County History

Map of Chemung County New YorkLocated in the Southern Tier of Central New York State, Chemung County has a long and rich history. The name itself dates back to 1779 when pioneers named the area after a Native American village that was destroyed at the Battle of Newtown, during the American Revolution. In the Delaware dialect of the Algonquin language, the word Chemung means "Place of the big horn". This harkens back to a time when Native Americans discovered large mammoth tusks along what is now the Chemung River. Chemung County began being settled in earnest by 1784.

Chemung County is known as "Mark Twain Country." Mark Twain (a.k.a. Samuel Clemens) summered in Chemung County for more than twenty years. He wrote some of his finest literary classics, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as he was perched high above the Chemung River in his octagonal study. 

Because of its strategic location at the southern end of the Finger Lakes Region, Chemung County is known as the "Gateway to the Finger Lakes." Our County Seat, Elmira, is known as the "Soaring Capital of America," due to the fact that nearby Harris Hill has been hosting national soaring (sailplane) competitions since 1930.

Today, Chemung County's heart is beating with the vitality of a modern business center, yet remains peaceful in nature. Chemung County's veins are rich in history, commerce and community spirit.

Mark Twain StudyThe County of Chemung, State of New York, was incorporated by Act of the State Legislature as a County of the State of New York by Chapter 77 of the Laws of 1836 on March 29, 1836, being taken from the western part of Tioga County, with the County Seat at Elmira. 

Facts About Chemung County

  • Area in Square Miles: 412
  • Population (Census in 2010): 88,830

Political Subdivisions

Chemung County is situated in the 23rd Congressional District, the 58th State Senatorial District, the 124th and 132nd State Assembly Districts, and the Sixth State Judicial District.

Chemung County has one city (Elmira), eleven towns (Ashland, Baldwin, Big Flats, Catlin, Chemung, Elmira, Erin, Horseheads, Southport, Van Etten, and Veteran), and five villages (Elmira Heights, Horseheads, Millport, Van Etten, and Wellsburg).

Chemung County Population Data