Onondaga Indians, the keepers of the council fires for the Iroquois League, lived here. French soldiers and Jesuit missionaries came from Canada in 1654 to seek their friendship. In that year, Father Simon Le Moyne discovered salt springs in the area. Salt works were set up in 1788, soon after the first permanent settlement. Salt manufacturing flourished until the 1860's. For many years the tax on salt supplied the State's chief revenue. This industry gave the name Salina to the original site of Syracuse. The Erie Canal and the Oswego Canal, connecting the Erie at Syracuse with Lake Ontarlo, ushered in an era of prosperity and expansion after 1825. Railroads and highways followed the east-west water level route and stimulated industrial growth.
Situated on the edge of the fruitful lake plain beside Onondaga Lake, Syracuse is near the geographical center of New York State. Serving a wide area, her industries, which began with the salt works, have been many and varied: chinaware, alloy steel, automobiles and automotive gears, air-conditioning and typewriters, chemicals and electronics - these reflected the industrial growth of America. The first New York State Fair was held in 1841 in Syracuse, where it has been an annual event since 1890.
#17 - Route 81, southhound, near Central Square
Salt springs were discovered in this area in 1654 by Father Simon Le Moyne, a French Jesuit missionary from Canada, who had come to convert the Onondaga Indians. Salt extraction began in 1788, shortly after the arrival of the first settlers, and the settlement was named Salina. It proved so profitable that the State derived a large revenue from the salt tax. Salt manufacture flourished until the 1860's.
When the Erie Canal was completed in 1825, Syracuse was established and later included Salina. The Oswego Canal connected the Erie at Syracuse with Lake Ontario. Railroads later were constructed radiating from Syracuse, which became a commercial and manufacturing center.
Situated on the edge of the fruitful lake plain, beside Onondaga Lake, Syracuse is near the geographical center of New York State. Serving a wide area, her industries, which began with the salt works, have been many and varied: chinaware, alloy steel, automobiles and automotive gears, air- conditioning and typewriters, chemicals and electronics. These reflected the industrial growth of America. The first New York State Fair was held in 1841 in Syracuse, where it has been an annual event since 1890.
#18 - Route 81, northbound, Central Square
The Military Tract was set aside by the State in 1782 to provide bounties for service during the American Revolution. New York servicemen, depending on rank, were entitled to grants of 500 to 5500 acres. Containing more than 1,500,000 acres, it included all of the present Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca Counties plus portions of Tompkins, Schuyler, Wayne and Oswego. Excluded were reservations for Onondaga and Cayuga Indians.
The Military Tract was surveyed into townships containing 100 lots, each with 600 acres. In the townships, two lots were reserved for "promoting the gospel" and for schools and literature. Robert Harpur, Secretary of the Land Board, rejected associations with English and Indian titles and gave the 28 townships classical names from anclent Greece and Rome.
When drawing for lots started on January 1, 1791, many veterans had sold their claims to speculators. Squatters and fraudulent claimants hindered acquiring land in the tract. Eventually, farmers from the east occupied it. Small milling and trading centers, stimulated by turnpikes, developed in the 1790's. The northern portion progressed rapidly in the 1820's following completion of the Erie Canal. Railroads and later highways made the region notable for commerce, agriculture, industry and higher education.
#16 - Route 20, west of Pompey
In central New York lies the Onondaga Country, where the legendary Indian statesmen Hiawatha and Deganawidah planted the Tree of Peace, and thus founded the Iroquois Confederacy of the Five Nations. Here burned the council fire of the League in the Longhouse of the Onondagas, the Hill People, the center of this powerful confederacy. These tribes guarded the natural water route via the Mohawk River, Oneida Lake and Oswego River to Lake Ontario over which furs, trade goods and supplies were transported. This was the military route used during campaigns of the French and Indian War and the Revolution. Onondaga Indians still occupy a reservation in this area.
Turnpikes in the early nineteenth century crossed these hills and valleys, opening the land to settlers. Revolutionary soldiers were offered grants in the Military Tract, including Onondaga County, which was set off in 1794. Other settlers migrated from New England. Further growth was stimulated by the Erie Canal, completed in 1825, and by the railroads.
Agriculture, dairying and fruit growing, with some diversified industry, provided the economic base for this area. Rolling hills, picturesque waterfalls and small lakes make the region famous for scenic beauty.
New York State Museum State Historic Markers website
#17 - Route 81, northbound, 2.5 miles south of Lafayette
#18 - Route 81, 4 miles north of Tully