St. Lawrence County is located in the north-central part of New York State and is named after the St. Lawrence River. It was founded in 1802 and has a rich and interesting history. Here are 7 fascinating facts about St. Lawrence County's history:
1. The Underground Railroad
St. Lawrence County played a crucial role in the Underground Railroad, a network of people, routes, and safe houses that helped enslaved people escape from the South to freedom in the North. Many significant figures in the abolitionist movement, such as Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass, made stops here or passed through the county during their journeys.
2. The Battle of Ogdensburg
During the War of 1812, the Battle of Ogdensburg was fought between British and American forces. The British attacked the American fort in Ogdensburg, but the Americans were prepared and able to repel the attack. This battle marked the only time that a foreign power has attacked a fortified American position on the mainland.
3. The St. Lawrence Seaway
The St. Lawrence Seaway is a system of locks, canals, and shipping channels that connects the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. It was opened in 1959 and was a major engineering feat that involved cooperation between the United States and Canada. St. Lawrence County is home to several locks along the seaway.
4. The Birthplace of the American Co-Operative Movement
The Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers was a group of weavers in England who started the first successful cooperative in 1844. This model inspired workers in St. Lawrence County, who established their own cooperatives in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The movement spread throughout the United States and helped to improve working conditions for many.
5. The First Voice Transmission over a Long-Distance Wire
In 1885, Thomas Edison's company installed the first long-distance telephone lines between New York City and Boston. The first voice transmission over these lines was made from Clay Street in Potsdam, St. Lawrence County, to Boston. The speaker, George Coy, said, "Hello, Boston, are you there?" and the person on the other end, Alexander Graham Bell, responded, "Yes, I hear you perfectly."
6. The First Women's College in New York State
St. Lawrence University, located in Canton, was the first women's college in New York State. It opened its doors in 1856 and admitted men in 1968. The university is still in operation today and is known for its strong liberal arts programs.
7. The Birthplace of the Five and Dime Store
The five and dime store, a type of variety store that sold inexpensive items, was first established in 1879 by Frank W. Woolworth in Watertown, St. Lawrence County. Woolworth's chain of stores grew quickly and became one of the largest and most successful retail businesses in the world.
These are just a few of the many interesting facts about St. Lawrence County's history. From the Underground Railroad to the St. Lawrence Seaway to the birth of the cooperative movement, this county has played an important role in shaping New York State and the country as a whole.
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