25 things to do under $25—Old Fort Niagara
August 02, 2012 at 9:00 AM
Situated at the mouth of the Niagara River on a bluff above Lake Ontario, Old Fort Niagara is a historic landmark with an explosive past. Vital to those who wished to control access to the Great Lakes in the 18th and 19th centuries, the fort has changed hands betweenFrance,Great Britain, and theUnited States amidst various armed conflicts.
Erected by the French in 1726, the fort was taken by Great Britain after a nineteen-day siege during the French and Indian War. Throughout the American Revolution, the fort remained in British control but was yielded by treaty to the United States in 1796. Yet British interest in this valuable post persisted and in 1813Great Britain regained control. The War of 1812 was the last armed battle over possession of FortNiagara. In 1815, Great Britainonce again ceded the fort to theUnited States. Since then, the fort has served as a peaceful border post and training barracks for American soldiers during both World Wars.
Today, the only military presence remaining is the U.S. Coast Guard, but visitors can still experience the fort’s vibrant history from its original 18th and 19th century military fortifications—the oldest buildings in the Great Lakes—to the musket and canon demonstrations performed by costumed re-enactors.
The French castle has been restored to appear as it did during French occupation with mid-18th century furnishings. Originally the sole structure ofFortNiagara, the building is one of the oldest buildings in easternNorth America. It was designed to resemble a trading house to ease the reluctant Iroquois whose power and trading opportunities were invaluable. Its impressive interiors and vistas ofLakeOntario make it a favorite among visitors. Don’t forget to ask your guide about the building’s colorful history—kids will love the legend of the headless ghost.
Admission to explore the fort is $12 for adults, $8 for children ages 6-12, and FREE for those 6 and under.
War of 1812 Bicentennial
As part of the bicentennial celebrations commemorating the War of 1812, be sure to experience the “War of 1812 Encampment” (Sept. 1-2) during which American and British forces recreate the War of 1812 on the Niagara Frontier. Special programs occur daily 10am to 4pm with a night battle depicting the British Capture of Fort Niagara on Saturday at 7pm.
Inside the museum, visitors can view relics from the Fort’s past and watch a movie detailing the rich history and importance of Fort Niagara. Take a guided tour or grab a map and explore the campus at your leisure. Visitors will be awed by the attention to detail in preservation and restoration, especially inside the French castle.
The fort offers historical events and programs, exhibits and collections, archeology, and education throughout the year.
For more information about Old Fort Niagara and special events go to oldfortniagara.org.
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