Friday, July 26, 2019

A Hike Into History Recalls British Occupation of Ticonderoga

mount independenceMount Independence is located in Vermont, just across Lake Champlain from Fort Ticonderoga, for which it was a critical base of operations. It can easily be reached by the Ticonderoga Ferry, and offers a great way to hike into history.

“The Mount” was built in 1776 and 1777 by the Continental Army following their capture of Fort Ticonderoga in 1775. A bridge was built to connect the cantonment on Mount Independence (and the road to Castleton) to Fort Ticonderoga on the New York side of the lake. Over 400 yards long, with more than 20 piers with 12 foot wide floating pontoons between them, the bridge allowed troops camped at Mount Independence easy access to the Fort Ticonderoga.

The bridge was also built to defend against a British naval invasion. A heavy timber boom was installed at the north side of the bridge, and a massive iron chain, like that also used at West Point on the Hudson, was laid across the lake outside the boom. The evidence of this bridge was surveyed in 2001.

In July 1777, when British Lieutenant General John Burgoyne’s 8,000-man army arrived and took Mount Defiance overlooking Fort Ti, the Continental Army withdrew from the fort and Mount Independence. While Burgoyne marched on to defeat, he left nearly a 1,000 British and auxiliary German troops to occupy Mount Independence and Fort Ticonderoga until November 1777.

Mount Independence Coalition president Stephen Zeoli will relate the story of Mount Independence and its role in the American Revolution during a history hike at Mount Independence State Historic Site in Orwell, Vermont, on Sunday, August 4, 2019.

The special guided walk around the trail system, from 2 to 4 pm, is included in regular site admission of $5.00 for adults and free for those under 15. Wear sturdy shoes, bring water, and dress for the weather.

Zeoli is a former caretaker at the site, an editor of the Coalition’s recent book, Strong Ground: Mount Independence and the American Revolution, and author of the short book, Mount Independence: The Enduring Legacy of a Unique Place.

Mount Independence is located on Mount Independence Road, six miles west of the intersections of VT Routes 22A and 73 near Orwell village. Mount Independence, a National Historic Landmark, is one of the best-preserved Revolutionary War sites in America. Carefully follow the signs. The site is open daily, 10 am to 5 pm through October 13.

Call (802) 948-2000 for more information. More information on the Vermont State-Owned Historic Sites is available online. More information about Fort Ticonderoga can also be found online.

Read more about the American Revolution in the Adirondacks and Northern New York HERE.

Photo of Mount Independence courtesy Vermont Division for Historic Preservation.

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