Afton, New York's Rich History
Today, Afton is quite a different place from that described in the 1880 History of Chenango and Madison Counties. In 1902, 155 places in the town had some cows, usually about 8 or 10. The largest dairy had 45 cows. Today, there are fewer than 10 dairies, but the number of cows is much greater for each. The advent of the refrigerated railroad car, then the tank truck, enabled local farmers to send fresh milk to metropolitan markets. The production of butter and cheese declined as a result. The work horse, once the power source for all kinds of jobs, has all but disappeared, but pleasure and race horses have kept the population higher than in the good old days when timothy hay was sent to New York City as a cash crop to feed the horses there.
With the advent of the automobile, passenger train service has ended, leaving our Delaware & Hudson Station to be converted into the River Club Restaurant. Even bus service is limited to one bus each way from Binghamton to Albany, with the closest stop in Sidney. The building of Interstate Highway 88 during the 1960's bisected many valley farms, further hastening the decline of dairying. 1-88 has also had an effect on business and trade. Afton has always been Oneonta-Binghamton oriented, because of transportation.
Today, one can work, dine, and be entertained at more distant places. This has altered the make-up of our Main Street which was once a mixture of many stores and businesses. Except for a few retailers such as Horton Hardware, many of our business blocks are occupied by small shops and service businesses. Some, such as Homeward Bound Video, were unimagined only a few years ago. Education has become the biggest employer in Afton. The old wooden Afton Academy was replaced by the brick High School in 1908. This has been expanded by successive additions. A staff of about 8 in 1923 has now increased to over 60 and a fleet of school buses transports students to and from the central school. The First National Bank of Afton merged with the National Bank and Trust Company of Norwich and occupies a modem facility completed in 1972. Computers are apparent everywhere in business, banking, and school. The Village of Afton was incorporated in 1892. Shortly after, in 1895, the Afton water system was developed, enabling the use of up-to-date fire fighting equipment by the Afton Hose Company which is now over 100 years old and has a modem building on Spring Street.
By Charles J. Decker Afton Historian
Where did the name "Afton" come from?