Hiking with history in Crown Point | Local News

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CROWN Point — On a gray, damp, New Year’s Day, with temperatures around the freezing point, history buffs and outdoors adventurers joined in a First Day Hike around the Crown Point Fort State Historic Site.

Although they got a feeling for winter weather, unlike the Eighteenth Century soldiers and settlers, today’s hikers were better prepared for the elements with clothing and footwear made with modern-day synthetic materials such as Thinsulate, polypropylene and Gore-Tex.

HISTORY

Attired in period garments and carrying a flint-lock rifle, Crown Point Museum Director and Historical Interpreter Kris Jarrett discussed the fort’s history and structure. He was joined by Crown Point Historic Site Manager Lisa Polay.

“I am portraying a French and Indian War British irregular who patrolled the area and informed on the movement of troops and materials. You might say I was the telegraph of that time. I am dressed much like Roger’s Rangers,” Jarrett said.

Though his clothing, mostly wool, was fashioned in 1700s like materials, Jarrett confessed, “My footwear is not 18th Century leather as they are too expensive and not good in slushy ground such as this.”

Jarrett mentioned his having to wear a mask due to the current pandemic as it was an anachronism to the rest of his attire, but during the fort’s occupation in 1775-1776 there was a smallpox epidemic with 50 or more deaths per day. Initially there was a smallpox hospital at Crown Point which was later set up at Ticonderoga.

“It’s a little spooky, as if you haven’t had enough of this pandemic,” added Polay.

So far no records of the burials or burning of the bodies have been found.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

The tour commenced at the waterfront where troops and attackers would have arrived. Today, the new Crown Point Bridge spans the lake’s narrows. This is where the French erected Fort St. Frederic of which not much remains. It was pointed out that the earthen works were just as important as the walls in defending the forts.

Taking care not to slip on possible ice under the wet snow covering the ground, the group then made its way to “His Majesty’s Fort of Crown Point” as it was officially called. Jarrett and Polay pointed out the features of the fort which mainly consists of the remains of the officers and soldiers’ barracks which have been partially reconstructed.

Most of the damage was initially caused by a fire which took several days to contain due to the wood and tar utilized for many parts of the structure.

FIRST DAY EVENTS

As an event to celebrate the New Year in the outdoors, First Day Hikes were one of the many events across the state and nation being held at state parks, historic sites, wildlife areas, trails and public lands. The First Day event options ranged from self-guided treks to staff, or volunteer-led hikes, with some locations offering multiple options allowing people the time and space to social distance while still enjoying nature’s winter wonders.

FORT HISTORY

According to the fort’s website, The French built Fort St. Frederic between 1734 and 1737 and used it as a base for raids on British settlements in New York and New England. As a result, the British mounted various expeditions to take control of Crown Point, and in 1759 they were finally successful.

They immediately began construction of new fortifications that they called “His Majesty’s Fort of Crown Point”. Enclosing over seven acres, this was one of the largest built by the British in North America.

In 1775, at the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, the American colonists captured the fort and secured sorely needed cannons and heavy ordnance. Crown Point was occupied by General John Burgoyne’s army in 1777 after the American evacuation to Mount Independence and remained under British control until the end of the war.

The ruins of Fort St. Frederic, “His Majesty’s Fort of Crown Point,” and surrounding lands were acquired by the State of New York in 1910.

ADDITIONAL INFO

Crown Point Historical Site is officially open from May 28 to Oct. 30, but the grounds are available for walking or snowshoeing. Call 518-597-3666 or check out its Facebook site for additional information.

Email Alvin Reiner at:

rondackrambler@gmail.com

 

source : pressrepublican

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