Tag Archives: Fort Ontario State Historic Site

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Flag Day event to include 1,000 elementary students

Children will learn the history behind the many flags displayed at Fort Ontario State Historic Site at the June 14 Flag Day observance. Nearly 1,000 elementary school students are expected to participate.
Children will learn the history behind the many flags displayed at Fort Ontario State Historic Site at the June 14 Flag Day observance. Nearly 1,000 elementary school students are expected to participate.

Nearly 1,000 elementary school students are expected to participate in an official observation of the national Flag Day holiday at Fort Ontario State Historic Site at 10 a.m. Friday, June 14.

Third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students from across central New York will participate in ceremonies commemorating the adoption of the Stars and Stripes as the official flag of the United States of America June 14, 1777.

Fort Ontario was the site of two French and Indian War and two War of 1812 battles. The official Flag Day event will feature a recreation of the British turning Fort Ontario over to the United States in 1796, a hands-on history of the origin of the American flag by the Oswego Elks with participation by students, a history of flags that flew at Fort Ontario by Americorps volunteers, living history and musket demonstrations by members of the Continental Arms Collectors Association, World War II re-enactors, historic games, and self-guided tours of the fort.

The fort will be open to the public during the Flag Day with a special admission price.  School groups must register in advance to participate. Those looking to register may e-mail Ian Mumpton at imumpton@gmail.com.

Oswego Mayor Tom Gillen will lead visitors in the Pledge of Allegiance. Fort Ontario Superintendent Paul Lear will provide historical background for the event.

“This year marks the beginning of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812, a war in which New York State and Oswego played a prominent role,” said Lear.  “Warehouses were built at Oswego during the war to store vast amounts of vital military supplies and equipment was forwarded to military operations along the Niagara frontier and Sacket’s Harbor.”

During the War of 1812 Fort Ontario guarded the supplies stored at and moving through Oswego; one British attack on Oswego in 1813 was driven off.  In May 1814 a larger and more powerful British fleet, intent on crippling American ship construction at Sacket’s Harbor, took Fort Ontario after a two-day amphibious assault.

The 1814 Battle of Oswego-Fort Ontario ended with a stubborn defense of the US flag which had been nailed to the flagpole; it resides in the ancestral castle of the British land commander during the battle.

The 444th Engineer Company, 479th Engineer Battalion, USAR, now deployed to Afghanistan, maintains a reserve center on the old Fort Ontario Military Reservation.

“The members of the 444th proudly carry on a 258-year history of military occupation of the old army post,” said Lear.  “A Corps of Engineers and US flag carried with the 444th during their 2007-08 service in Iraq will be displayed at the fort during the Flag Day event.”

Fort Ontario State Historic Site is located at the north end of East Fourth Street in the City of Oswego.  

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Fort Ontario to open for the season today

Fort Ontario State Historic Site opens today, May 18, and will host a variety of special events, including a French and Indian War living history event June 29 and 30. This year marks the 250th anniversary of the end of the French and Indian War, and the beginning of Pontiac’s Rebellion which ended at Oswego in 1766 with the Treaty of Fort Ontario. Re-enactors from around the United States and Canada will converge on Oswego to recreate the failed French attack on Fort Ontario in 1759 which helped seal the fate of France’s North American Colony.
Fort Ontario State Historic Site opens today, May 18, and will host a variety of special events, including a French and Indian War living history event June 29 and 30. This year marks the 250th anniversary of the end of the French and Indian War, and the beginning of Pontiac’s Rebellion which ended at Oswego in 1766 with the Treaty of Fort Ontario. Re-enactors from around the United States and Canada will converge on Oswego to recreate the failed French attack on Fort Ontario in 1759 which helped seal the fate of France’s North American Colony.

Fort Ontario State Historic Site will be open to the public today, May 18 to Sunday, Oct. 13.  Visiting hours will be Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The fort will be open seven days a week during the peak of tourist season from June 26 through Labor Day. Admission prices will remain the same as last year.

A wide range of special events are planned at the fort this year including a guided tour of the Post Cemetery today, May 18 at 1 p.m.

Curator Jennifer Emmons has been researching the lives and deaths of the 77 soldiers, officers, and civilians buried in post cemetery, which was moved to its current location in 1903.

The history and personal stories of those buried in the post cemetery reflect Fort Ontario’s significant role in world events from the French and Indian War through World War II.

Fort Ontario’s active role in military history continues today as the 444th Engineer Company, 479th Engineer Battalion, maintains a United States Army Reserve Center on the 75-acre Fort Ontario Military Reservation National Register District.

After World War II, the military reservation was divided into five sections; one part went to New York State to be developed as a historic site, a section to the Fitzgibbons Boiler Works, a small section to Lakeshore Trucking (railroad sidings), a parcel to the Army Reserve, and a large section to the City of Oswego on a 99-year lease to be used for educational, transportation, and recreational purposes only.

Recently, Historic Park Manager Ron Healt joined the fort’s management team and will oversee maintenance and major infrastructure improvement projects at Fort Ontario projected to continue through 2016.

Work in 2013 will focus on the two officer’s quarters and involve replacing or repairing window sash and cases, storm windows, shutters, doors, floor joists, sills, chimneys, roofs, gutters, revetments, and drainage.

Officers Quarters Two will be furnished this year, but Officers Quarters One will remain mostly unfurnished as building rehabilitation continues.

Having completed improvements in the two underground stone rifle galleries facing Oswego Harbor, for the first time since the early 1950s, all three underground stone rifle galleries and two artillery casemates will be open to the public.

Stone for the galleries, casemates, and walls of the fort came from a quarry located near the location of the post cemetery.

Contrary to popular opinion, the fort’s stone walls were not destroyed in battles. In reality, improvements begun in 1863 ended in 1872 when Congress ceased funding expensive construction on Great Lakes posts when Canada and the United States signed a treaty calling for an unarmed border.

In May 1872, the civilian workmen under contract to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers packed up their tools and left the fort’s walls unfinished.

Over the winter the Friends of Fort Ontario purchased reproduction tin plates, cups, bottles, knives, forks, spoons, faux foods, crockery, utensils, and other items to recreate a U.S. Army kitchen-mess room as it may have appeared at Fort Ontario in 1868.

This new period room interpretation will be unveiled on opening day.

On most U.S. Army posts of the 19th century, kitchens and mess rooms (dining areas) were located in separate rooms in a barracks, but at some older posts such as Fort Ontario, cooking and eating functions were combined.

The 1868 kitchen-mess room, with its reproduction benches and tables, is designed so that it may be converted into an audio-visual room for power point lectures and programs in minutes.

The room will also be used for school group lunches and historic food-related programming and fund-raising events.

Fort Ontario State Historic Site is located at the north end of East Fourth Street in the City of Oswego, New York.

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‘Ghost Tours’ to be held at Fort Ontario

“Ghostly Refuge,” an episode of “Ghost Hunters” filmed at Fort Ontario last summer, aired Wednesday on the SyFy Channel.

Paul Lear, Historic Site Manager at Fort Ontario State Historic Site, said members of the “Ghost Hunters” cast and crew filmed in the officers’ quarters and other buildings at Fort Ontario for several days and nights last June and interviewed several people who had witnessed unusual sights and sounds at Fort Ontario.

Featured cast members include Jason Hawes, Steve Gonsalves and Adam Berry.

The Friends of Fort Ontario, assisted by the Central New York Ghost Hunters, will host the annual Fort Ontario Ghost Tours Oct. 19 and 20 starting at 7 p.m. Groups will leave every 15 minutes until 11 p.m.

Those seeking ticket information may go to www.fortontario.com.

Ghost Hunters’ episode featuring Fort Ontario airs tonight

“Ghostly Refuge,” an episode of “Ghost Hunters” filmed at Fort Ontario last summer, will air tonight, Oct. 3 at 9 p.m. on the SyFy Channel.

“Ghost Hunters” is a reality television series that investigates reports of paranormal activity across the U.S.

Watch the clip from tonight’s episode:

Paul Lear, historic site manager at Fort Ontario State Historic Site, said members of the “Ghost Hunters” cast and crew filmed in the officers’ quarters and other buildings at Fort Ontario for several days and nights last June and interviewed several people who had witnessed unusual sights and sounds at Fort Ontario. Featured cast members include Jason Hawes, Steve Gonsalves and Adam Berry.

The Friends of Fort Ontario, assisted by the Central New York Ghost Hunters, will host the annual Fort Ontario Ghost Tours Oct. 19 and 20 starting at 7 p.m. Admission is $10 per person. Groups will leave every 15 minutes until 11 p.m.

For ticket information go to www.fortontario.com. For accommodations and visitor information, go to www.visitoswegocounty.com.

Civil War Artillery, Infantry, Engineer, Signal Corps, and Medical Department impressions will be featured at Fort Ontario during the September 29 and 30 living history event. A highlight of the event will be a night-time artillery firing demonstration at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29.

Fort Ontario hosts 150th Civil War commemorative event this weekend

Civil War Artillery, Infantry, Engineer, Signal Corps, and Medical Department impressions will be featured at Fort Ontario during the September 29 and 30 living history event. A highlight of the event will be a night-time artillery firing demonstration at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29.

A living history event commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War (1861 – 1865) will take place Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 29 and 30 on the historic grounds of Fort Ontario State Historic Site in Oswego.

Infantry and artillery demonstrations will take place throughout the day. Union and Confederate Army camps will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

Simulated battles or tactical weapons demonstrations are scheduled for 1:30 p.m. each day and interpreters portraying the US Army Signal Corps and Corps of Engineers will explain their respective roles in the Civil War.

A highlight of the Civil War commemorative event will be a Saturday 7 p.m. nighttime artillery firing demonstration with aerial shell bursts (fireworks) provided by Young Explosives of Rochester. All spectators will be kept behind a line south of the fort for this unique experience.

There will be no public evening admission or parking at the fort for safety purposes after 5 p.m., however, there is plenty of parking on streets around the fort.

Regular admission will be charged to the old fort, which will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. both days.

“During the American Civil War, 1861 – 1865, Fort Ontario protected the northern frontier from potential invasion from British-held Canada,” said Paul Lear, manager. “Fear of British intervention on behalf of the Confederacy caused new construction at Fort Ontario which lasted from 1863 to 1872.”

The 81st New York Infantry Regiment, the first Union Army infantry regiment to enter Richmond after the city’s surrender, was organized and trained at the Fort Ontario early in the war; from December 1861 the fort was garrisoned by regular U.S. Army troops.

“Fort Ontario served primarily as a recruiting depot and induction center for the Union Army from 1862 to 1865, and following anti-draft riots in New York City draft records were removed to the fort for safekeeping,” Lear said.

This Civil War living history event is sponsored by Cushing’s Battery A 4th U.S. Artillery, Young Explosives, local businesses, Friends of Fort Ontario, and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

Children practice military drills at Fort Ontario State Historic Site in a unique program coordinated by Oswego County AmeriCorps members Ian Mumpton (right) and Steven Woods.

Fort Ontario Summer Youth Program registration now open

Children practice military drills at Fort Ontario State Historic Site in a unique program coordinated by Oswego County AmeriCorps members Ian Mumpton (right) and Steven Woods.

Fort Ontario State Historic Site announced the return of its Summer Youth Program for youth ages 8-16.

Last year, more than 100 youth participated in 18th and 19th century games, sports, military drill, wilderness tactics, martial arts and other activities.

The program is designed to connect kids with local history through physical activity.

The program is coordinated by AmeriCorps members Ian Mumpton and Steven Woods with assistance from the Friends of Fort Ontario, Oswego County AmeriCorps, and New York State Parks.

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