Tioga County: Richford
The Town of Richford is the most northern town in Tioga County. Rather than being surrounded by or next to other Tioga County towns, Richford is bordered on the east by Broome County, on the north by Cortland County, and on the west by Tompkins County. Only to the south does it border Tioga County and that being the Town of Berkshire.
The town was named for Ezekiel Rich, who moved to the town in 1821 and started a glove and mitten factory. Because the east branch of the Owego Creek, the Lehigh Valley Railroad, and two intersecting highways (now called State Routes 38 and 79) run through the town, Richford has always been a transportation thoroughfare, shipping a variety of products made from lumber as well as numerous crops.
Richford has had several notable citizens, the most famous of which was oil magnate John D. Rockefeller, who was born in the town and returned later in life to visit during the summers. The Rockefeller home no longer exists, but a sign in Griggs Gulf State Forest on Rockefeller Road marks the location of the home. The sign outlines the history of how John's grandfather, Godfrey Rockefeller, settled in the area and operated a mill along a nearby creek.
The Town of Richford has an active historical society, which owns a lovely building on State Route 38 that used to be the Graded School. The tower on the roof of the building houses a working bell that used to be rung to call children to school. The historical society is working to restore this local treasure.
Richford has a population of roughly 1,200 people and about 550 housing units. With so few people and houses in the town, Richford has a wealth of land. Much of this land--about 27% of the land mass of the town--is owned by the state in the form of all or parts of six state forests--Andersen Hill, Michigan Hill, Turkey Hill, Robinson Hollow, Beaver Dam, and Griggs Gulf.
Many of the roads in the town are not paved and include the word hill in their names. There is good reason for this as nearly nothing in Richford is flat, and the highest spot in the county at 1,994 ft./607.7 m. is located in Richford in Robinson Hollow State Forest.
These six state forests provide a wealth of recreational opportunities, including birding, hiking, biking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.
Both the east and west branches of the Owego Creek run through the town. The creek bed is rocky and canoeing and kayaking are possible only when the water level is high. There is a boat launch area and parking lot on State Route 79 (just east of the intersection of State Route 38.) where the creek runs under the road. There is also a launch site for the Owego Creek at the western end of Talcott Street (also called Cove Street) in the Village of Owego. At this point, both the east and west branches have joined and the creek is considerably wider and deeper.
Richford is a birdwatcher's paradise. Birds are everywhere and, during migration, field birds can be seen in great numbers on the high hills. Warblers, vireos, thrushes, woodpeckers, turkeys, ruffed grouse, blue jays, chickadees, nuthatches, pee wees, and a variety of hawks and falcons can be found throughout the breeding season in state forest lands.
Although you may not see a bear or a venemous snake in Richford, you are likely to see just about anything else that can be seen in the Finger Lakes region. Keep your eyes open as there are lots of places for wildlife to hide.
Those who enjoy hiking should be aware that the Finger Lakes Trail (FLT) runs through Robinson Hollow State Forest. There is a parking lot and trail head on State Route 79 at the Tompkins-Tioga county line. If you take the trail to the north, you will come upon the Kimmee Lean-to. You will need maps M19 and M20 for Richford.
There is also a little-known hiking treasure in Richford--the King Nature Preserve--located on Andersen Hill Road, within easy walking distance of Andersen Hill State Forest. The King Nature Preserve is a 161-acre parcel of land donated to the Finger Lakes Land Trust. The land has a "well-developed" understory, ideal for birds and other wildlife. Hikers should wear pants and boots and conduct a tick check after the hike.
Richford has one small park--Rawley Park--the entrance of which is located to the north of the Country Folks Diner on State Route 38. The east branch of Owego Creek runs through the park, which has a picnic pavilion, playground, and baseball field.
Richford has an interesting history in the growing of potatoes. A number of farms in Richford and Caroline in Tompkins County grew potatoes for the Clarks Seed Farm, which operated until 1968. The potato crop was rotated from one farm to another to maintain the fertility of the soil. During World War II, German prisoners of war were used to harvest the potatoes. They were housed at a Civilian Conservation Corps camp in Harford in Cortland County. When Clarks was most productive, it had between 700 and 1,000 acres in production. A festival is held in Richford every year on the third Saturday in September to commemorate Richford's rich potato history with storytelling, arts and crafts, and, of course, food, including potato donuts and potato ice cream--french fries topped with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup.
188 Front St.
Owego, NY 13827
Accommodations--Bed and Breakfasts
There are no bed and breakfasts in Richford, however, there are many nearby in Tioga County.
Camping is permitted in all the state forests. In addition, there are several private campgrounds nearby in Tioga County.
Restaurants and Pubs
See Tioga County
See Tioga County