Tag Archives: Lake Champlain

Fort Ticonderoga Grows Interpretive Department


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While other history sites around the state continue to face cutbacks and layoffs, Fort Ticonderoga seems to have turned a corner with it’s own economic struggles. The private not-for-profit historic site and museum o Lake Champlain is growing with two new additions to its year-round Interpretive Department staff. Joel Anderson, Artificer Supervisor, and Joseph Privott, Military Programs Supervisor, began their new positions at Fort Ticonderoga on January 3.

Stuart Lilie, Fort Ticonderoga’s Director of Interpretation, said “These two individuals bring practical 18th century period knowledge to Fort Ticonderoga’s strategic drive to bring day to day historic details to life at Fort Ticonderoga, one of America’s oldest and most significant historic sites in North America.” He noted their “Skills and leadership allow the Fort to create living history programs and events for visitors that are exciting and interesting. Equally important, the Interpretive Department is able to emphasize Fort Ticonderoga’s commitment to excellence and historical accuracy as we portray those soldiers who struggled and died on this ground.”

Joel Anderson comes to Fort Ticonderoga with twelve years living history experience, both as a re-enactor and museum profession. Joel has previously worked for Middleton Place, a National Historic Landmark located in Charleston, SC, specializing in livestock, carriages, and military programming. In his own business, Anderson Tailoring, Joel hand-stitched, custom-fit Revolutionary War uniforms and civilian clothing. Joel studied at East Tennessee State University, pursuing his musical skills. An avid equestrian, researcher, and eighteenth century mechanic, Joel has already contributed a great deal to Fort Ticonderoga’s living history programs in 2011. Serving as Artificer Supervisor, Joel will lead the development of the Fort’s historic trade program in 2012 including shoemaking and military tailoring.

Joseph Privott, who studied at Lees-McCrae College, brings his own living history experience in re-enacting and museums. Joseph’s mechanical skills include fields diverse as blacksmithing, artillery, woodwork, and Native American crafts. The creator of an online database about Southeastern Native Americans in the 18th century, Joseph brought his extensive background in Native American material culture to his portrayal of a 1759 British Indian agent at the Fort in 2011. Previously a docent with the Southern Appalachian Historical Association and a volunteer at Fort Dobbs State Historic Site, Joseph’s commitment to educational excellence in living history programs at Fort Ticonderoga has already made its mark.

The two new year-round positions expand Fort Ticonderoga’s capacity to offer events throughout the year and increased school programming. These positions will also provide the cadre of leadership for an enlarged staff of costumed interpreters in the 2012 visitor season. Beth Hill, Executive Director, said “The addition of Joel Anderson and Joseph Privott to Fort Ticonderoga’s full-time staff represents an important step in Fort Ticonderoga reclaiming its place as the premier eighteenth century military site in North America.”

Photo: Joel Anderson, Artificer Supervisor, (left) and Joseph Privott, Military Supervisor, (right).

Lawrence Gooley: Missing Aunt Mary


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It has been a year now since the death of a friend and her burial on the last day of 2010. The friend, Mary (Pippo) Barber of Whitehall, was nearly four decades my senior, but acted so young that she made me feel old. I first met her around ten years ago when she came 100+ miles north to Plattsburgh with a friend and stood with us in line for three hours at a job fair. She was there as moral support, talking and joking all day long. I had no idea she was 84 at the time. As I would learn, she never looked anywhere near her age.

My partner, Jill, is from Whitehall (at the southern tip of Lake Champlain, where the barge canal begins). It is through her that I met “Aunt Mary,” a very important person in Jill’s life. On every visit to Whitehall during the past decade, Aunt Mary was on our schedule of stops. She was always nice, friendly, inquisitive, and fun to chat with … just a classy lady.

Her memory was as sharp as anyone’s, and our interest in history often prompted us to steer the conversation in that direction. As many of you know (but many of us neglect), elderly citizens provide an invaluable connection to the past. When we republished Whitehall’s pictorial history book several years ago, it was Aunt Mary who readily answered dozens of questions, helping us correctly label many buildings when we prepared the captions.

At one point in our conversations over the years, she mentioned that a movie had once been filmed in Whitehall. That was news to me and Jill, and we had to wonder if maybe she had made a mistake. It would have been easy to believe that she was a little mixed up—after all, she was about 90 then, and nobody else had ever mentioned a movie. Still, we just couldn’t believe she was wrong.

Jill’s faith in Aunt Mary drove her to keep digging, and much to her surprise, delight, and amazement, it was true! After much time and considerable research, she was able to uncover the entire story, a tale that may have been lost except for the teamwork of Jill and Aunt Mary.

It strengthened the already solid bond between them, and it didn’t stop there. A poster re-creation of the original movie advertisement is now an exhibit in the Whitehall museum, donated by Jill in Aunt Mary’s name.

Aunt Mary’s passing was certainly a sad loss, but it offered a reminder of the wonderful people and great historical resources that are often neglected—our elderly, whether they are relatives, friends, or nursing home residents. If you have considered talking to any of them and asking all kinds of questions, do it. They’ll enjoy it, and so will you. Don’t put it off and eventually live with painful regret.

We still miss her, and I’m certainly glad we asked Aunt Mary all those questions over the years, learning about her life and Whitehall’s history. It was not only a smart thing to do. It was respectful, educational, and just plain fun.

Photo: Above, Mary (Pippo) Barber, circa 1943; Below, Mary (Pippo) Barber, circa 2005.

Lawrence Gooley has authored ten books and dozens of articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 19 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.

Westport’s Historic Depot Theatre Looks to 2012


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The historic Depot Theatre in Westport on Lake Champlain will celebrate its 33rd year with a new managing director, a new volunteer guild and four shows for the 2012 season. The popular professional theatre company was founded in 1979 by Carol Buchanan, former President of the Westport Historical Society, which maintained stewardship over the historic Westport train station.

The Historical Society saw the potential for cultural activity in the partially renovated D & H Railroad station, and turned first to a Wednesday Night Bingo game to reach the goal. In 1985, the Depot Theatre stepped out from under the Historical Society’s umbrella to become its own separate not-for-profit entity (the theatre company turned professional in 1988 under an agreement with Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers. In 2006, the Depot Theatre also became a member of the Theatre Communications Group, the national organization for professional, non-profit theaters.

Since 1979, the Depot Theatre has produced over 170 plays in its handicap accessible, 136 seat performance space (the former D&H freight room, now fully air conditioned.) In 1995, the Depot Theatre was recognized with a Park Heritage Award from the Adirondack Council and in 2000 with an Adirondack Architectural Heritage Award which recognized major renovation and restoration work to the historical building.

Though Delaware and Hudson is no longer in operation, AMTRAK continues to service rail passengers on the Adirondack Line between NYC and Montreal. The Westport stop is a gateway to the Adirondack Park, and the train station and the Theatre have developed a unique partnership to keep this historical space maintained – the Depot Theatre serves as steward of the historical site.

The Depot has launched a national search to replace outgoing managing director Chris Casquilho who is moving to Ogden, Utah with his family to work for Weber State University.

The Board of Trustees has said it’s approaching this leadership transition as an opportunity to realign operations to focus on the Depot’s long range plan. “We’re looking for an individual who can help grow the operating budget in order to nurture our commitment to exploring new work alongside the canon of American Theatre,” explained Artistic Director Shami McCormick, whose involvement spans the organization’s history. The annual operating budget recently ranges between $300,000 and $350,000, but McCormick is says there is room and demand for growth.

“There’s something quite magical about being behind the scenes in a live theatre atmosphere,” said Kim Rielly, board trustee. “And in 2012, we plan to ramp up our Volunteer Guild, with new opportunities for community members to take a real hands-on role in the operation of our hometown Theatre, and earn some great perks to go along with it.”

The 2012 season will feature four main stage shows including a Country/Blues Love Story, a fast-paced comedy, a 1950‘s musical with classic favorites, a funny story of five full-figured women racing to meet nearly impossible production deadlines, plus a full season’s worth of mid-week and special events.

For more information, season subscriptions, tickets and a complete schedule, contact the Box Office at 518.962.4449 or visit depottheatre.org.

Atlatl Championship at Mount Independence


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Journey way back to the ancient past, before the invention of the bow and arrow, to experience how people the world over hunted big game by coming to the 16th Annual Northeast Open Atlatl Championship September 17 and 18, 2011, beginning at 10:30 AM on Saturday and 10:00 on Sunday, at the Mount Independence State Historic Site in Orwell, Vermont.

The competition is based on the ancient hunting technique of using an atlatl (spear thrower). Atlatlists of all skill levels are welcome. Demonstrations of flint knapping, bow making, hafting stone points, fletching atlatl darts, cordage making with natural materials, and other aspects of Native American life will take place on Saturday. Food will be available. Continue reading

Searching For MacDonough’s War of 1812 Shipyard


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The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum has received a grant of $23,985 from the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP) to undertake an archeological survey to determine the precise location and established boundaries for MacDonough’s War of 1812 Shipyard in Vergennes, Vermont.

“We are proud to support projects like this that safeguard and preserve American battlefields,” said Jon Jarvis, Director of the National Park Service. “These places are symbols of individual sacrifice and national heritage that we must protect so that this and future generations can understand the struggles that define us as a nation.”


This grant is one of25 National Park Service grants totaling $1.2 million to preserve and protect significant battle sites from all wars fought on American soil. Funded projects preserve battlefields from the Colonial­ Indian Wars through World War II and include site mapping (GPS/GIS data collection), archeological studies, National Register of Historic Places nominations, preservation and management plans.

Federal, state, local, and Tribal governments, nonprofit organizations, and educational institutions are eligible for National Park Service battlefield grants which are awarded annually. Since 1996 more than $12 million has been awarded by ABPP to help preserve significant historic battlefields associated with wars on American soil.

Additional information is online at www.nps.gov/history/hpslabpp. To find out more about how the National Park Service helps communities with historic preservation and recreation projects please visit www.nps.gov/communities.

Artist conception of MacDonough’s War of 1812 Lake Champlain Shipyard Workers by Kevin Crisman, LCMM Collection).

Adirondack Architectural Heritage Upcoming Events


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What follows are descriptions of three upcoming tours in Gloversville, Willsboro, and southern Clinton County, hosted by Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) that still have space available. AARCH also has a golf benefit at the end of the month in Ticonderoga.

Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) is the nonprofit historic preservation organization for New York State’s Adirondack Park. AARCH was formed in 1990 with a mission to promote better public understanding, appreciation and stewardship of the Adirondacks’ unique and diverse architectural heritage.



Early Industry and Architecture in Gloversville

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The city of Gloversville, unsurprisingly, developed around the glove industry, relying on the tanneries that were so abundant in the southern Adirondacks to provide leather. With the departure of this important industry, the city is now working to build a new identity. Fulton County Chamber of Commerce President Wally Hart will lead this walking tour of downtown Gloversville, exploring a stunning collection of turn-of-the-century commercial buildings in various stages of rehabilitation and learning about the city’s rich history. We’ll also visit the ornate Carnegie Library and the Glove Theater, formerly one of three theaters in town owned by the wealthy Schine family. The tour begins at 10 a.m. and ends around 3 p.m. The fee is $30 for AARCH and Chamber members and $40 for non-members.

The Clarks of Willsboro Point

Saturday, August 20, 2011



During the late 19th century Orrin Clark, and his sons Solomon and Lewis, operated a successful quarry on Ligonier Point in Willsboro, providing “bluestone” for a number of regional buildings, as well as the Champlain Canal and the Brooklyn Bridge. In addition to the quarry the Clarks ran a dairy farm and a shipbuilding business. This tour will visit the quarry remains; the Clarks’ homestead, Old Elm; the quarry master’s house, Scragwood; and the surrounding grounds. These buildings have remained nearly untouched since the Clarks’ occupancy, providing a rare view of life at the turn of the century. You will also be able to explore the family’s history through extensive documents meticulously organized in a private collection. The tour begins at 10 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m. The fee is $35 for AARCH and $45 for non-members.

200 Years of Farming

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Farming has been important to the Champlain Valley for more than two centuries. On this southern Clinton County tour, we will explore a series of homesteads and farms from the early 19th century to the present day, which will collectively show how farming has changed over time. We’ll begin the day at the Babbie Rural and Farm Learning Museum, then visit the Keese Homestead (c. 1795) built by Quaker settlers in a community called The Union. Other stops include Remillard Dairy Farm, family owned for three generations; Forrence Orchards, one of the largest McIntosh orchards in the state; and finally Clover Mead Farm, where we’ll see how organic cheese is made and sample their exceptional line of farm-fresh products. Led by AARCH’s Steven Engelhart, the tour begins at 10 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m. The fee is $35 for AARCH and $45 for non-members.

Golf Tournament to Benefit AARCH

Ticonderoga Country Club

Monday, August 29, 2011

Join us for our third annual golf Tournament. This year’s event will be held at Ticonderoga Country Club. This scenic course is set in the historic Lord Howe Valley and features an open yet challenging layout. The day will include a buffet lunch; a round of golf with cart; and the opportunity to win great prizes.The format will be a four man scramble with a shot gun start. The cost is $100 per person.

Photo: Downtown Gloversville.

Soldiers Atop Mount Independence Event


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It was 235 years ago this July that American soldiers began building one of the largest Revolutionary War fortifications in the country—on what would become known as Mount Independence in Orwell, Vermont.

An event commemorating this anniversary and experience the Revolutionary War and the road to American independence will be held on Saturday and Sunday, July 23 and 24, as the Mount Independence State Historic Site in Orwell, Vermont, presents the annual “Soldiers Atop the Mount” living history weekend. Continue reading

Fort Ticonderoga Acquires Significant Papers


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A donation of four important manuscripts describing the American attack on Mount Independence on September 18, 1777 was recently made to the Fort Ticonderoga Museum. The collection of four letters was drafted by American Brigadier General Jonathan Warner and relate to Colonel John Brown’s raid on Ticonderoga. The donation was discovered and organized by Dr. Gary M. Milan and made possible by the generous support of George and Kathy Jones.

After the American army at Ticonderoga was forced to evacuate with the approach of the British army under General John Burgoyne in July 1777, Burgoyne left a small force of British and German soldiers to garrison Fort Ticonderoga and Mount Independence as the bulk of his army pursued the American army southward. In mid September two 500-men forces were ordered to test the defenses of the two posts and on September 18, the forces converged on the sleeping garrisons. Continue reading

Fort Ticonderoga to Recreate 1759 British Capture


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Re-enactors portraying French and British soldiers of the Seven Year’s War, also known as the French and Indian War, will converge upon Fort Ticonderoga this Saturday and Sunday, June 25 and 26 to recreate the tumultuous and chaotic events by which General Amherst’s British army captured the vital Fort. Visitors will experience the life of British soldiers and besieged French soldiers recreated around them, with all the sights and sounds they would have encountered at Fort Ticonderoga in the summer of 1759.

The modern recreation of this clash for empire will feature a variety of demonstrations and events. Highlights of the weekend include: a battle each day featuring re-enactors recreating events of the siege as reported in the diary of a private in Willard’s Regiment of Massachusetts Provincials, who was part of the British force attacking the Fort; artillery and musket demonstrations; a talk by author Russ Bellico on his book, Empires in the Mountains; 18th-century music performed on period instruments by musician Robert Mouland; a rousing game of 18th-century cricket; and historic merchants to give visitors an immersive experience in the inevitable victory for the British forces. In addition to these special events, visitors to Fort Ticonderoga on June 25 and 26 can also enjoy the museum’s extensive collection of artifacts and militaria and the King’s Garden; admission to this reenactment weekend is included in the price of general admission to the Fort.

During the Seven Year’s War the great rivalry between France and Britain played out in their American colonies. The summer of 1759 saw General Amherst, commander and chief of all British forces in North America, moving to take the French Fort Carillon (Ticonderoga) from the rear guard of soldiers posted there. Amherst moved his massive force of 11,000 to siege lines previously held by the French outside the Fort. The tiny French contingent of 400 pounded the British line with artillery for four days, in a futile attempt to stave off the inevitable. Finally, with their defeat in sight, the French spiked the cannons in the Fort, rendering them useless, and lit a fuse in the powder magazine, which exploded with destructive force. The French force retreated by boat to Fort St. Frederic in the north, also known as Crown Point. Out of the rubble of the old Fort Carillon rose the new Fort Ticonderoga as the British forces immediately moved in to begin reconstructing the fortifications.

Photo: Fort Ticonderoga’s Historic Interpreters Portray Massachusetts Provincial Soldiers in 1759. Courtesy Fort Ticonderoga.

Champlain Maritime Museum Native American Encampment


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The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum will be hosting a Native American Encampment Weekend this weekend, June 25 & 26, that is expected to give visitors a Native American perspective on life – past, present, and future – in the Champlain Valley and across Vermont.

Members of the Elnu and Missisquoi Abenaki tribes, the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk and Koasek Traditional Band of the Koas Abenaki Nation will gather will gather at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum for the annual celebration of the region’s Native American Heritage. Continue reading

Ethan Allen Life and Times Talk


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Author Willard Sterne Randall will give a talk on Ethan Allen, one of Vermont’s best known historic figures, on June 18 at 1 p.m., at the Mount Independence State Historic Site in Orwell, VT. Randall’s new book, Ethan Allen: His Life and Times, which W.W. Norton will be coming out with later this summer, is the first comprehensive biography of Allen in a half century. Continue reading

Maritime Museum Has New Longboat, New Exhibit


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The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum’s (LCMM) 2011 season has already kicked off and features the newest Champlain Longboat, Maple. Student boat builders, faculty members from the Hannaford Career Center’s Diversified Occupations program, and LCMM boatbuilding staff recently launched the boat at Basin Harbor.

Also new this year is the exhibit “From the Page’s Edge: Water in Literature and Art” which reveals a wide array of personal connections between art, literature, and the natural world.

In this interdisciplinary exhibit, nineteen contemporary artists from New York City, Pennsylvania, Vermont, New Jersey, Maryland, and upstate New York share some of the literary sources and life experiences that inspired them. Their artworks – in diverse media – range from representational to abstract. Their literary selections are as well-known as an African-American spiritual or an essay by Thoreau, and as private as personal poetry. Lake Champlain’s shipwrecks inspired the poetry of UVM Professor Daniel Lusk and a painting by Vergennes artist Eloise Beil.

Exhibit curator Virginia Creighton, a New York City artist with family connections in Ripton, Vermont, recalls childhood adventures in a flooded yard: “My sister and I were tomboys. We went out the side door . . . straight to the flooded low ground next to the garage. . . to wade in amongst the growing stalks of rhubarb.” Creighton’s painting “Kid’s House” was her response to that memory and the poem “in Just” by e. e. cummings, which evokes a youthful spring “when the world was mud-luscious” and “puddle-wonderful.”

From the Page’s Edge will be on view at LCMM through June 26. A color catalog of the exhibition will be available at LCMM and online.

Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, located at 4472 Basin Harbor Road, seven miles west of Vergennes, is open daily. A world-class nautical archaeological research center with a lakeside campus of eighteen buildings, LCMM operates a fleet of full-sized and operational replica vessels, with a staff including educators, boat builders and curators. The museum’s team of nautical archaeologists has explored the lake’s 300+ historic shipwrecks, transforming their discoveries into hands-on exhibits, films, and programs.

LCMM brings the past of Lake Champlain to the public through special events, exhibits, courses and workshops, summer camps, and traveling replica vessels that encourage historical perspective and cultural connections between communities. More information about new exhibits, special events, and on-water programs, and the itinerary for schooner Lois McClure can be found on the Maritime Museum website.

Photo: Champlain Longboat Maple ready for launch day.

Mount Independence, Hubbardton Battlefield Reopen


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The Mount Independence and Hubbardton Battlefield Vermont State Historic Sites open for the 2011 season on Saturday, May 28, at 9:30 a.m. Both sites have scenic grounds for walking and picnics, and popular specialty museum shops with many books and other items.

The Chimney Point State Historic Site and grounds in Addison will be closed to the public for the 2011 season due to the ongoing construction of the Lake Champlain Bridge. The site will be open for the bridge opening celebration weekend, at a yet to be determined date this fall. The popular annual Northeast Open Atlatl Championship, September 16 to 18, will be moved again this year to Mount Independence in Orwell. Continue reading

Champlain Maritime Museum Announces Changes


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The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (LCMM) is undergoing its first change in leadership in the 26 years since it was founded. Art Cohn and LCMM’s Board of Directors have just unveiled their transition plan for the next years of leadership for LCMM.

This fall, Art Cohn, co-founder and executive director, will take on the new role of Senior Advisor and Special Projects Director, while Erick Tichonuk and Adam Kane, both longtime members of the museum staff, will ascend to the position of Co-Executive Directors.

Tichonuk will have primary responsibility for the fleet, museum programs and operations, while Kane will be Archaeological Director of LCMM’s Maritime Research Institute. They will work in tandem on the overall leadership of LCMM.

In a letter sent to community leaders, museum members and supporters, Cohn explained “Several years ago I began to ponder the prospect of transition, and I came to believe that passing leadership of the museum to the next generation was perhaps the most important responsibility I would have. Over the years, I have focused very hard on identifying and recruiting the best and brightest to the museum with the hope and expectation that the next generation of leaders would be among them. I am pleased to report that they were.”

Sandy Jacobs, LCMM Board Chair from 2006 to 2009, and Darcey Hale, incoming Board Chair who took office on May 1, elaborated: “The museum is what it is today because of the vision that Art Cohn and Bob Beach had 26 years ago, Art’s skillful leadership, his devotion to every aspect of the institution and, most of all, his passion for everything that relates to Lake Champlain. As many of you have so aptly stated, ‘Art is the Maritime Museum.’ Adam Kane and Erick Tichonuk have worked closely with Art for many years, helping to shape the values and the culture of the museum, and they have been thoughtful and thorough in their proposal for carrying forward the Museum’s mission and vision. We are confident that under their leadership the museum will continue to grow and to flourish.” “Two more talented, dedicated and thoughtful people you could not find,” Cohn declared, “I am so pleased for them and for the museum family.”

The announcement comes as the Maritime Museum prepares to launch into a typically busy “open” season. Kane is deploying teams of LCMM nautical archaeologists to fieldwork and consultations in Onondaga Lake and Lake George as well as Lake Champlain, while Tichonuk directs the installation of the museum’s new exhibits, readies the Philadelphia II and Lois McClure for the new season, and works with waterfront communities around the lake in anticipation of the schooner’s “Farm and Forest” tour this summer. In the months ahead, LCMM’s Board and leadership staff will also be engaged in a strategic planning process that will chart LCMM’s future course. “This is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to reach out and celebrate the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum – past, present and future,” Hale exclaims. “We are sincerely grateful to all of the many people who over the years have demonstrated their support, interest, and belief that LCMM plays a vital role in the history and well being of our region and far beyond.” Cohn concurs: “We have just celebrated LCMM’s twenty-fifth anniversary year, and this positive transition plan provides assurance that the museum will build upon its accomplishments and be even more productive in the years to come.”

Photo: LCMM Co-founder and Executive Director Art Cohn (center) with Erick Tichonuk (left) and Adam Kane, who will become Co-Executive Directors of Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in the fall.

Program on Crown Point Cannon Offered


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Where, in the Lake Champlain region, was the richest trove of artillery pieces at the time of the outbreak of the Revolutionary War? Most published histories, including those used in the classroom, overlook the largest British fort ever built in North America – Crown Point. At 7:00 pm, May 12th, artillery expert Joseph M. Thatcher will present a free public lecture inside the museum auditorium at the Crown Point State Historic Site on the little-known but fascinating topic of “The Cannon From Crown Point.”

As the long-time Supervising Curator for the New York State Bureau of Historic Sites, Thatcher tracked the movements – over the centuries – of artillery pieces. His presentation falls precisely on the 236th anniversary of the liberation (by the Green Mountain Boys militia, led by Captain Seth Warner) of more than 100 British-held artillery pieces at Crown Point. Those cannon from the French and Indian War-period would soon be put to use during the War for American Independence.

Crown Point seasonal staff will return to service at the site on Saturday, May 14, to provide history interpretation in the museum and in both fort ruins at Crown Point. Summer open hours are 9:30 – 5:00, Thursdays through Mondays. The museum contains an audio-visual presentation and exhibition, both installed in 2009, that features four different original artillery pieces from the 1700s.

Crown Point occupies a key location, both geographically and historically. Before the 1730s, Woodland Indians camped on the peninsula. In 1734, the French military built an impressive stronghold here, Fort St. Frédéric, with its tall limestone tower and its artillery-fortified windmill. A quarter-century later, when the British arrived, they built a vast fort at Crown Point, starting in 1759. The limestone ruins of both the French-built fort and of the earthen walls and stone barracks of the British fort have remained largely unchanged since a devastating fire burned the British fort in April 1773, just two years before the start of the War for American Independence.

Books: The War of 1812 in the Champlain Valley


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As the 200th anniversary approaches, there will be a steady stream of new books about the War of 1812. But for readers interested in the effects of the war on the ground in the Champlain Valley, there remains just one foundational text, now available for the first time in paper by Syracuse University Press. Although first issued in 1981, Allan S. Everest’s The War of 1812 in the Champlain Valley is still required reading for those hoping to understand the Plattsburgh campaign, considered critical to the war.

The War of 1812, ranks with the often overlooked American conflicts of the 19th century, but unlike the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) or the Spanish-American War (1898-1902), the War of 1812 really was a Second War for Independence. America stood at the other side of Britain’s own Manifest Destiny, the homes, farms, property, and lives of Americans in the Champlain Valley stood in the middle.


The first months of 1814 spelled gloom for America, then only 35 years old. The war against England was stalled. The British continued to kidnap and impress American for service on their warships. They supported Native Americans who attacked outposts and settlements on the American frontier. American harbors were blockaded by the British and New England, never sympathetic with the narrow vote of Congress for war, had become openly hostile and was threatening to secede.

Still worse, Napoleon had been defeated in Europe and Britain could now devote more time and effort to America. The British saw an opportunity to split the new American republic and once again take control of sections of the young colonies. The bold plan called for a combined army and naval strike at Plattsburgh, followed by a drive down the lake and through the Hudson Valley to New York City, splitting the colonies in two. The Americans saw that opportunity too.

The Navy Department contracted Noah Brown, one of New York’s finest shipwrights, to build a fleet to protect the way south from Canada along Lake Champlain. In less than two months, Brown constructed, armed, and launched a total of six of war ships: Allen, Borer, Burrows, Centipede, Nettie, and Viper. With the help of the small Vermont town of Vergennes and its iron foundry that could supply spikes, bolts, and shot, and it’s water-powered sawmills, and surrounding forests filled with white oak and pine for ship timber, Brown built the 26-gun flagship Saratoga, in just 40 days, and commandeered the unfinished steamboat and completed it as the 17-gun schooner Ticonderoga.

Vastly out-manned and outgunned on both land and sea, a rag tag inexperienced group of 1,500 Americans commanded by Capt. Thomas Macdonough met the greatest army and naval power on earth. Because of a serious shortage of sailors for his fleet, he drafted U.S. Army soldiers, band musicians, and convicts serving on an army chain gang to man the ships.

Their leader Macdonough had some experience. He had served against the Barbary pirates in North Africa, but two decades of warfare had given the British considerably more experience. It had for instance, led to the promotion of officers by merit, rather than by purchase or birth. As a result the British forces were the best trained and most experienced in the world and they enjoyed the backing of the world’s greatest military power. Sir George Prevost led the large British army and its fleet into New York and down Lake Champlain to meet the Americans. But what happened that September 11th no one could have predicted.

By the end of the day, the U.S. had achieved the complete and unconditional surrender of the entire British fleet and the full retreat of all British land forces. More importantly, the American victory at Plattsburgh helped persuade the British to end the war.

That’s the bigger story, but the local story is the strength of Allan Everest’s history. As a professor of history at SUNY Plattsburgh, and the author of Moses Hazen and the Canadian Refugees in the American Revolution, Our North Country Heritage, and the seminal book on the region’s prohibition history drawn from local interviewees, Rum Across the Border, Everest had a grasp of the topography of the region’s political, social, and cultural history.

Over some two and a half years, the region saw armies raised, defeated, and disbanded, including their own militia, which was repeatedly called out to protect the border areas and to serve under regular army units. Everest catalogs the political and military rivalries, and the series of disheartening defeats, loss of life, and destruction of property and markets resiliently borne by local people, who were forced to flee when battle threatened, and returned to rebuild their lives.

2001′s The Final Invasion: Plattsburgh, the War of 1812’s Most Decisive Victory painted with a broader brush and suffered criticism for misunderstanding the Plattsburgh campaign. As a result, Everest’s 30-year-old work – despite its age – is still the definitive work on the impact of the War of 1812 on northern New York.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

Lake Champlain: An Illustrated History


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The eastern edge of the Adirondack Park stretches into the middle of Lake Champlain, that great river-lake 120 miles long, four times the size of Lake George. Standing between the states of New York and Vermont, it’s the largest body of water in the Adirondacks, one that connects Whitehall and (via the Champlain Canal and Hudson River) New York City to Quebec’s Richelieu River and the St. Lawrence River.

Two routes inland from the Atlantic Ocean that have had a historic impact on the entire North County, New York and Vermont. The book Lake Champlain: An Illustrated History celebrates what is unquestionably America’s most historic lake. Continue reading

Public Input Sought for Bridge Reopening Celebration


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The Lake Champlain Bridge Coalition has announced the formation of the Lake Champlain Bridge Community (LCB Community). The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) has entrusted the Coalition and LCB Community to create, plan and lead the public festivities that will celebrate the replacement and re-opening of the Lake Champlain Bridge. The celebration will also showcase the reunited regional communities of Addison, Vt. and Crown Point, N.Y. Continue reading

New NY Military History: Empires in the Mountains


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Meeting Russell Bellico, as I did briefly several years ago, you’d think you were in the presence of an old sea captain spending his retirement in the softer wind and spray of Lake George. You’d be surprised to know that he spent 35 years in the economics department at Westfield State College in Massachusetts.

You’d be glad to hear that Bellico spent his time away from Westfield at Lake George, where as a summer resident he invested himself in local history. He has spent over three decades photographing shipwrecks and historic sites on Lake George and Lake Champlain. He served as a consultant on the National Park Service’s Champlain Valley Heritage Corridor, a trustee of the Lake George Battlefield Park Alliance, and a board member of Bateaux Below, the organization founded by the archaeological team (which included Bellico) that documented the 1758 radeau Land Tortoise which lies underwater at the southern end of Lake George.

Bellico is the author of a score or more articles and five books on the maritime and military history of Lake George and Lake Champlain published by Purple Mountain Press. His first two projects were Chronicles of Lake George (1995) and Chronicles of Lake Champlain (1999). Both were aptly subtitled Journeys in War and Peace, as they were mostly drawn from primary sources by diaries, journals, and other early first hand accounts.
His third major effort, Sails and Steam in the Mountains: A Maritime and Military History of Lake George and Lake Champlain, earned a place as the go-to resource on the region’s maritime history.

His interest in boots on the ground history has no doubt contributed to some of Bellico’s most unique contributions to the region’s history – his careful looks at what remains. For example, Bellico weaves together histories of not just the events (through archaeology, primary sources, and first hand accounts) but of what remains of those events on the landscape.

Bellico’s latest effort, Empires in the Mountains: French and Indian War Campaigns and Forts in the Lake Champlain, Lake George, and Hudson River Corridor, is the fruit of three decades of the author’s work to understand the military and maritime importance of the region. His first volume to focus entirely on the campaigns and forts of the Great Warpath during the French & Indian War (1754-1763), Empires in the Mountains covers the epic battles of the war in the lake valleys, as well as the building of the fortresses and battleships in Northern New York’s wilderness.

And true to his authoritative and thorough style, Bellico explores this history with one eye toward what happened after those great events of 350 years ago. He reviews the history of the abandonment, the excavations, and the exploitation of French and Indian War sites from Bloody Pond (which Bellico seems to suggest may in fact be correctly marked on Route 9 south of Lake George) and Fort Gage (bulldozed by a local developer avoiding APA oversight) to the more popular spots like Fort Ticonderoga, Fort Edward, Fort William Henry, and Fort George.

It’s that concluding epilogue, “Forts Revisited” that is perhaps the most valuable chapter of the book for local historians, and those interested in how we remember, and exploit, local history. For that chapter alone, this book belongs on the shelf of those interested in local history, regardless of your particular interest in the French and Indian War.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

War of 1812, Border, Focus of Ontario Genealogical Conference


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The Ontario Genealogical Society‘s Region VIII (Kingston, Leeds & Grenville, and Ottawa Branches) will host the Society’s annual conference on June 1-3, 2012 at St. Lawrence College, Kingston Campus.

The conference theme is “Borders and Bridges: 1812 to 2012″ – chosen because the War of 1812 was a border dispute between England and the United States.

Issues such as border crossings; land settlement and pension records (on both sides of the border) of participants in the war of 1812 and other wars; immigration and migration; and genealogical resources in areas bordering eastern Ontario as well as in Ontario will be among the topics covered by speakers at the Conference. Also, genealogy is about making connections between people and families, including bridging gaps using DNA and other modern technologies.

The subject of lectures should preferably fall within one of the following categories:

1. Borders and Bridges (immigration/emigration, “Old Country” records, research trips)
2. Location (land records, directories, census)
3. Military records (not limited to War of 1812)
4. Technology (software, internet, DNA, etc.)
5. Eastern Ontario and Vicinity (New York state, Quebec)

Those wishing to be considered as a presenter, should submit a brief outline of your proposed talk(s) via e-mail to conference2012@ogs.on.ca no later than 15 January 2011.

Saturday and Sunday lectures will be one hour long, including time for questions. Friday workshops offering a more in-depth exploration should be 2.5-3 hours in length, including time for questions.

Speakers should bear in mind that PowerPoint presentations must be clearly readable from a minimum distance of 20 metres / 65 feet and should employ fonts no smaller than 32 points.

Each proposal should include on one page:

* a presentation title
* an abstract of 200 words
* a one- or two-sentence description of your talk for the seminar brochure
* your full name, postal address, telephone number, e-mail address, and website
* a brief biography
* whether your lecture would be aimed at genealogists working at the beginner, intermediate or advanced level, and suitable for a general or specialist audience (Multiple proposals are encouraged)

If your proposal is accepted, you will be requested to provide a 4-page summary of your talk or workshop for our Syllabus. This may include references and web addresses mentioned, sample screen shots, etc. It will be submitted electronically (in Word, RTF, WordPerfect, text or PDF format) approximately three months prior to the Conference.

Please include your approximate travel costs, economy class, to Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Remuneration will normally include reimbursement of transportation expenses, free registration, free accommodation and meals on the day(s) of your talk(s), free Saturday banquet, plus honorarium. Workshop fees may be negotiated.