If one keeps going following the Niagara River, you end up at Lake Ontario. And right at this point what would you expect to find? A fort! It is Fort Niagara with The French Castle, the oldest building in North America’s Great Lakes Region.
A lot of fighting went on here, having a critical role in the French and Indian War. Its history includes occupation by the British, French and American forces. The strategic Great Lakes location was why it was built here.
The American Revolution and War of 1812 also had battles fought here and the English were very reluctant to give up this very important military and trade route location.
The fort was restored to its pre-1755 appearance and is operated by The Old Fort Niagara Association Inc., a not-for-profit. It is open to the public. I will take you on a tour of the buildings in this post, then we go inside the Castle next post. Above is one of the entrances.
The lighthouse is outside the fort in the parking lot. Why this is so, it sat atop the French Castle in 1782, but was later removed to make more room for the French officers quarters. I wonder how it looked back then on that massive building?
The French Castle as seen from outside the fort.
These buildings, above and below, are the North and South Redoubts. They are essentially a fort within a fort. The British constructed these buildings to incorporate architecture that was popular at the time, the classical Roman arch (on the South Redoubt below), and the thick stone walls topped with Chinese style roofs. The South Redoubt was constructed before the Revolutionary War to protect the main gate. It had a place for a cannon to fire on oncoming revolutionaries.
The Powder Magazine, constructed by the French, has an arched ceiling under a thick layer of packed earth up to the gable roof. The guide said this building has four-foot thick stone walls to protect the kegs of gun powder from mortar shells during wartime.
The Blacksmith shed is not original and was constructed in 2010. It is a working forge, producing ironwork for the fort.
Come back for the interior of the Castle. It most likely became know as the Castle when American officers were housed there in 1830’s. I did not shoot much of the interior in previous posts. There are really interesting spaces throughout the Castle.
More Fort pictures and history: