Buzz Hesse wants ‘wrong’ sign to come down

It’s not the Mohawk Valley, says Otego’s Buzz Hesse

[Editor’s note: This piece comes from the careful pen of Buzz Hesse, Otego, New York, resident and an expert on New York’s geography and geology.]

Did you know we now live in the Mohawk Valley Region?

Traveling east on I-88 at Otego, New York exit 12 (mile marker 46), there is a relatively new New York State sign promoting the state’s tourism. At the bottom of the sign, in huge letters, it says: MOHAWK VALLEY REGION.

This is blatantly incorrect and misleading!

Although adjacent to the Mohawk Valley, we are miles and miles away from it. Our area is the Upper Susquehanna River Valley. The source of the Susquehanna is in Otsego County at Otsego Lake, in Cooperstown. From these headwaters, the Susquehanna River traverses our area, continuing some 444 miles to the Chesapeake Bay.

The phrase MOHAWK VALLEY REGION on this sign is wrong. It is wrong historically, geographically, and geologically. These are actual facts that cannot be disputed.

This sign discredits our area; it erases our identity! It should be corrected either to say UPPER SUSQUEHANNA REGION (or, perhaps, LEATHERSTOCKING REGION) or it should be removed. Period.

Our area has been inhabited for some 14,000 years, as attested to by Dr. Robert Funk, New York State Archaeologist, in his published work, “Archaeological Investigations in The Upper Susquehanna Valley New York State.” Please note that he correctly referred to our area as the Upper Susquehanna Velley, not the Mohawk Valley.

Historically, our area is significant unto itself as it was the first to be settled by colonial westward expansion as a result of the 1768 Fort Stanwix Treaty. Subsequently, it was historically significant for the 1778-79 Sullivan and Clinton Campaign, the only military expedition ever to come down the Upper Susquehanna.

Further, our area is home to the famous author James Fenimore Cooper, the Baseball Hall of Fame, the Glimmerglass Opera, and many other significant entities.

Geologically, our area is distinctive due to the Helderberg Limestone Escarpment, which separates our area from the Mohawk Valley. The Mohawk River flows west to east and into the Hudson River watershed; the Susquehanna flows north to south and into the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Obviously, these are two distinctively different watersheds.

These facts cannot be disputed. The sign on I-88 discredits our area. It is misleading to the tourists and others traveling through our area.

New York State Department of Transportation officials should remove and relocate this sign further east to I-88 mile marker 84 near East Worcester and Richmondville, on the other side of the interfluvial. At that location, the sign would be accurate.

Won’t you join me in taking an active part in preserving the integrity of our area? I have a list of NYSDOT officials and politicians to be contacted to move this issue forward. Please find me at or by telephone at 607-287-5320.

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