Early History


The earliest settlement in Ogdensburg dates back to 1749 when the celebrated Sulpician missionary Father Picquet founded his mission on the banks of the St. Lawrence at the mouth of the Oswegatchie River.

He built Fort La Presentation upon the site of an old Indian village named Swa-gatch. The area was the northern terminus of an original Indian trail that ran from the Mohawk Valley to the St. Lawrence. The City developed into an important port of entry and railroad center during the 19th and early 20th centuries, with extensive trade in lumber and grains.

Natural Resources

Throughout Ogdensburg's history the principal branches of industry in St. Lawrence County have relied on the nearby rivers and the bountiful resources common to the North Country. They have included all aspects of lumbering and paper production, boat building, merchant and custom milling, foundry, and machine work.

Capitalizing on its location at the confluence of the St. Lawrence and Oswegatchie rivers, the City has been a seaport since the early 19th century. The completion of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959 connected the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean and opened the area to unprecedented industrial expansion.

Recommended Reading

If you are interested in a more comprehensive photographic history of Ogdensburg and St. Lawrence County, we recommend Ted Como's "Ogdensburg, New York - A Photo History."

The Lily, the Lion, & the Eagle Podcast

Elizabeth Baxter, former city historian wrote a fantastic book, "The Lily, the Lion, and the Eagle", about the early history of Ogdensburg, which was never published. Julie Madlin, the current City Historian, is making podcasts for each chapter.  Find links to the chapters on the YouTube Channel.  We hope you'll give them a listen.