Discover Fort Ticonderoga: A True Early American Treasure
Of all the fascinating and noteworthy historic sites to see in the Lake Champlain/Lake George region, Fort Ticonderoga is probably the most well known. Ticonderoga is a true American treasure, certainly the most familiar of the Revolutionary War era forts. Fort Ticonderoga brings to mind tales of Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys awakening the Commander in the middle of the night with the order to surrender his fort to Allen by virtue of the Authority of “the great Jehovah and the Continental Congress!” And yet, the story of Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys is just part of the story of this place, actually a very small part of the history of this great fort.
Discover the Beauty & History of Fort Ticonderoga
Spend the day, discover the beauty and experience the history at Fort Ticonderoga. Your adventure awaits as you discover Ticonderoga’s epic history by water or through a visit to the 2,000-acre fort-museum campus. Step aboard Carillon (for’s original name) Cruise boat to ride the wake of epic history on Lake Champlain and be surrounded by unspoiled natural beauty. Visit the iconic, restored fort, which was known as the “key to the continent” in the 18th century and the site of America’s first victory of the Revolution. Explore the historic landscape while you hike Carillon Battlefield or visit Mount Defiance and savor the beauty of the King’s Garden.
Dig deeper into Ticonderoga’s history in museum exhibitions that highlight world-renowned collections, or attend one of the many daily programs, tours or musket demonstrations. March along to the beat of the Fife & Drum Corps or thrill at the roar of cannon fire at one of the many battle reenactments. July and August features special family tours and hands-on activities. The excitement continues into the evening with several behind-the-scenes tours and events, including the highly acclaimed Guns by Night tour. Sign up to participate in the Soldier for an Evening program and learn to march and drill as new recruits in 1775!
Fort Ticonderoga’s Role in Founding a Nation
Fort Ticonderoga (originally Fort Carillon) is a large 18th-century star-shaped fort built by the French at a narrows near the south end of Lake Champlain in northern New York state. It was constructed by the French between October 1755 and 1757 during the Seven Years’ War, often referred to as the French and Indian War (in the US). Fort Ticonderoga was of strategic importance during the 18th-century colonial conflicts between Great Britain and France, and again played an important role during the American Revolutionary War.
The site controlled a river portage alongside the mouth of the rapids-infested La Chute River in the 3.5 miles between Lake Champlain and Lake George and was strategically placed in conflicts over trade routes between the British-controlled Hudson River Valley and the French-controlled Saint Lawrence River Valley. The terrain increased the importance of the Fort’s location. Both lakes were long and narrow, oriented north–south, as were the many ridge lines of the Appalachian Mountains extending as far south as Georgia, creating the near-impassable mountainous terrains to the east and west of the Great Appalachian Valley that Fort Ticonderoga then commanded.
French & Indian War
During the 1758 Battle of Carillon, 4,000 French defenders were able to repel an attack by 16,000 British troops near the fort. In 1759, the British returned and drove a token French garrison from the fort.
American Revolutionary War: Cannons for Boston
During the American Revolutionary War, the fort again saw action in May 1775 when the Green Mountain Boys and other state militia under the command of Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold captured it from the British in a surprise attack. Cannons captured were transported to Boston where their deployment forced the British to abandon the city in March 1776.
Americans Abandon Fort Ticonderoga
The Americans held the fort until June 1777, when British forces under General John Burgoyne occupied high ground above it and threatened the Continental Army troops, leading them to withdraw from the fort and its surrounding defenses. The only direct attack on the fort took place in September 1777, when John Brown led 500 Americans in an unsuccessful attempt to capture the fort from about 100 British defenders. View Reenactment Event Information
British Abandon Fort Ticonderoga
The British abandoned the fort upon the failure of the Saratoga campaign, and it ceased to be of military value after 1781 and the end of the War. The fort fell into ruin, and it was stripped it of some of its usable stone, metal, and woodwork. It became a stop on tourist routes of the area in the 19th century. Its private owners restored the fort early in the 20th century. A foundation now operates the fort as a tourist attraction, museum, and research center.
From Ruin to National Treasure
In 1785, the fort’s lands became the property of the state of New York. The state donated the property to Columbia and Union colleges in 1803, which sold it to William Ferris Pell in 1820. Pell first used the property as a summer retreat, but the completion of railroads and canals connecting the area to New York City brought tourists to the area, so he converted his summer house, known as The Pavilion, into a hotel to serve the tourist trade.
In 1848, the Hudson River School artist Russell Smith painted Ruins of Fort Ticonderoga, depicting the condition of the fort. The Pell family restored the fort in 1909 and formally opened it to the public. The ceremonies, which commemorated the 300th anniversary of the discovery of Lake Champlain by European explorers, were attended by President William Howard Taft.
Stephen Hyatt Pell, who spearheaded the restoration effort, founded the Fort Ticonderoga Association in 1931, which is still responsible for the fort. The fort was rearmed with fourteen 24-pound cannons provided by the British government. These cannons had been cast in England for use during the Revolution, but the war ended before they were shipped over.
The fort is now a tourist attraction, early American military museum, and research center. The fort opens around May 10, the anniversary of the 1775 capture, every year, closing in late October.
The Pell’s estate is located north of the fort. In 1921, Sarah Pell undertook reconstruction of the gardens, known now as King’s gardens, and hired for this work Marian Cruger Coffin, one of the most famous American landscape architects. In 1995, the gardens were restored and later opened for public as well.
Witness the Year of 1777 at Fort Ticonderoga Everyday!
Every day is an event at Fort Ticonderoga. Fort Ticonderoga is the only site in America that tells a new story each year through dynamic historical interpretation. In addition to the special events that take place during the year, daily programming brings to life this epic story through tours, soldier’s life programs, Carillon Boat Cruises, historic trades, soldier’s gardening and hands-on family programs.