The Lake Champlain Region's exciting, activity-packed season is practically upon us. Most of our seasonal sites and attractions have started opening, or will open soon, and our many museums have numerous stories to share with you. Let me give you some ideas of a few places to visit to enhance and expand your experience throughout the historic Adirondack Coast. I’ll also include a glimpse of some of the new and intriguing displays and exhibits that you won’t want to miss.
Fort Ticonderoga opened for the season on May 7 this year. Their season will extend through October 30. Regular hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. until October 16, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from October 17-30, but special programs, tours, and events often vary from those regular hours. Check with the Fort and plan ahead.
Among the many things to see and do at Fort Ticonderoga is, of course, their extensive collection of artifacts. A new exhibit opens this month, The Last Argument of Kings: The Art and Science of 18th century Artillery. This exhibit tells the story of the weapons that dominated 18th century battlefields. Fort Ticonderoga’s artillery collection is internationally recognized as the largest and most significant of its kind in North America. This exhibit will be displayed in the Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center, the Fort’s premier exhibit space.
Once I first visited the Ticonderoga Heritage Museum I had a much better understanding of why our communities sprang up where they did, mostly along the banks of swiftly flowing water. At a grand opening reception to take place at 2 p.m. on June 26, this museum expands its story with its newest exhibit “Once Upon the River,” which illuminates the history of Ticonderoga’s thriving industrial era. The exhibit will showcase the work of Denise Heustis, with her professionally-mastered scale models of the mills, forges, and factories that flourished on the LaChute River. Several models will be available for public viewing for the first time.
The museum will be open on weekends from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. beginning May 28. From June 25 through September 5 it will be open daily, and then return to weekends only from September 10 through October 10. It is located right at the entrance to Bicentennial Park along the LaChute River Walk Trail. The Ticonderoga Heritage Museum also offers free children’s workshops called “That’s Art?” on Wednesday and Friday mornings in July and August.
At Liberty Circle
At the western end of Montcalm Street, adjacent to the Liberty Monument, you will find the Hancock House, an imposing Georgian mansion and a replica of Thomas Hancock’s Beacon Hill residence that was demolished in 1863. The house was a gift to the New York State Historical Association from Ticonderoga native and philanthropist Horace Moses. Today it is also home to the Ticonderoga Historical Society, which manages the building as a regional museum and reference library. It is open year round Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.
A new exhibit for 2016 honors The Irish Contribution to America. An exhibit that opened on May 6, From the Adirondacks to the Artic, examines the life of Floyd Bennett, an Adirondack local resident, who piloted Admiral Byrd in the 1926 flight to the North Pole. It will extend through the season.
Prepare for a surprise
Don’t let the former toll booth at the entrance deter you; this is no charge to explore the grounds of the Crown Point State Historic Site, which are home to two distinct National Historic Landmarks: the British and French fort ruins.
Acres of grounds are open from sunrise to sunset year round. But, to capture all the details, you need to step inside their museum. It's $4 for adults, $3 seniors, and children under 12 are free.
An audio-visual show inside the museum will reveal the story of this significant piece of geography. Anyone with an interest in the French and Indian War or American Revolutionary history will be enthralled. Also inside are numerous artifacts, many uncovered right here, and knowledgeable interpretive staff are available to answer all of your questions. The 2016 museum season runs from May 7 through October 17, Thursday through Monday, 9:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Site superintendent Michael Roets informed me that the museum will have some exciting news this season — an extraordinary artifact will be arriving soon! We will need to stay tuned, however, to find out the “what and when.” Watch our events calendar, as I am sure this will be a major event.
No, the museum itself is not underground, but the Iron Center Museum does explain what lies beneath the town of Moriah.
The iron mining industry flourished here for more than 150 years. Port Henry was once the largest producer of iron ore in the country. This museum tells the story of those times, the mines, and the people involved. It is located in the historic Witherbee-Sherman (later Republic Steel) carriage house on Park Place in the village of Port Henry.
From June 25 until October 15 it will be open Monday through Wednesday, noon to 2 p.m., and Thursday through Saturday, noon to 3 p.m.
Celebrating a century
The building, once a school, that houses the Adirondack History Museum on Court Street in Elizabethtown celebrates its 100th year this year. An exhibit, School on Schoolhouse Hill, will remain on display all season. Don’t miss a photo lecture on the building’s history given by historian and author Margaret Bartley on July 28 at 7 p.m.
Also opening this season is a new permanent gallery, the Rosenberg Art Gallery, which will host two shows annually. This gallery is entirely dedicated to Adirondack art. The season’s theme is Art: Then & Now and the opening exhibit will feature “Codified Threads, 1998-2008” textile art by Westport artist Cynthia Schira, and pottery by Robert Segall, a sculptor from Jay. The show will run from June 4 through July 31. The gallery’s second show this season opens on August 6 and is titled Hidden Treasures-Essex County Artists. It will highlight artworks painted in Essex County from the mid-1800s to the current day. That show will run to the end of the season on October 10.
The exhibit that opened last year, Essex County’s Immigrants: Faces and Stories, is returning and has been expanded with new content. This exhibit shows the broad and diverse immigration patterns that changed Essex County in the mid-1900s.
Yet another exhibit will run the entire season, Grace Hudowalski and Hiking in the High Peaks. Grace was the first woman to hike all 46 of the Adirondack High Peaks and she was also a founding 46er. Grace was seen as the matriarch of that group, which is known for its passion for hiking and exploring the Adirondacks.
The museum is open daily from late May into October, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $2 for students, and children under 6 are free. There's also offer a lecture series on Tuesday evenings through July and August, and a collection of special events, tours, and programs, which are posted on the events calendar.
Follow the North Star
The North Star Underground Railroad Museum reveals the story of the Champlain line of the Underground Railroad, which was used by many enslaved Americans to escape to freedom. They are located in the Town of Chesterfield Heritage Center, adjacent to Ausable Chasm at 1131 Mace Chasm Road.
To highlight their opening weekend, bestselling local children’s author Kate Messner will make a guest appearance and provide a short reading and discussion from her new book, Ranger in Time: Long Road to Freedom. This is just one of a series of four books featuring a fictional enslaved brother and sister who escape from a Maryland tobacco plantation and make their way north to freedom. This will take place on Sunday, May 29, at 2 p.m.
The museum’s season runs from the last Saturday in May until the last Saturday in October and is open seven days a week, 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. (until 5 p.m. in July and August). Returning this year are the Saturday morning mini-bus tours of local abolitionist sites in Keeseville and Peru. Those 90-minute tours begin at 9:30 a.m, are held on alternate Saturdays, and cost $10 for adults.
Check out our heritage page for even more sites and museums prepared to tell you their stories.
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