino’s Restaurant – Italian cuisine

Giovanni’s Pizza – popular pizza and wings

Special Events:
The Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade has evolved into quite a celebration since it started, back in the 1980s, when the mayor road a horse down Main Street as the result of a bet.

The Annual Drum and Bugle Corps Celebration features a mix of junior corps, senior and senior alumni corps and top-notch high school marching bands. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the event will be held July 1 at Maple City Park.

The July 4th Festival of Events and Parade attracts large crowds to James Street Park where they enjoy music, arts and crafts, activities for children, a variety of food vendors and much more.

HPG hosts a Scarecrow Festival and Pumpkin Decorating Contest each October, which involves the entire community. Merchants decorate windows and local school children tour the assortment of creations.

Holiday Aglow, which will be held November 27, begins with a tree-lighting ceremony on Main Street and offers an assortment of fun activities, including carriage rides, Santa Land and more. This event signifies the beginning of the holiday shopping season.

For more details, visit:

by Dave DeGolyer, Steuben County Conference & Visitors Bureau

1 Comment

  • Pauline V. Piccirillo says:

    I consider Hornell my “home town”. I was born in Hornell in 1928.
    Attended Irving School for all elementary grades.
    Washington School for Junior High (7th and 8th grade)
    Graduated from Hornell High School in 1945.

    Lived at 84 Washington Street from 1935-1946.

    Married Joe Piccirillo on August 21,1946.
    Moved to Brockport because Joe entered college at:
    State University of NY at Brockport
    on the GI Bill because of his service in the Navy for 3 years 1 month.
    (November 1942-December 1945)
    Joe graduated with the Class of 1949 with 14 other Veterans. He was able to graduate in 3 years because of attending summer sessions and Veterans were allowed 10 free credits as long as they didn’t use them for their major.

    He was fortunate that Hornell Public Schools had an opening for a Physical Education teacher in their 6 elementary schools the year he graduated.
    He taught at Irving, Columbian, Lincoln, Bryant, Washington and North Hornell for 31 years. (1949-1980)
    He was Baseball coach for 7 years (1957-1963) and Line Coach in Football for 15 years (1949-1963)

    Joe received his Master’s degree from Alfred University in 1952.

    Our daughter, Linda, was born in 1950 and Karen in 1953.

    During the 1960’s, many adults started college.
    I entered Geneseo State University in 1968 and graduated in 1972.
    Received my Masters degree in School Psychology in 1974.
    Worked at Monroe2OrleansCounty 21 years from 1974-1995.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *