Massena, New York

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Town of Massena
Nickname(s): Gateway to the Fourth Coast
Massena is located in New York
Location within the state of New York
Coordinates: 44°55′49″N 074°53′33″W / 44.93028°N 74.89250°W / 44.93028; -74.89250Coordinates: 44°55′49″N 074°53′33″W / 44.93028°N 74.89250°W / 44.93028; -74.89250
Country United States
State New York
County St. Lawrence
Incorporated 1802
 • Type Town council
 • Town supervisor Tim Currier
 • Total 56.14 sq mi (145.41 km2)
 • Land 44.34 sq mi (114.85 km2)
 • Water 11.80 sq mi (30.56 km2)
Elevation 200 ft (61 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 12,883
 • Estimate (2016)[2] 12,357
 • Density 278.66/sq mi (107.59/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP Code 13662
Area code(s) 315
FIPS code 36-46030
GNIS feature ID 979205

Massena is a town in St. Lawrence County, New York, United States. Massena is located along the northern border of the county, just south of the St. Lawrence River and the Canada–US border. The population was 12,883 at the 2010 census.[3] The town of Massena contains a village also named Massena.


Massena was one of the first towns settled in St. Lawrence county, but was not incorporated until 1802. The town and its village are named after André Masséna, a general and Marshal to Napoleon during the Napoleonic Wars.[4]

The town suffered natural disasters in 1944 (earthquake) and in 1998 (ice storm). In 1928 it was the scene of the antisemitic Massena blood libel.[5][6]


Up until the 1880s, the town was predominantly agricultural, mainly home to butter and cheese production. Aside from the dairy farmers (and the blacksmiths, craftsmen, and shopkeepers that serviced them), the town boasted the Massena Springs, a pair of sulfur springs––one hot and the other cold––reputed to possess healing powers known to the Native Americans before European settlement. In 1820, an Army veteran, Captain John Polley––hoping to capitalize on these properties––opened a hotel and began to advertise them. By 1858, three hotels, numerous rental cottages, a bathing house, and a plant that bottled and sold the spring water, had been built. By about 1900, the Springs' status as a popular resort had faded.[7]

The first small mills were built in the 1830s, harnessing the Grasse River to turn their wheels. They included a saw mill, stone-cutter, and a tannery. In 1833, New York State Legislature approved a canal that would bypass a troublesome rapids hindering navigation on the St. Lawrence by linking the Grasse and St. Lawrence Rivers. However, the British Empire preempted this project by building the Cornwall Canal on the Canadian side of the River, completed in 1843. The Massena Canal project was revived at the end of the century and completed in 1898.[7][8]

The modern town is involved in power production, aluminum production at ALCOA, and the commerce of the St. Lawrence Seaway.[9] Massena's economy has suffered for the past few decades due to its large exposure to American manufacturing and the automotive industry. The town is home to an Alcoa Aluminum plant, the longest continually operating aluminum facility in the world. Alcoa currently employs over 600 people at its facilities in Massena.

The Massena Power Canal (closed in 1958) connected the lower Grass River to the St. Lawrence River. A powerhouse were built in the early 1900s provided hydroelectric power to the town.[10] The New York Power Authority now operates a hydroelectric power generating dam, the St. Lawrence-FDR Power Project, on the St. Lawrence River adjacent to Massena. Curran Renewable Energy manufactures wood pellet fuel and mulch in the town.

Massena is also home to the Eisenhower and Snell Locks, part of the St. Lawrence Seaway which allows ships and vessels to pass through the St. Lawrence River and onto the Great Lakes.

While on November 2, 2015, Alcoa announced the idling of the smelter at its "Alcoa West" plant, the facility remained open through negotiations with New York State, 400 jobs were saved until 2019. The Forgings and Extrusions facilities at Alcoa West were unaffected. The changes resulted in the loss of 487 jobs.[11]

It was estimated in 2013 that nearly 30% of Massena residents live below the poverty line.[12] St. Lawrence County’s poverty rate is higher than both the state and federal rates and currently ranks the 5th highest in New York State.


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201610,357[2]−4.8%
U.S. Decennial Census[13]
The town's water tower.

By 2012 industrial employment had declined and there were 10,357 people in the town, down from 16,021 in 1970.

As of the census[3] of 2000, there were 13,121 people, 2,510 households, and 3,454 families residing in the town. The population density was 293.7 inhabitants per square mile (113.4/km2). There were 5,880 housing units at an average density of 131.6 per square mile (50.8/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 96.80% White, 0.30% Black or African American, 1.25% Native American, 0.41% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.18% from other races, and .02% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.83% of the population.

There were 5,510 households out of which 39.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.1% were married couples living together, 12.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.3% were non-families. 31.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.98 and the average family size was 3.67.

In the town, the population was spread out with 23.7% under the age of 18, 7.1% from 18 to 24, 27.3% from 25 to 44, 23.2% from 45 to 64, and 18.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 88.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.7 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $28,391, and the median income for a family was $32,696. Males had a median income of $38,484 versus $18,819 for females. The per capita income for the town was $15,111. About 16.9% of families and 28.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 25.4% of those under age 18 and 10.8% of those age 65 or over.

Communities and locations in Massena[edit]

  • Barnhardt Island – An island in the St. Lawrence River northeast of Massena village. The island is at the international border and is the northernmost point of land in New York.
  • Long Sault Island ("Isle au Long Saut") – An island in the St. Lawrence River north of Massena village.
  • Massena – A village at the west town line on both banks of the Grasse River.
  • Massena Center – A hamlet northeast of Massena village.
  • Massena Power Canal – A waterway connecting the Grasse River to the St. Lawrence River.
  • Massena Springs – A hamlet south of Massena village by the Raquette River. The community was the site of health resorts and hotels based on sulphurous spring water.
  • Raquette River – A hamlet east of Massena village, located by the Raquette River. It was first settled around 1804.
  • Robert Moses State Park – A state park in the northern part of the town.
  • Rooseveltown – A hamlet near the eastern town line by the Raquette River.
  • Wiley Dondero Canal – A waterway constructed as part of the St. Lawrence power project.


The town is served by Massena International Airport, located east of Massena village, south of NY-37.



Some of the town's main employers are Dwight D. Eisenhower Lock, Robert Moses-Robert H. Saunders Power Dam, ALCOA, Massena Memorial Hospital, Highland Nursing Home, and St. Regis Nursing Home.

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "2016 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved Jul 5, 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Census Bureau". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  4. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 202.
  5. ^ Dinnerstein, Leonard (1994). Antisemitism in America. Oxford University Press. p. 101. ISBN 0-19-510112-X. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  6. ^ "The Massena Blood Libel"—American Jewish Historical Society
  7. ^ a b Parham, Claire Puccia (2013). [0791485676 From Great Wilderness to Seaway Towns: A Comparative History of Cornwall, Ontario, and Massena, New York, 1784-2001] Check |url= value (help). SUNY Press. p. 46. ISBN 0791485676. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  8. ^ Parham, Claire (2009). The St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project: An Oral History of the Greatest Construction Show on Earth. Syracuse University Press. p. 2. ISBN 0815651023. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  9. ^ "Massena economy tries to recover". NYTimes. December 24, 2017. Retrieved December 24, 2017.
  10. ^ "grasse river project". massena ny. 2016. Retrieved 16 April 2017. data
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  14. ^ "Memorial, Avery D. Andrews 1886". West Point, NY: West Point Association of Graduates. 1959. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  15. ^ National Teachers Hall of Fame web site Archived 2006-12-11 at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ Reichler, Joseph L., ed. (1979) [1969]. The Baseball Encyclopedia (4th ed.). New York: Macmillan Publishing. ISBN 0-02-578970-8.
  17. ^ 'Wisconsin Blue Book 1899, Biographical Sketch of Horace N. Polley, pg. 770
  18. ^ Michaud, John D. III, ed. (2004) [2004]. More than Otis: No Bull! A Salute to Hollywood Actor Hal J. Smith (1st ed.). Massena, New York: Stubbs Printing.

External links[edit]