History of Dunkirk, NY
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Originally settled in the earliest parts of the 1800s, the Village of Dunkirk was incorporated in 1837. In February of 1880 the Village was chartered as the City of Dunkirk, NY.
For centuries, the dense forest surrounding what would later become to be known as Chadwick Bay was utilized as hunting ground by those native to the area. By the mid 1600s, European explorers following the shore of Lake Erie had stumbled upon the harbor and began using it as a safe haven during rough Lake Erie storms.
In the earliest parts of the 19th century, a few brave men decided that it was worth the effort to settle this area as home. In 1809, Soloman Chadwick cleared the land surrounding the bay that would later bare his name and settled on the shores of the harbor.
By the 1830s, 300 people had made the area their home and on May 5, 1837, the community was incorporated as a village. The next few decades would advance the village beyond expectations with the advent of the railroad. Not only did the City lay in a strategic location where freight could easily be moved from rail to sea, it also became well known for the many locomotives that it would produce. By 1880 the population had grown to over 7,000 and in February of that year the village was chartered as the state’s newest city.
Over the past 132 years the City has gone from an important stop along the railroad to a bustling steel town to the quaint lakeside community that we all enjoy today.
For more information on the history of Dunkirk, please visit the following sites:
- Dunkirk Historical Museum
- Dunkirk Lighthouse
- Historic Homes of Dunkirk
- Chautauqua County Historical Society
- Western New York Rail Archive – Dunkirk
- Chautauqua County Genealogical Society