The township of Napoli lies west of the center of Cattaraugus County in the eighth range of Holland Land Company’s survey and contains 23,063 acres, is bounded on the north by New Albion, on the east by Little Valley, on the south by Coldspring, and on the west by Conewango. The township is six miles square and contains sixty-four lots, or eight lots each, and range containing lots Nos. 1 to 8 extends along the eastern boundary of the township. As originally erected in 1823 from Little Valley, Napoli embraced all of townships 1, 2 and 3, and bore the name of Coldspring, on account of wonderful springs on lot 38 (Pigeon Valley) of the present township.
In April 1828 the town was divided, the southern part embracing townships 1 and 2 keeping the name of Coldspring on account of Coldspring Creek, and town 3 taking the name of Napoli. The surface of Napoli is elevated; the highest point in the Jamestown road being near the western line of lot 13 has an elevation of 2,005 ft. On lot 4 near the northern line, latitude 40 d. 12 m. 3 s., longitude 18 d. 29 m. 39 s., is a marker for triangulation, supposed to be the highest point in Cattaraugus Co. This elevation, estimated from the known elevation of the Jamestown road, is about 2300 ft. Within the memory of the writer a mound on a round topped hill between these two points was excavated and a quantity of Indian implements found. Until recent years arrowheads were often found by plowmen in that vicinity, marking it as a battleground.
Fine springs of water are found on nearly all the hills of the township as well as in the valleys. Creeks are numerous, nearly all of them finding their way into the Coldspring Creek which rises at the cold springs on lot 38. Two small streams, Bucktooth and Sawmill creeks, flow directly into the Allegany River a short distance west of Salamanca. Two others flow into Elm Creek and one into Little Valley Creek. The valley of the Coldspring Creek in the town of Napoli is approximately 700 ft. lower than the highest elevation on lot 4.
Within a few rods of its source the Coldspring Creek receives its first tributary, a stream which drains a large swamp situated on lots 31 and 32. This swamp covers six or seven hundred acres. With it are two ponds, the larger noted for its pond lilies and the smaller for its great depth. The muck of the swamp is covered with sphagnum moss and huckleberry bushes. Large quantities of the moss have been shipped to greenhouses, three carloads going to New York City as well as several carloads to Buffalo and other cities. This swamp is bordered with laurel, tamarack, spruce, and hemlock. Quantities of Christmas trees have been shipped to Buffalo and other cities.
On lot 3 and 4 a sandstone ledge, known as “millstone grit,” crops out near the top of the high hills, the same, though in lesser quantities and smaller size, as that found in “Rock City” near Little Valley and in the “Rock City” near Olean. Wherever these rocks occur the soil is sandy and of little value except for forestry purposes. Most of the hills, however, are good farming land, adapted to grazing and to raising of such crops as hay, corn, oats, and potatoes, buckwheat and all kinds of fruit except peaches and grapes which suffer from the severe cold of winter, the temperature sometimes dropping to 30 degrees or more below zero.
Some sections of the town are well adapted to truck farming, but dairying is the principal industry. The Coldspring Valley soil is a muck loam; in the northeastern part of the town the soil is a shale loam while the hill soil is largely clay loam with a “hardpan” subsoil. The valleys through which the smaller streams flow are a gravelly loam. Very few virgin forest trees are left excepting maples which have been kept for sugar making, which is quite an extensive industry during the spring season. There is considerable second growth timber consisting of beech, birch, maple, oak, chestnut, ash, cherry, basswood and hemlock. The virgin forest contained considerable pine but very little of it remains.