By Donald A. Windsor
Deputy Historian, Chenango County
What is now Chenango County was once crisscrossed with Indian trails; some of which later became roads. A trail is usually a pedestrian path whereas a road is wide and dry enough to also accommodate vehicles. Oxcarts and wagons are vehicles and many of them undoubtedly traveled on trails, so the distinction is fuzzy. In general, vehicles damage trails. They damage roads too, but not as rapidly nor as badly.
According to James H. Smith in his “History of Chenango County”, page 85, the old Chenango Road stretched between Bainbridge and the mouth of Page Brook, which is three and a half miles downstream of Chenango Forks, the confluence of the Tioughnioga and Chenango rivers. Page Brook originates in the highlands of Greene and Coventry and flows southwest into Broome County, Town of Fenton. It forms the eastern border of Chenango Valley State Park. The Chenango Road passed through what are now the towns of Greene, Coventry, and Bainbridge.
Smith says that many pioneers located along Chenango Road. In 1792, the “growth of timber” (counting annual rings of trees growing in the road) indicated that the road was opened about 15 or more years earlier. That would mean it was cleared in 1777 or earlier. The Revolutionary War raged from 1775 to 1783, so this road was built in the first quarter of the war.