In 1734, what is today Canada and the United States didn't exist. Instead, there were the French colonies (New France and Acadia) centered on today's Quebec and part of the Canadian Maritime provinces to the north and the more populous English colonies to the south. In the middle (around Maine and Upstate New York) were the frontiers where French and British colonial rivalries played out.
The French built Fort Sain-Frederic on Lake Champlain in an effort to resist British colonization and maintain control of the lake and routes for themselves. Today visitors can see the remains of this historic fort (and the twin British Fort Crown Point) and learn about the colonial history of the region and how this region of New York became British (and later English-speaking America).
Fort Saint-Frederic - The Front Line Of The Colonial Frontier
Fort Saint-Frederic was built in 1734 in New York, just across the lake from modern Vermont. According to the National Park Service, when Fort Saint Frederic was built, the walls were 12 feet thick and some four stories high. Cannons lined each level of the fort, and it was garrisoned by hundreds of officers and troops (mostly from the Les Compagnies Franches de la Marine).
- Built: 1734
- Destroyed: 1759
The walls were constructed out of limestone that was quarried around half a mile away. Three of the fort's four bastions were diamond-shaped, while the fourth was quadrangular-shaped.
- Cannons: 62 guns
While the French held control of the fort, they were able to command the contended frontier between New France and the British colonies. During its use, the French used it as a base for raids. As the French and Indian War broke out, it was a prime objective for the British.
French Expulsion And British Fort Crown Point
The fort was never attacked. Instead, the French blew it up themselves as a large 10,000 man; strong British army approached to wrestle for control. The French were able to hold the fort for only 28 years.
The British then went on to construct the much larger Fort Crown Point next to the ruins of the French fort, and the area stayed solidly British until the American Revolutionary War. The fort, with its (by then) small garrison, fell quickly to the Continental forces, after which the British fort fell into ruin.
The British fort was powerful enough to halt all north-south travel on the lake. They also built a fleet to control Lake Champlain and the routes of the region.
Another French fort was built just 12 miles to the south called Carillon. The British captured that too and renamed it Ticonderoga - it went on to have a prominent role in the War of Independence. Fort Ticonderoga is a significant attraction today and worth visiting.
Visiting The Two Forts Of Crown Point State History Site Today
Today the two forts are preserved at the Crown Point State History Site (established in 1910). Visiting the forts is typically self-guided, but guided grounds tours are offered on Saturdays and Sundays and on holiday Mondays at 10:30 am and 1:30 pm seasonally. The tours last around 45-60 minutes.
- Grounds: Sunrise To Sunset, Year-Round
- Museum: 10.00 am - 5 pm (Season From May 19th to October 29th)
- Note: Friday - Sunday By Appointment Only, Call 518-597-3666
- Grounds: Free Of Charge
- Museum: $5.00 Per Adult
Visitors can see the ruins of Fort St. Frederic. Mostly just part of the walls and earthen works remain. Around 200 yards away are the remains of the more impressive British fort (Fort Crown Point). These are both in the same park and form twin attractions.
Visit the museum to see the number of relics that have been discovered in and around the forts. The museum features a multimedia orientation program, large-scale models, and an exhibit of original artifacts from the forts.
- Dogs: Dogs Are Permitted On The Grounds On A Leash
The campground at Crown Point is open seasonally from May 20 to October 10. Reservations can be made through Reserve America.
Another significant fort to visit is Fort Monroe at Hampton Roads; it is the largest fort ever constructed in America.