Tubac Presidio State Historic Park, Arizona

Tubac Presidio State Historic Park preserves the remnants of a military fort established by the Spanish in 1752 to control the local Pima and Apache Indians and to serve as a base for further exploration of the Southwest. The old Spanish fort has been excavated by archaeologists from the University of Arizona. An underground display features portions of the original foundation, walls, and plaza floor of the fort uncovered by the archaeologists. A museum at the site exhibits archaeological remains of Arizona’s first European settlement, and displays on the pre-European, Spanish colonial, Mexican Republic, and territorial periods. The park also preserves the historic Old Tubac Schoolhouse (circa 1885) and Otero Social Hall (circa 1914), which are both on the National Register of Historic Places.

The park is located 45 miles south of Tucson off Interstate 19 near the community of Tubac.

Fort Canby State Park, Washington

Fort Canby (now known as Cape Disappointment)  bears the distinction as the state’s first military installation. Constructed in 1852 to guard the mouth of the Columbia River, it was part of the defensive triad that included Fort Columbia and Fort Stevens (located on the Oregon side of the river.) The confluence of the Columbia and the Pacific Ocean was a historically significant destination that attracted Native peoples, European explorers, and the famed Lewis and Clark Expedition. This state park preserves some scattered remnants of the fortification, the oldest functioning lighthouse in the state built in 1856 (Cape Disappointment Lighthouse), and North Head Lighthouse. One of the park’s significant attractions is the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center that is sited on the bluffs overlooking the merging waters of river and ocean. It was near this point on November 7, 1805, that Lewis and Clark first glimpsed the Pacific Ocean.

Fort Canby State Park is located on the Washington side of the Columbia River, two miles southwest of Ilwaco off US Hwy. 101.

Fort King George State Historic Site, Georgia

From 1721 to 1736, Fort King George was the southern outpost of the British Empire in North America. The fort was built to protect the young and struggling colony of Georgia against any potential threat from the Spanish in Florida to the south. The British constructed a cypress blockhouse, barracks, and palisaded earthen fort on the site in 1721. The fort was garrisoned by His Majesty’s Independent Company. The fort itself was eventually abandoned because of the hardship the garrison had to endure from the harsh coastal environment. But Scottish Highlanders came to the site in 1736 to found a settlement, called Darien, which eventually became a foremost export center of lumber until 1925. The state of Georgia has reconstructed the eighteenth-century fortifications using old records and plans. A museum offers displays and exhibits on the local Guale Indians, the old fort, the Scots of Darien, and the nineteenth century Darien sawmill.

Fort King George State Historic Site is located in southeastern Georgia, near Darien, 3 miles east of Interstate 95 exit 49.

Gilman Garrison House, New Hampshire

Seventeenth and eighteenth century settlements in frontier New England were often anchored by garrison houses, fortified homes in which residents could take shelter in the event of an Indian raid. These homes were usually constructed of massive logs. Their doors were reinforced by iron grates lowered by pulleys (called portcullis). Gilman Garrison constructed his garrison house in the late seventeenth century in Exeter, New Hampshire on a site from which he could defend his sawmill. The house was substantially remodeled in the eighteenth century by his descendant, Peter Gilman, a militia general and veteran of the French and Indian Wars, by adding a Georgian-style wing. The house is now preserved by the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities.

Gilman Garrison House is located at 12 Water Street, in Exeter, New Hampshire 03833. Take I-95 to New Hampshire Exit 2. Follow Route 101 west 3.5 miles to Route 108 south. Continue one mile to Exeter. Turn right onto High Street. The Gilman Garrison House is three blocks ahead, just after a small bridge.

Fort at No. 4 Living History Museum, New Hampshire

At the time of the French and Indian War, No. 4 was the northernmost British settlement, thirty miles from its nearest neighbor. The fort was actually a fortified village, created by pulling together five existing province houses, building a sixth one, and connecting them with leantos, and a large two-story building containing the only entry gate into the fort. The recreated fort now standing in Charlestown, New Hampshire is a living history museum of this early period.

Fort at No. 4 is located in Charlestown, New Hampshire, 1 1/2 miles from Exit 7, off I-91.

Mount Independence State Historic Site, Vermont

American Revolutionary troops built a fort complex to guard against a British attack from Canada at this site along the Vermont shore of Lake Champlain. The troops named it Mount Independence in honor of the Declaration of Independence. The fort faced north and stood across the lake from the fort at Ticonderoga. The site was evacuated when British General John Burgoyne forced the surrender of Ticonderoga. Today the state of Vermont preserves the site with several miles of hiking trails that lead to the batteries, blockhouses, hospital, barracks, and other archaeological remains of the fort. The visitor center museum contains exhibits featuring many of the artifacts recovered during recent archaeological investigations.

The site is located approximately 50 miles south of Burlington, just west of State Route 22A and the village of Orwell.

Colonial Pemaquid State Historic Site, Maine

Colonial Pemaquid is located at the mouth of the Pemaquid River near Bristol, Maine. The site was a frontier settlement in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. A fort, called William Henry, was constructed to protect the settlement from Indian raids and pirate attacks. Archaeological excavations have unearthed the foundations of colonial structures and the officers’ quarters at Fort William Henry. A museum displays many artifacts uncovered at the site, including musket balls, coins, pottery, and early hardware. The site includes a reconstruction of Fort William Henry, which also houses museum exhibits. Guided tours are available during the summer months.

Colonial Pemaquid is located four miles from Damariscotta on Maine Route 129, then take Maine Route 130 for nine miles, bear right one mile.

Fort Constitution Historic Site, New Hampshire

Fort Constitution was one of seven forts that once constituted the defenses of Portsmouth Harbor. The first fortification on the site was an earthwork with four “great guns” erected in 1632. A timber blockhouse was built in 1666. A stronger fort, named Fort William and Mary, was erected later as one of the “castles” established along the Atlantic coastal to protect the colonies of British America. This fort was seized by Patriots at the beginning of the American Revolution. In 1791 the State of New Hampshire gave Fort William and Mary to the United States. The fort was repaired, renamed Fort Constitution, and garrisoned with a company of United States artillery. The fort was used during the War of 1812 and was a training center during the Civil War. The old fort was replaced after the Civil War with a massive, three-tiered granite structure that served as part of the modernized coastal defenses in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Fort Constitution State Historic Site is located on a peninsula at the northeast corner of New Castle Island, overlooking both the Pisquatua River and the Atlantic Ocean.

Fort Constitution Historic Site is located on New Hampshire Route 1B at the U.S. Coast Guard Station, New Castle.

Fort Griswold Battlefield State Park , Connecticut

Fort Griswold Battlefield State Park preserves the remains of a Revolutionary War fort that was the scene of a famous and controversial attack by British forces under the notorious Benedict Arnold. On September 6, 1781, Arnold’s forces landed near Groton, Connecticut and advanced against the fort, which was garrisoned by about 150 colonial militia and local men under the command of Colonel William Ledyard. The British regulars quickly captured the fort. What happened next is a matter of controversy. The Americans claimed that Ledyard gave up his sword in surrender, only to be immediately killed along with 88 of his men. The British version of events makes no mention of the massacre or the manner of Ledyard’s death. Whatever the truth about the massacre, the entire battle had lasted only 40 minutes.

The fort is located at the corner of Monument St. and Park Ave., in Groton, Connecticut 06340 (exit 87 off I-95).

Fort de Chartres, Illinois

Next weekend is a big weekend in the Illinois County. Every year for the past 44 years, on the first weekend in June, the Commandant of Fort de Chartres in the Illinois County calls re-enactors from all across the county to a Rendezvous. Far off the beaten path, about 60 miles south of St. Louis, on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River, rests the remains of an Eighteenth Century French Colony. The population of the colony never reached more than 2000 inhabitant, but it played a significant part in the colonial expansion of the French Empire. For French outposts in the Mississippi River Valley and the Caribbean the Illinois Colony was the breadbasket. Fort de Chartres was the center of commerce and government of this colony.

There were three Forts de Chartres. The first was built in 1719 by Pierre Duque, Sieur de Boisbrant the newly appointed commander of the Illinois Country. But conditions in the Illinois Country were severe. By 1726, the flood waters of the Mississippi had destroyed much of this two bastioned wooden palisade fort. A second fort also made of wooden palisades met the same end by the end of the 1730s.

By this time the Illinois Country was becoming important to the Compagnie des Indes for its production of wheat and salt. The economy of the French in Illinois did include some fur trading and mining, but for the vast majority of the inhabitants farming was the chief occupation during most of the year.

The convoys from the Illinois country carried to the Gulf settlements, in 1748, 800,000 pounds of flour alone. Besides the flour the cargoes were made up of corn, bacon, hams from the bear as well as the hog, salt pork, buffalo meat, tallow, hides, tobacco, lead, copper, small quantities of buffalo wool, venison, bear’s oil, tongues, poultry and peltry, chiefly, however, the loads were made up of pork and flour.

In 1752 the shipment from Illinois to New Orleans was reported as “unusually large”. By the middle of the 1750s and well into the French and Indian War, Illinois supplied grain not only to Louisiana and the Caribbean but also to the outposts in the Ohio River Valley. This included Fort Ouiatenon, Massac, and Fort Duquesne.

Construction on the third Fort de Chartres began in the early 1750. Unlike its predecessors this fort was a four bastioned stone fortification. By the end of 1753 this new fort was pretty much complete. A visitor to the Fort today will see a reconstruction of this 1753 fort built atop the ruins of the original stone fort.

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