Whenever I set foot on the grounds of Fort Ticonderoga I feel a distinct sense of privilege. I am clearly aware I am treading on the same sacred soil as America’s first patriots and I know that, if not for their sacrifice, my life today may not be so blessed. I also feel indebted to the Pell family who began preservation of this American treasure over 100 years ago. With gratitude to their vision and effort I am permitted the unique experience of visiting the Fort and its environs today.
Fort Ticonderoga sets on an exquisite piece of geography. Over 2000 acres rest on a strategic peninsula extending into Lake Champlain. During the warmer weather months, it is easy to become captivated, even distracted, by the phenomenal scenic beauty here.The greens of the landscape against the backdrop of mountains, surrounded by the bright blue of skies and water paint a very inviting, picturesque and welcoming atmosphere.
A visit in winter is a definite contrast. For me, a visit during the winter months creates an even deeper respect for those original patriots. In the absence of living vegetation, the rigors of the landscape are exposed to a greater degree. Sight distance is enhanced and reveals the harsher contours of the surrounding Adirondack and Green Mountains.
The frozen lake surface is not nearly so welcoming and the Fort’s stone exterior, coupled with the frigid iron of the canon, do not encourage touch. Though it remains incredibly scenic, nature’s challenges that confronted our early patriots become more apparent. How did they ever manage!?
Thanks to Fort Ticonderoga’s special Winter Quarters programs you can discover answers to the many questions that spring to mind. If you have only been a warm weather visitor now you can witness the dramatic contrast created by the seasons for yourself. It truly is a unique and compelling experience to see the Fort in the winter. You need to discover it for yourself.
This season, the Winter Quarters programs began in November but they do extend through April of 2019. There are still plenty of opportunities to see how the early soldiers faced the challenges, and hardships during our harsher weather months. You can learn from commemorations of significant historical events that occurred right on the ground beneath your feet. More knowledge can be acquired from engaging on-site seminars, specialty programs, behind -the-scenes VIP tours and hands-on workshops.
Fort Ticonderoga's Winter Quarters Program
Here are some opportunities for a visit as we make our way into 2019. Whether you want to see our history in action, learn from the Fort’s historical researchers, get hands-on recreating an article of the past, or experience an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at world-class collections, there are some fantastic, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities ahead:
Living History Events
- January 19, 2019: Preparing for the Coming Campaign
Witness the defining story of 1777, the last year American troops held Ticonderoga. The roar of musketry and cannon and the intricate maneuvering of soldiers take on a whole new dimension during this living history event.
- February 16, 2019: 1775 British Garrison Event
See how British soldiers and their families lived at Fort Ticonderoga on the eve of the American Revolution. Discover what it was like to be a British soldier, soldier’s wife, or child. Was the British Army prepared or unprepared to fight for control of Ticonderoga?
- March 9, 2019: Battle on Snowshoes
March out with French soldiers and their Native American allies before they spring upon Rogers’ Rangers. Experience the hectic tree-to-tree fighting in a recreated battle as the Rangers make a brave stand against superior odds, only to retreat through the deep woods. Discover the people, weapons, and stories through living history vignettes, exhibitions, and hands-on programs.
Fort Fever Series
Fort Ticonderoga’s popular wintertime Fort Fever Series returns in 2019 and features programs led by Fort Ticonderoga museum staff who will share their latest research and cutting-edge discoveries. All programs are held on Sundays at 2:00 pm in the Mars Education Center at Fort Ticonderoga. Admission is $10/person, free admission offered to Fort Ticonderoga Members and Ambassador Pass holders.
- January 13, 2019: Half-Spanish, Part-Hungarian, & All-American: Cavalry Treatises, Saddles & Objects in Fort Ticonderoga's Collection
Join Vice President of Public History, Stuart Lilie, to chart the origins of the United States Cavalry through incredible objects in the Fort Ticonderoga Museum Collection. Discover the European and Middle Eastern influences that made American cavalry and saddlery unique.
- February 10, 2019: Selective Service: Soldiers of Color in the Atlantic World
Fort Ticonderoga Curator Matthew Keagle will explore how the armies of the early modern Atlantic World policed the boundaries of race and military service during an era of global imperial conflict. This program will provide context to the complex, and often contradictory, history of soldiers of color on both sides of the Atlantic ocean in the 18th century.
- March 17, 2019: Remembering the Ladies: Anglo-American Women in the Lake Champlain Valley, 1759-1781
This Women’s History Month, join Museum Registrar, Margaret Staudter, as she examines the roles of women at Ticonderoga and in the Lake Champlain Valley during times of peace and times of war. Through historical accounts, documents, and artifacts, uncover the stories of women hidden in the shadows of Fort Ticonderoga’s dramatic military history.
- April 7, 2019: Lake Champlain’s Age of Steam
Join Director of Academic Programs, Rich Strum, for a program about the age of steam on Lake Champlain. From the first steamer that plied the waters of Lake Champlain in 1809 to the Ticonderoga that ceased operation in 1953, dozens of steamers moved passengers and freight up and down the lake, connecting communities and bringing early tourists to the region.
Winter Workshop Series
Join Fort Ticonderoga’s professional staff and tradesmen as you make your own 18th-century clothing and accoutrement during hands-on trades workshops. Each workshop includes a coat kit, sewing materials, and lunch. Pre-registration is required by calling 518-585-6190.
- January 12-13, 2019: 1750s British Regimental Coats
Learn the latest research on British and Provincial enlisted regimental coats as you build your own. Discover period shortcuts for these military garments, produced en masse for regimental contracts.This workshop is BYOL&B--bring your own lace and buttons—due to the specificity of these trimmings. Most facings, linings, and regimental and campaign details can be accommodated with prior notice.
- February 9-10, 2019: Genteel Details and Epaulettes
Learn the secrets of genteel civilian and officers’ coats. Under the instruction of Vice President of Public History, Stuart Lilie, learn and practice techniques for corded buttonholes, laced buttonholes, perfect pocket flaps, feathered edges, button stands, lining and pleats, and build samples of each to take home. On the second day, join Director of Interpretation, Nicholas Spadone, to build your own gold or silver epaulettes.
- March 9-10, 2019: French Women’s Jackets
Join Fort Ticonderoga Head of Costume, Nathalie Smallidge, build your own women's short jackets, a style common in French Canada during the 1750s. The workshop will begin with a brief presentation on women's fashion in French Canada examining both European and Native American influence and how those details could be adapted to individual tastes.
Behind-the-Scenes VIP Opportunities
This exclusive once-in-a-lifetime experience provides a unique behind-the-scenes look at Fort Ticonderoga's world-class collections. Highlights include clothing, weapons, and personal possessions of soldiers from across the Atlantic. Learn how objects tell amazing stories of the past and how Fort Ticonderoga contextualizes its rich collection. This program takes place in the Thompson Pell Research Center. In addition to the 3-hour program, return the following day to take part in a Winter Quarters living history event, included in the cost. Advanced reservations are required by calling 518-585-1023.
- Available dates: January 18, 2019, February 15, 2019, and March 8, 2019
Plan a visit to Fort Ticonderoga this winter. You certainly will expand your perspective and understanding of many facets regarding America's early history.