Mexico is somewhat irregular in outline, and lies near the center of the northwest boundary of Oswego county. The surface is gently rolling, and there is scarcely a foot of waste land in the town. Excellent drainage is afforded by several streams, the largest of which are Salmon and Sage Creeks.
The soil is a clay, sand and gravelly loam, underlaid with a strata of gray sandstone, deeply covered with alluvial deposits. Quarrying is carried on to a limited extent along Little Salmon Creek, and peat exists in some localities. The soil is very fertile, and produces large crops of hay, grain and fruit. Strawberries are extensively cultivated. Dairying is now the chief industry. The first cheese factory in town was built at Colosse in 1863, and in 1864 another was located at Prattham. At present there are eight in operation, all doing an excellent business.
The town was originally covered with a heavy growth of timber, and for many years a number of saw mills did an extensive business. In 1858 there were nineteen in operation. The manufacture of barrels comprised at one time quite an important industry. But destruction of the primitive forests finally stopped these enterprises, leaving the inhabitants to pursue the steadier occupations of agriculture.
Experts claim that Mexico lies within the great natural gas belt, which extends northeasterly from south of Potter county, Pa. In 1890 the Mexico Natural Gas, Oil and Mineral Company was organized, and in the following year a well was sunk. Gas was discovered, but not in sufficient quantities to induce further operations.
The present Mexico, with all the surrounding towns, was contracted by the State to John and Nicholas Roosevelt in 1791, for about thirty- nine cents an acre. On April 7, 1792, they conveyed their contract to George Frederick William Augustus Scriba, who received a patent for the tract in December, 1794. The next year he employed Benjamin Wright to survey the purchase into townships, and the latter gave such favorable accounts of the natural advantages of this section that Mr. Scriba immediately raised the price of his land. He also inserted in the contracts to settlers, the conditional clause: "There must be a forfeiture of this contract unless four acres shall be cleared and sown the first year, and an actual settlement made a short time after" These conditions greatly retarded early settlement and discouraged not a few of the pioneers, who soon abandoned their improvements and moved elsewhere. Mr. Scriba, seeing his mistake, reduced his prices and abolished the conditions, and the town then rapidly filled up with a class of thrifty, substantial settlers.
As early as 1795 Mr. Scriba opened a road from what is now Mexico Point to the present village of Constantia. This was the first thoroughfare in the town. Soon afterwards a highway was established from the first named place to Oswego, following mainly the beach of Lake Ontario. Other roads were opened, as settlement increased and made them necessary. In 1847 the Rome and Oswego Plank Road Company was organized, and a plank road was completed between those points in the spring of 1848. It passed through Mexico, and did an immense business in through traffic; but its business was diverted when the railroad reached Oswego, and it was long since abandoned as a plank road.
Early in the present century a stage and mail route was established between Mexico and Oswego. It soon had daily stages which were continued until superseded by the railroad. In July, 1861, Kenyon & Barrett, who were the proprietors of the line, put on a Concord coach "at a cost of $600," which created no little enthusiasm. In the fall of 1865 the Oswego and Rome Railroad (now part of the R. W. & 0.) was completed from Oswego to Richland Station, passing through Mexico, and regular trains commenced running on the first of January, 1866 This gave a new impetus to the town, and especially to Mexico village, the effect of which still continues.