DAR placed 5 historic markers in Gaines on Ridge in 1930s
Local group didn’t like sentimental name of ‘Honeymoon Trail’
By Adrienne Kirby, Gaines Town Historian
GAINES – With the rise of the automobile in the 1920’s, roads throughout Western New York were slowly improved. Ridge Road was first paved through Gaines in 1926.
On Aug. 26, Gaines held a Booster Day celebration with a parade to commemorate the completion of the improvements made to its geographical main artery. Paving the road brought about significant business opportunities, which were seized upon almost immediately.
Less than a year later, in June of 1927, the Medina Daily Journal published a rather bemused editorial reporting signs painted on telephone or telegraph poles of “two bleeding hearts pierced by an arrow which is supposed to designate ‘Honeymoon Trail.’”
The origin of the signs was a mystery at the time of publication. Though Ridge Road does end at Niagara Falls, often called the Honeymoon Capital of the World, the editors at the Journal were not impressed and suggested “Ground Hog Road” or “Green Frog Trail” as alternate titles. They concluded “The Old Ridge Road” would be a more respectable name.
The D.A.R. was in full agreement, and used everything in their arsenal to prevent such a “sentimental title” from taking root in the public mind. Just a month later, as reported by the Journal, the Orleans Chapter of the D.A.R. were “up in arms” over the proposed change of name and passed a resolution expressing their disapproval.
The committee responsible for drafting resolutions to preserve the historic nature of Ridge Road was chaired by Katherine Rowley, Orleans County’s first historian and a citizen of Gaines. They proposed that the new name was “insignificant and unworthy”, that “the majority of citizen[s’] … sense of propriety has been violated by such change of name,” and that “the name of ‘The Ridge Road’ should endure forever…”
By April 1928, the D.A.R. was fully mobilized and the Orleans Chapter had proposed working with the Monroe and Irondequoit Chapters to place “neat blue and white markers which are to carry the title ‘The Historic Ridge Road, established in 1798.’” They were to be 14 inches in diameter and placed every five miles through Orleans and Monroe counties. In addition, plans were being made to involve the State Historical Monuments Society in the “movement.”
The proposals were successfully implemented. Between 1930 and 1935, the D.A.R. placed five markers in Gaines, along with others in the towns of Ridgeway and Murray, thanks to legislation New York State passed in 1923 anticipating the sesquicentennial of the American Revolution in 1926. The Department of Education was to work with local groups to erect “markers to designate sites that are of historic significance in the colonial, revolutionary or state formative period…” among other efforts to commemorate the national celebration.
Curiously enough, the Orleans Chapter has no records of putting up “The Historic Ridge Road” markers, and yet a sign which closely matches the description in the newspaper stands next to the Village Inn at Childs.