St. Lawrence County, a delightfully rural mix of farms, forests and small towns, is the largest county in New York State and the fifth largest United States county east of the Mississippi River. Canton, the county seat, is located about 25 miles from the St. Lawrence River. Our "Maple City", Ogdensburg, and the Village of Massena are located on the St. Lawrence. The beautiful St. Lawrence forms the boundary between our county and our neighboring counties in Ontario, Canada. The northern gateway to the fabulous Thousand Islands area is found in our river Towns of Morristown and Hammond.
St. Lawrence County originally was comprised of 10 towns and was a part of Clinton County with Plattsburgh as the County Seat. Because of the great distance and danger of traveling to Plattsburgh the people of the west petitioned for the establishment of a new county, now known as St. Lawrence County.
St. Lawrence County was formed on March 3, 1802 with its county seat in Ogdensburg. As the county expanded, citizens in the central and southern parts became dissatisfied with the location of the county government. They complained about the long, hazardous journey in the winter months, and feared an attack by the British, since Ogdensburg was so close to Canada.
Livestock on display at the Gouverneur-St. Lawrence County Fair
(Photo courtesy of Scooter Wetmore)
In 1828, after a bitter debate the county seat was moved to Canton, a more central location. The county government has remained in this location since.
The county and its government have gone through many changes since their beginning. Some changes were as a result of the citizens desires; other changes were beyond their control such as destructive fires, population growth, and changes required by law.
The county is now comprised of 32 towns, 1 city, and 13 villages.
St. Lawrence County is definitely on the northern U.S. frontier, and some consider it remote. But it's not. In fact, Acco Corp. chose to locate its eastern North America distribution center in Ogdensburg, and the Cives Corp. distributes structural steel throughout the Northeastern US from its facility in the Village of Gouverneur. We are conveniently located close to Ottawa, Ontario, which is Canada's capital city, and to Montreal, Quebec, North America's French-speaking metropolis.
We are definitely a down home place, but we like our culture, too! We are home to SUNY Potsdam and its Crane School of Music, Clarkson University, St. Lawrence University, SUNY Canton Technical College, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry's Ranger School, and Wadhams Hall and Seminary.
The southeastern third of the county, 953 square miles, is within the Adirondack region, one of America's most unique wild areas--unique in being a patchwork of private and public lands, with several hamlets, paper and wood products industries, and all the vacation paradise one could wish for--if your idea of vacation is fishing, hunting, hiking, canoeing, birding, geologizing, cycling, snowmobiling, back-country skiing, or just relaxing and taking in the vistas. The county has thousands of acres of state land, including wilderness areas, that are open to public recreational use. Many acres of private forest land are open for public recreational use where so posted.
Information from www.co.st-lawrence.ny.us.