Home » Facts Meaning of the word Cattaraugus CATTARAUGUS, from a Seneca Indian word meaning “bad smelling banks,” referring to the odor of natural gas leaking from rock seams. http://www.dos.ny.gov/info/pdfs/countynames.pdf The word "Cattaraugus" means "foul-smelling river bank." This name is a result of the natural gas that oozes from the river mud. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cattaraugus_Creek. In our opinion, only some of the river banks are bad smelling. Come on over and visit a creek in Cattaraugus County and tell us what you think. Email this page Travel Guide It's a full 56-page comprehensive guide, highlighting the activities and attractions in our County and it's FREE!! View the visitor's guide online or request that the Enchanted Mountains guide be snail mailed to you for FREE!