A little history
Atop a hill along the shore of Lake Champlain sits Fort Ticonderoga. The stately yet humble appearance of the fort belies a truly scintillating peek into Colonial US and Revolutionary War history. Whether legend or truth, the stories you’ll hear from docents and demonstrators paint a captivating picture of the conquests and defeats— even some embarrassments— involving Colonial Americans, the British, indigenous natives, and the French.
Originally christened Fort Carillon by the French who built it, Fort Ticonderoga gained its current name in 1759, after the French and Indian War. The fort also played a role throughout the Revolutionary War, proving to be an asset in early America’s independence from the British.
Have you heard of Ticonderoga pencils? This popular brand of writing utensils was at one time created using graphite from the mines in the area. However, the pencils weren’t manufactured in Ticonderoga— or even New York. The pencil factory was located one state South, in New Jersey.
What to do at Fort Ticonderoga
Your entry fee gets you access to Fort Ticonderoga and nearby Mount Defiance over the course of two days. With so much to see and do on the grounds, you’ll need those two days to fully enjoy all this historic site has to offer, especially if you have any history buffs in the family!
Exhibits, Tours, and Programs
Throughout the day, you’ll have the chance to watch reenactments and participate in other interactive, and super engaging programs. We arrived just in time to watch an awesome cannon firing demonstration. We found the presentation to be packed with enough excitement to keep kids interested even with the built-in history lesson.
The fort houses three distinct sections: Officers’ Barracks, Soldiers’ Barracks, and the Mars Education Center
At the Officers’ Barracks, you’ll find demonstrators showcasing the different skills and trades needed at the fort during colonial times. These folks were ready and willing to answer our questions about the history of Fort Ticonderoga and the surrounding area. Time and again, they delivered detailed, thoughtful responses that demonstrate Fort Ticonderoga’s commitment to excellence in all they do!
The Soldiers’ Barracks features museum exhibits and fun interactive displays for the kids. A notable one lets you test your ability to lift a cannon— by having you literally attempt to lift a cannon. (Safely, of course!)
Finally, the Mars Education Center is a fully modernized wing of the fort, complete with air conditioning, restrooms, and exhibition space.
The King's Garden
Oh, but I love a good garden, and The King’s Garden at Fort Ticonderoga is no exception. The King’s Garden is an absolute delight to explore with your little ones!
During the summer months, they’ll love exploring the vibrant grounds, which burst with color from all sorts of flowers, fruits, and vegetables. From August into the fall, they can enjoy some time finding their way through the corn maze.
Boat Tour on the Carillon
Sparkly blue water with wispy-clouded skies to match, breathtaking verdant scenes, and a riveting narrated history tour sprinkled with tales both heroic and tall? Absolutely yes!
The boat tour aboard the Carillon was my favorite part of our day at Fort Ticonderoga. It’s a rather intimate activity, with just under 20 people aboard during our tour. Our tour guide was a master of storytelling, and he kept the audience interested and asking questions the entire time, including the kids on board.
At one point in history, Mount Defiance went by the name, Serpent a Sonnette. That translates to Rattlesnake Hill in English. Seems odd, right? I mean, it’s New York. But yup— timber rattlesnakes do exist in New York State.
Mount Defiance is included in your visit to Fort Ticonderoga, with entry granted by way of a special token that you’ll need to open the entrance gate. From here, you’ll get sweeping panoramic views of the area. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to visit Mount Defiance, but here’s a taste of what we missed: America’s Historic Lakes > Mount Defiance
To sum up our visit: I wish we had more time here! Alas, we only had one afternoon, then we were due to head home the next day. I’d love to go back and spend more time viewing the museum’s collections, viewing demonstrations, and participating in the interactive programs— and we may very well do that the next time we’re in the Lake George area.
This article is syndicated from a post I originally published to my travel blog, Aspire to Wander. See the original article, including more photos, here: Fort Ticonderoga: Experience History and Family Fun in Upstate New York
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