Fort Ontario has a rather exciting and complicated history. It saw action in three wars: French and Indian War, Revolutionary War, and War of 1812. Held by the British from 1755 to 1796, it passed to the Americans in the Jay Treaty, which resolved disputes stemming from the Revolutionary War. The fort was one of three guarding the mouth of the Oswego River at Lake Ontario. Today, it is a State Historic Site and museum.
In 1755, the British built a wooden stockade at that location called the Fort of the Six Nations. French General Marquis de Montcalm destroyed it and other surrounding forts in August 1756 during the French and Indian War. Three years later, the British rebuilt the fort and named it Fort Ontario. During the Revolutionary War, in July 1778, Colonial soldiers found it abandoned and burned it.
At the Battle of Oswego, May 6, 1814, during the War of 1812, British Lieutenant Colonel Victor Fischer and a force of 550 soldiers and 400 marines attacked Fort Ontario and its garrison of 242 regulars and 200 militia. The British suffered 80-87 casualties to the Americans’ 69-119. They succeeded in destroying the fort after its capture.
The current Fort Ontario, built in 1842, is the fourth to sit at that location. During the Civil War, the quarters and buildings inside were modernized, but the fort itself was left to deteriorate. It was then home to the 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division until 1940. In the waning years of World War 2, the fort housed 982 Jewish refugees, who stayed until 1946. It opened to the public as a state historic site in 1953 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.
Fort Ontario State Historic Site is located at 1 E. 4th Street in Oswego, New York. It is open from May through June, Wednesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sundays, 12:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. July through September, Monday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sundays, 12:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. September through October, Wednesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sundays, 12:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Dates vary by year, so check their website. Admission price is $4.00 for adults, $3.00 for seniors and students. Children ages 12 and under are free.