Skip to main content

Fort Montgomery - Lake Champlain - Our "Fort Blunder"

If you have ever crossed the Korean Veterans Memorial Bridge that carries US 2 over Lake Champlain between Vermont and New York and looked North, you may have noticed an old stone structure that looks like a fort.  Well, yes, it was once a fort; and unfortunately, you really can't really visit it. 

Fort Montgomery as viewed from US 2 (Adam Prince, August 2006)
The structure is the former Fort Montgomery - the second of two forts at the site on Lake Champlain that guarded the United States border with Canada.

Construction commenced on the original fort in 1816.  The reasoning for construction is due to Lake Champlain being a strategic waterway for military operations during the Revolutionary War and War of 1812.  The Battle of Plattsburgh/Battle of Lake Champlain in 1814 was fresh on the minds of the Americans, and a strong military outpost at the border was hoped to prevent a future attack from British Canada.

However, one year into construction, a major surveying error came into light that halted construction of the fort.  A new survey found that the 45th parallel was actually located to the south by about 3/4ths of a mile.  The result of the survey was that the United States was building a new fort in Canada!  Construction immediately halted on the outpost - which now was locally known as "Fort Blunder".

Wider shot of Fort Montgomery. (Adam Prince, August 2006)
The 1842 Webster-Ashburton Treaty would change all this.  Known more for the settlement of disputed territory in Maine, the establishment of a border between Lake Superior and the Lake of the Woods, and the 49th parallel to the Rocky Mountain, this treaty was important in the revival of the Lake Champlain Fort.

Within the treaty, the British and Americans agreed to revert the New York/Vermont border with British Canada back to the original mistakenly surveyed line.  This move shifted the border northwards and the tiny island that was once home to "Fort Blunder" was American territory again.

Construction soon began on the new "third-system" masonry fort.   It would receive the official name Fort Montgomery.  The massive fort would see various stages of construction from 1844 through 1870.  Concerns of British involvement in support of the Confederate Army during the Civil War led Fort Montgomery to be home to some of the United States 14th Infantry in 1862.

In the time period after the Civil War, and as the United States' relationship with Great Britain and Canada continued to grow more friendly combined with changes in warfare technology, the fort's strategic value quickly became obsolete.  Removal of the forts guns began in the 1880s and all were removed by the early 1900s.  The United States sold the fort at public auction in 1926 removing the outpost from its books.

Since then, the fort and surrounding grounds have been in private ownership changing hands numerous times.  Currently, if you have a few million dollars to spare, Fort Montgomery is for sale.  The fort has been on the market since 2014 listed at $2.95 million; however in 2018, the price was significantly reduced to $995,000.

Since the fort is in private hands, efforts to save and preserve the fort have not been successful.  The Preservation League of New York has listed the fort on its "Seven to Save" report and has attempted to raise awareness and funds to preserve it.   The Fort was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.  In 2009, Fort Montgomery Days was held in Rouses Point to celebrate and fund raise for the fort's preservation.  Tours of the fort were even given.  Unfortunately, further events were cancelled due to insurance concerns.

Though it is very difficult to visit fort Montgomery in person today, perhaps the best way to check out the old fort is through drone videos.  Over the past decade, drone videos, like the one below from Todd Collins, provide some of the best views of the old fort.



How To Get There:


Further Reading:

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Dummy Lights of New York

  A relic of the early days of motoring, dummy lights were traffic lights  that  were  placed  in the middle of a street intersection. In those early days, traffic shuffled through busy intersections with the help of a police officer who stood on top of a pedestal. As technology improved and electric traffic signals became commonplace, they were also  originally  positioned on a platform at the center of the intersection. Those traffic signals became known as  " dummy lights "  and were common until  traffic lights were moved  onto wires and poles that crossed above the intersection.  In New York State, only a handful of these dummy lights exist. The dummy lights  are found  in the Hudson Valley towns of Beacon and Croton-on-Hudson, plus there is an ongoing tug of war in Canajoharie in the Mohawk Valley, where their dummy light has been knocked down and replaced a few times. The dummy light in Canajoharie is currently out of commission, but popular demand has caused the dummy

Colorado Road (Fresno County)

Colorado Road is a rural highway located in San Joaquin Valley of western Fresno County.  Colorado Road services the city of San Joaquin in addition the unincorporated communities of Helm and Tranquility.  Colorado Road was constructed between 1910 and 1912 as a frontage road of the Hanford & Summit Lake Railway.  The roadway begins at California State Route 145 near Helm and terminates to the west at James Road in Tranquility.   Part 1; the history of Colorado Road Colorado Road was constructed as frontage road connecting the sidings of the Hanford & Summit Lake Railway.  The Hanford & Summit Lake Railway spanned from South Pacific Railroad West Side Line at Ingle junction southeast to the Coalinga Branch at Armona.  The Hanford & Summit Lake Railway broke ground during August 1910 and was complete by April 1912. The Hanford & Summit Lake Railway established numerous new sidings.  From Ingle the sidings of the line were Tranquility, Graham, San Joaquin, Caldwell, H

The Putah Creek Bridge of Monticello (former California State Route 28)

The Putah Creek Bridge was a masonry structure constructed during 1896 by Napa County to serve the community of Monticello.  The Putah Creek Bridge would be annexed into the State Highway System in 1933 when Legislative Route Number 6 was extended from Woodland Junction to Napa.  The Putah Creek Bridge was a component of the original California State Route 28 from 1934-1952.  The span briefly became part of California State Route 128 in 1953 until the highway was relocated as part of the Monticello Dam project in 1955.  Today the Putah Creek Bridge sits at the bottom of the Lake Berryessa reservoir and is accessible to divers.  Pictured as the blog cover is the Putah Creek Bridge as it was featured in the September 1950 California Highways & Public Works.   California State Route 28 can be seen crossing the Putah Creek Bridge near Monticello on the 1943 United States Geological Survey map of Copay.   The history of the Putah Creek Bridge The site of Monticello lies under the waters