|The Portville Historical and Preservation Society
|17 Maple Avenue
Portville, NY 14770
Portville, New York
The lovely watercolor
in our toolbar above is
a depiction of the office
at 17 Maple Avenue.
The artist is Portville's
very own talent,
Welcome to PHPS
Everything Old is New Again
Have you ever taken a second look at a photograph and seen something that you never noticed before?
Well, that happens to us all the time at the historical society. We are naturally curious at PHPS and like
to figure things out by looking for clues about Portville's past.
Some folks around town are old enough to remember the way Portville's creeks and the river looked
without the dykes that were built in 1950. The rest of us just have to wonder and guess - or - take a
look at some of the old photos that we have collected over the years.
This page was last updated on 02/26/2013
This photo gives us more information on the structure on the right - but what is it? Part of a bridge?
And is that an outhouse?! The original picture was taken by Clarence W. Evans (Sr.) who shared it
with Bill Husband who shared it with PHPS many years ago. Must be that no one gave it much
thought as to what is actually in this picture until now.
Now take a look at one more picture that will help solve some more of the mystery. The picture
below shows the erected tower and a train heading over the Pennsylvania Railroad trestle at Dodge
Creek. Temple Street is parallel on the left and Brooklyn Street is parallel on the right.
One particularly "mysterious" picture is on a stereograph card as shown above. A hand written note
says "Start of Flood Abatement". The picture is taken looking at a creek with houses and a large barn
in the background. We studied this picture for a long time and even asked around to see if anyone
knew where this was taken. At first we thought it looked like Dodge Creek facing Bedford Corners.
Then, as luck would have it, we found two more pictures at the office taken from abut the same
location, showing a bit more area. Aha! More clues ...
The descriptions of these photos refer to "Dyking Dodge Creek" in 1919. And we all thought that the
dykes were not built until 30 years later ...
Thom Torrey has an explanation for that. After all, he spent his boyhood exploring Portville's exciting
terrain and waterways with his mutually adventurous friends: "Many was the time that we traipsed
across the fields behind Crist's farm, working both sides of Dodge’s Creek with our fishing rods and our
"There was an old man-made dike system of sorts in a few places before the current dike system was
built... not much more than high creek banks. The dikes were much lower and there were little canals
(at least that’s what we called them) on the street sides of the dikes – similar to the holding areas that
are there today except always full of water and quite marshy. A big difference between that system and
today’s system was that everything was overgrown and, as I said, the canals were full of scummy water
– and frogs, turtles, etc."
So if these pictures were really taken from Dodge Creek, then the houses must be on South Main Street
and the large barn is the back of Trenkle's Blacksmith and Livery barn! Thom Torrey gets the credit
for unraveling this mystery. Who knew that the creek was so winding in the old days?!
Searching the Old Newspapers
Some of the best Portville genealogy research is available on-line through Tom Tryniski's Fulton History
website. Tom generously scanned all of the library's microfilm and has it stored on his servers. This
means that you can search for Portville people and events without leaving home!
To make this process a bit easier, we have just posted the Portville Free Library's newspaper index for
the years 1901 to 1938, created years ago by Ruth Cronin. The files are quite large but are alphabetical
by year so take your time to let them download then read through the information before starting your
search on the Fulton History site. It will save you a lot of time if you know the date of the paper.
You can access this information from a link on our "History" page. Or click here to get started.
Staying in Touch
You can continue to reach PHPS by sending us a message using our Contact Us tool and we will
correspond over email. If you would like to make an appointment to visit the office or the area
cemeteries and would like our assistance, please feel free to let us know your plans and we will
make special arrangements.