Making a Shift from Farming to 'Weekending'

Lydon prospered and peaked about 1870. Farmers owned their farms and had money in the bank. Cheese factories were busy and even a narrow gauge railway skirted the eastern end of Lyndon on its way from Rushford to Cuba. Then the decline set in as settlers, particularly their children, began to move further west to more productive land. The lure of steady income from the growing industrialization of the country drew even more people away from the farms. Farms were abandoned and the fields slowly began to revert to wilderness.  Population peaked in 1860 at 1161, sank to 894 in 1870 and bottomed out to 339 in 1970. Very few direct descendants of the original settlers could be found by 1980.  The 2010 census showed 707 full time residents.

The population mix changed about 1916 when a group of Polish immigrants settled in North Lyndon. Names like Lesniak, Jedzejek, Wojanowski, Burzynski joined with the old Scottish and New England surnames. It took a generation or two before these folks began to marry into local families and while most moved to larger cities, descendants can still be found in Lyndon.

In 1940, private individuals began planting evergreens for the Christmas tree trade. Over the years hundreds of acres were planted and provided a decent income to some. However, as can now be seen by the large stands of huge evergreens, the market dried up, although several pursue it today. One such area became the Lyndon Camping site, now Emerald Acres.

Very slowly, but surely in the 1950s and 60s and more so in recent decades, outside people, mainly from the Buffalo area, recognized the wonderful recreational values in Lyndon.  Old farmlands were purchased for hunting camps and 'weekenders' became a large portion of Lyndon's landowners. By 2000, many of these 'weekenders' were retiring here. Other individuals with their families moved into town to enjoy the healthy countryside and good quality of life while still driving long distances to work. Their ultimate reward was to retire here, far away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

At this time Lyndon is truly a 'bedroom town' as there's no local industry, so nealy everyone works away or is retired...

Submitted to Cattaraugus County Bicentennial History by Sidney Emmons Town of Lyndon Historian

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