Explore 250 Years of Local History

As 2026 approaches, we’ll be exploring how Washington County, NY left its mark on a developing nation over the last 250 years. After all, history was made here. This area was officially annexed in 1772 as Charlotte County, making it technically older than the United States!

We invite you to join us as we travel back in time through gripping tales, historical reenactments, in-depth discussions & more! See history come to life during these once-in-a-lifetime events that you & your family will remember forever.

Visit our History page to learn more, or follow the Washington County 250th: Celebrate America’s History in Your Backyard Facebook page to stay up-to-date with the latest historic celebrations!

Here’s an overview of some of this area’s historic impact:

Local History, Modern Impact: Inventions, Infrastructure & More

A view of the Champlain Canal and Skene Manor in Whitehall, NY. A great place to learn about local history in Washington County!
A view of the Champlain Canal and Skene Manor from the Skenesborough Museum in Whitehall, NY. A great place to learn about local history in Washington County!

Of course, life has changed in many ways since the founding of our country, nearly 250 years ago! From what we eat to how we live & work, much has changed – and much has remained the same.

In the coming years, we’ll be diving in to the roles this area’s residents (and their businesses) played in shaping the future we live in today.

For instance, you’ll be amazed at how far we’ve come when you view historic fire-fighting equipment at the Rough & Ready Engine Company #2 museum. Their remaining collection includes an original village 1859 Button & Blake Handtub fire engine, vintage fire extinguishers, the former town jail with 2 cells and more! Call for a tour.

Or, check out the Slate Valley Museum in Granville, NY, the “Colored Slate Capital of the World!” They’re dedicated to preserving the history & culture of slate quarrying, which Washington County is famous for. Much of the slate roofing in the United States still comes from our local quarries! And you can see many of its historical uses in the variety of architectural styles across the region.

And of course, changes in transportation made a huge impact on the way Americans lived! Washington County is proud of its heritage of preserving our historic infrastructure while also using it for modern living. This includes a vacation rental inside a historic train station house, a bike shop inside the historic Fort Edward Amtrak station, The Strand Theater inside a former office building, and a multi-purpose community center inside the Historic Salem Courthouse!

Additionally, you’ll find man-made waterways built to transport goods, including the Champlain Canal and the Glens Falls Feeder Canal, plus so much more! These experiences are sure to give you an intriguing glimpse into how much life has changed. Also, be sure to stop by one of our 4 historic covered bridges!

Discover more ways to explore local history along our History Trail.

Civil Rights & the Local History of Social Movements

Explore part of local history by following this map of the stops along the Underground Railroad Walking Tour in Greenwich, NY's Union Village.

Since the beginning, Washington County has been more welcoming of different ideas and ways of life than many other regions in the area. This is why many civil rights & social movements took off, including women’s suffrage, the abolitionist movement, religious freedom and more.

Keep an eye out for upcoming events & in-depth articles exploring these topics with insight from local historians!

In the meantime, come see where history happened for yourself. Want a glimpse into the past in a beautiful small town? Visit the Underground Railroad Walking Tour in the heart of Greenwich, NY.

Much of the Greenwich area was initially settled by Quakers, who believed all men were equal in the eyes of God. Therefore, abolitionist ideals were fairly common. The historic homes along this walking tour often built secret rooms or bolt-holes to harbor fugitive slaves as they made their way north.

Or, you could view the outside of the Lemuel Haynes House, where the first African-American clergyman in North America lived from 1822-1833. Lemuel Haynes was also the first Black minister to serve a predominantly white congregation!

And from 1828 – 1832, Solomon Northup, primary author of the memoir “12 Years a Slave,” had lived in the Old Fort House in Fort Edward before he was lured away from freedom and captured. The house is now a museum and features a permanent exhibit on Solomon’s life, including an original copy of the book.

Later on, in 1894, Susan B. Anthony held a Women’s Suffrage Convention at Hubbard Hall in Cambridge, brought here by Mary Hubbard. She was traveling to every county in New York to drum up support for women’s rights, gathering responses & petition signatures to take to Albany. But women in New York wouldn’t be granted full suffrage rights until 1917!

Interestingly, this Convention was held just up the road from Susan B. Anthony’s childhood home in Battenville. And, you can still visit the Hall in its current form: a local incubator for the arts!

Military History: from the American Revolution to the Present

Learn about local history at the Revolutionary War Cemetery/Old Salem Burying Ground.

You may not know, but the lead-up to the turning point of the American Revolution happened right here in Washington County, NY! With loyalists, patriots, natives and immigrants all in one place, this area was a hotbed of social upheaval leading up to the Revolution.

But it wasn’t all talk! Several wars were fought on our own soil. This includes parts of the Revolutionary War, from smaller interpersonal skirmishes to the Battle of Fort Anne.

Did you know? The Revolutionary War Cemetery in Salem, NY has over 100 Revolutionary soldiers buried there, more than anywhere else in the county. Plus, the cemetery is also home to an old Native American burial ground. See history come to life by viewing videos from the Voices from the Grave project, built into scannable QR codes throughout the cemetery.

Throughout the years, many Washington County men (and later, women) have joined the United States military. This includes several who enlisted for the Civil War while visiting other states! You can visit the last remaining Civil War enlistment center in New York State in Hartford. The museum examines the everyday lives & artifacts left behind of these brave men who traveled 3,000 miles across the nation to preserve the Union.

Additionally, Washington County is where several famous branches of the military grew their roots! Whitehall, NY is the birthplace of the U.S. Navy, and Roger’s Island in Fort Edward forged the U.S. Army Rangers. Plus, Whitehall’s shipyard built many of the boats used during the War of 1812.

So come see history for yourself! Visit the Skenesborough Museum in Whitehall to see what life was like in the area throughout history, and also check out the remains of the sunken U.S.S. Ticonderoga!

Want more local historical context? Check out some of the area’s top museums.

Want More Washington County, NY?

Washington County, NY is a beautiful & welcoming destination for history buffs of all interests. If you’re looking to bring history to life, you’ll want to visit some of our many museums, historical sites and unique experiences!

So come on down and explore all that Washington County has to offer in the realm of local & national history! And while you’re here, check out some of our many  interesting local events.

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