Click to Enlarge all Picts
Town Seal / Village Seal
Welcome! - The electronic version featuring
town happenings and goings on.
Jeans Bar & Grill
Down on Main - Popular breakfast & lunch cafe
Methodist Church (INFO)
Baptist Church (INFO) (AMAZING RACE)
Lutheran Church (INFO)
Catholic Church (INFO)
Woodcock Brothers Brewery
Woodcock Brothers Brewery Kitchen
Have a Picnic here.
Wilson Brew Co..
Ed Goodnight, Long time Wilson resident and retired public school administrator.
See his collection of Wilson Videos on YouTube.
View from Milly's Deck
Sunset Island Home
Sunset Island Homes
Sunset Island Home
Signs pointing the way
Wilson Harbor (west)
Tuscarora State Park Marina
Bridge to Wilson Y.C.
Tuscarora Yacht Club
Nearby Twelve Mile Creek
Wilson House Inn & Restaurant
Wilson Boat Yard Marina
Leisure time at Harbor Entrance
Leisure time at Harbor Entrance
Harbor side Art gallery
Just what it says
Old School House (circa 1861)
Ira Pettit: This Historical Plaque stands in front of cobblestone house #2 and was the home of the father of Private Ira Pettit of Company B, 11th Regiment, 2nd Brigade, United States Army during the War Between the States. Ira died at age 23 in Andersonville prison Sumter County, Georgia, of scurvy after capture. His personal diary was given to his Father and later published as "Diary of a Dead Man”
Morgan Johnson: This Historical Plaque can be found in front of cobblestone house #4 and was the home of ship captain Morgan Johnson who built his home in 1844. His ship, the "Milly Cook" caught fire and sank in Wilson Harbor. The spot is still known today as Milly Cook Cove. The anchor on the lawn is from the schooner "Franklin Pierce", which sank in 1840. The anchor was found near Wilson pier 57 years later!
Billy Sherman, the Confederate Horse from Wilson
Daisy Barn RV Park
Wilson Historical Society
Wilson Memories on Facebook
Wilson Harbor WebCam
Census Data & Stats
Geodetic / Nautical Chart
Wilson Calendar of Events (2016)
Check weekends for fun events.
"Wilson" is the work of Longtime resident Avis A. Townsend. She has been a 16 year member of the Wilson Board of Education, newspaper editor and novelist.
The book "Wilson" is part of her Images of America Series which celebrates the history of small towns throughout the country. Her books are supported by vintage photos and early maps and documents provided by the towns older residents. "Wilson" is available in shops in the Village of Wilson and on line.
Below is the author and his wife Debbie with Nik Wallenda at the Boat House. Taken prior to his Niagara Falls walk 2012.
Wilson on the Lake|
Updated as necessary - April, 2016)
by Sandy Estabrook
Detailed Village Map Detailed County Map
Large Satellite View
Large Seasonal Photos
Harbor Entrance - facing Sunset Island
Sunset Island - western end shot fromTuscarora State Park
A Day on the Lake
Sunset on the Lake
The Niagara County Village of Wilson is a sleepy one stop-light village and farming community of little change over the last couple decades. 2008 saw its sesquicentennial. Wilson lies on Lake Ontario 20 miles east of Niagara , 62 miles west of Rochester and 37 miles across the lake from Toronto. It's just blocks off Route 18 know as The Seaway Trail. It's surrounded by corn fields, apple & cherry orchards, and all punctuated by an occasional vineyard. Wilson is also the name of the township (pop 6,000 as of 2010 of which 1,200 are in the village). During summer of 2014, the existence of the "Village of Wilson" as a political unit hung on a precipice. It seems enough of its citizens signed a petition to hold a referendum asking voters to consider dissolving the village since much of the Village services are duplicated by the Town at half the cost. The date for the referendum was set for NY's primary day, Aug. 26th. The Results were 222 against dissolution to 209 for dissolution.
In contrast to its rural farming character, by summer Wilson turns into the home of vacationers and yachtsmen. Asside from the lake homes, most of the aforementioned is centered around Wilson Harbor and its numerous yacht clubs, commercial marinas, restaurants as are the residences of Sunset Island. (Aerial Photo) Once maritime interests of a different variety prevailed here including boat building, fishing, farm produce distribution and in 1848 Wilson Harbor became a Port of Entry. (Info)
I started visiting Wilson in 2003 and have been vacationing every summer since. My wife grew up in Wilson and introduced me to the area with periodic visits to her folks who live on the harbor. I've even attended her 35th high school reunion in 2013. We now have our own home but remember fondly our camper at the Daisy Barn Camp Ground where we stayed and where I launched this website in 2006. The pictures are mine with all overhead wiring removed.
As an ex-NY'er (Stony Brook), having retired to Sarasota during the reign of Cuomo the 1st, I never thought I'd return. But being a boater and lover of the sea I've always gravitated to water where ever it be. Wilson is my first encounter with fresh water - a lake. And with the companionship of my "Wilson Woman", I find myself back in NY again at lease for 3-4 months a year.
The purpose of this website is to pass along my impressions of Wilson and its environs, in the form of a
"Guide for Visitors" whether they arrive by land or lake.
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The Village** lies just a couple blocks south route 18. The harbor is couple blocks north. Both can easily be missed traveling Route 18. The only clue is a small sign pointing to Wilson's business district and the tell-tale marina signs opposite Brownies Drive-In.
In addition to the villages many victorian homes lining its side streets you'll find what one might expect namely, IGA market, a pizzeria, one gas station / convenience store, a hardware store, plus an assorted other half dozen businesses. There is even a small library. Where today, there is one gas station, there was once four, one food market, there were three and even a movie theater! The bank reminiscent of the Bonny & Clyde era departed in 2014. There are a couple vintage bars the Hub and Jeans Bar & Grill which has has a for sale sign in the window for a decade. Just up the street is a typical small town luncheonette open for breakfast and lunch. It recently cnanged hands name and now called "Down on Main Street" after the owners fondness of a song of the same name by Bob Seger. It's bright and lively and where the locals go. (History)
Finally, and not to be overlooked, the ever popular and historic Wilson House Inn and Restaurant.
NOTE: WILSON HOUSE CLOSED DEC 2015. Lets hope it has a new proprietor soon. It's been Wilson's nightly town hall off season for years. The cobblestone structure was built in 1844 for Luther Wilson, the town's namesake, and was once a men's club with a bowling alley in the basement (more on Cobblestone below). Today it is one of the few places one can stay in Wilson, and it's dinning room is open in winter. Fall through spring you'll find some of the best small ensembles from all over Western NY playing on Saturday nights. Be sure to give a listen to the Jazz/Blues quartet headed by Speedy Parker when in town. As for their menu its always great with Thursdays during spring & summer being clam night - anyway you want them and Friday being fish fry - all you can eat. And although one might think this a dish for a New Orleans restaurant, be sure to try their Jambalaya. (See: Article: Appetizing food and a heapin’ helpin’ of hospitality.)
Winter 2013 saw the opening of the Woodcock Brothers Brewery, at the old Cold Storage Building located across from the flea market grounds on Lake St. (Rt. 425). Their grand opening was covered in an article in the Buffalo News. In addition to the brewery's bar, they have included a restaurant serving light fare and all cooked in their wood stoves. Much of the original interior has been left in tact, all be it spruced up to complement it's attractive decor. This writer visited Christmas week for dinner with family and had a thoroughly enjoyable time. Outside, you'll find other attached retail space including an olive oil store, a salon, a herbal botique, antique shop. All are linked on Woodcock's website. Father's Day weekend the Crossborder Blues, Brews & Que Event takes place. The CBB&Q is a sanctioned Kansas City Barbeque Society event as well a NY State recognized barbeque competition. It takes place on the Brewery grounds and having attended them all, I have to say the turnout has quadrupled since its inception. In addition to Barbeque of all sorts and Woodcock's offerings, there is beer tasting from close to two dozen craft brewers from the US and Canada all accompanied by some great blues bands. There are even classes offered on Barbeque and Brewing! (2015)
Winter '14 saw another new opening , is the Wilson Brew Company. No, this is not another beer brewery in Wilson but a brewer of coffee. It's also not just another coffee shop. Uniquely out of place in Wilson, this is a great cozy little coffee shop started by Anne & Pat Daul who contract a local roaster for their own coffees. Additional offering are freshly made bagels and pastries baked on the premises. I almost overdosed on her Biscotti. Want to get together with friends over a cup of coffee, this is the place. Did we mention Italian sodas are offered in a multitude of organic flavors with and without sugar. When asked why a coffee shop? Ann's reply, you guessed it "we always loved coffee". It's worth a stop, on the corner of Petite & Cathrine St. Open 6-3.
Lastly it was said, "We both drink bourbon. It made sense with everything else going on around here, like the wineries and the breweries (to open a distillery)". They plan to distill vodka, gin, rye whiskey and bourbon, using local products. It may take a year or two. The story is here
Good news greeted us summer of 2014 with the arrival of Milly's Inn. Wilson has always been short on accommodations, so Milly's is a big plus. It's located at lovely location on O'Connor Island near the Sunset Grill on a small tributary with great views of Wilson Harbor from their spacious deck. The proptiator, Diane Johnson offers four well equiped rooms, all with private bath and entrance, Wifi, TV small fridge and microwave. Two more rooms are in the works. There's a recreation room with pool table and workout equipment, a large common area with a spacious kitchen. Rooms may be rented by the day or week. The piŹce de résistance is her Haunted Harbour Walks offered weekends during summer. And you do not have to be a guest to participate. Some serious work & research went into this endeavour which was all written about in a Buffalo News Article.
"Cruising Day" - Old Auto Gathereing (montage enlarge)
Niagara Motorcycle Club's Wilson Rendezvous. (montage enlarge)
Throughout summer there are many annual events scheduled by the town not generally associated with a town its size. Every summer starts off with the Wilson Harbor Invitational Fishing Tournament followed by a large flee market on Memorial Day. There is the 5K Salmon Run, and later in the summer a triathlon. Old car & hot rod enthusiasts "Cruise In" in late June. The Niagara County Motorcycle Club congregates for their annual Wilson rendezvous too. There is a Wine Tasting & Fair at the end of July featuring numerous Niagara County vineyards. And the premiere event, late August is "Field Day". All events attract visitors from far and wide including Canada. A Calendar of events can be found on The Village's Website. For town wide events including neighboring villages check The Towns Website.
Speaking of websites, The Village of Wilson is now "HOT". Main St. (Young St.) in the Village is now a WiFi Hot Spot where towns folks and visitors can access the internet via the Village of Wilson public network. At this time, service is available approximately 600 ft in all directions from the villages gas station Equipment to extend this service is scheduled for the near future too. Other hot spots can be found at the harbor which are provided by the yacht clubs and marinas.
Field Day Parade
By far the biggest event is "Field Day" held the last weekend in August to raise money for the Volunteer Fire Dept. It's Wilson's major event and a place to rub shoulders with the locals. Field Day is duplicated by many of the regions neighboring villages. In each community's Field Day, neighboring towns "contribute" bands, floats, Classic Fire Trucks etc. for their parade. Essentially Field Day is a small town carnival with Wilson's being one of the largest with mini rides for the kids, games of chance, food stands featuring local fare. Every year early on during the event, I head down to the fire station for a gallon of their homemade chowder (chicken, corn and other local produce). It's fantastic, but they run out early. And yes, it can be frozen.
The fire station doubles as a beer hall often accompanied by the music of a marching band after the parade. Regarding Field Days, sadly we've learned than some of Niagara Counties villages no longer engage in the Field Day event with others on the cutting block. A way of life for generations, going into the history books with Wilson's still surviving.
Honorable mention must be given to he prime organizer for many of Wilson's events which is the WCEC - Wilson Community Enhancement Charity. In addition to events mentioned here, especially for the kids, check out their website WCECInc.com.
Just a couple miles east of the village on Route 18 you find Wilson-Tuscarora State Park. It's right on the lake and has many offerings, not the least of which is a regionally favorite sport called Disc Golf. I have to admit, I never knew there was such a sport until first seeing it played here in '06. As the name implies, it's a cross between Frisbee and Golf. It's played in wide open areas like a golf course and very popular in this region. Want to know more?
Greenwood Veterans Memorial Park
Greenwood Veterans Memorial Park is not a place a passing tourist would consider visiting. But please do, it is well worth it. It's a short walk between the harbor's clubs and restaurants and the Village. It is truly an uplifting and spiritual spot commemorating the Wilson men and woman who contributed to their nation. For a town the size of Wilson, you wont find a lovelier memorial park. It's worth a visit.
More info & picts are here.
Sunset Grill (on the 12 Mile Creek)
Wilson Boat House (on the harbor)
Wilson Harbor is where the action is. Here you'll find three Yacht Clubs, namely the exclusive Tuscarora Yacht Club (Aerial), the Island Yacht Club, the Wilson Yacht Club, and the Bootleggers Cove Marina (Prev. Sunset Bay Marina). Many have reciprocity with other Lake Ontario clubs. Adjacent to the latter you'll find the popular SUNSET GRILL, which during summer has live music on Wednesday and Sunday afternoon. Old timers will remember it as Ebinezer's. Recently added a new menu for the seafood lover, assorted combination seafood pots. We ordered their "Basic" pot and in two words fresh and tasty. (Clams, mussels, shrimp, Andouille sausage, corn & potatoes. The Sunset Grill was also recently sold with BIG PLANS and renovations in the works for opening in summer 2016. Curious? Details here.
The boat slips of the aforementioned get crowded in the summer as they are popular stop for the cruising sailors from the US and Canada. The Harbor area is also covered by another Wi FI "Hot Spot" that covers the Boat House/Boatyard, Clark's Park, the town gazebo and lookout on Ontario St., and portions of the Wilson Pier, Tuscarora Yacht Club and Sunset Island.
Many of the harbor area homes are second homes for folks who also come from around the country and Canada. This is especially true of the exclusive enclave of SUNSET ISLAND on the Harbors north side which is primarily accessible only by boat. (There is a service road through the state park that opens periodically)
The Harbors action spot, on the east side, is THE WILSON BOAT HOUSE RESTAURANT. It is a fun spot with live music on the outside deck on Thursday through Sunday during summer. As for cuisine, it's the town winner and priced accordingly. Deck and bar menues are less expensive. Three stars for the new chef. It's more expensive than others in the area with the only negative being, it can get very noisy inside during busy nights and weekends. Be sure to say hi to Bartender Chad, the establishments longest continual employee. He started his 14th year in 2015. You could even say he is presently the longest continually working bartender in Wilson! By winter, he hosts his very popular website The View From Centercourt on Western New York Boys High School Basketball. Oh, that be he, in the video below.
What might seem like part of the Boat House, due to their proximity, is the separate Wilson Boatyard Marina. Each side of the marina is lined with a half a dozen or so gift shops plus four rooms for rent in the marina tower. Not to be overlooked are the sailing and fishing charters available here. (Did you know the prized lake fish Salmon, that everybody wants to catch is stocked. None are indigenous to the lake anymore and they cant breed without their trek to the sea and back, but that's another story. The Marina also provides a complementary boat ride around the harbor (usually on weekends). The young captains work only for tips only. Canoe and Kayaking make for lots of fun out on the lake (weather permitting) and up the creeks that feed into Wilson Harbor.
There are a few small rental outfits scattered about the harbor.
A few years ago, art students from the Wilson School District, teamed up with local businesses and community organizations to create the Schooling Fish Public Art Installment . The benefactors, business or individuals would in essence contract an artist to create a fish to their liking and to be placed a a point on interest or prominence. The whole story is here and for a printable walking map locating the first eight of these beautiful sculputres, click here.
If fishing is your thing another alternate site you might want to check out is the Western Lake Ontario fishing guide. You might also check for information on the website of the neighboring town of Olcott chosen as Ultimate Fishing Town by the Worle Fishing Network in 2012. A couple guides who hang their hats in Wilson at Daisy Barn during summer are Captain Roger at Papa Smurf Sportfishing, 860-480-3395 and Kelly Bob, 412-271-6636 both would be happy to run you off shore for a nice salmon or two. Still other Wilson guides that comes to mind are Dan Evans. He is at LoneWolfSportfishing.com. and finally Jack Ozyp at 941- 751-9932. All are USCG captains.
A visitor might enjoy "a taste" of the ever growing and popular Niagary County Wine Country Trail which now includes wineries in Wilson. Heading east on Route 18, you'll first see the Victorianbourg Wine Estate, whose wines are offered at the Boat House Restaurant. Continuing east a mile or s, on route 18, you next come to the Black Willow Winery whose gift shop offers more than their vinted offerings. It's worth a visit. What started out as only two vineyards a dozen years ago, the Wine Country Trail is now up to 16. A complete list of nearby wineries is here.
Across the parking lot from the Boat House is Clark's Park and pool. It's a popular family spot for cooling off during summer days. Here, barbeques (IE: Christmas in July party) are scheduled through out the summer. and movies (sched) are shown on selected evenings.
Lakeview Park - Ontario St.
Lakeview Park - At end of Route 425 (Lake St.).
Oh, don't forget a stop at Brownies Drive-In. It's a classic establishment in it's own right, all-be-it without waitresses on roller-skates. It's right on Route 18 between at Park St. You cant miss it.
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When I first came to Wilson, I was taken aback with it's lovely and energetic harbor environment. Although live aboard sailors and boaters have little concern, there are few places to stay in the immediate area. Those that are, have been mentioned above. Further east and west along route 18 you'll come across other accommodations. One of these is the Lakeview Motel and Cottages. It's the newest such establishment about 7 miles west of Wilson. They consist of a motel unit and cottages. It's run by Chris Nowacki and her husband.
Fall is a beautiful time as one might expect with the leaves changing. Add to that the harbor hustle and bustle with all the boats being hauled out in preparation for the harbor freeze. It should also be mentioned, the surrounding establishments close mid fall through mid spring with the exception of the Boat House which stays open a bit later.
For additional fine dining, your best bet would be to head west to the artsy towns of Youngstown and more so the town of Lewiston where you'll find numerous fine dining with some ethnic variety. Our favorite restaurant has been Carmelo's Coat of Arms. When last visited, the four of us concluded we would liken Carmelo's to one of the best in all of Western NY and a worthwhile trip from Wilson, but make a reservation. For a listing of all Niagara County's lake region restaurants, click here.
Finally on food: Everybody knows of Buffalo wings, the indigenous food favorite of the area , well it was here in western NY I was introduced to the regions favorite sandwich - Beef on Weck. It's sold everywhere in Wilson from the upscale to the Mom and Pop restaurants. And speaking of the latter, scattered about the county in neighboring villages are many small "Mom & Pop" restaurants / bars. Aside from a burger, meat loaf and beef on weck, most items are fried, and what I just cant understand, is why so many often serve canned vegetables - even in the summer, in farm country no less, Oh well......
Western New York has much to offer within 20 miles of Wilson, not the least of which is Niagara Falls. Suggestion: Approach the Falls from the north and use Robert Moses Pkwy, This will help you avoid an eyesore of a city.
Aside from The Falls one should consider a visit to the historic Erie Canal city of Lockport. In Lockport "view ruins from an earlier industrial age, and walk safely through a water tunnel that was blasted out of solid rock a centry and a half ago." (Lockport Caves). And don't forget a stop at the charming and picturesque Niagara River towns of Lewiston noted for with their praiseworthy Jazz Fest, Art Fest, Outdoor Concerts and more. And also Youngstown with it's must see Old Fort Niagara. And finally, to Wilson's east, the next town you come to right on the lake, and already written about, the sport fishing harborage of O l c o t t.
Excuse my editorializing, but be sure to blindfold your self when passing through the City of Niagara. It is boarded up, seedy, with pot holed streets and down right, war zone looking in appearance and a disgrace of a town associated with one of our country's natural wonders, and highest taxed states. It typifies what years of corruption and voter apathy will do. I'm surprised the Fed hasn't stepped in with some "stimulus" money. As an American, I'm embarrassed. As an ex-NY'er it's one of the reasons I left. In addition, of 1,824 counties in the United States, Erie County (Buffalo) residents pay the 13th highest local property taxes, Niagara County, the second highest! ARTICLE.
Spring 2012 saw the preparation for Nik Wallenda successful tightrope walking the falls in June. It required permission of both NY and Ontario, definitely an occasion to put Niagara Falls back on the map. Wallenda set up a practice area to which the public was invited. I heard first hand, visitors watching the trial event were ticked by Niagara police - on Mothers Day. This and other, lack of enthusiastic practices, of Niagara Falls government for this nationally televised event, lead Wallenda to comment "about his welcome in Niagara Falls" ARTICLE. Eventually officials seemed to get their act together in time for the event, but only time will tell if Niagara's spotlight publicity will be the impetuous needed to become the tourist mecca and city it once was.
- Wilson Homes -
- Historic Cobblestone Homes -
Prior to the Civil War through in the 1800's, in Western NY, many homes were built of cobblestone (as is the Wilson House Inn). The rounded polished rock of Lake Ontario was quite plentiful along lake beaches, and a nuisance to farmers. Many of these homes have been well maintained over the years and quite a few are located here in Wilson. Most of those are on Maple Road and one that we know of, will be soon part of the US Registry of Historic Homes. Two of the homes shown here have historical residents of significance as noted on the left column. Click here for more info and a NYTimes Article A close-up of the masonry work on home #1 is here.
- Wilson Harbor Scene -
- Signs Along the Way -
Route 18 with Wilson Harbor Jetty in the distance