September 2, 2021
As the summer is winding down, I decided to take another virtual trip and I chose to visit Fort Ticonderoga located in Ticonderoga, New York. Fort Ticonderoga exists today to preserve, educate and provoke active discussion about the past and its importance to present and future generations; and they work on fostering an on-going dialogue surrounding citizens, soldiers, and nations through America’s military heritage. It preserves 2,000 acres of historic landscape on Lake Champlain, and Carillon Battlefield, and has the largest series of untouched Revolutionary War era earthworks surviving in America.
The first thing I did was I joined the History Camp America tour of Fort Ticonderoga led by Stuart Lilie, the Vice President of Public History at Fort Ticonderoga. Since I was a participant in the virtual History Camp America conference, I had access to this tour and was able to revisit the tour if I chose to do so. Lilie started the tour by providing an introduction to the history of Fort Ticonderoga. According to Lilie, the word Ticonderoga comes from the Mohawk word that means a place between the waters. Fort Ticonderoga sits between Lake George and Lake Champlain; specifically, he was standing where Lake George drains north into the LaChute River and the waterfalls drop two hundred and twenty feet into Lake Champlain.
Fort Ticonderoga was originally known as Fort Carillon when the French used the fort as a defense against British invasion during the Seven Years War (it was also called the French and Indian War). It was renamed Fort Ticonderoga after the British blew it up and General Lampert renamed the ruins Fort Ticonderoga then began the reconstruction. During the American Revolution, Ethan Allen, and his band of Green Mountain Boys, accompanied by Benedict Arnold, who held a commission from Massachusetts, attacked the British stationed there and took over the Fort on May 10, 1775. The British later recaptured Fort Ticonderoga and later abandoned it after the end of the Revolutionary War in 1781. Fort Ticonderoga became a site for tours beginning in 1909.
Lilie continued the virtual tour by showing viewers around Fort Ticonderoga to demonstrate what they do with visitors each day they are open. For instance, he had a discussion with reenactors about tailoring soldiers’ uniforms. He also had discussions with reenactors about shoemaking and gardening. Participants were also able to see some of the artifacts from the vast collection at Fort Ticonderoga. It was really cool to see inside the Thompson Pell Research Center where they hold their collections and view artifacts that they catalogued and stored most of their artifacts and documents to give us an idea of warfare at Fort Ticonderoga. Some artifacts include but are not limited to rare books which document the art of war and military science published in Europe and North America, textiles (i.e., camp flag of Loyalist-colonists on the side of the British-group), fine art, shovels, axes, ceramics from England, France, and China, wine bottle fragments, shoe buckles, over 2,000 decorative buttons, and pipe fragments. We also were able to see the Carion battlefield which the Fort Ticonderoga staff today preserve the long history of where the battles took place. Once I finished this virtual tour, I visited their Center of Digital History on their website.
At the Center of Digital History, I was able to see virtual exhibitions, their online collections database, and explored their YouTube channel which offers options for at home activities and an in-depth look into the collections and discussions. The virtual exhibitions include a sample of artifacts that are included in the in-person exhibitions and background information about the exhibits. Some of the virtual exhibitions include but are not limited to A Patriotic Service: Sarah Pell’s Enduring Legacy which focuses on Sarah Gibbs Thompson Pell who devoted her life to advancing the rights of women through historic preservation and political action; Object Lessons: Perspectives on Material Culture; Iron and Stone: Building Fort Carillon which focuses on the construction of Fort Carillon; and Ticonderoga, A Legacy. While I appreciated learning a little bit of Fort Ticonderoga history in each of the exhibitions, I would have liked to explore more of the exhibit in a virtual space.
In addition to the virtual experience, Fort Ticonderoga offers programs, historic interpretation, boat cruises, tours, demonstrations, and exhibits throughout the year; they are open to the public May through October. I would like to at some point visit Fort Ticonderoga to see more of what they have to offer in person.
Have you been to Fort Ticonderoga before? If you have, please let me know what your experience was like.
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