Visiting Verona’s Oak Orchard Site – Forgotten Central New York History
In a region where historical sites go back to the American Revolution and before, it’s easy to get lost in the historical shuffle, and perhaps that is what happened to Oak Orchards in Verona. The site was active at the turn of the nineteenth century.
Located along Wood Creek Road off of Route 49, Oak Orchard was once an important place on the trade route along Wood Creek between the Mohawk River and Oneida Lake.
The Western Inland Lock Navigation Company referenced in the sign above was New York’s first canal corporation, predating the building of the Erie Canal. Lock keepers at Oak Orchard became the first settlers of Verona.
However, the settlement at Oak Orchard quickly dissipated after being bypassed by the Erie Canal several hundred feet to the south. Oak Orchard fell into disuse and obscurity.
The New York State Museum picks up the forgotten history of Oak Orchard,
This historic site, which had served as a landmark to so many explorers, traders, soldiers, and travelers for over 200 years, had slipped into obscurity.
Much of the original site is now occupied by the old burial ground. This place, which holds the earthly remains of some of Verona’s earliest pioneers, is itself of historic interest. The cemetery now falls under the jurisdiction and protection of the Town of Verona. The continued maintenance of the burying ground and associated historic sites is a volunteer project carried out by the Verona Historical Association in conjunction with the Town of Verona.
The surrounding lands are privately owned and the landowner has graciously provided an easement for purposes of access to the cemetery and the historic area. Continued access depends on all visitors respecting the site and the owners’ rights.
The Oak Orchard site is accessed today by two tire rut tracks that lead north from Wood Creek Road
and past a family farm. The lane is quickly obscured by the farm and corn fields. Travel could be hazardous and I would recommend only using a 4-wheel drive vehicle to access or park along the road and hike back to the creek. When exploring the site earlier today, we couldn’t precisely determine the location of the historic settlement, any stone markers, remaining foundations or gravestones.