Salem is the oldest existing incorporated village in the State of New York. Settled in 1764 by immigrants from Scotland and former residents of Pelham, Massachusetts, the town lies along White Creek.
In September of 1777, when the townspeople had evacuated the village at the orders of General Schuler, Tories and Indians burned Fort Salem to the ground. At the time, the Salem Militia under the leadership of Colonel John Williams was fighting at the Battle of Bennington. The Militia would further distinguish itself in a blocking action against British General Burgoyne's army at the Battle of Saratoga and in actions against scattered British forces by the local Rangers led by Joshua Conkey and John Barnes.
Salem's economy bustled with activity during the railroad era. On March 3, 1852 the first train of the Washington and Rutland Railroad steamed into town with Abram Gould, Chief Engineer and brother of Jay Gould, at the controls.
Over the next 100 years numerous businesses employing fifty or more workers sprang up in the little village. The Bartlett All-Steel Scythe Company, the Manhattan Shirt Mill, a lumber mill, a gristmill, a marble mill, a paper company, a carriage assembly company and the Stevens Potato Company located here and shipped their products by rail.