View of the Ruins of Ticonderoga Forts on Lake Champlain

The earliest known published image of Fort Ticonderoga's ruins.

The earliest-known published image of Fort Ticonderoga’s ruins.

The earliest-known published image of the ruins of Fort Ticonderoga is View of the Ruins of Ticonderoga Forts on Lake Champlain, a line engraving by Gideon Fairman after a sketch by Hugh Reinagle published in Analectic Magazine, Philadelphia, vol. II, no. 4 (April 1818), frontispiece, opp. p. 273.  Artist Hugh Reinagle (ca. 1788-1834) probably visited the Champlain Valley in the summer of 1815 to make sketches for his monumental painting [and print] celebrating the American Navy’s defeat of British at the Battle of Plattsburgh, September 11, 1814. During this trip he likely visited the ruins and produced several sketches of Fort Ticonderoga. One of his images became the basis for this engraving produced by Gideon Fairman (1774-1827) and published in April 1818. The engraving accompanied an article reflecting on the history and significance of the Fort noting:

“the beauty of the situation, and curiosity, excited by a recollection of the events on Lake Champlain, now peacefully navigated by the steamboat, which carries passengers at a very moderate rate, contribute to attract the resort of numerous travelers in the summer season, and to attach something more than an ordinary interest to the scene represented.”

Like so many 19th-century images of Fort Ticonderoga, the details of the Fort’s ruins are a bit more dramatically rendered then they actually were.  Interestingly, however, there appears on the shore below the fort a small rectangular structure representing a stone storehouse constructed by the French army in 1756 which existed on that spot until the early 1850s.  The steamboat on the lake is a reminder that already in 1818, Lake Champlain was an active transportation corridor with a dock below Fort Ticonderoga’s ruins that served as the place where travellers made the short overland treck to the steamers on Lake George.

Blog post by Christopher D. Fox, Curator, Fort Ticonderoga.

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