Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Newton Falls, New York

I left the hamlet of Wanakena and returned to Route 3 where, instead of turning east toward home, I turned west because I wanted to tour the hamlet of Newton Falls. I'd seen it on the map and thought it looked interesting. Newton Falls has only 400 people, is set back in the forest all by itself and is not on the way to anything. But it had a lovely name and I wanted to see it:

I traveled along a county road through what appeared to have been old mining operations and eventually began to see houses as I entered the village:

Most of the houses were modest, utilitarian structures. There didn't appear to be many rich folks in Newton Falls:

And I began to think that this village was seeing hard times. Indeed, I later read that the settlement began as a sawmill/ paper mill in 1894 and did indeed also have an iron mine. The iron mine shut down a long time ago and the paper mill closed in 2000, then reopened in 2007, then closed again in 2011. Newton Falls was experiencing hard times. I saw people wandering the streets slowly, as if they had nowhere to go and were in no hurry to get there. Lots of folks sat out in their yards. There was an unusual amount of children playing outdoors. I got the feeling that unemployment was high and because the town was so very isolated, there just weren't many options for people:

But I could also see that this had been a charming place to live at one time and had the potential to be quite wonderful once again given the right circumstances:

They had an old fashioned Post Office:

A very modern Community Church and also a Roman Catholic Church:

The main attraction was the hotel, more than 100 years old. Alas, I've read that it is no longer open to the public:

Newton Falls was a mixture of loveliness and despair. I imagined that its residents feel a great deal of pride and loyalty to their hometown but frankly, there's nowhere to find employment. The nearest city is Potsdam, and that's an hour and a half away:

This home had a woodsy feel to it:

A front porch with its screening falling down:

And a nice house for sale. I imagine that it will be difficult for them to find a buyer or get a good price given the isolation of the town and its economic downturn:

A little boy playing in the dirt in front of his house waved to me as I drove out of town. I'd like to think I might return to Newton Falls some day and find that it had been revitalized by some industry or as a tourist destination:


  1. Bill (and the dogs),

    Thanks for the photos of my beloved home town! (Some 40 years since I left) I played at or visited most of the homes pictured but they looked a lot different back then. There were rows of very large 100 year old plus poplar trees on both sides of main street. Well groomed lawns and white picket fences were the norm when the mill was in it's prime. I worked their during college vacations. Hopefully, industry will return to the mill property in the future. I still have family and friends living in Newton Falls. Thanks for the photos! John Pomerville

    1. John, I'm curious as to which street would be referred to as "Main Street. I recently purchased a vacant lot on Front Street and wondered if there were houses on the now-vacant lots.

  2. Semi-irrelevant trivia:
    There was an episode of One Step Beyond that used the name Newton Falls, but it was supposed to be "just outside Boston". Just outside Boston there is a place called Newton Lower Falls and another called Newton Upper Falls, both villages of Newton, Massachusetts.

  3. I just purchased a lot this past Saturday from the county auction. We've been visiting the area for years and am hoping that we can use the lot to park a trailer on during the summer. Our lot faces the forest with a forested vacant lot next to ours and a fire-damaged home on the other side. We hope we can convince the county to tear down the house as they now own it because of taxes owing. With a little TLC we expect to have an enjoyable place to visit.

    1. It sure is beautiful country there, a nice place for a summer retreat.