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Wells, New York
Location in Hamilton County and the state of New York.
Location in Hamilton County and the state of New York.
Country United States
State New York
County Hamilton
 • Type Town Council
 • Total 178.36 sq mi (461.96 km2)
 • Land 176.80 sq mi (457.91 km2)
 • Water 1.56 sq mi (4.05 km2)
1,696 ft (517 m)
 • Total 674
 • Estimate 
 • Density 3.61/sq mi (1.39/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 518
FIPS code 36-041-79059
GNIS feature ID 0979615

Wells is a town in Hamilton County, New York, United States. The population was 674 at the 2010 census. The town is named after Joshua Wells, a land agent, who built the first mills in the area. It is in the Adirondack Park and on the eastern border of the county. It is northwest of Schenectady.


The area was first settled around 1798. The town was formed in 1805 while still part of Fulton County, and was set off from parts of the towns of Mayfield and Northampton. The town was subsequently reduced by the formation of other towns in Hamilton County, to include Hope (1818) and Long Lake (1837).

The town of Gilman was reportedly named for settler John Gilman. Elias P. Gilman petitioned the state and had surveys of Gilman made in 1838.) Land was taken from Wells in 1841, but much of that region was returned to Wells when Gilman was dissolved in 1860. Wells has been increased subsequent to its initial formation by parts of Mayfield (1812, 1816), Northampton (1816), and Lake Pleasant (1858).

War of 1812

The United States of America declared war on Great Britain on June 18, 1812. The settlers of Wells and Lake Pleasant, New York were afraid of potential attacks from Native Americans who allied with the British Empire to attack American settlements. The Native Americans were seen roaming in the forest hunting, trapping and fishing. Despite no attacks, the Adirondack settlers who considered themselves on the northern frontier boundary of the St. Lawrence, fled from their homes and scattered themselves to the counties of Saratoga, Rensselaer and Montgomery. All inhabitants except the Peck family left Lake Pleasant, and so did a large majority leave Wells. An application was made by a remaining few settlers to New York governor Daniel D. Tompkins for an order to raise a company of volunteers from Lake Pleasant and Wells to create a militia in order to "allay the fears of the inhabitants," to protect them from a possible massacre and to encourage them to return to their homes. The petition was granted and William B Peck of Lake Pleasant was commissioned captain of the Wells and Lake Pleasant Home Guards of Company C under Montgomery counties militia 122 regiment. Lt. John L Francisco of Wells later took command of the militia as William Peck retired from his post.

The War of 1812 brought a need for roads to be built so United States forces could invade Canada. A military road was created through the town of Wells to reach the St. Lawrence river so men and provisions could be transported easily into Canadian territory.

Plane crash

A Massachusetts Air National Guard plane crash occurred on September 17, 1986 in Wells. Four planes were involved in the training mission and two of the four crashed into the Adirondack mountains killing one pilot and injuring the other. The crash is said to have been the inspiration for a two-part episode of The X-Files, set in the nearby village of Northville, New York, but no filming took place in either location.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 178.4 square miles (462 km2), of which, 177.2 square miles (459 km2) of it is land and 1.2 square miles (3.1 km2) of it (0.66%) is water.

The eastern town line is the border with Warren County.

New York State Route 30 is a north-south highway. New York State Route 8, an east-west highway, runs conjointly with NY-30 in the central part of Wells.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1820 331
1830 340 2.7%
1840 365 7.4%
1850 532 45.8%
1860 738 38.7%
1870 817 10.7%
1880 1,113 36.2%
1890 1,298 16.6%
1900 908 −30.0%
1910 742 −18.3%
1920 652 −12.1%
1930 527 −19.2%
1940 567 7.6%
1950 507 −10.6%
1960 539 6.3%
1970 604 12.1%
1980 627 3.8%
1990 706 12.6%
2000 737 4.4%
2010 674 −8.5%
2016 (est.) 638 −5.3%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2010, there were 674 people living in the town, organized as 322 households and 205 families . The population density was 3.8 people per square mile (1.6/km2). There were 780 housing units at an average density of 4.4 per square mile (1.7/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 96.61% White, 0.54% African American, 0.81% Native American, 0.27% Asian, 0.14% from other races, and 1.63% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.27% of the population.

There were 322 households, out of which 25.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.6% were married couples living together, 8.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.3% were non-families. 31.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 18.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.22 and the average family size was 2.78.

In the town, the population was spread out, with 21.2% under the age of 18, 4.9% from 18 to 24, 22.5% from 25 to 44, 29.0% from 45 to 64, and 22.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 46 years. For every 100 females, there were 98.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.7 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $29,107, and the median income for a family was $37,500. Males had a median income of $34,821 versus $24,250 for females. The per capita income for the town was $16,174. About 8.5% of families and 15.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.8% of those under age 18 and 12.6% of those age 65 or over.

Communities and locations in Wells

  • Augur Falls – located north of the hamlet of Wells off rt 8 and 30, and four miles west of Griffin on an old wagon track.
  • Blackbridge – A location on West River Road southwest of Wells village, on the north bank of the West Branch Sacandaga River.
  • Gilmantown-- A hamlet that was formerly part of the defunct Town of Gilman, located on a paved section of Gilmantown Road between Speculator and the hamlet of Wells. The community consists of a few houses on the main road and private drives. A small lake called Charley Lake is located here and another small lake, Gilman Lake, is north of the community.
  • Griffin – A hamlet on NY-8 near the eastern town border and the East Branch Sacandaga River.
  • Pickleville – A former community, located north of Wells village.
  • Pumpkin Hollow – A hamlet on Route 30 near the border with the Town of Hope, east of the Sacandaga River.
  • Sacandaga River – A river that flows through the town and village of Wells. The East Branch meets the Main Branch north of the Wells village, while the West Branch meets south of Wells village at the Sacandaga Campgrounds. The river empties into Great Sacandaga Lake in Fulton County.
  • Wells – The hamlet of Wells, located on NY-30 and Algonquin Lake, which is a widening of the main branch of the Sacandaga River, originally created by a dam that powered a veneer mill c. 1910. In 1913, the first known gas powered log hauler in the Adirondacks, a Lombard, was used by the veneer company between here and Speculator.
  • Whitehouse – A location in the northwest corner of the town on West River Road and the north bank of the West Branch Sacandaga River. It is at the west end of West River Road and is regarded as an Adirondack ghost town.
  • Windfall – A location northeast of Wells on Windfall

Adjacent towns and areas

The south border of Wells is formed by the Towns of Benson and Hope. The Town of Arietta is at the west border, and the Town of Lake Pleasant is the northwest border. The Town of Indian Lake is the north border. The Towns of Stony Creek, Thurman, and Johnsburg in Warren County are to the east.

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