Cattaraugus county was formed in 1808 from Genesee County and named "Town of Olean". Under the act of its formation, Cattaraugus County was provisionally annexed to Niagara County until there were 500 taxable residents qualified to vote for members of the NY Assembly. In 1812, for judicial purposes and convenience of the inhabitants, the eastern portion of the County was annexed to Allegany County. Acquiring in 1817 the required number of taxable inhabitants qualified to vote, Cattaraugus County was chartered as it is today. The first court house and jail were built in Ellicottville in 1817-18, with the courts and county business being conducted there until 1868 when the County seat was moved to Little Valley. The original court house, designated by state and federal agencies as an historical site, has been restored following a 1969 fire, and is now used for Town and Village of Ellicottville offices. Located in Western New York's scenic uplands, Cattaraugus County is a panorama of thriving communities, rolling farmlands, forests and picturesque waterways. Its wooded hilltops overlook valleys sculptured by glaciers of the Ice Age.
The Allegheny river flows through the southern towns, two cities and the Seneca Nation of Indians Reservation. This river offers recreation to thousands of fishermen, campers, boaters, and others along its banks and tributaries.
Cattaraugus Creek forms a major portion of the northern boundary of Cattaraugus County. This Creek runs through the spectacular "forever wild" Zoar Valley. The scenery of the valley's gorge creates a narrow steep-walled canyon, while the valley offers a perserve for picknicking, sight-seeing, hiking, fishing, and "white water" rafting.
Both Rock City Park in the Town of Olean, and Little Rock City within the Town of Little Valley, provide majestic geological formations offering a prehistoric experience which attracts geologists, naturalists, rock hounds, and the curious.
Golden sunshine and sparkling waters offer endless opportunities for boathing, fishing, and camping such as can be experienced at Onoville Marina, Rainbow Lake, Lime Lake, and Harwood Lake.
During the winter, the hillsides are alive with skiers and snowmobilers at Holiday Valley ("The Aspen of the East"), Holimont, and Allegany State Park.