Travelogue: Third Day - Fort Ticonderonga
Rosie, Beeotch, Dancing Queen, Peeps
You never sleep as soundly as you do when you can breathe freshly rain-washed air all night. Even a second thunderstorm rolling through during the night did not disturb our slumbers. Waking refreshed and ready for the new day, we enjoyed a relaxing cup of coffee and, passing up Cheerios, a couple of us even proved ourselves honorary "true Yankees" having pie for breakfast.
We had seen Fort Ticonderoga in the distance as we had driven by yesterday. Now it was time to go and take a closer look. Going up the hill toward the fort we drove by a number of monuments honoring the different units and individual leaders who had at various times been stationed at the fort. Construction began in 1755 on what the French called Fort Carillon, built to protect their fur trade. Located on a commanding height between Lake Champlain and Lake George, possession of the fort was contested numerous times between the French and the British and the British and the Colonials. During this period, the fort received its second name - Ticonderoga, which means Land Between Two Waters.
Familiar names from our classroom study of the Revolutionary War period walk through the history of the Fort. In May 1775, Benedict Arnold and Ethan Allen, leader of the Green Mountain Boys, took the fort in a bold pre-dawn raid. Later dissatisfied with his treatment by the Continental Congress and having been acting as a spy for the British, Arnold was responsible for Fort Ticonderoga falling back into the hands of the King's forces. It was fascinating to walk in their footsteps.
We arrived at the fort just as it opened to visitors and followed the authentically costumed period color guard and fife and drum corps up to the outer rampart facing the lake. The fife and drums played as each flag was hoisted in turn until all flew proudly over the fort. We walked through a museum housed inside the fort itself. The displays included artifacts such as arrowheads used by the Native Americans who lived in the area; spinning wheels, looms, and other household utensils; cannon balls, pistols, swords, knives, and other implements of war; and pictures done in a variety of media depicting battles, daily life, and the surrounding landscape.
Additional exhibits included a diorama of a battle scene depicting life-size models of soldiers and their graphically accurate battle wounds, and also a wooden block model of the fort intended for young visitors to play with. A more contemporary exhibit was dedicated to the namesake of the fort, the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Ticonderoga. Built during World War Two and serving through the Vietnam conflict, its greatest claim to fame was when it served as the recovery vessel for the Apollo 16 and Apollo 17 missions. Artifacts from the ship, which was decommissioned in 1973, include the captain's chair, several gauges and controls, commemorative caps and patches from the Apollo missions.
After walking through the whole museum, we wandered back outside and around the parade grounds of the fort. We saw a Native American named Red Hawk our hostess had told us about. He is one-eighth Native American and descended from the tribes who had inhabited the region. He was dressed in a leather loincloth and leggings and carried a musket. We followed him back up to the rampart overlooking the lake where he and another young man dressed as a colonial soldier did a demonstration on how to fire a musket. The soldiers were expected to fire their muskets three times per minute -- no easy task. When the demonstration was over, we continued to explore the fort and examine all of the different cannons and mortars and imagine what it might have been like for the Rebels and Redcoats alike.
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