Backbone Ridge Historical Material

Collection Owner:
Cover Image:
Map of the County of Tompkins, 1829
Map of the County of Tompkins, 1829 - Image Source

Collection Facts


Historical Context

The area between Seneca Lake and Cayuga Lake that is now a part of the Finger Lakes National Forest, New York State's only national forest, was once a bustling farmland in the 19th century.  It was known as Backbone Ridge and included parts of Schuyler County, Seneca County, and Tompkins County.

Decades of intensive agriculture depleted the soil and made the farms untenable.  In the 1930s during the Great Depression, the United States federal government bought out the farms in this region and helped interested residents move, all part of a New Deal program called the Resettlement Administration.  

Scope of Collection

Maps, diaries, and other pieces of history from the Backbone Ridge area.