About 10 miles northwest of Canandaigua sprawls the village of Victor, worth visiting because of the Ganondagan State Historic Site (1488 Victor-Bloomfield Rd., 585/742-1690, www.ganandagan.org, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Tues.–Sun. May–Oct., adults $3, children $2). During the 17th century, atop this grassy lime-green knoll, stood an important Seneca village and palisaded granary. The village was home to about 4,500 people; the granary stored hundreds of thousands of bushels of corn. All was destroyed in 1687 by a French army led by the governor of Canada. The French wished to eliminate the Seneca as competitors in the fur trade.
A visit to Ganondagan, which means “Town of Peace,” begins with an interesting video that tells the story of the Seneca Nation and that of Jikohnsaseh, or Mother of Nations. Together with “The Peacemaker” and Hiawatha, Jikohnsaseh was instrumental in forging the Five Nations Confederacy; it was she who proposed that the Onondangan chief, who at first refused to join the confederacy, be appointed chairman of the Chiefs’ Council. Jikohnsaseh once lived in the vicinity of Ganondagan and is believed to be buried nearby. No one searches for her grave, however, as a sign of respect.
Outside the visitors center begin three trails that lead over gentle terrain past informative plaques. The Trail of Peace relates important moments in Seneca history. The Earth of Our Mother Trail identifies plants important to the Seneca. The Granary Trail re-creates the day in 1687 Ganondagan was destroyed, through journal entries from the French forces.
To reach the site, from Rte. 332 heading north, turn left onto County Road 41 to Victor-Bloomfield Road. Trails stay open year-round 8 a.m.–sunset.
© Avalon Travel and Sascha Zuger from Moon New York State, 5th Edition