1488 Victor-Bloomfield Rd.
Victor, NY 14564
In the rolling hills of what is now Ontario County, New York lies the site of a major 17th-century Seneca Indian town and palisaded granary. It was called Ganondagan (ga-NON-da-gan) or the Town of Peace. At its peak, Ganondagan was thought to have been a large community of 150 bark longhouses with an estimated population of 4,500. The land was, and still is, fertile, evidenced by the many farms in the area. The Indians prospered.
The Indians of the region traded furs, especially beaver pelts, and worked as a group to prevent trappers from French colony of New France (Canada) from trapping in the region. Since the success of the French colony depended heavily on trapping, a decision was made by the governor of New France--Jacques-Rène de Brisay, better known as the Marquis de Denonville--to teach the Seneca a lesson. Part of his retribution consisted of the destruction of many of the Seneca villages in the Finger Lakes region, including Ganandagan.
In the summer of 1687, Denonville led an army from New France against the Seneca to decimate them, thereby eliminating them as competitors in the international fur trade. Not only did Denonville's army destroy all the longhouses at Ganondagan, but it destroyed the village's granary that is reported to have stored, among other things, the equivalent of 440,000 bushels of corn.
The site has five main facilities.
Ganondagan has a small visitor's center which has on display historical artifacts and modern cultural items such as corn dolls, hats, and artwork. There are also bathrooms and a separate gift shop.
The re-created longhouse is well worth the visit as it attempts to give an accurate depiction of how the local Indians lived during the 17th century.
There are a number of trails on the site. Three of the trails--Trail of Peace, Earth is Our Mother, and Grasslands--provide a total of 29 interpretive signs explaining the significance of various native plants on the property to the Seneca and Iroquois customs and beliefs. Other trails on the property are marked with blazes painted on trees and are maintained by the Victor Hiking Trails, Inc.
Just off the yellow trail are two replicas of hunting huts used by the Seneca. Like the longhouse, these are covered with bark and supported with stout sticks, but the skill it would take to erect one makes one envious.
Fort Hill (the granary)
Further east along Victor-Bloomfield Road is the entrance to Fort Hill, the site of the former granary. A trail through the woods takes you to the top of the hill where the granary was located. A mowed path around this area is dotted with interpretive signs. The view from this hill is lovely and picnic tables and benches are strategically placed to take advantage of the view. (The granary site can also be accessed by a trail that is not located on the map. Ask for directions at the visitor's center if you prefer to take the trail.)
Hiking the trails is the main recreational activity at Ganondagan. However, many of the trails go through woods that are filled with native wild plants. These are especially lovely in the spring.
Birds fill the woods and fields and many seem to be fairly tolerant of humans as they pay no attention and go on with their daily activities. During breeding season, one should be able to find a variety of thrushes and warblers, turkeys, tanagers, vireos, and other common woodland birds like chickadees, blue jays, and woodpeckers.
Snowshoeing when the snow is on the ground can be done on any of the trails, however, because the trails are hilly or go across boardwalks, cross-country skiing is not recommended.
The main part of the site is open mid-May through October. The trails are open year round.
535 acres, no camping
Trail map (pdf)
Key to Services
C-Boat Launch Sites
J-Empire Passport Accepted
Updated 30 June 2010