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 your experience throughout the historic Adirondack Coast. I’ll also include a glimpse of some of the new displays and exhibits that you won’t want to miss.
Fort Ticonderoga opened for the season on May 4 this year. Their season will extend through October 31. Regular hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Special programs, tours, and events often vary from those regular hours, so check with the Fort and plan ahead. Remember your tickets buys admission to the Fort on two consecutive days. You will want at least two full days to experience it all. Note that you can purchase tickets, as well as special packages like admission plus a cruise aboard the Carillon, or admission to a special event, all on line this year.
Among the many things to see and do at Fort Ticonderoga, there is, of course, their extensive collection of artifacts. Plan on seeing some great new exhibits this year as well:
Ticonderoga, A Legacy -Even before the Revolution, Ticonderoga was legendary. Explore the legacy of Ticonderoga through popular and military culture over two centuries, including the U.S. Navy vessels that have borne its name.
1758: Decision at Carillon -Follow the course of the bloodiest battle fought in North America until the Civil War. This new exhibit provides an hour-by-hour breakdown of how the battle unfolded.
Great Wars: Ticonderoga and World War I -The 18th century and the 20th century collide in this exploration of our museum founders’ experience in World War I.
Sarah Pell's Struggle for History and Human Rights -Discover Sarah's pioneering role in historic preservation and women's rights. Learn how the past informs our work in the present.
Once I first visited the Ticonderoga Heritage Museum I had a much better understanding of why our communities sprung up where they did; most along the banks of swift flowing water. This museum expands that story with their exhibit “Once Upon the River” illuminating the history of Ticonderoga’s thriving industrial era. This exhibit showcases the work of Denise Heustis with her professionally-mastered scale models of the mills, forges, and factories that flourished on the LaChute River.
The museum is open on weekends from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. beginning Memorial Day weekend until July 4. From July 4 until Labor Day it is open daily; then returns to weekends only Labor Day until Columbus Day. The annual Children’s Art Workshops are held Wednesdays and Fridays form 9 a.m. until 10:45 a.m. during July and August. Find the Ticonderoga Heritage Museum right at the entrance to Bicentennial Park along the LaChute River Walk Trail.
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 who 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. New exhibits for this year include:
Going Down to Yasgur’s Farm; the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock Festival
Creative Communality; a look at American Folk Art in the Hancock House Collection.
From Lambing to the Wool; the 19th century Merino sheep industry of the Ticonderoga region.
Two highlights of ongoing exhibits include the WWI Centennial and the Women’s Suffrage Centennial.
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 for 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 2019 museum season runs from May 10 through October 26, Thursday through Monday, 9:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Site superintendent, Lisa Polay, has some exciting events planned for this year including the NYS Path Through History-Crown Point Day on June 15. This day-long event will include guided tours, demonstrations, an author presentation, a fishing clinic, live music and a guided bird hike. Pack a picnic and bring the whole family. Watch our events calendar for more exciting events and activities at this historic and scenic site.
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.
Staffed by volunteers, they recommend you call ahead to visit, (518) 546-3587, and they will do their best to accommodate you. The town historian is there most afternoons Monday through Wednesday; simply ring the bell.
In our county seat
The building housing the Adirondack History Museum on Court Street in Elizabethtown, was once a school. It is open Tuesdays through Saturdays 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.; Sundays noon until 4 p.m. Memorial Day weekend through Columbus Day weekend. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $2 for students, and children under 6 are free.
An intriguing new exhibit planned for this year is Bootleggers and the Law in the Adirondacks. 2019 marks the centennial of the 18th Amendment’s ratification which not only began Prohibition, but ushered in a a period of lawlessness across the country. This exhibits explores how the region was part of the major bootlegging routes between Canada and New York City.
During this 2019 season the Rosenberg Gallery, located within the museum, will feature the work of two incredible Adirondack artists; the stunning landscape photography of Manuel Palacios paired with Dan Keegan’s striking graphite drawings of nature. This exhibit is entitled One Earth — Two Perspectives and is not to be missed. An opening reception for this exhibit is planned for June 14 at 6 pm. Watch our events calendar for other museum events and their weekly lecture and film series.
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.
The museum’s season runs from the last Saturday in May until Columbus Day and is open seven days a week, 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. (until 5 p.m. in July in August).
Poignant exhibits portray compelling stories of fugitives from slavery who passed through northeastern New York and the Champlain Valley on their way to Quebec and Ontario, Canada. Among their innovative displays are a multimedia production of the heartrending and triumphant story of John Thomas and his family. Thomas escaped from the cruelties of slavery in Maryland and settled on his own Adirondack mountain farm.
Check out our heritage page for even more sites and museums prepared to tell you their stories.