Fort turns 100 years old

TICONDEROGA Fort Ticonderogas 100th season began last Saturday. Public access to the fort grounds and its collections began in 1909 with a dedication attended by President William Howard Taft. The significance of the restoration by the Pell family begun that year has led to the final completion of restoration this year of the Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center. The parade grounds now look as close to the original 1755 plan as is possible while at the same time holding a wealth of cutting edge technologies. The 2008 season ushers in a flurry of celebrations and new visitor experiences including a landmark new exhibit,Face of War; Triumph and Tragedy at Ticonderoga, 1758 1759, in the Mars Center. The first new exhibit in many years, it details the lives of soldiers taken directly from their diary entries and letters. Both the building and the exhibit will open to the public after a formal dedication on July 6. The rebuilt magasin du Roi, the Kings warehouse, also holds classrooms and a great room for meetings and functions. The building relies on geothermal wells for heating and cooling and offers, for the first time, handicapped access to the terreplein walls and second floor exhibits along with rest rooms in the fort itself. The 250th anniversary of the French & Indian War is the designated Signature Event for the I Love NY Tourism season and will be the biggest event to ever take place on Fort Ticonderoga grounds in modern times. More than 2,000 reenactors from all over the world will be assembling to commemorate and celebrate the Battle of Carillon, Major General Abercrombys dramatic loss to the Marquis de Montcalm and the death of Lord Howe. The log breastwork that played such a key role in the battles outcome has been rebuilt on the north field and will be the focal point of the battles on June 28 and 29. A week later, July 5, the British and the Black Watch will be remembered with a procession from the fort to the Scottish Cairn accompanied by clans, bagpipes and Scots from Canada, United Kingdom and the USA. On July 8 the French Victory will also entail a procession led by the Fort Ticonderoga Fife & Drum Corps to the Montcalm Cross. The public is invited to join in all these remembrances. With the construction of the Mars Center complete visitors can again use a path connecting the Kings Garden to the fort grounds. The gardens open on June 1 and will again feature family programs and daily tours. The Kings Garden offers a wealth of insight into native species of the peninsula and information on local environmental issues as well as a tranquil place for picnicking. For the first time, a partnership between the fort and the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum will construct a 27-foot bateau on the grounds using 18th century tools and techniques. Working under a tent a skilled craftsperson from the LCMM will build the bateau while a costumed interpreter will help visitors understand the process and the role bateaux played in both wars on site Fort Ticonderoga is open from 9-5 daily through Oct. 20. The Log House Restaurant offers breakfast and lunch from 8:30 to 5 each day along with a selection of historical books, souvenirs and unique gifts. Admission to the fort includes the Kings garden and is $15 for adults, $13.50 for seniors and $7 for children ages 7-12. Youngsters younger than 7 are admitted free of charge. Fort Ticonderoga is a private not-for-profit National Historic Landmark funded by visitors, private donations and grants.

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