Skaneateles ( or ) is a town in Onondaga County, New York, United States. The population was 7,209 at the 2010 census. The name is from the Iroquois term for the adjacent Skaneateles Lake, which means "long lake." The town is on the western border of the county and includes a village, also named Skaneateles. Both town and village are southwest of Syracuse.
The area was part of the former Central New York Military Tract. The town of Skaneateles was formed in 1830 from the town of Marcellus. Early turnpikes facilitated development, as mentioned in the article about the village of Skaneateles. The town was noted for participation in reform movements prior to the Civil War.
The utopian Skaneateles Community in 1843 acquired and successfully operated a large farm and developed small industries, but ultimately failed because of internal difficulties, as well as external concern about its unorthodox social practices. Locally it was sometimes called "No God," because of the atheistic views of members. The Skaneateles Community published a newspaper, the "Comunitist" between 1844 and 1846, when the community dissolved. Buildings are extant, known as "Community Place," now serving a bed-and-breakfast function.
Some Skaneateles men volunteered for the ill-fated campaign (Patriot War, 1848) to liberate Canada and were imprisoned by the British in Tasmania. Quaker congregations were involved in abolition activity. Underground Railroad sites have been documented in the town of Skaneateles. Although the larger city of Syracuse nearby was known nationally as a center of abolition and Underground Railroad activity, Skaneateles was said (by Beauchamp, an early historian) to have "eclipsed Syracuse as an anti-slavery town."