Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Old Fort Niagara

Gasport, New York High 70 Low 54

Today started out as a nice day. We wanted to see the Old Fort Niagara. We found out a lot about the history of the Fort.

The old French “Castle” was the first building in the fort. It was built in 1726 after the French met with the Iroquois Indians and asked permission to build a “House of Peace” on the site. It was in fact a disguised fortress that could resist any attacking Indians. In 1755-57 the fort was expanded and the Castle was used as quarters for the officers. At about this time the British were fighting the French and finally put a siege on the fort. The French were relying on relief, which the British cut off; and so on July 25, 1759 the commander surrendered the fort to the British.

 The north redoubt, built by the British, literally a fort within a fort.

Brick work put up by the Americans.

 The original well, that was rediscovered in 1930.

The commander's bed. It looked awfully short.

 One of the stair ways to the 3rd floor.

This is the original fireplace.

One of the cannons pointing at Canada.

 The darker sections were all that was left of the flag, the rest has been restored. Notice the 15 stars and 15 strips. In 1815 it was decided to have as many stars as states and keep the 13 strips, which was not put into effect until 1818. They felt that if there was a strip for each state they would either be too thin or the flag would be too big.

The British used the fort during the Revolutionary War and it was finally given to the USA in 1796. During the War of 1812 the British again took the Fort and it officially came back to the US in May of 1815.

The fort and buildings by 1920 were in a sad state and were well on the way to complete desolation. In 1927 The Old Fort Niagara Association was formed to save the French Castle which was accomplished by 1929. During the 1930’s the remainder of the buildings were restored.

While we were there, there were some archaeologists with equipment looking for buried metal and for the foundations of other buildings, long since gone. There was a display showing what the Fort is thought to have looked like.

We were given a demonstration of a flint lock rifle by a young man in French uniform from the period. He told us where some of the sayings we use today came from. For instance “lock, stock, and barrel” came from the names of the different parts of the rifle. Don’t drag your butt came from the soldiers dragging the butt of their rifles on the ground. Flash in the pan came from an improperly primed rifle and the gunpowder in the top, or pan of the rifle would burn, but not ignite the charge to fire the ball.
He told a story about a battle that was about to commence, when a bad rain storm got both sides powder wet. The battle had to be call because of rain, hence “keep your powder dry”. 

We then had a lady tell us about the clothing the wives of the officers wore. The women’s clothing was tied, the men had buttons. The corset was used to keep the women’s posture proper and if they didn't wear a corset or it wasn't tight, they were loose women. The men’s uniform was wool and a full uniform weighed over 18 pounds which they wore summer and winter, just wearing more clothing in the winter, so along with a 14 pound rifle, it was no wonder they drug their butts. Both the men and women’s shoes were made straight without being right or left, and we were told they were very uncomfortable.  
We looked in the bakery building, which was built by the British. The ovens were for baking bread and were about 9 feet to the back and they used long handled paddles to get the bread in and out.

We also looked in the powder magazine building, which the French built in 1757. It had a massive ached roof covered with earth to with stand mortar blasts.

This shows the different uniforms worn at the Fort and in the Area. Indian at the far left, French next two, British Red Coats. Finally Americans.

By the entrance to the Fort, there is a light house, which is 75 years old. It was to help ships on Lake Ontario find safe harbor at the mouth of the Niagara River during darkness or storm. There is also a little light house in Ontario, about 3/4 miles from the US side of the River.

From the Fort we could see the skyline of Toronto. It was raining and that view wasn't very good, but the guide told us on clear days it quite plainly.

 Cindy in the truck as seen from the light house.
Squirrels playing with the garbage.

 We saw these sail boats being towed because of no wind.

Tomorrow we leave here for an RV Park near Parish, New York.

Thanks for visiting.           


  1. It's always more interesting when they are wearing period clothing. It rained when we were there so I enjoyed your photos.

  2. Good tour! It has been a few years since we were there, but your post brings t all back:)