Niagara's Old Fort
~Sunday, August 22, 2021~
Looks like we’re dodging another bullet with the weather. There is a hurricane on the eastern side of New York but we think the latest we heard is that it’s now a tropical storm dumping a ton of rain, causing widespread flooding and heartache to hundreds of people who have lost their homes. This climate change is REAL folks!! It seems there’s either not enough rain or too much. Even though we’re in New York, we’re on the very northwest side, only seeing huge thunderheads in the distance which appears to be the outside edge of the storm.
We decided to give it a whirl at the Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours on the Niagara River so I booked 3 tickets for tomorrow's 1:00 soaking session. Now we’ll be the one’s the hikers envy!
There’s something so intriguing about the history of this area, so for today, we decided to tour Old Fort Niagara in Youngstown, NY. The history of this old fort, with its commanding presence, spans over 300 years. Building a fort at the mouth of the Niagara River was vital for access to the Great Lakes and the movement westward. However, transportation modes changed over time such as the completion of the Erie Canal in 1825, forever changing the value of the Fort.
The French established the first post in 1679 lasting only about 8 years and it wasn’t until 1726 that France finally erected a permanent fortress….the “French Castle” (see photos). They held post there until 1759 until Britain gained control during the French/Indian War. There was a series of back & forths. The British held onto it throughout the American Revolution but were forced by treaty to hand it over to the U.S. in 1796. Then the British recaptured it in 1813 then ceded to the U.S. a second time in 1815 at the end of the War of 1812. This would be Fort Niagara’s last armed conflict where it subsequently remained a peaceful border post. It became a barracks and training station for soldiers throughout both World Wars, with the last army unit withdrawn in 1963. Today, the only military presence at the Fort is the U.S. Coast Guard. The biggest restoration efforts took place between 1929 and 1934.
We enjoyed the self-guided tour of the property where we first saw the outer works (earthen defenses), the gate of five nations (the main entrance to the fort),
the Readouts built by the British to protect the main gate, a provision storehouse, powder magazine, and a bakehouse which the British built to replace a French bakery destroyed by fire in 1761 (you could still smell the bread). Finally, we ended at the French Castle,
designed to look like a house, not a fortification. We toured the numerous rooms in its 3 stories, some with well-preserved antiques like old safes, furniture, dishes, and cookware. You can watch a more in-depth film about the history of the fort at
https://www.pbs.org/video/wned-tv-history-fort-niagara-struggle-continent/. They had a shorter version of this film at the visitor center, but because of our time constraints in seeing the whole fort, the docent suggested we tune in at home.
It was so nice to get back to our campsite at a decent hour so we could have time to just enjoy some time at our campsite and play a few rounds of Cornhole. Shane has an excuse not to win since he’s a little out of practice, but for me, I don’t know what to tell ‘ya. I’ve just completely lost my spark. So the Cornhole King in this group would be Jeff. We’ll just see how Jeff holds up, playing against the newly crowned Cornhole Champion, Tim, the next go around.