The Long Homestead
In December of 1828, Benjamin and Mary Hershe Long arrived here from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in a covered wagon drawn by oxen. With them were their five daughters, ranging in age from 6 months to 16 years.
Their home, built the following spring, is constructed of timber hand-hewn from trees cut down on the spot - black walnut for the walls and white oak for the beams. Pennsylvania German influence is reflected in the two front doors which open directly into the main rooms of the first floor. The Erie Canal, completed in 1825, and its towpath passed directly in front of the homestead. The Long family, soon to include a son and another daughter, was witness for decades to sights and sounds unique to the Erie, its boatmen and their legendary animals.
Benjamin Long (1787-1959)
A New Canal Season - May 12, 1905
The Delaware Street Bridge spans the Erie Canal between Tonawanda (right) and North Tonawanda. The canal boat "Harvey H. Quinn" is moored in front of the Long Homestead awaiting the start of the canal's 80th season.
The Erie Canal travels through Tonawanda. circa 1905. As shown in the painting,
Rafting in Tonawanda Creek, 1860
During the late 1840s, a fledgling lumber industry took root in the Tonawandas. One of the men responsible was Henry P. Smith, husband of the Longs' daughter Christina. Settling with his family in Walsingham, Ontario, Canada, Smith began a business in rafting. Logs were chained together into huge rafts that were towed to the harbor at the Tonawandas. There they were dismantled and either treated in local sawmills or made into smaller rafts before being towed east on the Erie Canal.
Smith had discovered a niche for the Tonawandas, and over time, others would follow suit. In addition to rafts, lake vessels arrived here with timber to be unloaded for distribution elsewhere. Lumber, not only from Ontario but also from Michigan and points west, would be king in the Tonawandas for decades to come.
Henry P. Smith (1811-1874).
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & Commerce • Waterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Erie Canal series list. A significant historical month for this entry is December 1828.
Location. 43° 1.271′ N, 78° 52.558′ W. Marker is in Tonawanda, New York, in Erie County. Marker can be reached from
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A different marker also named Long Homestead (here, next to this marker); The Railroad (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Dam (about 500 feet away); Lumber Capital (about 500 feet away); The People (about 500 feet away); Gateway to the West (about 500 feet away); Lumber Port (about 600 feet away); Roll of Honor (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Tonawanda.
More about this marker. There is an older style marker (1971) for the Long Homestead a few steps away.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on September 21, 2014, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York. This page has been viewed 373 times since then and 23 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on September 21, 2014, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.