Pierce Block, Clifton Springs

Phelps & Clifton Springs

The adjacent communities of Phelps and Clifton Springs are full of small-town charm and history, each with their own distinct personality.

Learn about Clifton Springs here.

Town and Village of Phelps

Historically, Phelps was always tied to sauerkraut with the town’s fields full of cabbage and the village factories that fermented that cabbage into sauerkraut. While farms in and around Phelps still grow a lot of cabbage that ends up as commercial sauerkraut, the sauerkraut factories are no longer there. To honor its past, the community rallies around its sauerkraut heritage every summer with the Phelps Sauerkraut Weekend, a quirky yet festive event that includes a parade, cabbage bowling, sauerkraut eating contest, carnival rides and delicious chocolate sauerkraut cake.

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Beyond its sauerkraut history, Phelps was also known as a mill town due Flint Creek and the Canandaigua Outlet that run through the town and village. Today, dairy farming dominates the flatlands and gentle hills as well as a cluster of light manufacturing businesses. 

The village of Phelps is a pedestrian-friendly place, home to many thriving businesses. Within a mile along Main Street and its side streets you can shop at a hometown pharmacy, antique and gift shops, an art gallery and a small foods market and deli. The Phelps Community Center and The Phelps Arts Center provide recreational and arts programs that enrich the lifestyle of the community.

Cobblestone houses, built in western New York from the 1830s until the Civil War, are especially prominent in Phelps. These are seen roadside as you travel through town and in Phelps's smaller hamlets such as Oaks Corners, Fort Hill, and Knickerbocker Corner.

The Phelps Community Historical Society is located in the Howe House, and runs a museum there with permanent and rotating exhibits that include 19th century household and farm equipment. The Howe House also boasts a rare, two-story brick outhouse. 

Outdoor enthusiasts can trek the eastern trailhead of the V-shaped, 23-mile Ontario Pathways is in Phelps, with the first few miles of this recreational trail passing by more waterfalls on Flint Creek. Anglers enjoy fishing in the Canandaigua Outlet.

Phelps has easy access to Rochester (45 minutes away) and Syracuse (an hour away) via exit 42 to the New York State Thruway, at the junction of two of Phelps's main arterials, Routes 14 and 96.

For lodging, Phelps offers a bed and breakfast east of downtown and Cheerful Valley Campground with campsites for RVs, trailers, and tents.

Fast Facts About Phelps

The village of Phelps was organized around 1793, and the town of Phelps around 1796. Both were incorporated in 1855. The village was originally known as Vienna, and the town as Sullivan, but were later named for Oliver Phelps, one of the two land spectators from Massachusetts who orchestrated the massive Phelps & Gorham Purchase of 1788, which has created what we now know as western New York. Oliver Phelps became the first judge of Ontario County. He lived and was buried in Canandaigua, but never called Phelps his home.

Village of Phelps: 1,989 (2010 Census)
Town of Phelps: 7,018 (2010 Census)

Town of Phelps: 65.3 square miles (including .3 square miles of water)
Village of Phelps: 1.2 square miles

The town of Phelps is in the northeast corner of Ontario County. Seneca County lies to the east, Wayne County to the north. The New York State Thruway runs through Phelps, as does Routes 96 and 14.

The terrain in the northern section of Phelps is made up of drumlins. Farther south, the land is gentle rolling hills. Flint Creek runs through the village of Phelps.

Key Industries

Agriculture: Dairy and field crops dominate, but there is also a diverse range of crops, from cabbage, strawberries and sunflowers to maple syrup, Christmas trees and organic vegetables.

Manufacturing and machining: There is a strong contingency of light manufacturing in Phelps, much of it along Route 96. Z-Axis does electronic design and manufacturing; Magnus Precision Manufacturing produces precision machined parts, tooling, and components for aerospace, medical, optics and photonics and industrial.


Students who live in the town and village of Phelps attend the Phelps-Clifton Springs Central School District, also known as Midlakes.

Key Landmarks and Attractions

Crooked Bridge Park: This William Street park welcomes visitors who want to splash in the creek or have a picnic.

Redfield Park: Community park with gazebo, concession building, baseball field and playground. Outdoor summer concerts held here.

Methodist Memorial Park: Majestic trees make a great spot for a shady picnic.

Phelps Community Center: Programs for sports and recreation, fitness classes and educational programming are all available at this active community center. There is also a playground and sports field.

Key Events

Phelps Sauerkraut Weekend: http://phelpsny.com/sauerkraut-weekend

Community Resources

Town of Phelps: www.phelpsny.com
Village of Phelps: ww.phelpsny.com/village
Phelps Chamber of Commerce: www.phelpsny.com/chamber-of-commerce
Phelps Community Historical Society: www.phelpsny.com/historical-society

Village of Clifton Springs

Formerly known as Sulphur Springs, Clifton Springs owes its identity to the Sulphur Brook that runs through it. The natural mineral water established the village as an important healing center when Dr. Henry Foster created the Clifton Springs Water Cure that turned the village into a utopian health care center for body and spirit for many decades. Clifton Springs is also the birthplace of occupational therapy developed by George Edward Barton as he recuperated from having his toes amputated.

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The Clifton Springs Sanitarium Co. was the predecessor to today's Clifton Springs Hospital & Clinic, a modern, full-service hospital that is part of the Rochester Regional Health System. It is the oldest continuously operating business in the village and one of the largest employers. The hospital keeps the spirit of Dr. Foster alive at the Springs Integrative Medicine Center & Spa, a facility that offers a variety of alternative therapies, from massage and mineral baths to acupuncture and Ayurveda. The Clifton Springs Hospital is also linked to the historic Spa Apartments, a senior living facility that was once where Dr. Foster's water cure was practiced.

Today Clifton Springs is still a thriving village with retail stores, gift shops and eateries, many of which are under covered walkways along the historic Main Street. The historic Warfield block is home to Warfield’s Restaurant & Bakery a fine restaurant with a seasonal menu of elegant country fare. The Peirce Block is home to Peirce's Antiques and Gifts.

Clifton Springs Fast Facts 

Settlement in Clifton Springs began in 1801, but the village was not formally incorporated until 1859, a decade after Dr. Henry Foster established his Water Cure therapy. 

Village of Clifton Springs: 2,127 (2010 Census) 

1.4 square miles 

Most of Clifton Springs is within the borders of the town of Manchester, but the eastern section lies within the town of Phelps. The village is about 15 miles east of Canandaigua. Route 13 (Main Street) is the main thoroughfare, though Route 96 is close by. 

While Main Street is mostly flat, the village has some gentle contours. Sulphur Brook runs through the hospital grounds. 

Key Industries 

Healthcare: Clifton Springs Hospital & Clinic is a full-service hospital that is affiliated with Rochester Regional Health. 

Manufacturing: G.W. Lisk Company makes electromechanical products used in the aerospace, defense, on/off highway, and oil and gas markets. 

Small businesses: Retail, service businesses and other small businesses are located in the village. 


Students in Clifton Springs attend the Phelps-Clifton Springs Central School District, also known as Midlakes.

Key Landmarks and Attractions 

Foster Cottage Museum: Built by Dr. Henry Foster in 1854, this Victorian museum is now a great place to learn about Foster's Water Cure and the nursing school that ran in the village for several decades.

Spa Apartments: Once known as The San, the former Sanitarium Building was completed in 1896 and then became a full-service hospital in the early 20th century. It is now an apartment building for seniors, but the original chapel and its favrile glass mosaic by Louis Comfort Tiffany is a worthwhile visit. 

Main Street Arts: This commercial gallery displays works of contemporary art and fine crafts by upstate New York artists. 

Sulphur Brook: Next to the Clifton Springs Hospital & Clinic runs the water that was the source of Dr. Foster's Water Cure. The walking path and gardens near the stream also meander about the hospital grounds, and include a peaceful labyrinth

Main Street shops: The Peirce Block, the Foster Block, and other historic downtown buildings house interesting shopping opportunities, from gifts and books to hardware and a bakery.

Springs Integrative Medicine Center & Spa:  A variety of alternative therapies, from massage and mineral baths to acupuncture and Ayurveda are offered.

Key Events

Sulphur Springs Festival: This Victorian themed annual event starts with a parade, followed by bed races down Main Street. Food, games for the kids, and Victorian fashion show are all part of the fun.

Festival of Lights: This annual holiday celebration in December takes place at night in downtown Clifton Springs. Caroling, appearances by Santa, hot drinks and food are part of the festivities.   

Community Resources 

Village of Clifton Springs: www.cliftonspringsny.org 
Clifton Springs Area Chamber of Commerce: www.cliftonspringschamber.com