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A Patchwork of People

Griswold Library, Whitehall, NY

Such plentiful resources have attracted a diversity of people. The Native Americans never disappeared, although they kept a very low profile for almost two centuries. The earliest settlers were Dutch moving up the Hudson River or English from New York and New England. A few French habitants stayed on their land after Canada fell to the British.

After the wars, nearly any ethnic group could find a niche along the waterway. Welsh arrived to mine the slate deposits. Swedes, Czechs and Poles and others came to mine iron and fell timber. Italians quarried and carved and shined the marble. French Canadians moved south to work in the textile mills and factories. Irish raised potatoes along the Champlain Canal. Railroad section and crossroad towns attracted a mix of all sorts of people. And those who worked the waterway, living on the boats that carried grain and goods along the passage, assembled their own unique culture.