The Village of Croghan is nestled in the Foothills of the Adirondacks along the Black River Trail. The Village was named on April 5, 1841 after General George Croghan who served in the war of 1812. The village was incorporated in 1906. One of the most prominent residents of Croghan was Theodore B. Basselin. Mr. Basselin came to America as a little boy. He built his business by gathering and sawing hemlock logs that were left to rot in the forests after the bark was peeled for use in tanning hides. He eventually became a leading employer. He was Croghan’s first millionaire. His beautiful home, The Basselin House is located on Main Street a short distant from the Basselin Cemetery.
The American Maple Museum (see Maple Syruping Section) is located next to St. Stephen’s Church and was the former Father Leo Memorial School. The School was built with funds provided by The Basselin’s Estate. The Village Hall is home to Croghan Free Library. Known locally as the Opera House, it was once the center of activity. It is the former site of the third St. Stephen’s Catholic Church. It was purchased by Mr. Basselin and known as “Basselin Opera House”. In later years students at Father Leo Memorial School used it for plays and basketball games.
Although Croghan’s businesses offer countless modern services, many are housed in original, oldfashioned stores. Some must-sees are: Good Ol’ Wishy’s soda fountain and variety store offers ice cream sodas and other ice cream specialties made at an original soda fountain. Monnat’s Country Store, an IGA Express grocery store, is a step back in time with original metal ceilings, walls and hardwood floors. Buckingham Hardware and Great Outdoors is in a building that was originally built before 1912. Sometime before 1875, it was the site of a Roman Catholic Parsonage. After that, the Shinebourne Tannery and Boot and Shoe Factory was built on the site. It burned twice - once in 1875 and again in 1912. The Shinebourne’s rebuilt in 1912 and continued to own and operate the factory until 1954. The current store offers hardware on the first floor with a sporting goods store on the second floor featuring displays of fishing and taxidermy. Croghan Island Mill Lumber Company is powered by water and has been in operation for over 150 years. It is the only surviving waterpowered mill in New York State. Year round, the mill processes purchased board lumber into finished products using only the power from a ninefoot waterfall. The mill is operated by a water wheel through a system of shafts, pulleys, and belts. Most of the machines are over 100 years old but are still used nearly every day. Electricity is used only to power the mill lights and scrap wood is used to heat the wooden barn-like building.
Croghan Meat Market, in business since 1888, is home to the renowned Croghan Bologna. In the early years, the Croghan Meat Market supplied fresh and cured meats to Adirondack lumber camps. They also did horse and cart deliveries to area hamlets. Today the business has a retail store, a mail order business, and a wholesale business. E.M. Marilley & Co., “Dealers In Nearly Everything” describes this general store - which is the oldest business in Croghan. Established in 1874 by Edward Martin Marilley, this business has been owned by family ever since. It was burned out in the spring of 1912 from a fire that swept through Croghan, and was rebuilt that fall. The store originally carried staple items of all sorts - a tradition that still holds true today. This is a great place to stop and browse.
The history of Croghan, NY, is quite fascinating and educational. The first known settlers of the area were the Oneida Indians, one of the Iroquois tribes. They occupied the forest and surrounding river banks. In 1848, the towns of Croghan and New Bremen were formed by French, German, and Swiss immigrants. Croghan was named in 1841 after George Croghan, who had been a hero in the War of 1812.
The main industries of the area were logging, lumbering, and tanneries. The great rivers enabled the logs to be floated down the rivers to the sawmills. The mills were built on the rivers to utilize the water power. Later, as the land was cleared by logging, farming began. One of the most influential people who lived in Croghan was Theodore B. Basselin, a millionaire owning several sawmills. Basselin used the Hemlock logs that were left in the forest to rot after their bark had been stripped for use in tanning leather. It was ingenious, as the logs were a waste product that was turned into a profit making resource. Basselin’s mansion is located in the center of Croghan yet today. His family cemetery is also located on Main Street. He was instrumental in establishing the St. Stephen’s Catholic Church, Father Leo School and several other historic buildings.
The downtown area of Croghan has survived two major fires, one in 1902 and the other in 1912. Today the town is still made up of the people from the French, German and Swiss decent. Major industries include dairy farming, forestry, tourism, maple syrup production, and paper manufacturing.