Tag Archives: Saratoga County

Grant Cottage Property Being Transferred To State Parks

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Grant CottageThe New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) has announced that Grant Cottage State Historic Site, formerly part of the now closed Mount McGregor State Correctional Facility, will be part of a 750-acre parcel being transferred to Moreau Lake State Park.

Grant Cottage State Historic Site is the site where President Ulysses S. Grant died in July 1885.  Continue reading

Saratoga County History Faire May 16th

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Saratoga County“The Ballston Spa Trial of Solomon Northup’s Kidnappers”,  a presentation by David Fiske, biographer of Solomon Northup, will be one of four featured presentations at the Saratoga County History Faire at the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library, in Clifton Park, New York, on May 16, 2015.   David Fiske will be the first speaker at 10:30 am.

Solomon Northup, the subject of the Oscar-winning film 12 Years a Slave, was lured away from Saratoga Springs in 1841 and sold into slavery. After being a slave for years, he was rescued and returned to New York State, and authored a book about his experiences. Continue reading

Villa Balsamo: A Saratoga County Landmark

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Villa BalsamoA man who started in the knitting business in Amsterdam built the lavish structure now known as Villa Balsamo restaurant off Route 50 between Ballston Spa and Saratoga Springs.

According to historian David Fiske, Floyd J. Shutts was stymied by Amsterdam officials in 1918 when he tried to add on to his factory on Wall Street. Turned down in Amsterdam, Shutts bought property on Saratoga Avenue in Ballston Spa and opened the Ballston Knitting Company in 1920. Continue reading

Saratoga County:
A Future Black Congressman Faces Discrimination

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langstonportraitJohn W. Fowler’s law school, called the State and National Law School, was ahead of its time in the field of legal education in the 19th Century. He founded the school in Cherry Valley, New York, in 1847, and moved it to Ballston Spa a few years later, where it was housed in the former Sans Souci Hotel.

Contrary to the normal practice, at that time, of lawyers being trained by “reading law,” Fowler’s school offered courses in extemporaneous speaking and debating, and utilized mock trials to allow students to hone their courtroom skills. The school received much positive attention from the legal community, including South Carolina’s John C. Calhoun. Continue reading

Saratoga History and Tourism: Opportunities for New York

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Saratoga_Springs_signOnce upon a time many years ago, there was no tourism in America. And then there was. And the place where tourism began was here in New York State especially along the Hudson Valley.

The tourist explosion combined the artistic explosion generated by people like Irving, Cooper, and Cole along with technological developments like the steamship all New York State developments…and peace with England helped too!

Saratoga helped create this tourist boom. Continue reading

NY State Expands Moreau Lake State Park

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New Moreau State Park PavillonNew York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey has announced the state added a 200-acre parcel to Moreau Lake State Park, expanding hiking opportunities in the Adirondack foothills and preserving open space in fast-growing Saratoga County.

Additionally, Commissioner Harvey announced that work has been completed on a new pavilion/outdoor classroom near the park’s nature center. Continue reading

Preserving Your Saratoga Battlefield Memories

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Saratoga National Historical Park (the Saratoga Battlefield), located on Routes 4 and 32 in Stillwater, will celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2013 and is looking for photographs showing people enjoying or working in the park from the 1900s to today.

This is a special one-time opportunity to share your nostalgic memories of the park for its 75th anniversary exhibit and to preserve your battlefield photos for current and future generations. In appreciation for sharing your images (up to 20 per family or individual), trained park volunteers will scan your hard copy photos and put them onto a compact disc for you to keep. Continue reading

Bob Weible: Making History in Difficult Times

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I was disappointed to hear the recent news that Schenectady County officials have chosen to cut funding for their county historian. This decision appears to have less to do with the historian than it did with the county’s fiscal problems.

Many of us are familiar with the state law that requires municipalities to appoint historians, and as Gerry Smith has pointed out, NYS County Law, section 400, also requires counties to make similar appointments. Many counties and many municipalities comply with these laws. Many don’t. But that’s not what’s at stake here. Continue reading

NYS Museum Displays Massive Civil War Flag

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A massive, iconic Confederate flag, torn down by a Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, a soldier born in Saratoga County and widely remembered as the first Union officer killed in the Civil War, is now on display at the New York State Museum.

The 14-by 24-foot Marshall House Flag is being exhibited in South Hall through Feb. 24, 2013 in conjunction with the nearby 7,000-square foot exhibition on the Civil War. An Irrepressible Conflict: The Empire State in the Civil War is open through September 22, 2013 in Exhibition Hall. Continue reading

Line-Up Set For 2012 Lost Speedways Program

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The Saratoga Automobile Museum’s Lost Speedways program which is scheduled for the Saturday after Thanksgiving (November 24, 2012), has grown into a must see event for those interested in the history of auto racing in New York State and long-shuttered area speedways.

The program will also include Hall of Fame driver Brian Ross’ recollections of his short but eye opening Winston Cup career and his time as an instructor at Andy Hillenburg’s Charlotte driving school along with a look back at the highlights of the century old Fonda Speedway by longtime racing writer and DIRT legal advisor Andy Fusco. Memorabilia will be on display from 11:30 am, with everyone encouraged to bring items to display. The formal presentations will begin at 1 pm.

“Our current featured exhibit, ‘Moonshine to Millionaires – NASCAR’s History, Heroes and Technology,’ has been a huge success and since it will close right after Lost Speedways, I want to focus on NASCAR history this year,” explained exhibit curator and event organizer Ron Hedger. “Plus, we have the opportunity to again enjoy the racing tales of Jim Reed, a multi-year NASCAR champion who was a big hit last year and has agreed to return. He’s going to tell us about winning the 1959 Southern 500 at Darlington, among other highlights of his career, which fits perfectly with the theme.”

“I will also do a pair of presentations myself,” added Hedger. “We have Bill Wimble’s Carnegie Medal on display and I’ll relate that story, along with a discussion of NASCAR’s Speedway division for Indianapolis-type cars, something most people have never heard of.”

“With the cars of Dale Earnhardt and Curtis Turner and the amazing ’59 Thunderbird ‘zippertop’ scheduled to return to Charlotte October 1st, I’ll be replacing them with a Richie Evan’s Pinto and a gorgeous Speedway Division car wheeled by Wally Campbell, so the timing will be perfect. And we may have another surprise or two before November rolls around,” Hedgar said.

There will also be a drawing of one winner in the auto museum’s NASCAR VIP Raffle, sponsored by M and M/Mars, which will see two winners each receive four tickets to the 2013 Sprint Cup race of their choice, $250 travel money, garage passes and a personal meet and greet session with Kyle Busch. The second drawing will be held in the spring of 2013. Tickets are $5 and may be purchased at the museum or online.

The Lost Speedways event is free to museum members, with others admitted for the standard museum admission charge. More information is available online at www.saratogaautomuseum.org. The Saratoga Automobile Museum is located on the Avenue of the Pines in the Saratoga Spa State Park, just off Exit 13N of the Adirondack Northway.

Photo: An abandoned South Glens Falls Drag Strip.

Saratoga Battlefield Announces Photo Contest

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The Saratoga National Historical Park’s photo contest will held from now through October 31, 2012. The winning photo will be featured on the park’s 2013 Annual Pass and the photographer will receive a free 2013 Annual Pass. Once all photos have been submitted, the winning photo will be decided by a panel of Saratoga NHP employees by November 9.  Next year marks the 75th anniversary of Saratoga National Historical Park (Saratoga Battlefield).

Contest Rules:

Contest is open to all ages
Picture must be taken within park boundaries: Saratoga Monument,
Schuyler House, Victory Woods, Saratoga Battlefield Scenic, wildlife, park events, park structures (monuments,historic houses, etc.) photos will all be accepted

Entries must be submitted by 4 pm October 31, 2012

Limit to one (1) photo per contestant

Photo(s) must be submitted by e-mail to megan_stevens@nps.gov

Photo Specifications: File in JPEG format with 300 DPI resolution. Each photo must be no larger than 3 MB in file size Contestant must provide: Full name, phone number, brief description (no more than 100 words) of where and when photo was taken

All photos submitted for this contest automatically become property of the National Park Service; photographers will be credited. Anyone who derives 5% or more of their income from taking photos are ineligible Saratoga NHP employees and their immediate family members are ineligible

For more information about this contest or other park events, please call Megan Stevens at 518.670.2982 or visit: http://www.nps.gov/sara/parknews/newsreleases.htm.

Encampment Marks Battles of Saratoga Anniversary

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This Saturday and Sunday, September 15-16, Saratoga National Historical Park, located on Routes 32 and 4 in Stillwater, will present an 18th century living history encampment marking the 235th anniversary of the what’s been called the world’s “most important battle of the last 1,000 years.”  Camps will be open Saturday from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM, and on Sunday from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM.

This two-day encampment will surround visitors with the sights, smells, and sounds of military camp life from the American Revolution.

Dozens of re-enactors portray American and British officers, soldiers, cavalry troops, and camp followers from the Battles of Saratoga.  See cavalry charge, join in a court-martial and decide the soldier’s fate, take part in a musket drill, follow along with a scouting party, or listen to stories of the revolutionary war experience.  Feel the thunderous roar of cannons, smell the acrid smoke of musket fire as well as the welcoming wisps of camp cooking fires.

On Sunday, there will be a 2:00 PM Wreath Laying Ceremony by Sons of the American Revolution and Daughters of the American Revolution at Tour Road Stop 2.  The public is welcome to attend this commemorative wreath laying. The event is free, but the normal entrance fee to the park of $5 per car and $3 per hiker or cyclist (good for one week entry) is charged.  For more information about this or other events, please call the Visitor Center at 518-664-9821 ext.1777, check the park website at www.nps.gov/sara or follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/saratoganhp

Local Artist Donates Painting to Saratoga NHP

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Local folk artist Richard Salls of Schuylerville has donated the original oil painting “225” to Saratoga National Park in Stillwater. “225” was originally unveiled in 2002 to commemorate the 225th anniversary year of the Battles of Saratoga and the 125th year of the Saratoga Monument.

This work of art commemorates the surrender of British General John Burgoyne to American General Horatio Gates after the 1777 Battles of Saratoga – an event known as the Turning Point of America’s Revolutionary War. The village of Schuylerville, formerly Saratoga, is the site of the surrender. Salls, a long-time resident of Schuylerville, is no stranger to the rich history in the area. The painting features the historic sites of the Schuyler House, Saratoga Monument and Neilson House, very familiar places to Salls.

The original painting will be on display at the park’s visitor center through September. Prints of the painting are available in the park’s gift store which features books, glassware, souvenirs, and other quality items about the Battles of Saratoga and the Revolutionary War. Further information about the artist is available at: www.saratogafolkart.com.

For more information about this or upcoming events at Saratoga National Historical Park, the National Park in your backyard, call the Visitor Center at 518-664-9821 ext. 1777 or check the park website at www.nps.gov/sara or Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/saratoganhp.

Prescribed Fire Program at Saratoga National Historical Park

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With favorable weather conditions in place, certified wildland firefighters at Saratoga National Historical Park, will undertake prescribed burning of approximately 40 acres of park land during the last two weeks of August.

This “summer burn” will include the Chatfield Farm area of the Battlefield.  The burns may take up to three days to complete, and the park will remain open to visitors during this time.  The park has historically conducted prescribed burns in the Spring.

This shift from spring to summer burning is an experimental approach to see if the application of fire at a  different time will yield better results in the management of the types of plants found in the fields.  It is hoped the summer burn will result in  greater success in ridding the park of unwanted invasive and woody stemmed  plants.

For over twenty years, prescribed fires have been a valuable and safe tool in managing Saratoga Battlefield’s 3200 acres.  Planned burns allow the park to maintain its historic 1777 landscape, reduce the spread of exotic plant species, encourage regeneration of natural grasses and eliminate the
need for personnel to work on hazardous slopes with mechanical equipment.  Additionally, hazard fuel reduction around developed areas provides for firefighter safety and structure protection in the event of a natural wildfire.

Before such a prescribed fire can occur, an official Fire Management Plan  is required. Saratoga National Historical Park’s Fire Management Plan was approved by regional National Park Service Fire Management Officers. Neighboring fire departments are informed of daily plans and prior to
igniting a fire, and park staff runs down a go/no go checklist prior to any  firing.

If you have any questions about prescribed fires at Saratoga National Historical Park or park events, please contact the park’s visitor center at (518) 664-9821 ext. 1777.

2012 Horse Racing Hall of Fame Inductees Set

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The National Museum of Racing will induct its 2012 Hall of Fame class Friday at 10:30 a.m. at the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion. Jockeys John Velazquez and Anthony Hamilton, trainers Roger Attfield and Robert Wheeler, and racehorses Ghostzapper and Planet will be enshrined. Tom Durkin, the track announcer for the New York Racing Association, will serve as the event’s master of ceremonies.

The ceremony is free and open to the public. The inductions are also available through a live stream on the Museum’s website. Radio coverage will be provided by Horse Racing Radio Network.

Through Monday, Velazquez has won 4,841 races and has earned more than $268 million. He won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in 2004 and 2005 and led all North American riders in earnings during those years. He led all New York jockeys in wins from 2001 through 2004 and set a record with 65 wins at Saratoga in 2004. Velazquez has won 22 riding titles at New York Racing Association tracks and has nine Breeders’ Cup wins. He posted 50 Grade 1 wins from 2006 through 2011. Velazquez won the Kentucky Derby in 2011 with Animal Kingdom and the Belmont Stakes in 2007 with Rags to Riches and 2012 with Union Rags. His other major victories include the Travers, Alabama, Champagne, Sanford, Personal Ensign, Whitney, King’s Bishop, Hollywood Derby, and Kentucky Oaks.

Hamilton was born in Charleston, S.C., in 1866 and won many of the most prestigious races of the 19th century. In 1890, Hamilton rode Potomac to victory in the third edition of the Futurity, which at the time was the richest race in American history with a purse of $67,675. That year, Hamilton led the nation in winning percentage (31.2). In 1891, he boosted his national-best win percentage to 33.8 and won 154 races to place second in the national standings.

In 1895, Hamilton won two of the most prominent races in the country by taking the Brooklyn Handicap on Hornpipe and the Suburban Handicap aboard Lazzarone. The next year, Hamilton added the third major New York handicap event, the Metropolitan Handicap, with Counter Tenor. Hamilton is the only African-American jockey to win all three of New York’s major handicap races. During this era, these races were generally considered to be more important than the likes of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes.

Hamilton’s other major victories included the American Derby (1887), Lawrence Realization Stakes (1891), Monmouth Oaks (1889, 1890), Monmouth Invitational Handicap (1889, 1892), Juvenile Stakes (1890), Gazelle Handicap (1887, 1890), Nursery Stakes (1886), Flatbush Stakes (1889, 1890), Sapling Stakes (1891), Swift Stakes (1892), Toboggan Handicap (1890), Twin City Handicap (1886, 1888, 1889, 1892, 1894), Great Trial Stakes (1892), Tidal Stakes (1891), Hudson Stakes (1889), and St. Louis Derby (1888), among others.

Through Monday, Attfield has saddled the winner of 1,745 races and has purse earnings of more than $90 million. He has won the Sovereign Award for Outstanding Canadian Trainer a record eight times and trained three Canadian Triple Crown winners (Izvestia, With Approval, and Peteski). Attfield has won a record-tying eight runnings of the Queen’s Plate and seven editions of the Canadian Breeders’ Stakes. He won his first Breeders’ Cup race in 2011 when Perfect Shirl took the Filly and Mare Turf. Attfield is a member of the Canadian Racing Hall of Fame. The many other stakes races he has won in the United States include the Wood Memorial, Flower Bowl, Shadwell Turf Mile, Maker’s Mark Mile, Elkhorn, Yellow Ribbon, Orchid, and Carter Handicap.

Wheeler, whose career spanned from 1938 through 1992, won 1,336 races and trained for prominent owners such as C.V. Whitney, J. Rukin Jelks, Greentree Stable, and Nelson Bunker Hunt. He conditioned 56 stakes-winning horses, including 1982 Champion Older Female Track Robbery. The majority of his career predates the grading of races, but from 1976 on he won 18 of the 69 (26 percent) graded stakes his horses ran in and 44 of his 175 (25 percent) overall stakes attempts. In 1959 and 1960, Wheeler’s West Coast-based division included Tompion, winner of the Santa Anita Derby, Blue Grass Stakes, and Malibu, and the distaff pair of Bug Brush and Silver Spoon.

Bug Brush won six stakes at 4 and set a world record the day she beat males Hillsdale and Terrang in the San Antonio Stakes. Silver Spoon, a member of the Hall of Fame, won 10 stakes in two years, including the trainer’s first of back-to-back wins in the Santa Anita Derby, in which she defeated Preakness winner Royal Orbit. He also sent out five winners of the Hollywood Juvenile Championship, which prior to the Breeders’ Cup era was one of the nation’s top races for 2-year-olds. From 1959 through 1969, Wheeler was on the leaders list of the top 30 North American trainers seven times in terms of earnings. His division accounted for more than 60 percent of the earnings of the C.V. Whitney stable when it led all owners in 1960.

Ghostzapper (Awesome Again-Baby Zip, by Relaunch) won 9 of 11 career starts and earned $3,446,120. He was named Horse of the Year and Champion Older Male in 2004 when he posted a 4-for-4 record. Trained by Hall of Fame member Bobby Frankel, Ghostzapper won the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic in stakes-record time, covering the 1¼-mile distance in 1:59.02. That year, he also won the Woodward Stakes, Tom Fool Handicap, and Iselin Handicap. At 3, Ghostzapper won the Vosburgh Stakes. He closed out his career with a victory in the Metropolitan Handicap at age 5. Ghostzapper raced for Frank Stronach and is currently a stallion at Stronach’s Adena Springs in Kentucky. Foaled in Virginia at Maj. Thomas W. Doswell’s Bullfield Stable in 1855, Planet was sired by Revenue out of the Boston mare Nina.

Planet was a sensation from the start. He made his debut with a victory over four others in mile heats for a purse of $10,750 in Fairfield, Va., on May 4, 1858, and went on to establish a record for career purse earnings that stood for 20 years. Planet displayed his remarkable skill and versatility by compiling a record of 27-4-0 from 31 starts and earning $69,700. Known as “The Great Red Fox,” Planet was regarded by many turf experts to be second only to the mighty Lexington among the greatest American racehorses prior to the Civil War.

Photo: Anthony Hamilton.

Bike Tour: Champlain Canal and Rev War Road to Saratoga

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On Sunday August 12, enjoy a free 20-mile guided bicycle tour along the Champlain Canalway Trail between Hudson Crossing Park in Northumberland and Saratoga Battlefield in Stillwater.

This tour will take bikers past historic sites of interest related to the Revolutionary War and the Champlain Canal. Sites include Hudson Crossing Park, Champlain Canal Lock 5, the Schuyler House, the Champlain Canalway Towpath Trail and Saratoga National Historic Park. Continue reading

18th-Century Day at the Historic Schuyler House

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On Sunday, August 12 from noon to 5pm, the 1777 Schuyler House on Route 4 in Schuylerville, will be the setting for 18th Century Day, a free event with dozens of artisans demonstrating their crafts much as they were plied over 200 years ago when household items were handcrafted.

Visitors to the 34th annual 18th-Century Day will be able to enjoy free tours of the Schuyler House, listen to music of the period, see 18th-century Punch and Judy puppet shows, plus see artisans demonstrating 18th century crafts such as tinsmithing, blacksmithing, broom-making, knitting, rope-making, beer brewing, spinning, dyeing, soap making, butter-making, sheep shearing, and needlework. Also see colonial-era farm life activities such as discussions of farming methods, medicinal treatments and bee keeping.
This traditional event is organized by the Old Saratoga Historical Association, a non-profit educational organization that provides furnishings for the Schuyler House and promotes interest in the history of Old Saratoga, Schuylerville, Victory and the Town of Saratoga, from Native American occupation through present times.

Visitors are advised to dress for hot weather, bring water, and wear insect repellent and sunscreen. Free light refreshments will be available.

Schuylerville Area Gets Battlefield Preservation Grants

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The National Park Service has announced the award of two American Battlefield Preservation Program grants totaling over $100,000 to Saratoga P.L.A.N. and National Heritage Trust, for projects in the Schuylerville area. Both organizations are members of the Hudson-Hoosick Partnership and will partner with Saratoga National Historical Park in these projects.

Saratoga PLAN was awarded $21,425 for planning and designing interpretive signs for the Fish Creek Trail, a one-mile trail along the south side of Fish Creek that is part of a six-mile historic loop linking Schuyler House with Victory Woods, the Saratoga Monument and the 71-mile Champlain Canalway Trail slated for completion in 2013. 

“With the funds, we intend to hire an artist to help us tell the stories of Fish Creek,” said Maria Trabka, Executive Director of Saratoga P.L.A.N., a conservation organization serving Saratoga County. “The site has a long history for fishing, travel, hydropower, and as an American stronghold during the Revolutionary War, when the British were forced to surrender.”
Natural Heritage Trust was awarded $80,000 for a study of two colonial era battlefields at Saratoga (present day Schuylerville). As European and Native nations vied for dominance in North America a series of wars were fought between Great Britain, France and their Native allies. During these wars in the 1690s and again in the 1740s a number of battles were fought at Saratoga. This research will shed new light on the significant formative history of Canada and America and the important role of the Schuyler family.

The grants are part of over $4 million that the Partnership has generated for communities along the Hudson River since 2006. The Partnership, founded by Senator Roy McDonald and Assemblyman Steve Englebright, is a legislatively designated public-benefit corporation whose mission is to preserve, enhance and develop the historic, agricultural, scenic, natural and recreational resources and the significant waterways within the Partnership region. The Partnership fosters collaborative projects with
non-profit and governmental entities emphasizing both agricultural and open space protection, economic and tourism development, and the protection and interpretation of the region’s natural and cultural heritage.

Photo: Town of Saratoga Historical Marker, Schuylerville. Photo by Bill Coughlin, courtesy the Historical Marker Database

Openings Remain For Ballston Spa Archeology Program

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Brookside Museum in Ballston Spa, Saratoga County, has announced that there are a few spaces left for their upcoming Brookside Digs: An Archeology Experience program.

Individuals age 12 through adult will be able to work beside archeologists from Hartgen Archeological Associates and experience a full excavation- from the research to the digging and cleaning to the artifact analysis. These findings will help clarify Brookside’s past and the artifacts will be added to the museum’s collection. This is a special opportunity to learn about archeology and local history in a very interesting and interactive way.

The camp will run July 30 through August 3, 9am – 3pm and is the perfect program for students, teachers, families and history buffs.  Price is $275 per person. Check online for more information and call (518) 885-4000 or e-mail education@brooksidemuseum.org as soon as possible to register.

18th Century Artificers’ Encampment at Saratoga Battlefield

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From 10 AM to 4 PM on Saturday and Sunday, July 14 – 15, 2012, learn “how it’s made” 18th century style at a special Artificers’ Weekend at Saratoga National Historical Park, located between Routes 4 and 32 in Stillwater, NY.

What’s an artificer? Eighteenth century artificers were professional tradesmen working with armies to provide or repair supplies needed by the troops. Blacksmiths made and repaired iron and steel implements. Tailors sewed uniforms for soldiers. Woodworkers built or fixed wooden items like boxes, benches, or tool handles. Tinsmiths made or fixed canteens, cups, bowls, or lanterns.

If you’d like to see how common items were manufactured in early America, well before the age of industrialization, this free weekend event is a perfect opportunity.

For more information about this or other events, call the Visitor Center at 518-664-9821 ext. 1777 or check our website at www.nps.gov/sara or our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/saratoganhp