Columbia County,

New York

By Capt. Franklin Ellis341


     Canaan is the second, from the north, of the towns on the eastern border of the county, and was originally a part of King's district.  It received its present name in 1788, and was reduced to its present area in 1818.  The general aspect of the surface is mountainous.  The Taghkanic range traverses it in the eastern part, from north to south, with ridges and spurs extending into the interior.  Some of these attain an elevation of about five hundred feet, and are covered with growth of stunted pine, or have out-croppings of rocks in bare ledges.  Many of the smaller hills are composed of slate-rock, which is constantly disintegrating, mixed with flinty stones and soils, rendering them susceptible of cultivation.  In other parts, slate of excellent quality, of a deep-blue color, can be obtained in plates of various sizes and almost any thickness.  Magnesian limestone abounds, and several kinds of minerals, as lead, iron ores, and galena, with a limited proportion of silver, are found, but not in quantities to pay the expense of mining.  The soil in the valleys is generally fertile, being a clay admixed with schistic gravel, and produces large crops of grass and the various cereals.

     In the northeastern part of the town is Queechy lake, a very fine body of pure water, more than three miles in circumference.  Its outlet formed a mill stream, having a general westerly course into the town of Chatham, where it unites with a brook from the central part of Canaan to form Steeny creek.  Flat brook, so called on account of its low banks, is in the eastern part, and a branch of the Kline Kill in the southwest.  Numerous springs and small brooks water the town well, and secure good drainage.

     Although Canaan was in part included in the lower Rensselaer manor, but a limited portion was settled under its provisions.  A tract, "six miles square," was purchased from the Stockbridge Indians, lying partly in this town, and in the eastern part were small grants, made by the General Court of Massachusetts, before the State bounds were adjusted.  These are more fully noted in the general history of the county.