A few miles west of Seneca Falls on Routes 5 and 20 is Waterloo, a surprisingly busy village filled with aging red-brick buildings and shady trees. As a plaque along Main Street attests, Waterloo claims to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. Originally known as Declaration Day, the event apparently first took place here on May 5, 1866, in honor of the Civil War dead. Flags flew at half-mast, businesses closed, and a solemn parade marched down Main Street. In 1966, the U.S. Congress and President Johnson officially recognized Waterloo as the birthplace of Memorial Day.
In the middle of town reigns the Terwilliger Museum (31 E. Main St., 315/539-0533, 1–4 p.m. Tues.–Fri.). Here you’ll find a reconstructed Native American longhouse and village store, along with antique pianos, carriages, fire equipment, and a 1914 Waterloo mural.
© Avalon Travel and Sascha Zuger from Moon New York State, 5th Edition