Fulton, New York could be called a symbol of the American spirit. Located along both shores of the Oswego River, Fulton was for years the center of industry. Firms such as American Woolen Mills, Armstrong Cork and the Miller Brewing Company operated factories along the river, taking advantage of its hydroelectric power.
All this industry in one small city created a very stable workforce for many years. In fact, during the Great Depression, the New York Sun wrote a lengthy article describing Fulton’s strong local economy with the headline, “Fulton, the City the Great Depression Missed.”
But the world changed, and one by one firms left. In 2003, after more than 100 years in Fulton, Nestle closed its factory doors, one of the last firms to leave the town. On the surface, the story seems bleak; but all the while industry was leaving, something else was brewing in Fulton. The city was beginning to reinvent itself. This was, after all, the town named after the inventor of the steamboat.
A tiny branch of Cayuga County Community College had begun operating out of two rented classrooms with 94 students. Within a year, 185 students were enrolled in 19 courses. By 2001 enrollment had grown to 687 students.
Today, the Fulton campus features general and distance-learning classrooms, computer laboratories, a bookstore and student lounge, library, support centers and 31 computer workstations. New York State granted the facility Branch Campus status, so the Fulton campus can offer full degree programs.
More than 1,500 Oswego county residents have earned Cayuga Community College degrees in disciplines such as Business Administration, Computer Information Systems, Criminal Justice and Nursing. The city is not just alive, it’s alive and kicking.
Along the canal, where there once were only commercial barges, pleasure boats abound. The river and Lake Neahtawanta provide recreational opportunities. The city has completed the first leg of its new Pathfinder Trail, from Indian Point along the canal system to Black Clawson.
There’s lots to do here, too: the Fulton Farmers Market is open May to October, offering shoppers fresh-from-the-farm produce, flowers and arts and crafts. New in 2011 is family-style entertainment at the market on the first Saturday of each month.