Marine News from the Great Lakes

Cayuga County Launches Historical Gateway Tour

Travelers to relive history along the Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway

Published: Tuesday, April 3, 2012 7:00 am
By: Cayuga County Office of Tourism

Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway, NY – American history is deeply rooted in Cayuga County. The region is paved with historical landmarks as it was once home to not only the Cayuga Indians, but also American pioneers such as entrepreneur Pleasant Rowland who is best known for creating the American Girl brand and Henry Wells, founder of Wells Fargo and American Express companies. Historically-focused discovery opportunities for visitors include:

Where to Visit

Frontenac Museum
Located in a historic Presbyterian church, the Frontenac Museum offers exhibits highlighting the Civil War, Cayuga Lake and Native American history. Guided tours are available and the Norma Belak Genealogy Room are available by appointment.

Wells College
This Liberal Arts College was established in 1868 by Henry Wells, who also founded the Wells Fargo and American Express companies. The campus is situated on more than 300 scenic acres overlooking Cayuga Lake and offers a 9-hole public golf course partially designed by Robert Trent Jones and cultural enrichment events throughout the year.

Rural Life Museum
One-room schoolhouses served the rural communities of New York state for approximately one hundred fifty years, giving way in the early 1900’s to larger central schools. The Rural Life Museum is dedicated to the teachers and students who attended one-room schools in rural America.

Morgan Opera House
The intimately-sized Morgan Opera House is a restored Victorian gem featuring an original raked stage with pressed tin proscenium, leaded glass windows, original seating, splendidly crafted woodwork and superb acoustics. Located on the second floor of the Tudor style Aurora Free Library building, the theater offers an array of budget-friendly performances appealing to a wide range of audiences.

Howland Stone Store Museum
As the former family business of noted educator and Quaker abolitionist Emily Howland (1827-1929), this museum displays historic heirlooms from the family’s global travels and memorabilia honoring the Howland’s accomplishments.

Where to Eat

$$$ - Aurora Inn - The Aurora Inn offers an elegant indoor dining room as well as lakeside dining on their spacious veranda, perfect for taking in Finger Lakes sunsets. The award-winning, refined American cuisine is inspired by the changing seasons and fresh regional products and pairs perfectly with the vast array of Finger Lakes wines on their list.

$$ - Pumpkin Hill Bistro - The Pumpkin Hill Bistro menu features down to earth comfort food "with a twist" served at moderate prices in a unpretentious, but charming atmosphere. Delight in the charm of the bistro's peaceful storied setting, while enjoying a fine selection of Cayuga Lake wines and delectable culinary options. Diners can also shop for unique antiques and gifts at the Country Store.

$ - Amelia's at Long Point Winery -  Long Point Winery is located on the east side of Cayuga Lake on scenic Route 90 in Aurora. The winery and restaurant sit on 72 acres of land overlooking beautiful Cayuga Lake. Guests are invited to choose from a wine-infused menu ranging from fresh deli sandwiches to homemade biscotti.

$ - The Fargo - Casual food and atmosphere are the calling card of this historic restaurant and tavern, which is located directly across the street from the Aurora Inn. With food made fresh, from scratch daily and desserts prepared by the Aurora Inn pastry chef, the Fargo is no ordinary bar and grill.

Where to Stay

$$$ - Aurora Inn - Aurora Inn, set on the shores of Cayuga Lake amidst a heritage village, has a pedigree dating back to 1833. The original Finger Lakes inn, built in Federal style with red brick and wide columned balconies, has been impeccably restored with understated elegance to appeal to the most discerning guests.  The quintessential bed and breakfast is renowned for being a lakeside haven with hammocks and Adirondack chairs putting calm and relaxation at the forefront.  The Aurora Inn embodies the intimacy of a bed and breakfast with services and amenities that only a luxury hotel can offer.

$$$ - E.B. Morgan House - Formerly the home of Colonel Edwin Barber Morgan, co-founder of The New York Times and American Express, the E.B. Morgan House offers seven stylish guest rooms, exquisite living spaces, gracious porches that overlook the lake and lawns and an exceptional collection of original modern art.

$$ - Dill’s Run Bed & Breakfast and Vineyard - Dill's Run Bed and Breakfast is located along the east side of Cayuga Lake on Scenic New York State Route 90 in the Town of Ledyard. The lovely Italianate Victorian house was built in the late 1830's by R. Dill and has recently been restored. It is ideally located on 15.5 acres just four miles north of Aurora, 15 minutes from Auburn, 35 minutes from Ithaca and 25 minutes from Seneca Falls. Dills Run also has a vineyard that offers some of the best in Finger Lakes wines which is open from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Friday through Sunday and by appointment.

$ - Cayuga Marina and Campground - Located on the north end of scenic Cayuga Lake, a short distance from Lock One, Seneca Canal, and the Montezuma Wildlife Preserve. Cayuga Marina and Campground is ideal for an overnight, weekend or week stay for both outdoor sports enthusiasts, and those who just appreciate the beautiful countryside and relaxing lake side atmosphere. The facility features a full range of seasonal guest accommodations and marina services for patrons.

For the latest historical updates follow @Cayuga_Tourism on twitter and “like” Cayuga Tourism, NY on Facebook at

Insider Historical Secrets

How Cayuga Got its Name
Nestled on the northeast end of Cayuga Lake, the Village of Cayuga derives its name from the 42 mile long lake, the longest of the eleven total Finger Lakes. The village dates back to 1779 when 600 troops from Sullivan's Army arrived on the east shore, putting an end to the war with the Six Nations.

The Chonodote Indians
Before the European-American settlement, a major Cayuga Indian village, Chonodote, lived in the present-day site of Aurora village. During the American Revolutionary War, Chonodote was destroyed by the Sullivan Expedition in 1779 when the Cayuga were allies of the British army. After the war, some of the Cayuga tribe returned to live on a Seneca reservation which once encompassed the north end of Cayuga Lake.

Erie Canal Comes to Town
In 1832, the Cayuga branch of the Erie Canal was built which followed by the debut of railroads in 1842. Thanks to introduction of the Erie Canal, soon followed by the railroad, the Lehigh Valley, New York Central and the Finger Lakes railroads have been active in the area.

About Cayuga County
Located near the heart of the Finger Lakes, Cayuga County's towns and villages are perfect for sightseeing, shopping, dining, and enjoying the lush Finger Lakes Region. Visit or call 800-499-9615 for more information.

About Finger Lakes
The Finger Lakes, eleven pristine lakes spread like fingers across central New York, encompasses 9,000 plus square miles of outdoor adventures and bucolic scenery with a nice mix of urban hot spots to boot. The region is easily accessible from key hubs like New York City, Boston, Philadelphia and Toronto, making it the ideal weekend getaway destination. In addition to an abundance of Thoreau-esque lakeside retreats, the region offers world class vineyards, farm to table culinary delights and internationally acclaimed annual festivals. With more than 100(!) wineries spread between 14 counties, the Finger Lakes region is known to produce the best Rieslings and Gewurztraminers outside of Germany, thus making it the ideal epicenter for winemaking and discovery.

tags: Destination, History, Lake Ontario


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