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. Request the Enchanted Mountains guide to be snail mailed to you for FREE!