Nicknamed the "Maple City" after the large maple trees that grew throughout town, Hornell once had four rail lines, the most prominent of which was the New York and Erie Railroad which arrived in 1850.
Over the next 120 years, the town grew and thrived thanks to the railroads with the town becoming a major hub as its steam engine shop did the repairs for the entire Erie line. Eventually, however, the role of the railroads changed throughout the country which dramatically impacted the prosperity of this small town.
Today, the former train station survives as the Hornell Erie Depot Museum where you will find more than 700 pieces of memorabilia and interesting railroad stories from docents whose lives have long been connected with the rails.
In recent years, Hornell has reconnected with its past ties to the rails through the international company Alstom which has it’s main North American assembly and manufacturing site for the production of AC traction motors, railway cars, and passenger locomotives located in Hornell.
This rural community also has a long history in brewing. From the late 1890s all the way into the 1960s (Prohibition notwithstanding) Hornell was known for producing popular beers, including Hornell Beer, Old Ranger Ale and Old Dutch Beer, until 1964 when the Hornell Brewing Company closed its doors. Over the past several years, however, there has been a resurgence of craft beverages in and around Hornell thanks to Railhead Brewing located right along the tracks in town, as well as Cider Creek Hard Cider out in Canisteo, thanks to young entrepreneurs who have returned home to follow their dreams.
HORNELL ERIE DEPOT MUSEUM
Located in an old depot along the tracks, the Hornell Erie Depot Museum is a treasure trove of railroad memorabilia with everything from documents, photographs, clothing, tools, vintage lamps, and more. A perfect stop for the history buffs in your group.
WINERIES & CRAFT BEVERAGES
Small town life is all about a deep-rooted sense of community, of being connected to the land and those you share it with. Experience this connection for yourself in the tasty creations and experiences offered at Railhead Brewing Company. Not far from downtown Hornell, you can enjoy quiet surroundings and excellent libations at Wild Brute Winery and Savor Vineyards in nearby Arkport or Cider Creek Hard Cider in Canisteo.
STONY BROOK STATE PARK
With wide stone walkways and stairs winding their way through a dramatic gorge that frames over a half-dozen waterfalls, scenic picnic areas in the trees, and a lifeguarded swimming hole, there are so many ways to take advantage of the Finger Lake's natural beauty in Stony Brook State Park in nearby Dansville. Look for other fun experiences and activities in the western corners of the county.
What to do in Hornell
- Sample a variety of ciders, beer and wine at the Cider Creek Hard Cider
- Visit Farmers Markets and Farm Stands across the region and enjoy locally-grown food
- Take a piece of the Finger Lakes home when you stop by Pullman Paintings and purchase a Finger Lakes original oil painting
- Railhead Brewing Company is popular with both locals and tourists because of the great craft beers and tasty wood-fired pizza.
- The Brute: A Finger Lakes Wine Bar is Hornell's hidden treasure, featuring wines from a small-town winery crafting high-quality wines, as well as other wines and beers from producers by around the region.