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Seneca County

Overview - Seneca County

Seneca County is in the western part of the Finger Lakes region, between Seneca Lake to the west and Cayuga County to the east. Consequently, this area is huge for boating, fishing, swimming, and camping. Dozens of wineries line the shores of both lakes, and the popular Finger Lakes Wine Trail runs through Seneca County. This is one of only a few counties in New York state with two county seats – in the towns of Waterloo and Ovid. The dual designation was because of long-ago disputes that sprung up shortly after Seneca County was founded. Today, not much of Seneca County government functions take place in Ovid.

This is still a small county population-wise, with just over 35,000 residents. The largest towns are Seneca Falls and neighboring Waterloo, both at the northern end of the county and both having roughly 10,000 or fewer residents. Seneca Falls is chock-full of historic sites like the National Women’s Hall of Fame and the Women’s Rights Historical Park. Those sites commemorate the first women’s rights convention, which was held in Seneca Falls in 1848. The Wesleyan Chapel, where that convention was held, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Waterloo is perhaps best known for its Waterloo Premium Outlets Mall, which has dozens of factory-outlet stores from designers like Eddie Bauer and Ann Taylor and attracts shoppers from throughout the region.

Much of the county is largely rural, but that could be changing soon. Plans are in the works to build a multi-million dollar casino in the town of Tyre, in the northeast corner of the county. But those plans have not moved much beyond the discussion stage, for now. If the casino is developed, it’s thought that it will attract visitors from throughout the Finger Lakes Region and beyond.

With so much open space and natural, largely undeveloped beauty, there are plenty of places to enjoy the great outdoors. There are several state parks, including Cayuga Lake State Park in Seneca Falls, Seneca Lake State Park (between Waterloo and, to the east, Ontario County) and Sampson State Park in Romulus. Sampson State Park is next to the former (and vast) Seneca Army Depot, which was used by the U.S. Army from the 1940s to the early 1990s.

The Finger Lakes National Forest is in the south part of the county. Part of the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge also is in Seneca County.

The New York State Thruway and the Erie Canal both pass through Seneca County at the northern end.

Just west of Seneca County is the city of Geneva in Ontario County and just east of Seneca County is the city of Auburn in Cayuga County.

The real attractions here are the two lakes, Seneca and Cayuga, which both are two of the larger Finger Lakes. Most of the towns in Seneca County are tucked on top of each other with the lakes as their western and eastern borders.

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