The Town of Moriah is in the eastern part of the county. It is south-southwest of Burlington, VT, south of Plattsburgh, north of Albany, NY, and south of Montreal, Quebec. Moriah is inside the Adirondack Park.
This area was inhabited for thousands of years by varying cultures of indigenous peoples. At the time of European encounter, the area was inhabited chiefly by the historic Iroquoian-speaking Mohawk of the Iroquois Confederacy to the west of Lake Champlain, with Algonquian-speaking Mahican to the south.
In 1749 the French Jesuits attracted numerous Iroquois (mostly Onondaga fleeing warfare in the western part of present-day New York) to a site on the Oswegatchie River near present-day Ogdensburg. The Jesuit fathers founded a mission village and fort. The Iroquois had to convert to Catholicism to live there. The converted Iroquois and their descendants became known as the Oswegatchie, and were considered "nephews" to the Six Nations of the Iroquois. They were among the Seven Nations of Canada that allied with the French during the Seven Years War and with the British during the American Revolutionary War, in part due to their strong trading ties and cultural links. After the Seven Years War (French and Indian War) and British victory, the colonial government granted some of its soldiers land in the region, which was ceded by the French.
It was not until after the American Revolutionary War, when most of the Iroquois allies went to Upper Canada with the Loyalists, that the first European-American permanent settlement was made, around 1785. At the time, local Native Americans still hunted in the area. They were called the St. Regis and Oswegatchie Indians, although both groups were Catholic Iroquois. Relations were initially friendly, but American settlement patterns pushed the Native Americans from their hunting grounds. (The St. Regis group were Catholic Mohawk who lived at the reserve of Akwesasne, whose territory along the St. Lawrence River included land within the boundaries of both Canada and New York, recognized as the present-day St. Regis Mohawk Reservation.)
The town was formed in 1808 from the Town of Elizabethtown.
The discovery and mining of iron in the Adirondacks caused a boom in the local economy. This area also processed iron in smelting, and shipped products from Port Henry on Lake Champlain. These operations were conducted from 1824 until 1971. The Iron Center Museum in Port Henry recalls and interprets that past era.