Oswego County

All-American Diner Tour: Wade’s Diner in Oswego, New York

The original Wade’s, an old Pullman car and service station on 9th Street near Route 104 (Bridge Street), was a historic diner that opened in 1937. Unfortunately, an electric fire in August 2015 destroyed the original structure. It was rebuilt in a more modern style to comply with zoning regulations and “support modern technologies.” That technology apparently doesn’t include a credit card reader.

When Neal Wade purchased the Pullman car in the 1930s, he was told he couldn’t haul it across town without a permit. Being enterprising young Americans, Wade and friends decided to expedite the process themselves and hauled it to 9th Street during the night. Since no one could prove how the train car got there, they got away scot-free. In 1983, Anthony Zappala and Joseph Clark purchased the diner. Clark passed away in 2003 and Zappala’s family runs it to this day.

Wade’s is only open for breakfast and brunch, so they have a stripped-down menu offering French toast, pancakes, omelettes, and an assortment of side items, eggs Benedict, frittata, and a breakfast patty melt. They are known for their homemade cinnamon raisin bread. You can purchase a loaf for $6.00 (they also make white, wheat, and rye).

Everyone seems to praise Wade’s breakfast, especially their omelets. It pains me to say that wasn’t my experience. The raisin roast was excellent, but my omelet was under cooked and runny. It came out as quickly as it went in. Maybe I was just there on an off-day.

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Happy Valley Ghost Town Cemeteries

Happy Valley Wildlife Management Area in Oswego County, New York holds a secret: in the 1800s, this area was home to a hamlet called Happy Valley. Little remains of this once thriving community. During the Great Depression, the government bought up foreclosed farms to form the basis of this game reserve.

The area is covered in marshy terrain and pine forest. In summer, biting flies and mosquitoes swarm the lowlands. Several unimproved, dirt roads travel through the area. A few wells, foundations, and stone walls remain.

Most commonly, the curious visit Fraicheur Cemetery, established in 1850 and christened after the original French name for the area. Headstones date from the mid-to-late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Preservationists have preserved and repaired over a dozen headstones.

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Happy Valley Ghost Town, Oswego County, New York

The remains of the Hamlet of Happy Valley lay deep within the 8,898 acres of Happy Valley Wildlife Management Area in Oswego County, New York. In the 1800s, this area was home to a community called Happy Valley. During the Great Depression, the government bought up foreclosed farms to form the basis of this game reserve. After decades of tree planting and creating ponds and marshes for wildlife, it hardly resembles the former farmland.

The area is covered in marshy terrain and pine forest, with northern hardwoods such as sugar maple, beech, yellow birch, and softwoods such as hemlock, white pine, and spruce. In summer, biting flies and mosquitoes swarm the lowlands. Several unimproved, dirt roads travel through the area. At times, the road is smooth, at other times there are deep ruts, rocks, and steep hills. Exercise caution.

According to Scott Schild, the people who lived here were mainly hops farmers. A few wells, foundations, and stone walls remain, including a cemetery and the burnt remnants of a school house.

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