Pieces of Fort Edward Revealed During Dredging

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A piece of historic Fort Edward, site of the Great Carrying Place portage between the Hudson River and Lake George and prominent in the history of the French and Indian War and the American Revolution, is reported to have been brought up while dredging the Hudson River for PCBs according to the Glens Falls Post Star.

“Neal Orsini said he was awakened at 4 a.m. by the noise of a clamshell dredge pulling the piece of wood, which he estimated to be about 14 feet long, from his property,” the paper reported. “There was a breakdown somewhere in the system and they took a piece of old Fort Edward out of the bank they weren’t supposed to be touching,” Orsini said, “It was really loud.”

Orsini also told the paper that a clamshell dredge removed a section of riverbank. “It left a gaping hole in my river bank,” he said. The paper is reporting that archeologists are on the scene and a “survey is being performed on the pieces taken from the area.”

Fort Edward was built in 1755 on “The Great Warpath” between Albany and the head of northward navigation at Lake George. It’s three components, the fort itself, a fortified encampment on Rogers Island, and a Royal blockhouse built in 1758 across the river was Britain’s largest military outpost in North America during the French and Indian War housing more than 15,000 troops. An earlier stockaded area named Fort Nicholson was located there in 1709 during Queen Anne’s War; it was rebuilt as Fort Lydus (primarily the trading post of John Lydus) and in 1731 was rebuilt as Fort Lyman. It was renamed For Edward by Sir William Johnson during the French and Indian War in 1755.

Although the historic site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it has been largely forgotten, after the area was heavily contaminated with PCBs, and has fallen into disuse except for the Rogers Island Visitors Center. The Associated Press reported this week that three entities are hoping to purchase parts of the site including the Archaeological Conservancy, the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and archeologist David Starbuck, who has been excavating the site since at least 2001.

Rogers Island was also the base camp of Major Robert Rogers and his company of Rangers and it was there that he composed his “Ranging Rules” which form the basis of military tactics adopted by irregular fighting forces all over the world. The site is considered the birthplace of the U.S. Army Rangers. The fort fell to British forces under John Burgoyne in 1777 during the American Revolution.

The dredging project is in its fourth month of removing approximately 2.65 million cubic yards of Hudson Riverbed sediment contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). General Electric is believed to have dischargeed more than 1 million pounds of PCBs from its plants in Hudson Falls and Fort Edward into the Hudson River. The company then fought a legal, political, and media battle to avoid cleanup for nearly 20 years. GE fought the Superfund law in court and conducted a media campaign to convince the public that cleaning the toxic waste from the river would stir up PCBs. This week high levels of PCBs downriver slowed the dredging. GE was ordered by the EPA to clean up a 40-mile stretch of the Hudson River it contaminated in 2002.

Photo: Fort Edward from “A Set of Plans and Forts in Americas, Reduced From Actual Surveys” [1763]

2 thoughts on “Pieces of Fort Edward Revealed During Dredging

  1. Anonymous

    I’m sorry, but your article has some facts wrong. This area was never forgotten by the locals, just inaccessible and off limits. We consider this area as our heritage and our legacy. And no, the timbers were not miraculously unearthed. They were visible and well known. This was just a complete demonstration of apathy and disregard on the part of GE and the EPA.

  2. John Warren

    Actually, I just toured the area and found that it was an utter disgrace in terms of the way in which the area had been uncared for and un-promoted. On Rogers Island for instance (which you would not be bale to find unless you know where to look) rutted roads lead to the edge of fields where monuments stand un-maintained and unmarked. The field grass was not even cut, there was no parking areas, no signs leading visitors to the monuments on Rogers Island. A palisade, constructed apparently some time ago is falling into disrepair to such a point that it’s an eyesore. The dock at the Hudson River has been abandoned – not only unusable, but also a hazard. Fake lantern-like lights are busted and not repaired, overground with weeds.

    The area may never have been forgotten in the memory sense, but it sure was in every other sense. Considering the area’s importance, what the town has done with it – almost nothing – is a disgrace.


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