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 Following Fort Blunder...

Fort Montgomery
Rouses Point,
New York
 

-Part VI a-
A tour of the ruins of the storied fortification

By James P. Millard

 

In September 2002, Roger Harwood and I were taken on a rare guided tour of the ruins of Fort Montgomery. The visit, courtesy of the owners, was arranged through the auspices of Powertex, Inc. of Rouses Point, NY. Our hosts and guides to the property were Powertex employees Ann Thurber, George Bombardier and Calvin Hilliker.

We are extremely fortunate to have been granted this opportunity. The owners rarely give permission for tours anymore, the ruins have deteriorated significantly over the years, the visitors must be escorted, and this takes valuable employees away from their other duties. We are very grateful to Fort Montgomery Estates, Powertex, Inc., Ann Thurber, George Bombardier, and Calvin Hilliker for their hospitality.

Shortly after arrival at Ann's office, our two trucks were stopped at the locked gate to the entrance road. It appears to be the very same entrance to The Commons that townspeople have used for generations. First stop was "Monument Hill." Ascending a slight rise, we took a turn to the west and entered a large open meadow. Here was the same open pasture and meadowlands that villagers had grazed their livestock on. Here also, were some of the same lands settled by the first pioneers in the region, American sympathizers, refugees who came here to the Canadian and Nova Scotia Refugee Tract. We took our first photos of the day, what appeared to be broken boundary markers. Later research determined these stones were probably remnants of an early "astronomical station" (see Part I).

The Postern- entrance to the fort

We then drove east towards the lake. Descending the ridge, we approached the site where the redoubt for the fort would have been located. Plans for the first fort, Fort "Blunder" also show a "guardhouse" and three other structures in this area. Soon, we were on the old road into the fort. Our trip had been delayed several times due to high water (keep in mind the fort was built on an island). The old road took us through a long, low, marshy area. We observed several duck blinds and the ruins of a long pier extending into the Richelieu north of the fort. To our right, on the south side we saw the massive Rouses Point bridge. The road is lined with "No Trespassing" signs. We entered into a "cut" in the massive cover face and were driving over the moat, most of which was filled in during the 1930's. Before us stood what was left of the west wall, more accurately known as the gorge. Most of it is unrecognizable as a fort wall.

Above: The entrance into Fort Montgomery. This was known as the "postern." It was the only entrance from land and was accessed through a drawbridge some fifteen feet above the surface of the water in the moat.

           
The Fort Montgomery access road, ruins of the gorge and what is left of the moat.
Photos by the author and Roger Harwood.
(Click on the thumbnails to see a full-size image)

Note: the photos of Fort Montgomery ruins were taken during an escorted tour courtesy of the property owners. A liability waiver was required and we toured the ruins at our own risk.
Trespassing on the property is strictly forbidden.

The Gorge Officer's Quarters

We paused some time in the gorge section. Here was located the Officer's quarters of the fort. Original plans show rooms heated by fireplaces and coal stoves. Virtually no trace of these rooms can be found. All the floors were removed during demolition in the 1930's. We could see the stone supports for the floors and the upper fireplaces were largely intact, since the contractors had little use for so many bricks. Doubtless those within reach had been carted off by locals for their own purposes. We could see far up into the upper reaches of the walls, noticing the brick and delicate wooden lathe that supported plaster for the ceilings. Incredibly, some plaster still clung to this wood. The interior, or parade wall of the gorge had been faced with smooth, finely sanded limestone, not used in the rest of the fort. In addition, the outer wall, known as the scarp, had been removed. This stone was almost completely gone, leaving only the massive arched supports within. Here, the destruction wrought in the 1930's was surpassed only by the sections of the fort that had completely disappeared.

     

       
Within the gorge Officer's quarters section
Photos by Roger Harwood and the author
(Click on the thumbnails to see a full-size image)

After inspecting the area around the entrance, or postern, carefully we ventured north through the gorge towards what is left of the NW bastion.

Continued here...
Click here to go back to Part V  Click here to go back to Part I  Click here to continue on to Part VIb

-Part VIb-
A Tour of the Ruins of Fort Montgomery, continued


Note: Fort Montgomery is privately-owned.
The Fort grounds are posted and trespassing is strictly prohibited.
Please do not trespass on the ruins of the fort.
 

Sources/Notes:

The author is grateful to the Clinton County Historical Association, the late Addie Shields,
Powertex, Inc.
, Feinberg Library and the late Ralph Gilpin for permission to publish images from their collections.

1 J.H. French, Historical and Statistical Gazetteer of New York State. 1860: R.P. Smith

Ross, John F. Sidelight on History. 1978

 

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