October 11th marks the 240th Anniversary of the Battle of Valcour, one of the first naval battles of the American Revolution, fought between the shores of Valcour Island and New York State.
A commemoration of this event will be held at the Clinton Community College, 2nd Floor Lobby/Veranda of the George Moore Building from 4:30 to 5:30 pm on October 11th. The event is free and the public is encouraged to attend. » Continue Reading.
Fort Ticonderoga will hold a two-day living history weekend Saturday and Sunday, September 17-18, bringing to life the daring 1777 America Raid on the fort.
Living history demonstrations will feature the weapons, tactics, trades, and people who were swept into the story of the American Revolution. The weekend will also include a special boat tour highlighting this story aboard Fort Ticonderoga’s Carillon on Lake Champlain. Admission to the event is included in a Fort Ticonderoga general admission ticket. » Continue Reading.
Fort Ticonderoga is now displaying a new exhibition, featuring rare Alexander Hamilton objects associated with this popular American revolutionary and later Secretary of the Treasury.
Fort Ticonderoga’s museum collections contain a number of pieces owned by Hamilton from his career as a young soldier in the Revolution through his brief tenure as the highest ranking officer in the US Army. The Hamilton exhibit will be on display through October 30, 2016. » Continue Reading.
My family makes a point of going to Fort Ticonderoga every summer. Tri-corner hats, fife and drum corps, cannons and muskets surround us. Overlooking a beautiful backdrop of Lake Champlain, Fort Ticonderoga is where every day is re-enactment day.
According to Fort Ti President Beth Hill, the curators choose a year from the fort’s history and focus the season’s interactive exhibits, events, and activities around that singular year. This year when we step through the doors of Fort Ticonderoga it will be 1777. » Continue Reading.
The public is invited to take a once-ever packaged tour, on Saturday, September 12, 2015, of Champlain lake shore sites where five military forts were built between 238 and 325 years ago.
Historians will lead guests on a tour of the archaeological sites of two early forts (1660, 1731) at Chimney Point in Addison, Vermont; the ruins of two forts (1734, 1759) in Crown Point, New York; and a Revolution War fort site (1776) in Orwell, Vermont. » Continue Reading.
On Sunday, August 30, 2015, at 1 pm, history and views from the Lake Champlain Bridge will be the highlights of a guided bridge walk offered by the Chimney Point State Historic Site in Addison, Vermont, and Crown Point State Historic Site in Crown Point, New York. Site manager Elsa Gilbertson (VT) and historian Tom Hughes (NY) will lead the tour.
Participants should meet at the Chimney Point State Historic Site museum on the Vermont end of the bridge to start. Allow two hours to walk back and forth across the bridge during the tour that explores the 9,000 years of human habitation at this important location on Lake Champlain. » Continue Reading.
Fort Ticonderoga and more than 700 re-enactors will play host to a two-day battle re-enactment highlighting Brown’s Raid of 1777, an attack led by patriot Colonel John Brown to take the British troops garrisoned at the fort by surprise 238 years ago.
The event takes place on Saturday and Sunday, September 12-13, from 9:30 am until 5 pm. Historic interpreters and re-enactors from across the northeast will bring to life the little-known 1777 action with special programs in the British held Fort and the American camps throughout the weekend. The Brown’s Raid battle re-enactment will take place each day at 1 pm when the raiders will attack the British held lines overlooking Fort Ticonderoga. » Continue Reading.
One of the real pleasures in researching and writing When Men and Mountain Meet was exploring the actual sites of the historic places mentioned in my book: the little town of Castorland on the Black River, the LeRay Mansion at Fort Drum, Gouverneur Morris’ Mansion at Natural Dam and David Parish’s house, now the Remington Art Museum, in Ogdensburg. And then there was finding Zephaniah Platt’s grave in the Riverside Cemetery in Plattsburgh, in Lake Placid the site of the 1813 Elba Iron and Steel Manufacturing works , Charles Herreshoff’s flooded iron ore mine in Old Forge and the complex of building foundations that made up John Thurman’s 1790 development at Elm Hill.
There was one site, however, that was a little harder to locate than the others; Sir William Johnson’s fishing camp “Fish House”. » Continue Reading.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has issued a Draft Lake Champlain Islands Management Complex Unit Management Plan (Draft UMP) in compliance with the Adirondack State Land Master Plan. The plan includes a number of historic and recreational sites.
Public comments on the plan are being accepted through September 18, 2015. A Public Meeting on the Draft UMP will be held August 20th in Plattsburgh. » Continue Reading.
Fort Ticonderoga is offering an evening 90-minute tour and demonstration of 18th-century guns – a chance to experience the flash of musketry and roar of cannon fire at night.
“Learn how these great guns were used to attack and defend the Fort during the French and Indian War and made it such an important prize in the American Revolution,” Stuart Lilie, Fort Ticonderoga’s Senior Director of Interpretation, said in announcing the tours. “Guns by Night concludes with a dramatic nighttime demonstration of weapons that you will not see anywhere else!” » Continue Reading.
The story goes that, in the summer of 1970, a Town of Johnsburg highway crew was straightening a Garnet Lake Road near Crane Mountain. While removing some of the ancient corduroy logs that once carried the road across a swampy section, they discovered what appeared to be an old cannon.
Vincent Schaefer had the cannon dated at the Watervliet Arsenal and it was determined that it was a swivel gun of the type probably used by Benedict Arnold’s troops during the battle of Valcour Island. » Continue Reading.
Today it’s a State-owned island – a day use area for picnics – but Diamond Island witnessed a horrific bombardment by gun boats manned by Patriots during the American Revolution. The fight occurred during British Lieutenant General John Burgoyne’s 1777 campaign to capture Albany. Initially, Burgoyne’s 9,000 man army had successfully captured Fort Ticonderoga and Mount Independence in July.
When Burgoyne’s progress stalled near Skenesborough (present-day Whitehall, NY), his supplies were quickly eaten up by his extended campaign. Since his large army could not easily live off the land, except for shooting an occasional deer or bear, or boiling up a captured rattlesnake or turtle, the 54-year old general established a long supply line back to Canada. It was anchored by Fort George at the southern end of Lake George and by Fort Ticonderoga at the northern end. Between the two forts, a supply depot, guarded by two companies of the 47th Regiment of Foot under Captain Thomas Aubrey was fixed on Diamond Island. » Continue Reading.
Few men contributed as much to the American victories of the French And Indian and Revolutionary War, yet have been as little recognized, as a New Hampshire farmer and lumberman by the name of John Stark. Although he is not well known outside of New Hampshire, a few words he wrote live on there today: Live Free or Die. A new biography by John F. Polhemus and Richard V. Polhemus, Stark, The Life and Wars of John Stark: French & Indian War Ranger, Revolutionary War General (Black Dome Press, 2014) should help bring this remarkable man’s life into appropriate perspective.
Stark served as a captain of rangers with Robert Rogers in the French and Indian War and as a colonel and general in the Revolution at Bunker Hill, Trenton, Princeton, Westchester, Springfield, Saratoga, Ticonderoga and West Point. His greatest achievement, however, was at the Battle of Bennington. The Battle of Saratoga and the surrender of Burgoyne on October 17, 1777 was the turning point of the American Revolution, but the Battle of Bennington on August 16th set the stage. » Continue Reading.
The legend of Sir John Johnson’s role in naming Raquette Lake has been written and re-written for more than a century. Below is the earliest source I have found, from the 1891 Annual Report of the New York State Forest Commission.
Its name is founded on a bit of history, hitherto traditional. During the War of the Revolution, a party of Indians and British soldiers, under command of Sir John Johnson… passed through the wilderness on their way from the Mohawk Valley to Canada. It was in the winter time, and, on reaching this lake, the party was overtaken by a sudden thaw, which made further travel on snow-shoes impossible. As the Indians and soldiers did not want to carry their snow-shoes, or raquettes, as they termed them, they piled them up and covered them over, making a large heap that remained there many years. The expedition had reached the South Inlet when the thaw set in, and it was there, on a point of land, that the pile was made… Old Mr. Woods, the pioneer settler of Raquette Lake, heard this story from the Indians themselves, and often pointed out to hunters the decaying fragments of the raquettes.
Believing that “Old Mr. Woods” refers to William Wood, I was intrigued to unravel the mysteries of this folklore. Wood was known to be close friends with local Native Americans, and the passage continues with a reference to Woods “in company with ‘Honest John Plumley’, Murray’s celebrated guide”. Wood sold his land on Indian Point to Plumley in 1859. » Continue Reading.
Black history in the Adirondacks has an anecdotal quality, maybe because the numbers of black Adirondackers have been so few. Here’s a story of a black homesteader who was good friends with John Brown. There’s a barn that may have sheltered fugitives on the Underground Railroad. Outside Warrensburg is a place in the woods where a black hermit lived. And so on.
The temptation – and I should know; I’ve been a lead offender – is to make a sort of nosegay out of these scattered stories, pack them all into a story by its lonesome, a chunky little sidebar, and let this stand for the black experience.
It makes a good read, and it’s efficient. And it’s wrong. It reinforces the idea that the black experience in this region was something isolated, inessential. It ghettoizes black Adirondack history, and this wasn’t how it was. » Continue Reading.
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