Rocky Landscape with Cheese Factory: The Stone Mills Union of Lafargeville, New York, 1896-1925

New York History 89, no. 3 (January 2009): 256-75.

Posted: 18 May 2016

Date Written: January 2009

Abstract

The thin topsoils of northern New York, with their rocky outcrops and granite knobs, were, in the nineteenth century, suitable mainly for dairying and the timber industries. No means of transporting milk more than a few miles existed before the end of the century, so most milk was converted into more easily transportable cheese; Northern Tier cheese factories had to be small and numerous, typically no more than three miles apart. The Stone Mills Union cheese factory, now owned and operated as a museum by the Northern New York Agricultural Historical Society on its original site in LaFargeville, was one of more than a thousand "crossroads" factories producing cheese in Jefferson, St. Lawrence, Herkimer, Oswego, Tompkins and Lewis Counties at the turn of the twentieth century. Like many others, the Stone Mills Union was a cooperative owned by its milk patrons, who pooled their resources to build the factory and employ a cheesemaker and other personnel as necessary. The factory at Stone Mills was reportedly built between 1896 and 1898; cheese production began to be reported to the state dairy commission in 1898. The factory closed during the 1920s, as large and lucrative markets for fluid milk were opened by developments in refrigerated transportation.

Keywords: cheesemaking, dairy industry, agricultural cooperatives, dairy marketing, refrigeration

JEL Classification: L23, L66, N11, N51, N81, O33, P13, Q13

Suggested Citation

Maines, Rachel, Rocky Landscape with Cheese Factory: The Stone Mills Union of Lafargeville, New York, 1896-1925 (January 2009). New York History 89, no. 3 (January 2009): 256-75. , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2781553

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