The site of today's Salamanca, was originally known by the whimsical name of
"Hemlock". Including the present town of Red House, Salamanca was formed from
Little Valley in 1854 and was known as "Bucktooth". In 1862, the name was changed
to Salamanca in honor of a Spanish banker and railroad stockholder Marquis Jose
De Salamanca. The area of Salamanca was reduced, in 1868, with the removal of
the Town of Red House. As situated today, the Town of Salamanca encompasses
14,223 acres, while the City of Salamanca (96% Reservation Land) consists of
3,774 acres. Both acreages include a portion of the Seneca Indian's Allegany
Indian Reservation. Legal occupancy of the land is vested in and authorized by a
system of leases with the Seneca Nation.
With the abundant pine forest came lumbering, which was afforded good water
power from the Allegheny River and its tributaries. White "squatters" settled
temporarily among the Indians and exchanged "fire water" and some provisions for
the towering pines, which were cut and floated down the river to the sawmills.
Sawmills, both steam and water powered, such as "Bucktooth Mill", and "Hemlock
Mill" sprang up. It has been said that about 1812, the Seneca Indians built a
steam sawmill on SawMill Run. However, it was destroyed by Cornplanter, their
Chief, in order to curtail quarrelling amongst his people about the mill operations.
With the exhausting of timber, tillage of the soil took lead . The fertile
valleys produced crops of grass, oats, potatoes and apples.
The first thoroughfare in the Town, a State road, constructed in 1837, extended
through the Allegany Reservation, along the Allegheny River's north bank. In
1860, the first bridge spanning the Allegheny River was built above Hemlock
The growth of Salamanca was attributed to the railroad. The Town embraced three
lines, the Erie Railroad (1851), Atlantic and Great Western (1863), Rochester and
State Line (1878 ), and became an important railroad terminal.
West Salamanca, (incorporated in 1884) the oldest village in the Town, was situated
on the Allegheny River at the mouth of Little Valley Creek. Originally
known as Bucktooth until 1873, West Salamanca (originally the junction of the
Erie & New York, Pennsylvania & Ohio Railroads) was the only railroad station in
the Town until 1863 when it was moved east where Salamanca Village was founded .
Livestock yards were established in 1872 in West Salamanca, which were extensively
used as a resting and feeding place for cattle, between Chicago and New
York. Development included several stores (i.e . "Peoples Store - 1861), hotels
(i.e. Red Lion House), shops, tavern, church, jewelry store, tobacconist, school
and a post office (1840).
Other development which occurred in the earlier years of Salamanca included the
Salamanca Tannery (1863 ), the Union Depot Building erected (1872), the construction
of the Salamanca Iron Works (1885), wildwood Cemetery purchased (1881),
Salamanca Embroidery Company (1883), Salamanca Gas Company (1886), and W. J.
Osborne Co. (1888 ).
The location of the Village of Salamanca (also known as East Salamanca) was a
swamp which resulted in a "corduroyed" road being built from Great Valley to
Hemlock Mill. In the late 1870's, Village of Salamanca saw 18 - 20 stores (hard ware,
furniture, drugs, grocery, harness, etc.), 10 public houses, two newspapers
(i . e. The Cattaraugus Republican) a bank, five churches, several public halls
(i . e . Banner Lodge, No 314), post office, and shops. Salamanca Village was
incorporated in 1878 and grew in importance with the location of railroad shops
Believing Salamanca was within the bounds of a Bradford oil region, United Pipelines
laid pipe from Carrollton Junction to the northeastern hillsides of
Salamanca in 1878. The Salamanca Centennial Oil Company put down a well about
a mile southeast of Salamanca. A large flow of gas was realized, but no oil,
which resulted in the project being abandoned. Test wells were also dug by the
Newton Valley Oil Company (1870's) on the north side of the Allegany River,
Source: Cattaraugus County Book 1808-1995/96