What Are Some Facts About Olean, New York?


Quick Answer

Olean, New York is the largest city and center of business, finance, entertainment and transportation in Cattaraugus County as of 2015. Located near the border of northwestern Pennsylvania, Olean is one of New York's main cities in the Southern Tier region.

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Full Answer

In 1787, the area that includes what is now known as Olean was purchased from Native Americans by the Holland Land Company. Adam Hoops, a developer with the company, followed the purchase by obtaining the land of Cattaraugus County in 1804, which also encompassed Olean. Latin for "oil," Olean was named because it was initially rich in the resource. In 1807, a plague ravaged the town, killing many Native Americans and whites alike and causing some settlers and townspeople to take over business and duties from those who had died. The town of Olean stayed its original size until 1812 when the boundaries were split to form the town of Ischua.

A major tornado ripped through Olean in 1834 and destroyed everything in its path. A clearing made by the tornado through the forest area of the town remained for years and was named "Fallen Timber." Many areas in the United States have followed suit and named tree-lined roads and paths through forested areas "Fallen Timber," as well.

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