H.G. Hotchkiss Peppermint Company
—Rochester, Syracuse & Eastern Rail Road —
Enlarged Erie Canal Lock 55, Lyons, New York
H.G. Hotchkiss Peppermint Company
Rochester, Syracuse & Eastern Rail Road
Fifteen Miles on the Erie Canal, Wayne County, New York
Enlarged Erie Canal (1840-1905) Lock E-55, located just east of Leach Street. Views at left show the lock from
the West (A) and East (B).
This lock had been both lengthened and doubled as traffic on the canal increased after the initial single chambered lock was completed ca. 1847.
The bridge in the background (B) crosses the enlarged Erie at
Leach street. The towpath was on the South side of the canal,
which provided better passage of canal boats, as the North side of the canal often
had boats being loaded or unloaded.
Today the actual locattion of Lock 55 would be just under the Wayne County Social Services buildings parking lot.
The H.G. Hotchkiss Prize Medal Essential Oil Company
The Village of Lyons Peppermint Industry
Preserving the "Flavor" of the Past
Excerpts from Chuck Lyons
Hotchkiss International Prize Medal Essential Oil Company has been processing and bottling peppermint
oil at the same location-on the edge of the Erie Canal in Lyons, Wayne County-since 1839.
At one time, company founder, H.G. Hotchkiss, was called the "Peppermint King,"
Anne says. The company he founded in this Upstate New York village was, at one time, responsible for about
one half of the annual production of peppermint oil in the United States. The herb was grown exensively in
fields around Lyons, and the canallers claimed that they could tell when they were approaching the village by the
smell of peppermint in the air.
Lyons, with a population today of about four thousand people, was then, "virtually the peppenmint capital of
America," says Anne Hotchkiss.
Today, the company''s essential peppermint oil is used almost exclusively as a flavoring for candy, liqueurs, pharmaceutical products and dental supplies. An old Hotchkiss slogan clains that, "a single twenty-one-ounce bottle
of the company''s oil will flavor a ton of candy."
But there are still a few people," Anne Hotchkiss says, "who use peppermint oil as a home remedy... They say
they couldn''t get through the winter without it."
The essential oil is distilled from the harvested herb with the initial distillation done near the harvesting
site. (The herb must be distilled within three days of being picked.) The oil is then shipped to Lyons, where it
further purified and bottled. As a rule of thumb, one acre of peppermint will produce fifty pounds of oil. C. The Hotchkiss Essential Oils Company shipping
building on the north bank of
the Enlarged Erie Canal. ca. 1890
D. The Hotchkiss Essential Oils Company manufacturing building. ca. 1890. The Rochester, Syracuse & Eastern Rail
The Rochester, Syracuse & Easterm R.R. was the conception of Charles Lux of the well known Lux family
of Clyde. The Lux family businesses were cooperage and coal. Charles (or "Charlie!!, as he was known to
friends and associates) was a visionary who saw the incorporation of the Rochester, Syracuse & Eastern R.R.
on November 7, 1901. Several franchises were secured in the communities between Rochester and Syracuse.
Right. In this turn of the century postcard can be seen examples of early activity in the Village of Lyons. This was a time just before the
canal seen here today was built.
1. The H.G. Hotchkiss Essential Oils shipping facility on the Erie Canal. The rear of this building was on the canal and provided a shipping dock for finished product. Today you can still see the lower floor which was on the same level as the canal bank. 2. The Rochester, Syracuse & Eastern Rail Road crossed the canal at this point heading towards Clyde. The abutments are still in place, the one on the north side has a mural, where this post card was the subject.
3. In the background is a Line Boat being pulled by a team of three mules. Line Boats replaced the Packet Boats, when railroad
transportation became faster and more popular. (Marker Number 7