The journey had been particularly severe and wearing upon the animals and their food supply found insufficient. Arriving about six miles north of Fort Reid on September 24, 1779 they were obliged to dispose of a large number of sick and disabled horses. The number of horses was so great that they were quite noticeable, and the native Iroquois collected the skulls and arranged them in a line along the trail. That spot, from that time forward was referred to as the “valley of the horse’s heads” and is still known by the name given to it by the Iroquois.
In 1835 some influential citizens published a petition in the local newspaper to rename the Horseheads post office “Dundee”, but the petition was not successful.
Still not officially named Horseheads and the Chemung Canal having been in operation for nearly four years, the village was first incorporated as Fairport in May 1839, due to its location on the Chemung Canal.
The sixteen-mile feeder canal coming down the valley from Corning joined the Chemung Canal just a short distance northeast of Hanover Square. The important office of the Toll Collector was located here, and all boats and barges were required to stop, have their cargoes weighed and pay tolls on same. There was a lock on West Franklin St. where old and young gathered to watch the boats “locked through”.
There were many people who loved the old revolutionary-born name and urged its return. Due to their efforts, the name Horseheads was restored in 1845. Again in 1885 the name was changed to North Elmira. Only a year later in the summer of 1886 the majority of the voting citizens voted with much political fire works to bring back the most beloved Old Saxon name of our village, Horseheads, as it has remained until this day.
The Museum at the Depot was officially opened September 18, 1999. The depot now has display areas, a meeting room, gift shop, office space, kitchen and restroom facilities, and storage space. It houses Museum displays and artifacts related to the history of Horseheads. It is a true testament to its longevity and to the dedication of the volunteers who gave of their time and labor to make this museum a place of which Horseheads can be proud.