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Tonawanda is situated at the northern part of Erie County, across the Erie Canal from Niagara County, north of Buffalo, New York. The first person known to have settled the area was Henry Anguish, who built a log home and tavern at the mouth of Tonawanda Creek, where it empties into the Niagara River, in 1808. The settlement that grew up around it was incorporated as a city in 1904. Prior to that it was part of the town of Tonawanda, which still exists as an entity.



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