Driving from Ithaca, the road to Seneca Falls is a desolate stretch of state highway buttressed on both sides by expansive fields of corn. There are few landmarks to pass between the towns of Ovid and Romulus, save for Swedish Hill Winery. A more likely encounter is the occasional horse-drawn carriage.
In the middle of this barren landscape, the village of Seneca Falls appears like a mirage, rising from the banks of the Cayuga-Seneca Canal. Linking the Erie Canal with Cayuga Lake, this waterway was crucial to the area’s economic growth in the early 1800s. Flour, pork, whiskey, lumber and wool all found passage here through a series of manmade locks.