Massena is in upstate New York right on the Saint Lawrence River which forms the border with Canada.

There is a bridge to the Canadian town of Cornwall a few miles downriver. Forty miles (60km) upriver is another bridge linking Ogdensburg, New York to Prescott, Ontario.


Power dam at Cornwall-Massena

Massena, founded 1802 and named for one of Napoleon's field marshals, André Masséna, was originally built on forestry and tourism to Massena Springs, an early health spa. The town industrialized with the construction of the hydroelectric dam and Saint Lawrence Seaway in 1958, with Alcoa using its energy to manufacture aluminum. General Motors operated an aluminum engine-casting plant which was closed in 2008; a paper industry which had left Cornwall-Massena heavily polluted in the 1970s is also now gone.

Ocean-going vessels from as far west as Duluth (Minnesota) pass through Massena's two locks on their way to the Atlantic; the Seaway typically opens in late March and operates until mid-December. Recreational boaters may take vessels 20' (9m) or larger through the locks, but the huge "Seaway max" cargo ships are given priority.

Get in

By plane

By bus

By motorcar

There is no US Interstate highway in the region; I-81 (Watertown) and I-87 (Plattsburgh) run north to the Thousand Islands and Montréal respectively, but neither reaches Massena. On the Canadian side, Cornwall is part of the busy Windsor-Quebec corridor; Ontario highway 138 leads from the 401 and 417 freeways south to the Cornwall-Massena international bridge.

Get around










Mohawk native reserve on the St. Lawrence River between Massena and Malone (New York); this first nation territory straddles the Ontario-Québec-New York border near Hogansburg NY, extending across Cornwall Island ON and into St Régis, Quebec.

The area is a customs agent's nightmare and a smuggler's dream. The village of St Régis is legally part of Canada but it is separated from Cornwall by the river. It adjoins Fort Covington, New York, by land; a phone call between the two is a local call. The "Jay Treaty" between the US and Britain allows natives to cross the border unhindered, to bring goods with them, and to live and work in either country without needing a visa. There has been considerable controversy over the interpretation of this treaty, including lawsuits, arrests and demonstrations.

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