Washington County History


Early History of Washington County, NY


This county has been spoken of as "the classic ground of America." To her belongs the honor of being the first soil of the original thirteen colonies to feel the pressure of a white man's foot. It was the warpath of a continent, situated on three of the great waterways, and the three great trails over which the Indian moved in his unceasing warfare, and in whose footsteps followed three nations later, in their struggles to determine the ruling race of America.
Washington County, or Charlotte County, to give it the title under which is was erected, March 12, 1772, comprised a great slice of Northern New York, mostly west of Lake Champlain, reaching from the Hudson to Canada, a distance of more than 1oo miles, extending westward a width of fifty. The name was changed to the present nomenclature April 2, 1784, and there began but a few years later a series of reduction of its area. Clinton County was set off in 1788; the east portion ceded to Vermont in 1790; and Warren was taken from the north part in 1813.. Its present dimensions are sixty-one miles in length with an average of about fifteen miles in width, comprising a surface of 830 square miles. Although not now so extensive, it is no less beautifully located, situated as it is, in the far-famed valley of the Hudson and the basins of Lake George and Lake Champlain.

The terrain of Washington has three distinct parts, each of differing character: The northern mountainous peninsular; the central Champlain valley, which extends to the Hudson; and southwestern hill region, with its triple set of ridges. The geology is as varied as the terrain. and the soils follow the type of the rock they cover, or the valley in which they lie. Slate ledges are the main characteristics of the southerly hills, and the disintegrated remains of these form some of the richest soils in the county. In the Palmerton mountain range, the gneiss and sandstone reign, with a cold, unproductive soil as the result. Minerals of many kinds are found in the different parts of the county, but the most of them have a greater value to the mineralogist than the manufacturer. Slate, limestone, graphite and a few minor materials are the only ones used commercially. Because of the extreme variety of soil, location and drainage, the agriculture of the county is of many kinds. There are few crops or fruits growable in the northern part of the temperate zone that are not represented among the products of the fields.

Historically, the district goes back to the Indians who, using as their natural channel of travel, the part of the country Iying between the Hudson and Lake Champlain, met often in conflict, the Iroquois and the tribes of Canada. Champlain, although having the honor of being the first white man in it, brought upon himself and the French the undying enmity of the Iroquois by fighting on the side of the Canadians. It was probably this mistake of his that decided the fate of the French as the probable rulers of America.


Historical Information Found On This Page Comes From
Hope Farm Press
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