The former Sinclair refinery played a crucial role in the history of this region.
Early settlers into Wellsville, New York were attracted by the beauty and the plentiful natural resources in this valley along the Genesee River. Timber was the area's first great industry, but that was replaced in the late 19th century when oil was discovered in eastern Pennsylvania and western New York.
Western New York played a major role in the rise of the oil industry in the United States as wells soon dotted the hills of the entire area. Wellsville's refinery opened in 1901 and eventually was purchased by Sinclair. The refinery was a major economic generator for the region, surviving a major fire in 1938 and playing a significant role in the war effort in World War II. As local oil supplies dwindled, the refinery struggled. A second major fire in 1958 closed the facility for good.
The Education Foundation of Alfred State College took control of most of the remaining buildings on site and much of the land and opened the vocational college that continues to grow and serve the area.
In 1969, Sinclair merged with Atlantic Richfield Company (AR). As a result, AR became responsible for dismantling remaining parts of the refinery and beginning the cleanup of petroleum impacts from nearly 60 years of operation. In the 1980s, AR rebuilt the refinery's landfill that had been damaged by flooding and paid to move the community's water intake point upstream from the site. In the 1990s, AR installed a soil vapor recovery system that removed 160,000 pounds of hydrocarbon vapors from the subsurface, as well as a groundwater treatment system.
In 2000, AR became a BP-affiliated company. AR agreed with USEPA and NYSDEC on the current project to protect the Genesee River and treat groundwater with a wetland treatment system.
2008 AR begins a multi-year project to design and construct a wetland treatment system to protect the Genesee River, clean up groundwater under the site and enhance the natural environment of the area.
2009 AR completed the wetland treatment system.
2010 AR excavated the swale and portions of the Genesee River.
In 2011, AR reopened an improved walking trail along the Genesee River, including good views of the wetlands and the swale and educational signage. AR also announced an agreement with Alfred State College to transfer the wetland treatment system property to the Educational Foundation of Alfred.
In 2012, AR completed restoration and opened a trail spur over a closed landfill on the site.