"Chenango" means "pleasant river flowing through the land of the bull thistle" and the tenacity of many of the residents in weathering hard times is a constant reminder of the county's namesake, the bull thistle. Established in 1798 and originally including all of Madison as well as Chenango counties, the present boundaries were established in 1806. While the county was originally settled with its share of small farms and mills, it was the tinkle of a cow bell which made the area a name for itself. Subsistence farming on the pastoral hills of the county made way for specialization into the dairy industry.
Between the rolling hills of the county runs four rivers: The Susquehanna, the Chenango, the Unadilla and the Otselic. Along their banks are wildlife and waterfowl that draw visitors to appreciate the rural beauty of the county. The hills divide the population into distinct communities who take pride in their distinctive landmarks: Norwich, the county seat with an elegant domed courthouse built in 1838; Otselic, where fishermen flock to the banks of the river on the first day of trout season and whose fishing line industry once earned it the name of Tackle Town, USA; Sherburne, with its annual Pageant of Bands and nearby waterfall and historic bridge; and Bainbridge, with the Jericho Tavern, a landmark restaurant from 1805 and a village park, ringed with white churches and punctuated with a Victorian fountain and gazebo.
by Shelley McFee
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