Historic America

USS Constitution and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts

Compared to modern warships and aircraft carriers, the USS Constitution might not look like much, but it was once the most storied ship in the U.S. Navy. It was launched on October 21, 1797, and is still considered to be in active service.

The USS Constitution was originally a 44-gun frigate with a crew of 450 sailors, including 55 Marines. She earned the nickname “Old Ironsides” during the War of 1812. Today, she is still crewed by 60 active duty U.S. Navy personnel, though she has been in dry dock at the former Charleston Navy Yard in Boston under restoration for the past three years.

The USS Constitution Museum is a private, nonprofit museum located in a restored shipyard building nearby. It is a first class effort at telling the USS Constitution’s history through art, models and dioramas, hands on displays, and volunteers.

(more…)

Fort Carillon Battlefield

Visitors to Fort Ticonderoga are likely to overlook this site about three-quarters of a mile west of the citadel, but for seven hours on July 8, 1758, it was the scene of the bloodiest battle in the French and Indian War. The battle also inspired a Scottish legend.

Fort Carillon (the original French name for Fort Ticonderoga) was key to French defenses on the shore of Lake Champlain. The French and Indian War, part of the larger Seven Years’ War between France and Great Britain, had been raging for four years. In 1758, the British launched an invasion of what was then the French colony of Canada.

General James Abercrombie took a force of 6,000 British regulars and 12,000 colonial volunteers, rangers, and American Indians to lay siege to Fort Carillon. The French, under General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm and the Chevalier de Levis, numbering about 3,600, dug entrenchments and erected breastworks on a rise west of the fort.

(more…)

Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site

Founded by John Winthrop the Younger, future governor of Connecticut and son of Massachusetts Bay Colony founder John Winthrop, the Saugus Iron Works was the birthplace of the American iron and steel industry. In operation from 1646 to 1670, incredibly the iron works sat overgrown with weeds and brush for nearly three centuries.

In the first English colonies in North America, iron had to be imported from Europe, despite an abundance of natural resources. John Winthrop recognized the potential of a native iron works and set out to raise capital. The first site chosen for the project proved not to be adequate, so a new location was chosen on the Saugus River.

The Hammersmith Works, as it was called, consisted of a blast furnace, forge, 500-pound hammer, and a rolling and slitting mill. Mismanagement and legal trouble doomed the works, despite producing a ton of cast iron a day, and it closed in 1670.

(more…)