Horseheads is a village in Chemung County, New York, United States. The population was 6,461 at the 2010 census. The name is derived from the number of bleached skulls of pack horses left behind by the Sullivan Expedition.
In September 1779, forces under General John Sullivan marched north from Easton, Pennsylvania, over to Wyoming, Pennsylvania, and on up the Susquehanna River to Newtown (Elmira), then continued north through what is now known as Horseheads to the Finger Lakes region and west to Genesee, on a mission against Loyalists and their Iroquois allies. They returned about three weeks later, largely on the same route.
The journey had been particularly severe and wearing upon the animals, and their food supply was found insufficient. Arriving about north of Fort Reid on September 24, 1779, they were obliged to dispose of a large number of sick and disabled horses. The number of horses was so great that they were quite noticeable, and the native Iroquois collected the skulls and arranged them in a line along the trail. From that time forward, that spot was referred to as the "valley of the horses' heads" and is still known by the name given to it by the Iroquois.
The settlement of the village area began around 1830. The village was incorporated in 1837 as the "Village of Fairport," but changed its name back to "Horseheads" several years later, only to be renamed "North Elmira.". In 1886, the village resumed the original name, "Horseheads".
The village was once a port on the Chemung Canal.