Take the 500-word, promote-Orleans challenge

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 January 2015 at 12:00 am


In about 500 words, how would you best tout Orleans County as a place to visit?

That was my challenge. My co-workers at The Lake Country Pennysaver are putting together the 2015 Orleans County Visitor’s Guide. This publication begins with a welcome message that is about 500 words.

This is what I came up with:
In Orleans County, you’re welcome to slow down and relax

File photos by Tom Rivers

The leaves are changing colors by Fruit Avenue in the Town of Ridgeway in this photo from October.

Orleans County moves at a slower pace than the bigger cities and larger metro areas nearby. We don’t apologize for it.

You’ll find some of us parked along country roads with binoculars in hand, gazing at a Snowy Owl or a bald eagle. In the fall, we enjoy a walk in the woods, or along the historic Erie Canal. You’ll see us out jogging, riding a bike or enjoying the local waterways by boat or kayak.

Some of us prefer fishing. Our Oak Orchard River is world-famous for its Chinook salmon, brown trout and rainbow trout. You can catch these fish in a lot of our smaller streams, too.

We have our favorite fishing spots – maybe an old quarry or a spot off the beaten path. (I know where I like to go, and I’m not telling.)

Jeff Baron, the father of a Tiger Cub, joins about 50 Scouters and their family members while fishing in an old Albion quarry in September 2013.

This is a beautiful county with lush landscapes. We still have plenty of unpaved roads out among the farms. I can’t help but smile when I drive along Woodchuck Alley or Johnny Cake Lane. “Progress” can wait. I’m happy out here.

We’re a big apple-growing county. The best time for a country drive may be in the spring when the blossoms on our fruit trees are in full bloom. Roll down your window because it smells as pretty as it looks.

If you want to feel inspired by the American Dream, Orleans County showcases the grit and determination of immigrants and pioneer settlers from the 1800s. They dug the Erie Canal, which opened in 1825 and cuts through Orleans County. Prosperity followed, with ornate residences, soaring churches, and spare-no-expense government buildings and downtown commercial sites.

Other communities knocked down their mansions to make way for chain stores. They demolished historic downtown buildings for malls and parking lots. Our Orleans ancestors cleverly kept the bulldozers at bay.

The downtown business districts in Albion and Medina are on the National Register for Historic Places. So is Courthouse Square and the seven churches within that block. Many of our grand old houses and cemeteries also are on the National Register, a nod to their significance to the American experience and their remarkable preservation for nearly two centuries.

The industrious pioneers in the early- to mid-1800s built houses featuring cobblestones on the exterior walls. Orleans and surrounding areas are a treasure trove of these unique structures, including the oldest cobblestone church in North America (1834), which is part of the Cobblestone Museum – one of only a few sites in Western New York deemed a National Historic Landmark.

That museum includes lots of surprises. One of my favorites is the outhouse that belonged to Rufus Bullock. Rufus grew up in Albion and went on to become governor of Georgia just after the Civil War. He is buried in the historic Mount Albion Cemetery.

You can learn and experience a lot around here. Best do it by foot, or by boat. Take your sweet time.

The Cobblestone Museum has six outhouses, including this one next to the Farmer’s Hall.

Orleans Hub readers are welcome to submit their own sales pitches about the county in 500 words or so. We could run them as letters to the editor. Send your “Welcome to Orleans County” messages to news@orleanshub.com.