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National Historic Landmark FORT TICONDEROGA
New York

Location: N.Y. 8 and 9N, Ticonderoga, Essex County.

Ownership and Administration (1961). Fort Ticonderoga Association, Ticonderoga.

Significance. Strategically located at the junction of Lake Champlain and Lake George, Fort Ticonderoga was the key to both Canada and the Hudson Valley in the 18th century. It saw more of the English-French struggle for North America than any other post, and its story is one of the most dramatic and colorful in American military annals.

The first military post on the site was Fort Vaudreuil, later Fort Carillon, built by the French in 1755-57. On July 8, 1758, an army of 15,000 British regular and colonial troops attacked the fort and was repulsed with heavy loss by the French under Montcalm. On July 27, 1759, however, Gen. Jeffrey Amherst captured the fort and renamed it Ticonderoga. This loss by the French, coupled with British pressure elsewhere on the frontier between New France and the American Colonies, was a severe blow to French plans. The capture of Ticonderoga gave the British undisputed possession of the strategically important Hudson River Valley. The French blew up part of the fort before they withdrew, and Amherst had repairs made in accordance with the original design. In the years between the defeat of France in North America and the outbreak of the Revolution, a small garrison manned the work. On May 10, 1775, Ethan Allen with 83 "Green Mountain Boys" surprised and defeated the few British defenders, and the post became a base for the projected advance on Canada. The following winter Col. Henry Knox hauled the fort's cannon overland to serve in the siege of Boston. Ticonderoga changed hands again when it fell to Burgoyne's British Army in the summer of 1777, but upon Burgoyne's defeat at Saratoga it again passed into American possession. Although reoccupied from time to time by scouting parties and raiding detachments, the post was never again garrisoned by a military force.

In 1816 William F. Pell, a merchant of New York, leased the grounds and 4 years later bought them. In 1908 the late Stephen Pell began restoration. By the following year the west barracks had been opened to the public, and the work has gone forward since that time. At this writing only the east barracks have not been rebuilt. The task of reconstruction was a major undertaking. Over the years the stones had been carted away by settlers for use as building materials. The upper part of the walls and most of the stone barracks disappeared, and the earth behind the walls washed over the remnants of the original walls. These remains were uncovered in the restoration that began in 1908. The present work was erected on the original foundations and utilized parts of walls that had survived.

Present Appearance (1961). The fort is four-sided with bastions extending from its four corners. Outlooks or demilunes on the north and west, and an outer wall on the south, cover the approaches. Facing the central parade ground are the reconstructed west and south barracks, the ruins of the still-to-be-restored east barracks, and the long rampart joining the northwest and northeast bastions. The west barracks houses the administrative office, a library, and, in the basement, the armory, featuring the most important part of the Fort Ticonderoga gun collection. In the south barracks are displayed many artifacts excavated in the course of the restoration; furnished quarters of the officer of the day; exhibits of furniture, household goods, and other items used by early settlers in the region; Indian relics; and a model of the fort as it existed in 1758. Below the walls are the remains of a French village that probably served the fort. Research on the village is underway. [40]

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Last Updated: 09-Jan-2005