Old Fort Niagara
The Summer Challenge: Day 22
We live about 30 minutes away from Old Fort Niagara (the oldest continuously occupied military site in North America), near Youngstown, NY. Somehow I had managed to go my entire life without ever visiting it. I have wanted to go but we’ve just never made it there (Michael had been there as a child.) I have plans on going back for other reenactments, and especially for Christmas.
Old Fort Niagara’s history goes back more than 300 years, and was restored between 1926-1934. Located at the mouth of the Niagara River, it controlled access to the Great Lakes. It remained an active military post well into the 20th century; even though with the completion of the Erie Canal the strategic value of it was no longer there. You can read more about the history of Old Fort Niagara HERE!
As you come walking up to the fort, you walk across a bridge with an actual working drawbridge. I wished that they had had the moat filled with water. That would have been so neat to see!
Here is where they would raise and lower the drawbridge. There were two of these; one on each side.
This is the South Redoubt and you walk through this after passing through over the draw bridge. After you go through this building, you are actually within the fort walls.
They had all these copper canons in there on the ground floor. You could go up the stairs and look out at everything.
This is called The Earthworks and was designed and built under the command of Captain Pierre Pouchet. This design technique was considered to be the most advanced defensive designs of the time period.
This is the French Castle and it was originally built in 1726-27. There were a lot of really neat things within this building.
This is the main vestibule (a closeup of the well is below) when you walk through the main front door. The doorways and ceilings are all really low and everything was made out of stone. I couldn’t but help thinking of all the different people and events that happened here. I am a huge history buff, and I think about this stuff all the time. Not to mention that my grandpa also loved coming here, so just knowing that I was enjoying this place too made the trip a lot more meaningful.
Here’s Shawn in the Trade Room. It was set up just as it would have been back then. Lots of animal hide, fabrics, and other necessities. Those white trade bundles were filled with goods and the marks on them said what company they came from; in other words it’s a trademark, and the number corresponded to an item on the shipping invoice.
We were able to walk around the entire place and hallways were long and narrow. Luckily, we got there early enough that we (just about) missed 4 or 5 tour buses that arrived. We were able to walk around and while there were others there, we felt like we had the place to ourselves.
We got a workout just coming and down all the stairs! They were super steep and small so we had to take it easy on them.
They showed the sleeping quarters of the men that were stationed there. I couldn’t imagine having to sleep on such a hard bed! The beds in the bottom photo practically have nothing under them except for a little bit of bedding. At least the other beds had rope under the mattress.
I loved the light fixtures throughout the castle. They obviously rewired them to be electric instead of candles but they were still cool. They were large too!
There were fireplaces in every room and I love how each one had hearts in them. This is very reminiscent of the time period.
This is the Jesuit Chapel at Old Fort Niagara. I found it to be one of my favorite places in the entire building. I like the hearts carved into the wood over each of the doors. There was even a place in the stone at the doorway for Holy Water as they entered into it.
The doors throughout the castle appeared to be the original thing but you can’t tell, considering how old it is. Either way, the doors were huge and very heavy!
This was the woodworking shop (or at least it appeared to be). Michael was telling Shawn about how they had to make things by hand, unlike how he now has tools that do the same work.
Shawn thought that the windows were quite funny but we had to explain why they were made like that.
There were also some trap doors throughout the castle as well.
There really weren’t a lot of reenactments going on the day we went, but we did get to see a Musket Demonstration. He was a British Soldier and went into great detail about their clothing, life at Fort Niagara, and of course about his musket. I loved listening to him tell us stuff because being a history nerd, I want to know more. There was a small group of people for this, so we answered a lot of his questions and even Shawn piped up too. (I am so proud of him for that!)
Here is showing everyone how to load the musket and get it ready to be fired. This is the 2nd time he did it (which I was glad he did it again because I didn’t take any photos of the 1st time. I was busy watching him do it.)
Michael took a video of the 1st time however.
Here’s a little snippet of him talking too. Michael took this video as well.
As were about to leave, they were doing an prisoner exchange but we didn’t stick around to see it. As you can tell by this time there were tons of people all over the place.
Here are some aerial shots that I took from the top of the North Redoubt. The redoubts were designed to be a fort within a fort. The South redoubt with built in 1770 and this one was finished a year later. Thankfully we had these to hang out in because we caught in a major downpour! We had to go scurrying into them as the rain began to fall harder, but luckily they didn’t last too long. (It just made for lots of mud to walk in.)
Inside of the North Redoubt there was a sleeping area with a set of bunk beds (Shawn got a kick out of that), and this cute little canon. There was also a lady all dressed up in there and she played games with the kids while it was raining.
This was really neat to go into. It was almost like an underground bunker and it was filled with lots of canons. It was completely made out of brick and was a huge area.
There is also a museum that tells about the history of the area as well. We spent some nice, air conditioned time in there. We have visited many different museums and this was the 1st time that Shawn was really into it. He was pulling me all over the place to look at stuff.
Overall it was nice to spend a few hours walking around, and learning about the history of our area. Western New York is rich in history and I want to learn more and share it all with Shawn too.