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Monday, June 30, 2014

Back to Crown Point- Fort St. Frederic

There are more things from the trip east that I want to share. Several of them are at Crown Point. Crown Point juts out into Lake Champlain forcing ships through a narrow neck. Thus it was a strategic point on this early "interstate highway" into the colonies. I've been there three times now, and the museum hasn't been open any of those times. Grrr! I'll just have to go back. Preferably when they are doing a reenactment.

Anyway, the French were the first to build a fort on the site, right at the tip of the point, beginning work in 1734. From the water you can see that when those walls were higher, an attack would have been difficult.

Fort St. Frederic

It was roughly in the form of a square with pointed bastions on three of the corners. The entire foundation of the outer wall still exists. This picture was taken from the bridge, looking back.

Fort St. Frederic

It seems incredibly small by today's standards, but housed many officers and men. Here's a sketch based on good contemporary drawings. The citadel was an octagonal fort within a fort with swivel guns mounted on each of the levels.

Fort St. Frederic

In fact, the fort was so formidable that it was never attacked. However, in 1759 the British advanced on it with 10,000 troops under General Jeffery Amherst. Rather than let it fall into British hands, the French blew up the fort.

However, I have a mystery. And it will probably remain a mystery until I can get to the museum when it's open! At the Bridge Restaurant there are old postcards sealed into the table tops as decoration. This is from a folder printed in 1929 to celebrate the opening of the new bridge (the one just previous to the one that opened just last year). You have to know I'd fall in love with a secret stairway- read the fine print above the picture.

Fort St. Frederic
Where is the secret stairway? It's a secret, right? It sure is. We walked all over the grounds and couldn't find a stairway at all. Was it here, leading down to this apparent slip where a small boat might put in?

Fort St. Frederic

Was it over on the right edge of this photo? You can see a wooden guardrail and some rubble leading from there down to the beach. This is the location of the drawbridge over a dry ditch that was the main entrance. Was the secret stairway beneath the drawbridge? Even farther right is another wooden railing where the land drops off below it. Where might this have gone? Was the stairway there?

Fort St. Frederic

If so, it's been filled in since 1929. Bummer.

Fort St. Frederic

Looks like a great setting for a story to me!

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vanilla said...

Hope you can solve your mystery. Has to be a story there.

Secondary Roads said...

Historical mysteries are fun! In my experience, finding the answer usually leaves you with new questions. Hope you find the answer.

Ann said...

That is a mystery. Hopefully the museum has answers

Jeffrey Mitchell said...

My 5th Great Grandfather Joseph Payant Dit St-Onge was one of the shipbuilders and Captain of the first 45 ton French Schooner named the SaintOnge. The SaintOnge was the first two mast schooner to sail on Du Lac Champlain. The SaintOnge was built in the summer of 1742 at Saint Frederic and ran supplies from Fort Frederic to the waters above the St. Jean rapids. Fort Carillon and Fort Chambly was also on the SaintOnge's delivery route. during the French and Indian war.

Captain St-Onge was also the Captain of (The Vigilante). This 75 ton schooner, was built at Fort Saint Jean and sailed Du Lac Champlain till the fall of Montreal in 1760. Till this day Captain St-Onge is known as and was called L'Admiral Du Lac Champlain.

My Guess is the areas, the secret stairway lead down to where the St-Onge was built or to the ship(s) slip area was.

Sharkbytes said...

Jeffrey- Thanks so much for telling me this! Amazing personal history. I'm a direct descendant of Peregrine White- born on the Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor. I really want to get to the fort for one of their reinactment days.

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