Feature photo: Copyright Fort Ticonderoga; photographer Carl Heilman II
Written by guest blogger Beth Hill, President and CEO, Fort Ticonderoga
As one of the most important Revolutionary War sites anywhere in the country, an Independence Day visit to Fort Ticonderoga is an unforgettable experience. Not a day goes by that I don’t learn something new about the Fort and its amazing history!
Visitors — young, old, and everything in between — can develop an understanding and appreciation for the fight for freedom and liberty, and we make sure they have a great time doing it. Experience the blend of history and natural beauty like nowhere else. Authentic living history experiences coupled with our world-class museum collections ensure that a trip to Fort Ticonderoga exceeds all expectations.
While it’s impossible to include all of our amazing activities, here’s a sample of the things you can expect during our week-long celebration of American Independence from June 30 to July 6.
Public unveiling of one of the most historically important objects ever to be on display at Fort Ticonderoga!
All I can say is, wow! We can’t wait to show you the newest gem on display in our museum – an original Society of the Cincinnati gold eagle medal on generous loan from the Robert Nittolo Collection, the largest and most important private collection of 18th-century militaria in North America.
Why is this gold eagle medal so special? Let me explain.
The Society of the Cincinnati was founded by officers of the Continental Army in 1783. To signify membership in this exclusive organization, medals were commissioned. Fort Ticonderoga’s medal is one of 140 made in Paris to be sold to members of the Society and only two of this type are known to survive.
This particular medal was owned by Captain Richard Douglass from New London, Connecticut. He was one of the Connecticut men who marched to Massachusetts upon learning of the engagements at Lexington and Concord.
Douglass was one of the few soldiers to serve in the Continental Army for the duration of the war, seeing action in a number of battles before witnessing the British surrender at Yorktown.
Captain Douglass was an original member of the Society joining, among other notable patriots, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and founder Henry Knox – who has a direct tie to Fort Ticonderoga. Knox’s mission to the fort to bring seized British artillery to Boston was decisive in ending the siege of the city in early 1776.
This special exhibition featuring other rare Fort Ticonderoga museum collections explores how the Society of Cincinnati was established to ensure that their sacrifices in the service of the cause of Independence would not be forgotten.
The value of the medal is not only in its extreme rarity, but in its cultural and historical significance to the founding principles of the United States of America. The exhibition including this rare medal is emblematic of the breadth and importance of Fort Ticonderoga’s museum collections and as a place to explore the origins of our nation’s rich military culture.
Exploring the year 1777
Every visit to Fort Ticonderoga is unique and no two days are the same. To celebrate Independence Day we focus on the year 1777 when America and Fort Ticonderoga were consumed in the fight for liberty.
Here, you can walk in the same footsteps as the Continental Army and participate in the struggle for freedom and help keep the great fortress of Ticonderoga from falling into British control. Highlights include musket and cannon demonstrations, including a special “Ticonderoga Guns by Night” event July 5 — a dramatic nighttime display of 18th-century weapons you won’t see anywhere else!
Take the experience onto Lake Champlain aboard the recreated 1920s tour boat Carillon. Between floating bridges, flotillas of bateaux, and a whole British naval fleet, the fight for Ticonderoga played out on the water and across the hills that surround it. Don’t miss this unparalleled chance to get a new perspective on the fight for independence on one of the most historic waterways in America.
The King’s Garden and the bird’s-eye view from Mount Defiance
While probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Fort Ticonderoga, the peninsula where we are located is home to one of the oldest cultivated landscapes in America. Through the breathtaking beauty of our King’s Garden, this is a legacy we embrace.
From military garrison gardens that helped feed hungry soldiers to landmark preservation in the 19th-century and monumental restoration in the 20th-century, our expert guides will immerse you in layers of agricultural and horticulture history and the role the gardens played before, during, and after the Revolution.
To add some pep to your step — we have a daily “Garden March” led by the Fifes & Drums of Fort Ticonderoga. Enjoy your favorite 18th-century tunes and marches with this corps as your musical guide.
After witnessing the history and beauty of Fort Ticonderoga from the ground and from Lake Champlain, explore the summit of our very own mountain — and we’ve made it easy for you – you can drive right to the top!
Overlooking Fort Ticonderoga and Lake Champlain, the summit of Mount Defiance is often regarded as one of the most spectacular views in the northeast. And, as the name implies, it had symbolic meaning in addition to tactical importance during the American Revolution.
We’ve only scratched the surface of all there is to explore at Fort Ticonderoga over Independence Day week! Since there is so much to see and do, this year a second day is included with the price of admission. We are open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. – with several special evening programs. For additional information and a full schedule of events, please visit FortTiconderoga.org.
We can’t wait to share the history of Fort Ticonderoga with you and your family! Make a week of it and stay nearby.