By Jennifer Weber
Sure, if you are from Western New York you probably took a field trip to Youngstown, NY to visit Old Fort Niagara with your middle school history class, but when is the last time you’ve stepped back into life on the Niagara Frontier during the 18th and early 19th centuries?
Old Fort Niagara offers year-round Living History events surrounded by hundreds of reenactors from across the country, who “faithfully recreate the lives of past Fort garrisons and depict the struggles that led to the birth of the United States and Canada” and are ready to walk you through the journey of the past. This includes:
Feb. 4, Snowshoe Patrol. Time period -1750s. This one-day event focuses on winter activities during the mid-18th century. During the afternoon, French forces escort prisoners through the woods east of the Fort and encounter British rangers
April 22-23, Patriots Day Weekend. Time period- 1775. Commemorates the beginning of the American Revolution. The event includes special exhibits and demonstrations, military exercises and ceremony, hands-on activities for families and a special salute to veterans.
May 27-28, Soldiers through the Ages. Time period- 17th through 20th centuries. This time line event welcomes units from the 17th century through modern times reflecting Fort Niagara’s long history of occupation.
June 3-4, Rebels and Redcoats. Time period 1775-1783. Period camps, battles, living history demonstrations.
July 1-2-3, French and Indian War Encampment. Time period 1759. Recreating the Siege of Fort Niagara.. Living history camps, multiple battle demonstrations, siege demonstrations, Native councils.
Aug. 5-6, Soldiers of the Revolution. Time period 1775-1783. This event interprets the American Revolution on the New York frontier.
Sept. 2-3, War of 1812 Encampment. Time period 1812-1814. Tacticals, uniform and weapons demonstrations. Saturday night battle recreating the British assault of December 19, 1813.
Other yearly community events include the Twelfth Night Ball in January (which is currently SOLD OUT) a Snowshow Patrol in February, Civil War Artillery School in May, the Haunted Castle in October and Castle by Candlelight in December.
No worries if you can’t make one of the special events— the Fort is open all year round (with the exception of New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day) from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and includes:
Self Guided Audio Tours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Explore Fort Niagara’s extensive 18th and 19th century buildings and fortifications at your own pace. A special walking tour brochure provides information on each building’s history as well as the overall history of the Fort.
Hourly Film Presentations from 10 a.m. To 3 p.m. Fort Niagara: The Struggle for a Continent takes visitors from the establishment of the Fort in the early 18th century through the restoration of the 1920s and 1930s. The 16-minute Surround Sound presentation immerses viewers in important events in the Fort’s history like the Siege of 1759 and the British attack of Dec. 19, 1813.
Hourly Musket Demonstrations from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Meet a soldier from Fort Niagara’s garrison and learn about the uniform, equipment, weapons and living conditions of the men who held the Fort for King and country.
For more information on Old Fort Niagara, visit www.oldfortniagara.org.