Fort Ticonderoga and Mount Defiance

Once a picturesque ruin, preservationists and private investors slowly restored Fort Ticonderoga to its former glory. Alternatively held by the French, British, and Americans, today it is a premier museum of eighteenth and early nineteenth century military history.  Tickets include admission to Mount Defiance, a strategic hill between the LaChute River and Lake Champlain.

Originally called Fort Carillon by the French, Fort Ticonderoga is a stone star fort near the southern end of Lake Champlain at the New York/Vermont border. French engineer Michel Chartier de Lotbinière, Marquis de Lotbinière constructed the fort between 1755 and 1757 during the French and Indian War.

Despite a reputation for being formidable, Fort Ticonderoga was captured three times without much loss in blood or treasure. In 1759, 11,000 British troops scared off a garrison of 400 Frenchmen with a few artillery shots. The retreating French tried to blow up the fort with explosives. In 1775, American militiamen called Green Mountain Boys surprised and captured the small British garrison. Two years later, the British recaptured the fort after hauling artillery up to the summit of Mount Defiance. The Americans fled without a fight.

After the British losses at Saratoga, they abandoned the fort and destroyed what they could. Locals stripped the ruins for raw materials to build houses, barns, and fences. Today, restored to its former glory, Fort Ticonderoga is the best fort museum and restoration I’ve ever visited. The interior exhibit spaces contain displays and artifact collections designed by professional historians. Fort Ticonderoga’s artillery collection is internationally recognized as the largest and most significant in North America. Their exhibit, “The last argument of kings,” explores the technology, science, and craftsmanship behind eighteenth century artillery.

Mount Defiance, also known as Sugar Loaf Hill or Rattlesnake Mountain, is 853 feet tall and overlooks both Fort Ticonderoga and Mount Independence, but was never fortified because it was thought to be inaccessible by artillery. However, in 1777, British General William Phillips, Royal Artillery, remarked, “Where a goat can go, a man can go, and where a man can go he can pull a gun up after him.” The rest, as they say, is history.

Fort Ticonderoga is located at 102 Fort Ti Road, Ticonderoga, New York. It is open daily 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., from the first weekend in May through the last weekend in October. Admission during peak season costs $23.00 for adults, $21.00 for seniors, and $10.00 for children ages 10 and under. A 90-minute, narrated boat tour is also available.

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