Patchogue Wheelmen

Footnotes to Long Island History

Patchogue Wheelmen


Thomas R. Bayles


            Some interesting information about where Patchogue derived its name from, is found in a “Souvenir Book of Patchogue”, published by James A. Canfield of the Patchogue Advance in 1896.  The following bit of history is quoted from this book.

            “Historically, the site of the village was one of the choicest hunting grounds of the Indians.  There is no foundation for the tradition that Patchogue means “many little waters,” of “a place of many streams.”  The name in 1758 was applied to a neck of land containing some 300 acres, and Pochoag Neck was number three in Avery’s lottery.  The Indian word Pachaug denoted a “turning place” or where two streams separate,” so as Patchogue Neck was originally between two streams, the name should be interpreted as the “turning place.”  The Indians would turn the neck in their canoes when paddling out of one stream into the other.  An Indian named Paushag once lived here, and he may have taken his name from the neck or vice-versa.  About 1753 the surrounding country began to be settled by white men and in the days of the Revolution there were but few houses here, but by 1800 there were about 100 inhabitants.  Patchogue was early chosen for manufacturing center and before 1800 two cotton mills were established here.  The Sag Harbor stage ran through Patchogue as late as 1844, when the main line of the Long Island Rail Road was built to Greenport, and Medford was the stop for Patchogue.

            “The village lies directly on the Great South Bay, and its harbor and waterfront are the finest to be found on this magnificent sheet of water.  Through the village flows the Patchogue river, its crystal waters sparkling over sands and gliding under the bridge on the south country road to the bay.  Patchogue Lake, a beautiful wide pond of clear spring water nearly a mile long lies within the village, while two other pretty lakes are just on the outskirts.  The background of this natural picture are the groves of pine and oaks on the northern edge of the village, and the blue outlines of the famous “Blad Hills,” the backbone of Long Island, which are five miles north of the village.  Nowhere else in the country, except perhaps at Bar Harbor, Me., does the summer southwest wind blow directly from the ocean.  This cool and bracing breeze that blows almost constantly day and night is fresh with health giving ozone from the ocean and permits Patchogue people to enjoy the tonic of a sea voyage without any of its discomforts or expense.  The autumn is a most delightful season here, and when the hotels enclose their verandas with glass and keep open until January or later.  Patchogue will soon become noted as a winter resort.

            “Patchogue for years has been noted as a summer resort and the population is always doubled during July and August.  The Great South Bay is perhaps the especial attraction at Patchogue, and it is one of the finest inland bodies of water in the world.  A strip of sand separates it from the ocean, where breakers roll high on the beach, yet hundreds of yachts are comfortably sailing on the quiet waters of the bay, and the sail across the bay is one of the charming features of the summer season.

            “Patchogue has long been an important cycling centre, and the paths that lead in all directions are very attractive to wheelmen, and the Cross Island Cycle Path between Patchogue and Port Jefferson has just been completed.  The “Patchogue Wheelmen” is a large and flourishing organization, and its big race meets, on a superb bicycle track, are very popular.  The hotels cater to the cyclists, and because our ancestors had the foresight to locate Patchogue 53 miles from New York, it has become one of the chief points for century runs by New York and Brooklyn clubs.”

            “The “Cyclists Paradise”, issued by the Long Island Rail Road in 1899, has this to say: “Long Island with its beautiful scenery, through which runs miles of good roads and cycle paths, is a veritable paradise for the wheelmen.  The many towns and villages, each with its comfortable hotel or inn, make a wheel trip of any length a matter of comfort as well as pleasure.”


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