The Lode

The layered issue of Oniontown

David Disney, Lode Writer

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When we think of abandoned towns we may think of empty homes, broken-in stores, and dark streets. But what happens when that abandoned town still has residents? It sounds weird, but hear me out. There are places in America almost entirely cut off from the regular structure of American culture, shunned by their surrounding towns. One such place is Oniontown, New York. On paper, Oniontown is little more than a road. In reality, though, it is an anomaly. Oniontown is a community seemingly cut off from general society, cut off from time.

Oniontown is a small community near Dover Plains in New York State that is so cut off from society they don’t even receive mail. When we think of remote, rural communities in Appalachia we may think of scenes from horror movies like The Hills Have Eyes but I urge you to keep reading, and maybe we can gain some understanding for the strange location that is Oniontown.

So, why do we even know about Onion-town if it is so closed off? The hamlet’s time in the limelight was the result of a viral video in which local teens from nearby towns would drive into Oniontown trying to disturb the local population. They would honk loudly and act like general obnoxious teens. The community did not like this. They attacked the car, throwing rocks and other objects at the teens, injuring them. This video put Oniontown on the map. Like a modern sideshow, the oddity of Oniontown was on the public’s mind. At this point, it seems like the community is just easy to provoke and overly hostile, but I urge you to look a little deeper.

Oniontown has a reputation in the region: if it’s discovered that someone is from there, they are treated like strangers, almost unfit for our modern society. Think about how you would feel if you were treated poorly just because you lived in your neighborhood. Think about how you would treat passersby when the only reason people visit your town is to mock you and your neighbors. Why would you welcome newcomers? Why would you do anything but fortify the wall around your little place, with those who understand you, those who know what it feels like to be called an outcast just because you live differently? I don’t blame the people of Oniontown for scorning travelers when most of the time they only come by to gawk at the poverty of the citizens.

The moral of the story in regard to Oniontown is simple. Treat others as you would like to be treated, and don’t bother those who want to be left alone. The people just outside Dover Plains don’t need our pity, and they certainly don’t need our attention. They live a life unique in American society, a time capsule to times past. They aren’t a sideshow attraction, they’re just a poor community trying to get by like any other, and they don’t deserve to be mocked because of it.

*Note: This article was ran 12/6/2018

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The Student News Site of Michigan Technological University
The layered issue of Oniontown