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The historic Falls of Carillon on the LaChute River in Ticonderoga NY. Photo by Jim Millard

La Chute River, Ticonderoga, New York
(click here for map)

By James P. Millard

You are looking at the lower falls on the LaChute River, a tiny stream that runs only some two miles from the outlet of Lake George, through the Village of Ticonderoga, New York to Lake Champlain.

As waterfalls go, they are not particularly impressive. The last in a series of cascades that fill the short length of the river, they are attractive and noisy but not especially dramatic in their vertical drop. The appeal of this waterfall is not in its esthetic beauty but in its historical significance.

Closeup of new marker at site of the Portage at Carillon BridgeThe tiny river was well known to native Americans, situated as it was at the base of a mountain at "the place between the waters". For generations they had taken their canoes to this spot and made the required portage or carry around the falls to continue their journey. Samuel de Champlain, the first European to visit the area, was told of the place before he visited it in 1609. He wrote in his Journal: "...The Indians told me that it was there we were to meet their enemies, that the mountains were thickly populated, and that we had to pass a rapid, which I saw afterwards. Thence they said we had to enter another lake which is some nine or ten leagues in length..."

For the next 250 or so years, the falls of Carillon would hinder travelers on their journeys through the wilderness of the historic lakes. During that time, the area around the falls would bear witness to the conflicts and conquests of nations.

During King William's War, Queen Anne's War, King George's War, The French and Indian War and the American Revolution the area around the falls witnessed countless incidents of violence and mayhem as the French, English, Colonials and their native allies traveled across the portage on military expeditions. Robert Rogers, with his famous Rangers, traveled the region countless times; on more than one occasion he engaged in battle here. The sawmills and bridge at this location, of great strategic importance, necessitated the building of fortifications, the most famous of which is Fort Mount Hope, just to the north of the falls.

We can confidently say some of the most famous individuals in the history of the lakes, in the history of North America,  viewed these falls: Champlain, Sir William Johnson, the Marquis de Montcalm, Robert Rogers, Sir Jeffrey Amherst, Ethan Allen, Sir John Burgoyne, Benedict Arnold, Thomas Jefferson, Charles Carroll, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and James Madison; to name but a few.

The LaChute, referred to as Sawmill Creek by Lt. James Hadden in his Journals, figures prominently in his account of Burgoyne's ill-fated expedition. In his Journal he details the day to day activity of Burgoyne's right, which carried the Army's supplies south down Lake George. Had the main of the army gone the same route, the outcome at Saratoga might have been quite different. To read excerpts of Hadden's account click HERE.

This particular waterfall, the last of five along the 2-mile stretch of the river, is the most historically significant. To see it today, is to see it in a form where one can easily visualize what it must have been like so many years ago. The vast industrial area that once occupied this place has been completely replaced by a large, beautiful park. There are a number of historical markers here and only one small brick building remains of the huge paper mill. The area is largely cleared of trees as it would have been when the sawmills were in full operation. Here, where great armies fought and the fate of nations was decided, lovers walk and children play. To this writer, it only seems fitting. I suspect the heroes of Ticonderoga, the famous and not so famous, would approve of what they saw at the Falls of Carillon.

Falls of Carillon Photo Gallery
(click on the Thumbnails to see a full-size image)

Aerial view of the Falls by Doug and Mark HarwoodOld marker at the Carillon BridgeClose up of old Carillon Carillon Bridge,site of the portageSmall Park at the site of the portage
Aerial view of the
Old marker at the Carillon BridgeClose up of old Carillon
Bridge sign
Carillon Bridge,
site of the portage
Small Park at the site
of the Portage
View from the bridge down the riverLaChute River at TiconderogaThe FallsAnother view of the Falls of CarillonGrand Carry monument at the site
View from the bridge
down the river
at Ticonderoga
The FallsAnother view of
the falls
Grand Carry
Monument at
the site
View of the falls from bridge

 Historic Site marker
Historic Site marker
čre de la Chute
 New Carillon Bridge marker
View of the
falls from bridge
Unless noted all photos by the author
*Aerial photo of falls courtesy of Doug and Mark Harwood
New Carillon
Bridge marker


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