Road Trip Destination: Salamanca, N.Y. and the Southern Tier

| Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012, 9:00 p.m.

Lady Luck — in the presence of the Seneca Allegany Casino & Hotel — is the lure for many for a road trip to Salamanca, N.Y.

Those who carve out time to explore this section of the Empire State's southern tier while they are there, although, can increase their odds of returning as winners.

To be sure, Seneca is a worthy, relaxing destination oasis, in and of itself, but an investment of a few additional miles to take in nearby offerings in Cattaraugus County, part of Western New York's “Enchanted Mountains” (, adds to the experience.

St. Bonaventure University, near Olean, and its Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts is about 16 miles east on Interstate 86. Griffis Sculpture Park, one of America's largest and oldest sculpture parks, with 250 large-scale sculptures spread through miles of hiking trails, fields and even ponds, is 8 miles outside of nearby Ellicottville and about 15 miles from Salamanca.

Bradford, Pa., home to the iconic Zippo lighters and Case knives and the Zippo/Case museum, is 14 miles from Salamanca. Salamanca (population: 6,000), said to be the only city in the United States that lies almost completely on an Indian reservation (the Allegany Indian Reservation), is the gateway to Allegany State Park's eastern entrance.

Salamanca's annual Silver Bells Festival is under way through December, including the fourth annual Reindeer Day on Dec. 15 (details: The festival honors the city's Oscar winning lyricist, Ray Evans, who penned the holiday classic, “Silver Bells.”

Nancy Sedlak, curator of the Salamanca Historical Museum, says the song was originally named “Tinkle Bells” until the wife of Evans' partner, Jay Livingston (who wrote the music), told Livingston it was not an appropriate title.

Salamanca Mall Antiques, with its antiques and collectibles, bills itself as one of the largest in the country, with an 80,000-square foot marketplace with more than 1,000 individual vendors.“The Southern Tier is truly a hidden gem,” Sedlak says.

Rex Rutkoski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4664 or

Seneca Allegany Casino & Hotel

Nestled in the Allegany Mountains, near the New York-Pennsylvania border, Seneca, which opened in 2007, has brought new energy to the region.

The property is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, providing 2,000 slot machines, 33 table games, seven dining locations, live entertainment and a AAA Four Diamond Award-winning hotel (with more rooms just added), spa and salon, fitness center and indoor pool.

Diamond Rio performs Jan. 12 and Creedence Clearwater Revisited on Jan. 27.

More than 200 of the world's greatest snowmobilers will race at Seneca in the AMSOIL Championship Snocross Series, from Feb. 22-24.

Seneca suggests this route from Pittsburgh as one travel option: Interstate 79 north, to I-90 east to exit 20 of I-86 east, making a right at the end of the ramp.

Details: 877-873-6322;

Salamanca Rail Museum

Situated halfway between New York City and Chicago, Salamanca became a rail hub.

The museum is a fully restored passenger depot constructed in 1912 by the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railway.

Through artifacts, photographs and video presentations, visitors experience an era when rail was the primary means of transportation from city to city.

The museum exhibits emphasize the three railroads that served the region: the Erie, the Baltimore and Ohio, and the Pennsylvania Railroads.

Closed January through March. Free admission, donations accepted.

Details: 716-945-3133;

Seneca-Iroquois National Museum

Located on the Allegany Indian Reservation, this small museum provides a lot of history, illustrating the Iroquois Indians' life and culture with an emphasis on the Seneca Nation.

Permanent exhibits include a scaled-down replica of a longhouse, including early baskets and carved materials; clan animals (representing individual clans); information on the significance of the clans and the role of women in the villages and more. The Cultural Arts room displays traditional material, such as baskets, corn-husk creations, beadwork, silverwork and carvings. A reconstructed log cabin shows how a family lived in the Cattaraugus territory in the early 1800s.

“This is Where We Walked,” an exhibit in the West Gallery, illuminates how the Seneca lost their land and homes, and a significant way of life, when the Kinzua Dam was built.

Details: 716-945-1760;

Allegany State Park

The state's largest park covers 65,000 acres.

Seasonal activities include cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, hiking, biking, swimming, camping and horseback riding.

Annual events will include dog-sled races in late January, mountain-bike races, including the Raccoon Rally in June, Ski-A-Thons, fishing derbies and beach parties.

A natural history museum in the historic Tudor-style Red House administration building, and the park museum in the Quaker Area, documents the history of Allegany State Park as “The Wilderness Playground of Western New York.”

Salamanca's Albert Fancher is considered to be the father of the park.

Details: 800-456-2267;

Salamanca Area Historical Society and Museum

The organization and museum is in a restored 1882 bank building, featuring three floors of displays.

Two bank vaults and changing exhibits of local history are on the first floor. The second has theme rooms, including a schoolroom and chapel.

The third floor spotlights a large veteran-military display and the Wall of Distinction honoring Salamanca notables through the years, including Oscar-winning lyricist Ray Evans; Paul Owens, former manager of the Philadelphia Phillies; George Abbott, Broadway writer, producer, director (“All Quiet on the Western Front,” “The Pajama Game,” “Damn Yankees”) whose father was mayor of the town; and the pioneering Ken Pierce (a.k.a. Che Che Whitecloud), considered to be one of the greatest knife throwers in the world.

Visitors often are surprised at what they find at the museum, curator Nancy Sedlak says. “Typically, our displays are more open and not just cases of ‘dusty old things,'” she says. “Our slogan is ‘We Make History Come Alive,' and that is what we try to offer visitors. They get personal attention by staff who love this city and share fun and interesting stories.”

The museum is part of the “Amish Trail,” ( consisting of “English” and Amish businesses, encompassing the western part of Cattaraugus County, Salamanca and other locations. Western New York has one of the few remaining Old Order Amish communities, and Amish buggies often can be seen in Salamanca.

Details: 716-244-1925;

Holiday Valley Resort

Described by the New York Times as “the Aspen of the East,” Ellicottville also has been hailed by National Geographic as one of America's top adventure towns.

Historic Ellicottville is known for its mix of shops and restaurants, its own microbrewery and winery, and a year-round variety of events and festivals.

Ski enthusiasts are drawn to Ellicottville's Holiday Valley, which has 58 slopes spread across four faces with a 750-foot vertical drop and 13 lifts. Four terrain parks, a half-pipe, several glades and a children's program provide fun for skiers and riders of all ages.

Details: 800-349-9099;

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.


Do you want to help us improve our commenting platform?
Click here to take this a survey.

Show commenting policy