New Blog Series

Exhibitionist

The Exhibitionist will be an occasional series of blog posts from the office of the Director of Exhibitions. Historical artifacts are loaded with layers of meaning and stories about makers, artists, users, and collectors across generations. Physical exhibits can only tell a part of these stories, here we will try to go further.

This series seeks to tell these other stories, and to draw connections between artifacts currently on exhibition to help our visitors to think about all of our collections in new and different ways. We will flesh out themes in our current exhibits as well as exploring unique topics and compelling narratives. Ultimately we want to draw connections between things, people, places, and times that will make the history of Ticonderoga and our collections richer and more meaningful to present and future generations, the way it has been for past ones. Look for more posts soon. Hope you will find them compelling!

 

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Homeschool Day at Fort Ticonderoga September 5th

Homeschool Day is just around the corner at Fort Ticonderoga. Intended for homeschool students and their parents, Homeschool Day will be on Friday, September 5, 2014, from 9:30am-5:00pm. Homeschool families will have an opportunity to take part in a series of programs while learning about life on the northern frontier during the American Revolution.

Fort Ticonderoga staff will portray Captain John Lacey's company of the Fourth Pennsylvania Battalion this year.

During the day students will learn about the Pennsylvania troops at Ticonderoga during the year 1776. Interacting with these American soldiers, students can ask about the life of an 18th-century soldier. What did he eat? Where did he sleep? What did he wear? Where did his clothes come from?

Throughout the day homeschool families can explore the Fort and museum exhibitions. They can take guided tours, learning about the Fort’s history, and observe musket demonstrations. They can visit the historic trades shops where shoes and clothing are produced by the Fort staff, and learn about the global economy of the 1700s.

In addition, special programs for homeschool groups take place in the historic trades shops at 10:30am, 12:30pm, and 2:30pm. Programs at 12:00pm and 1:00pm illustrate the process of feeding the troops as the mid-day meal is prepared. Students in grades 6-12 can learn about how to be a part of the National History Day program at 11:30am.

In the King’s Garden, students can participate in the “Lady Bug Investigators” program atDSC04280 11:00am, 1:00pm, and 3:00pm, and take part in the self-guided activity “Watercolors in the Garden” from 10:00am to 4:00pm. In addition, Fort Ticonderoga’s Heroic Corn Maze will be open for homeschool families from 12:00pm-4:00pm.

To register your homeschool students to participate, please email Nancy LaVallie, Group Tour Coordinator at Fort Ticonderoga at nancy@fort-ticonderoga.org. The cost is $6 per student. One parent per family is admitted free of charge. Additional adults pay the adult group rate of $12. You can learn more about Homeschool Day and see a tentative schedule on our website.

To learn more about programs for students and teachers at Fort Ticonderoga visit www.fortticonderoga.org. Teachers interested in learning more about school programs, including outreach programs, should contact Rich Strum, Director of Education, at rstrum@fort-ticonderoga.org or at 518-585-6370.

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Explore Fort Ticonderoga’s Legends by Night in Garrison Ghost Tours!

Fort Ticonderoga is a remarkable place with a history that spans many centuries.  Tens of thousands of soldiers served at the Fort over the course of its military occupation spanning 1755-1777.  A great many of these men died here – disease, not warfare, was the number one killer.  The people who served here left an indellible mark on its landscape.  Numerous redoubts, earthworks, and of course, the Fort itself are vivid visual reminders of Ticonderoga’s epic past.  Some people say that some of the soldiers who served at the Fort still walk its ramparts and inhabit its barracks buildings. 

Even before the restoration of the Fort began more than a century ago, visitors to the site claimed to have had experiences that are mysterious in nature.  By the mid 1800s it was said that the spirit of a young Indian girl could occasionally be seen walking the eroded walls of the Fort.  According to legend, she leapt from the ramparts of the Fort in the 1750s rather than acquiesce to the demands of a man she did not love.  In more recent decades reports of footsteps being heard in otherwise empty buildings or mysterious lights being observed in the early morning hours beg the question of whether or not the past is still present at Fort Ticonderoga. 

Today, through Fort Ticonderoga’s Garrison Ghost Tours, we present the stories of unusual experiences reported by staff and visitors over many years through a nighttime exploration of the Fort.  Venture into the darkness to decide for yourself whether or not these experiences are connected to the Fort’s remarkable past.  A museum staff person will serve as your guide on this 90-minute exploration of the Fort’s darkest and most active areas and provide rare insight into a unique and not well understood aspect of Ticonderoga’s history.  Limited space and advanced reservations required. $35 per person. All sales are final.  There are no exchanges or refunds.  This is a rain or shine tour.

The entrance gate opens at 7:30 pm and the tour begins promptly at 8:00 pm.  It is recommended that guest arrive by 7:45.  Tour duration is 1 ½ to 2 hours.

Tour are scheduled for: July 23 and 30, August 6, 13 and 27, October 10 and 24

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Board with Tents?

Exploring Fort Ticonderoga in 1776 has required looking a lot more at the use of soldiers’ tents. The Fort itself, with a maximum capacity of only 400 officers and men, was already largely a supply depot when the northern continental army retreated back to the fort in July of 1776. The vast majority of these soldiers encamped, at least for a time in tents, rather than using the Fort’s barracks. The portrayal of Captain John Lacey’s company of the Fourth Pennsylvania Battalion this season has relied heavily on the Captain’s own memoires. Shortly after the Fourth Pennsylvania Battalion encamped up at the French Lines to the west of the Fort Captain Lacey described modifying his tent some time after the 18th of July.

I had procured some Boards from the Saw Mill, made a good and Drie floor, raised the sides of my Tent two Boards high, made a Chimny & fireplace at the back end with Sods of Dirt or Earth, which made it a commodious habitation. Having first sat the Example it was soon followed by all the other Officers, many of whome exceeded mine by carrying the sides of their Tents higher with Boards, with more commodious fireplaces, having improved on my Plan.

At first Captain Lacey’s description seemed like an isolated occurrence caused by their proximity to the saw mill on the LaChute river, encamping on clay soil during a miserably rainy summer, and the ingenuity of a few officers. However, some other documents indicate that the use of board flooring may be more common than this one instance.

Shelter made with wooden boards appears in several accounts of the 1776 and 1777 northern campaigns. By the middle of September in 1776, the Fourth Pennsylvania received orders to build, “lodging as the nature of the campaign will admit.” This lodging was constructed using principally boards as the regiment was forbidden to remove any boards from their huts when they moved into FortTiconderoga itself at the end of the campaign season.  They diary of Massachusetts Lieutenant Henry Sewell described similar construction when encamped on MountIndependence. His diary from September 4th, 1776, stated, “The regt. Employ’d building wooden tents and without tools too-almost.” Back at Ticonderoga the following year, Henry Sewell wrote down more detail describing on June 20th, 1777 “went to the mills & got slabs to build us a house.” While marching south to re-join the Continental Army amassing at Stillwater, New York, private Ezra Tylden recorded in his journal on September 23rd, 1777, “We stayed there that night and lay in little hutts out a doors; only a few boards or bushes put up over our heads to shelter us.”  Encamping at Stillwater on October 4th, 1777 Ezra Tylden noted, “we have now hutts which we built with the logs & few slaps to cover over our heads.” These accounts of building temporary or semi-permanent shelter using boards hint at how common boards were as a material in encampments. Other accounts hint that the use of boards as flooring under sleeping soldiers might have been similarly common.

Contained inside Anthony Wayne’s orderly book are Brigadier General Sullivan’s orders for his brigade to march northward from their camp at Albany on May 12th, 1776. These orders specifically describe decamping for the march.

Col. Winds Regt to March tomorrow at 6 o’clock the Col. to order the General to Beat at half past Four upon which the Soldiers are to strike their tents and make them up; the tents and baggage are immediately to be sent to the wharf and put under the care of those who are to Guard the baggage on board the Battoes. The boards for the tents and oars also to be taken and piled in one pile, and at 6 o’clock the Col. is to order the assembly, upon which the Regt is to parade with their Bage & c, and are to be marched off immediately for Ticonderoga.

Brigadier General Sullivan in a very matter-of-fact way orders the, “boards for the tents,” to be piled up just like the oars in one big pile. For an army that travels by battoe it is not surprising at all to see orders for oars to be collected up in preparation for the march. Much like each battoe had an allotted number of oars this would hint that each tent, including enlisted tents, had some number of boards with them. These boards likely constituted flooring. The search continues for 1776 diary accounts or orderly book entries at Ticonderoga about issues or collection of bedding; hay, straw, or even pine boughs. These Brigade orders ask for these boards to be collected as the tents are taken down, implying this was the practice up through the time of these orders. Sullivan’s orders could be interpreted as merely piling up the boards as if they were to be left behind for a subsequent encampment. Conversely, these orders could indicate that these boards were to move with the baggage, much as the piled up oars were to be used to row the baggage north. Either way it’s a tantalizing detail about the use of these tents with board floors.

The use of boards as shelter as well as flooring seems to have further evidence in the letters of William Weeks, Paymaster to the Third New Hampshire Regiment. In an August 6th, 1777 letter home penned in Stillwater, New York he writes about his lodging after the evacuation of Ticonderoga.

It is not at all to be wondered if we have a few sick when living upon fresh Provisions & lodging upon the ­bare Ground cover’d with Dew without Blanketts having a few Boards for Cover- But now they begin to be more healthy as they get hardened to this Method of living—I find there is a great deal in Use, when living at Ticonderoga I though I had very poor lodging, when laying on my Mattress, what can I say now—this I can, that I sleep as well upon the Ground as I ever did on a Bed, but how long shall this be my Mind, God only knows—Since I left Ti: I have purchas’d a Blankett which I find very useful—at Night I wrap myself in it & lay down upon the bare Ground & sometimes upon Boards, in the Morning my Blankett is wet, cover’d with Dew:

As an officer it is not terribly surprising that he had a proper mattress while encamped at Ticonderoga. Weeks’ baggage, like so many other officers’ baggage was captured at Skenesboro. British gunboats caught up with the wounded and baggage from Ticonderoga, which the Continental Army evacuated by boat while healthy officers and men marched overland through Vermont. Describing his living conditions at Stillwater he laments merely having boards propped up as a simple hut. In describing his typical dew coated night he says that he lays, “down upon the bare Ground & sometimes upon Boards.” Rather than any sort of bedding, an improvement over sleeping on the bare ground was to sleep on top of boards. If available, he would use boards as a floor, even without a tent.

Taken together, these accounts still don’t constitute evidence of a general practice of board flooring in tents or field improvised huts. However, the proximity of some Northern Continental Army encampments adjacent forests or sawmills, whether at Ticonderoga or on the upper Hudson River may have made sleeping on boards an attractive option for the Army. Research will continue and contributions of diaries or orders related to this topic are very much welcome. In the meantime, it’s time to at least try out laying down a simple floor of boards and imaging making that spot home for a night in 1776 or 1777.

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Teacher Scholarships for the Seminar on the American Revolution

Fort Ticonderoga offers four middle or high school teachers the opportunity to attend the Eleventh Annual Fort Ticonderoga Seminar on the American Revolution September 19-21, 2014 on scholarships. The Seminar takes place in the Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center and is open to the public; pre-registration is required. The scholarships are available for educators who are first-time attendees at the Seminar.

Since 2001, Fort Ticonderoga has provided 115 scholarships for teachers to attend its seminars and conferences at no cost, including 43 scholarships to attend the Seminar on the American Revolution. Teachers from 10 states have been awarded Seminar scholarships over the past 10 years. These scholarships are made possible by the generous support of Seminar patrons.

The Seminar on the American Revolution focuses on the military, political, and social history of the American Revolution (1775-1783), bringing together a panel of distinguished historians from around the country. This seminar continues to grow. We expect nearly 150 attendees for this weekend-seminar; a mixed audience of scholars and members of the general public with a deep interest in the history of the founding of our country.

We are excited about this year’s line-up of speakers, which includes:

  • Todd Andrlik
  • Todd Braisted
  • Tom Chambers
  • Ted Corbett
  • Steven Elliott
  • Cameron Green
  • Don Hagist
  • Arthur Lefkowitz
  • Richard Wiggin

Teachers interested in applying for a scholarship to attend this year’s Fort Ticonderoga Seminar on the American Revolution should download an application here. Applications are due by August 15th. Successful applicants will receive free registration, two box lunches, and an opportunity to dine with the Seminar speakers at a private dinner the Saturday of the Seminar. Contact Rich Strum, Director of Education, at (518) 585-6370 if you have questions.

Registration for the Seminar is now open at $145 ($120 for those registering by July 15th); additional discounts available for members of the Friends of Fort Ticonderoga. Registration forms can be downloaded here. A printed copy is also available upon request by contacting the Fort at 518-585-2821.

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Benjamin Warner’s Knapsack

In 1928 Fort Ticonderoga was given the honor of ensuring the preservation of an object that was once commonplace in the American Revolutionary War army, but that today may be a one-of-a-kind object.  It is a soldier’s knapsack.  This worn artifact may be the only extant example of a knapsack issued to Continental troops in the early years of the American Revolution. It belonged to Benjamin Warner (1757-1846) of New Haven, Connecticut. Warner enlisted on May 8, 1775 in Col. David Wooster’s 1st Connecticut Regiment serving at Roxbury, MA. In the fall of that year Warner volunteered for the march to Quebec serving in Col. Samuel Wyllys’ 2nd Connecticut Regiment. Benjamin Warner served in his local state militia in 1776 until he was called to arms on August 6, 1776 and sent to New York where he was present for the Battle of Long Island. He again served in the militia during the summer and fall of 1777. His final service occurred in 1780 when he was drafted into Col. John Lamb’s 2nd Continental Artillery Regiment on July 20 and served most of his time at Orangetown, New Jersey. After the Revolution Benjamin Warner settled in Ticonderoga where he spent the remainder of his life.

Benjamin Warner's knapsack.

Benjamin Warner’s knapsack.

The body of Warner’s knapsack is composed of one large pocket and a flap that originally held a second pocket of similar size. The knapsack originally had two leather shoulder straps with which to carry it on a person’s back and three narrow leather straps to secure the flap. Evidence for the three closure straps can be seen on the bottom edge of the flap.

Although Warner’s knapsack is an amazing object, the knapsack held much deeper meaning to him and he wanted to ensure that it survived as a reminder of the liberty that America achieved with the War for Independence.  In 1837 Benjamin Warner penned a short note instructing how the knapsack should be preserved.  The note reads:

 

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Benjamin Warner’s handwritten note instructing his descendants to preserve his Revolutionary War knapsack.

“This Napsack I caryd Through the War of the Revolution to achieve the American Independence I Transmit it to my olest sone Benjamin Warner Jr. with directions to keep it and transmit it to his oldest sone and so on to the latest posterity and whilst one shred of it shall remain never surrender you libertys to a foren envador or an aspiring demegog. Benjamin Warner Ticonderoga March 27, 1837″

These are remarkable words.  The sentiment that Warner conveys in his note is even more meaningful because of his personal connection helping the United States earn its freedom.  With this charge to preserve his knapsack “whilst one shred of it shall remain” comes great responsibility.  Fort Ticonderoga’s mission is “To ensure that present and future generations learn from the struggles, sacrifices and victories that shaped the nations of North America and changed world history” and it is the same sentiment that I believe Benjamin Warner was conveying to the future in 1837.

Benjamin Warner’s knapsack and handwritten note is featured in Fort Ticonderoga’s newest exhibit, Founding Fashion located in the exhibition gallery on the lower level of the Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center.

Blog post by Christopher D. Fox, Curator

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Celebrate the Scot in You! Fort Ticonderoga Presents Lively Scots Day Event June 14

If you have plans to visit the Lake George – Lake Champlain region this June, mark your calendars for a lively Scots Day event at Fort Ticonderoga on Saturday, June 14th from 9:30 am – 5 pm! Celebrate Scottish heritage and culture surrounded by America’s most beautiful and historic landscape at Fort Ticonderoga!.

Tour the Scottish Clan tents and vendors to discover more about your own connection to Scottish culture, and explore the stories of centuries of Scottish soldiers in the British Army through a military timeline offered throughout the day.

Daily activities also include Border Collie demonstrations and Pipe performances presented throughout the day. Experience all of this within the beautiful stone walls of Fort Ticonderoga surrounded by the stunning natural beauty of the Adirondack – Lake Champlain region!

America’s Fort Cafe, overlooking Lake Champlain, will feature special Scottish fare for the special event and a beer tent will offer sales of regional and festive beers for those over 21 years of age.

Admission to Scots Day is included in a Fort Ticonderoga’s general admission ticket. To learn more about the event, participating vendors and clans, and the full schedule visit www.fortticonderoga.org or call 518-585-2821

Events Details:

Scots Day is June 14th at Fort Ticonderoga!

Scots Day is June 14th at Fort Ticonderoga!

Special Memorial Ceremony
A special memorial ceremony honoring the 42nd Highland Regiment, also known as the Black Watch, will take place at the Scottish Cairn on the Carillon Battlefield located at Fort Ticonderoga. The procession to the Cairn will begin at 11 am at the Log House Welcome Center. The Memorial Ceremony will take place at 11:30 am and will remember the incredible bravery and discipline of the Black Watch against insurmountable odds at the 1758 Battle of Carillon. The Battle of Carillon was the bloodiest day of the French and Indian War and had the largest number of casualties in any one battle until the American Civil War.

Bagpipe Performances
Hear the sounds of Scottish bagpipe music throughout the day as the Plattsburgh Police Pipes and Drums and The King’s Highlanders perform lively concerts on the Fort’s historic Parade Ground.

Participating Scottish Clans
Clan Buchanan
Clan Campbell
Clan Forbes
Clan Hamilton
Clan MacPherson
Clan MacIntyre
Clan Murray
Clan Rose

Participating Organizations
St. Andrew’s Society of the Adirondacks
St. Andrew’s Society of Albany
The Color Guard of the St. Andrew’s Society of Washington

Black Watch Military Living History Programs
Discover the history of the Black Watch Regiment through living history programs presented throughout the day by members of a Black Watch re-enactor unit from Montreal. Highlighted programs include a living history time-line of the Regiment. The re-enacting group depicts its history from the 18th century through the early 21st century, with various members representing different significant points in the unit’s history. Learn about the incredible bravery and discipline of the Black Watch against insurmountable odds at the 1758 Battle of Carillon.

The 42nd Highland Regiment, also known as the Black Watch, played a crucial role at Ticonderoga during the Battle of Carillon on July 8, 1758. The regiment suffered over 50% casualties during the failed British assault on the French Lines at Ticonderoga during the French & Indian War. Ticonderoga continued to be an important part of the regiment’s history. During its involvement in the Iraq War, the Black Watch Regiment’s base near Basra was called “Ticonderoga.”

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EXPERIENCE FORT TICONDEROGA! 2014 Season Begins Saturday, May 10

Fort Ticonderoga

Fort Ticonderoga

Fort Ticonderoga opens for the 2014 season on Saturday, May 10, and will offer new programs, living history weekends, special events, exhibits, gardens, the Carillon Battlefield hiking trail, canoe rentals, and the new Mount Defiance experience. Guests will immerse themselves in nearly 2000 acres of exquisite landscape at Fort Ticonderoga to discover one of North America’s most epic stories of defiance, hope, and independence.

Recognized as a top destination in the Adirondacks by USA News Travel, Fort Ticonderoga connects all guests to a place and time that defined a continent, a nation, and its continued legacy.

“Fort Ticonderoga is a family destination and a center of learning. A visit is an interactive, multi-disciplined experience,” said Beth Hill, President and CEO. “It’s exploring the beautiful gardens, finding adventure in our events, marching with the Fife and Drum Corps, and learning about a historic trade. It’s a walk through the restored Fort, a stroll overlooking Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains of Vermont, and an afternoon in our exhibit galleries exploring our premier collections.”

Fort Ticonderoga staff will portray Captain John Lacey's company of the Fourth Pennsylvania Battalion this year.

Fort Ticonderoga staff will portray Captain John Lacey’s company of the Fourth Pennsylvania Battalion this year.

2014 Highlights:
Experience 1776 this year! Guests to Fort Ticonderoga will be immersed in the year 1776 when rebellion became revolution. Fort Ticonderoga’s interpretive staff will bring this dramatic and successful year at Ticonderoga to life as they portray Captain John Lacey’s company of the Fourth Pennsylvania Battalion. A variety of daily soldier’s activities, tours, musket demos and special family programming will immerse guests in the story of this remarkable year of independence.

Step into the shoe maker’s shop and tailor’s shop to explore how Fort Ticonderoga served as a major supply depot producing shoes and clothing for the thousands of soldiers camped at Ticonderoga. With needle and thread or awl and bristle discover what kinds of supplies were needed to build the army to secure liberty.

Daily tours, Soldier’s Life programs, family hands-on activities, and Fife & Drum Corps performances launch guests on an adventure in time where they will discover the life at Fort Ticonderoga in 1776.

Fort Ticonderoga’s newest exhibit “Founding Fashion: The Diversity of Regularity in 18th- Century Military Clothing” highlights the most impressive 18th-century military clothing collection in America. Utilizing the most important elements of the museum’s clothing, art, and archeological collections, the exhibit will explore what military clothing is and how European military fashion and global commerce influenced American martial appearance through the American Revolution. Additional museum exhibits showing in 2014 include Bullets & Blades: The Weapons of America’s Colonial Wars and Revolution and “It Would Make a Heart of Stone Melt: Sickness, Injury, and Medicine at Fort Ticonderoga.”

Recreation activities will highlight Fort Ticonderoga’s rich historic landscape in 2014! A new family scavenger hunt will be part of the hiking trail winding around Carillon Battlefield. The trail offers guests an unparalleled opportunity to explore epic history and natural beauty and the canoe rental program provides a unique perspective of the Fort’s history from the stunning waters of Lake Champlain.

Discover Mount Defiance! A visit to this breathtaking summit is a great way to begin or end your day at Fort Ticonderoga.

Discover Mount Defiance! A visit to this breathtaking summit is a great way to begin or end your day at Fort Ticonderoga.

Visit Mount Defiance to witness a birds-eye view of Fort Ticonderoga’s epic military landscape and discover how this summit shaped America’s history! Mount Defiance: Witness to History Tour is offered daily at 4pm.

The beautiful King’s Garden, one of North America’s oldest gardens and the largest public garden in the Adirondack-Lake Champlain region, will open on May 24 and offer many new garden-related programs for children and adults as well as daily tours. Guest will roll up their sleeves and dig into Fort Ticonderoga’s centuries of horticulture in the formal garden along with the Discovery Gardens – the Garrison Garden, Children’s Garden, and Three Sisters Garden. Program opportunities include Hands-on Horticulture presentations in July and August which offer active discovery and enjoyment for all ages. New this year, guests can celebrate their special day with a King’s Garden Birthday Party. A new interactive 18th-century American Garrison Garden will bring this vibrant, living garden space to life and highlight the vital vocation of gardening that was an important part of soldiers’ duties at Fort Ticonderoga.

Explore a variety of programs and family-friendly activities in the King's Garden

Explore a variety of programs and family-friendly activities in the King’s Garden

The Heroic Maze: A Corn Maze Adventure, the popular Fort family activity, will continue in its fourth year. Guests will find new clues connected to Fort Ticonderoga’s history while they explore a newly designed six-acre corn maze. NEW FOR 2014! “Engineer a Fort” Maze Quest. Hidden in the maze are 8 stations each representing a component of an 18th-century fort. Players are given a Quest Card to collect a stamp from each station. It takes perseverance and skill to find all the objects and is great fun for all ages. The corn maze opens August 15 and is included with general admission.

Hours and Admission:
Fort Ticonderoga is open daily from May 10 through November 2, 2014 from 9:30 am until 5 pm. General admission to Fort Ticonderoga, an independent non-profit organization, is $17.50 for adults, $15.00 for those 65 and over; and $8 for children 5 through 12. Children 4 and under are admitted free of charge. Friends of Fort Ticonderoga and Ticonderoga Resident Ambassador Pass holders are also admitted free.

Fort Ticonderoga offers more than one hundred exciting and unique events and programs this season! Visit www.FortTiconderoga.org for a full list of ongoing programs or call 518-585-2821. Funding for the 2014 season is provided in part by Amtrak. Visit http://www.fortticonderoga.org/visit/directions for a special 2 for 1 Amtrak offer!

Explore Fort Ticonderoga More

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“Friendship & Flowers” in the King’s Garden

The planting season kicks off with a new event in the King’s Garden, Friendship & Flowers.  A week before the garden’s official opening, guests will have the opportunity to enjoy the first blooms of the season such as lilacs, columbine, late-flowering bulbs, and more.  The tranquil setting of the historic walled garden is made lively by numerous song birds heralding the spring season.  This event is a spin-off from our traditional plant sale, offering a relaxed setting and the opportunity to visit with fellow gardeners.  Guests will enjoy a continental breakfast and take home a selection of plants from the King’s Garden and local growers.  Goodie bags for all plus door prizes add to the excitement.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMaster Gardener Diane O’Connor will present her program “Language of Flowers”, highlighting the Victorian tradition of florigraphy – using flowers to send covert messages.  The tradition dates back thousands of years, yet became wildly popular during the 19th century when a soaring interest in botany and the publication of numerous editions of flower language books coincided.  Hundreds of versions in print, flowers having multiple meanings, and the positioning within a bouquet changing a flower’s meaning added to both confusion and intrigue.  Diane will unravel the secrets of this by-gone messaging system in a 30-minute talk held on the central lawn of the garden.

A tour of the formal garden and the Discovery Gardens with Director of Horticulture, Heidi Karkoski, highlights what’s new in the garden this season.  Plant selection, new theme areas and design concepts will be discussed on this guided stroll through the gardens.

“Friendship & Flowers” takes place from 9:30 AM – Noon on Saturday, May 17th.  Tickets are $20 and are limited to just fifty guests.  Advance reservations are required.  Phone (518) 585-2821 or email nancy@fort-ticonderoga.org for details.

 

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Building Carpentry into 1776 Soldiers’ Life Programs

Far from battle, the soldiers' story at Fort Ticonderoga is often one of hard labor, such as felling trees to provide lumber for military construction.

Far from battle, the soldiers’ story at Fort Ticonderoga is often one of hard labor, such as felling trees to provide lumber for military construction.

Along with the excitement of portraying 1776 and the Fourth Pennsylvania battalion as they served at Ticonderoga in that year, the Department of Interpretation is excited about expanding its soldiers’ life programs into carpentry. Over the past few years, the modern need of equipping staff with time-specific clothing and footwear has spurred on the historic trades programs of tailoring and shoemaking. As living history programs continue to expand in and around the Fort, the need for wooden items as small as shelving and pipe boxes, or projects as large as soldiers’ huts have made period carpentry the next goal.

The growth of carpentry as part of soldiers programs is also part of telling the story of 1776.  Often we imagine that the fight for independence in terms of notable battles. No doubt the men of the Fourth Pennsylvania battalion had similar visions of their service when they first enlisted in early 1776. The reality of military life was more mechanical than martial.

The fatigue partys for the future are to begin work at 6 o clock & have their breakfast before they begin…They will be dismiss’d at twelve o clock for dinner till one o clock then work till seven.

Colonel Anthony Wayne, July 30th 1776

This two-man cross cut saw   cuts remarkably fast, sectioning felled trees into manageable logs, strategically cut for an intended size of post or board.

This two-man cross cut saw cuts remarkably fast, sectioning felled trees into manageable logs, strategically cut for an intended size of post or board.

 

The Northern Continental Army’s construction projects—such as extensive earthworks, bridges, soldiers’ huts and barracks, and a whole naval fleet—all required carpentry skills. In 2014 the Department of Interpretation will be able to hint at the labor of these soldiers and the massive scale of the army’s construction in 1776. For soldiers’ carpentry programming the Fort has been acquiring tools for the last two years, slowly building its stock of hand-forged reproduction tools. The slow approach has allowed for a focus on details. With a massive collection of hand-tools recovered archaeologically during the reconstruction of the Fort, there are ample examples of the diverse types of tools and different national styles therein: French, English, and American. Where ever possible, the interpretive staff has not only commissioned reproductions of axes, hammers, saws, and the like, but actually been a part of building them. This gives staff the ability to talk about their work with a perspective that goes all the way to forging out the tools of their trade. As winter slowly turns to spring, and the Fort’s opening in May approaches, the Department of Interpretation is putting this stock of tools to work, building the soldiers’ carpentry program right before visitors’ eyes.

The technical challenge and skill of simply producing lumber is almost as interesting as what is built from it. Moving a 400+ pound log puts practical applied science and teamwork on display for visitors, just as much as its historical context.

The technical challenge and skill of simply producing lumber is almost as interesting as what is built from it. Moving a 400+ pound log puts practical applied science and teamwork on display for visitors, just as much as its historical context.

Large projects, such as soldiers’ huts, require more than merely hand tools. Winter events have provided the opportunity to put tools to work, building the frames and equipment needed to tackle larger projects. Rather than purchasing timber, Fort staff have been carefully selecting trees with which make our own lumber by hand. In this winter’s living history events the entire process of creating lumber has been on display for visitors. A thick blanket of snow hasn’t stopped Fort staff and volunteers from felling trees with hand-forged axes based on examples in the Fort’s collection. Snow hasn’t stopped visitors from lending a hand, taking their turn sawing trees into sections with our five-foot long two-man cross cut saw. With a keen eye and careful cuts, these recreated soldiers have hewn these logs down into square beams inside the Fort itself.

Careful work with an ax shapes round logs down to square straight beams. These beams will mortised together as part of the frame for a pit saw which will allow for logs to be ripped into boards as part of soldiers' life programming.

Careful work with an ax shapes round logs down to square straight beams. These beams will mortised together as part of the frame for a pit saw which will allow for logs to be ripped into boards as part of soldiers’ life programming.

No program is stronger than its foundation. Hand-hewn beams, felled by hand, with hand-forged tools will be built into a frame to support a pit-saw and a sled for oxen to move logs and beams. The pit saw will allow the Fort’s recreated soldiers to hand-saw boards for building projects. Even with a sawmill at the falls of the LaChute river, which the Continental army ran nearly continuously in 1776, soldiers were still detailed to saw boards by hand. For special events the real, modern need to move sectioned logs will be accomplished by oxen as in 1776, with soldiers serving as drovers.  In 1776 Chief Engineer Colonel Jeduthan Baldwin hired professional carpenters to teach soldiers as well as work themselves. Today, great thanks goes to the carpenters of Colonial Williamsburg and Eric Schatzel Forgeworks, for their guidance and help in developing soldiers carpentry in 2014. Carpentry at Fort Ticonderoga, like other trades—tailoring and shoemaking—is more than just tools and projects, it’s about stories. There is today’s story of recreating the trade and slowly building up the tools, equipment, and know-how to do neat work for the Fort. There is yesterday’s story of 1776 and building a fortified army camp around this Old French Fort. Hopefully, the two stories parallel each other closely enough that soldiers’ carpentry will provide moments for staff and visitors that are “living history.”

All aspects of soldiers' lives, relied on teamwork whether fighting, cooking, or surviving a campaign. Soldiers' carpentry is no exception and provide an exciting project with which to tell the much bigger story of 1776, one chop at a time.

All aspects of soldiers’ lives relied on teamwork whether fighting, cooking, or surviving a campaign. Soldiers’ carpentry is no exception and provide an exciting project with which to tell the much bigger story of 1776, one chop at a time.

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