Inside the Ghostly Walls of Fort Niagara


How many of you have ever thought of how it might be living in another time? Pick any period in history and insert yourself in a life built around the culture and society of the times. We are lucky in this day and age to have many ways to learn about different times in history other than our own, even in places we will never experience.


I don’t watch much TV, but do enjoy shows built around history, even those so loosely followed and having a bit of fantasy. I especially like those that are far enough removed from our times to see what people believed, no matter how far-fetched. Let me take you on a journey through time…


Two shows I like quite a bit on TV have some very loose interpretations of life in the times of Kings. One is the CW’s Reign, a show centered around the teenage years of Mary Queen of Scots, and the other, Game of Thrones.  It is the HBO series based on books by George R.R. Martin. All imaginary, it is rooted in some very real historical events.


How Would You Feel?

Both shows have incredible imagery in the sets they create and the breathtaking castles they show.

Spaces in this castle-fort are both grand and tiny. Massive wooden beams support the load on the walls, giving the spaces a feeling of welcomed safety. Most are dark and imposing, but there is a certain air of togetherness about these rooms. People were first and foremost in daily encounters – some good, some very bad.


Wars at Fort Niagara were fought with mighty cannons rather than catapults, flintlocks and muzzleloaders less than swords, but the multitude of soldiers were shared by both eras.


I imagine it was a time of bravery, courage and honor. I also imagine much treachery and fear. With no electricity, a lot could happen under the veil of darkness.


Other Worldly

There is a phrase, “If the walls could talk.” When in a fort, you get the feeling a lot is being said and the soldiers still walk the halls and grounds. Duty keeping them here, three nations all serving under the same roof at different times in history. Battles still being fought on battlefields around the world.

Fort Niagara has tales of a headless ghost, (if you want the grisly story) that is said to haunt the 1726 French Castle with strange shadows of unknown origin, eerie orbs of dim light, and of course, the proverbial unexplained, slamming doors. Whatever one believes, it is hard to ignore what others do!


The space above seems very lonely, but a few hundred years ago, was filled with soldiers that came from continents away. Imagine the time it took to sail here, where now-a-days it is a mere hours flight. People rode horses for days to get places, now it can be just minutes.


I can just imagine soldiers and officers running full throttle up and down these narrow stairs to their posts,


the soldiers laden with guns and provisions pushing their way through the narrow halls.

How Were Flowers Used?

I think one thing that would be not very pleasant about these times of old, would be the odors permeating the halls. It seems it would be quite smelly.


In the TV shows, I noticed the characters carrying nosegays or sprigs of rosemary and sniffing them frequently. Herbs, flowers and perfumes were a large part of the every day in the early ages and were often linked with magic and medicine. The power of flowers!


In the Middle Ages, the time of Game of Thrones most likely, they had herb baths and even smoked the illness out of people with fragrant woods and plants. Scented garlands decorated homes, fragrant candles lighted halls and wreaths made of twigs and plants hung above the bed of the sick.

Every herb, tree and flower had a special magical or medicinal quality in this world. You might even have your clothes sweetened with the fragrance of violets. It was a smelly time, but not all smells were putrid.


Castles and their nobility always intrigued me. I wondered what it might be like to live in one, ride the expansive countryside on a white steed, wear the extravagantly bejeweled clothes, speak the words of the nobility.


I am sure this fort had some of the pomp and flare of the times with visiting dignitaries, but nothing on the scale of the TV shows I mentioned. Can you just imagine being here in the 1700’s?


So much has changed through time, yet it seems the basic human barbarism and wickedness remains. The greed, perversion, stealing, murder for gain, you name it, all the hateful things people do to each other are still with us. The two TV shows have it all, but so did much of our history too. Even today we have the same ills, only they are done differently.


It all looks so civilized in the reenacted period spaces, but I would have my doubts that it was.



Many of you will not have seen a castle unless you have traveled abroad, but the Fort of Niagara was built like a French castle. So come inside and let your imagination take you on a journey.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
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22 Responses to Inside the Ghostly Walls of Fort Niagara

  1. Antonio De Simone says:

    Very beautiful!!! 🙂 Antonio

  2. Sherrie says:

    What magnificent photographs !
    We just arrived back from London UK and you remind me how much history we have here !

  3. alesiablogs says:

    Your title is catchy! You hooked me right in!!! I have always loved movies that have a time traveler theme!!!!

  4. I love that first photo, so stark. You’re right, if walls could talk.

  5. Wow, thanks for the tour. Beautiful job capturing the spirit of the place. Margie

  6. Wow, Donna, that was a fascinating journey through time!
    [Don’t laugh, but this place reminded me of ‘Blackadder’! 🙂 ]

  7. Never knew this existed. Love the old stone work. When I get that way someday, I’ll have to check it out!

  8. Beautiful photos, You would never know it was a fort from some of the pictures. Yes, I can imagine the smells probably still linger in some of those rooms.

  9. Great post. I love visiting old forts. Too bad we don’t have more of them in the New World! I watched the first season of Game of Thrones and enjoyed it. However we don’t get HBO so I haven’t seen any of the later seasons. I have been watching the showtime series about the Borgia family at the time of Alexander VI. Wow! It’s amazing how much of it isn’t made up – enough to curdle your blood.

  10. Such breathtaking photos! I love the first one, the cannon with cannonballs and the steps by the window. I like the TV show Reign, too, but I like it for the costumes and hairstyles. They’re not historically accurate, but they’re so beautiful.

  11. acuriousgal says:

    Loooooove this post, Donna. Thanks for sharing. I have often wondered what it would have been like to live back in those days. I’m afraid, I would not have survived. Although, you do adapt to your surroundings and of course would do whatever is necessary to survive. All three of my children were C-Sections…I’m just guessing I never would have survived childbirth back in the day. I’ve never heard of the CW show, Reign, but now will watch. I was such a fan of The Tudors, did you happen to watch that show? Wonderful pics and historical data….well done!

  12. Les says:

    I know I would love poking around this old fort, but I think I would rather visit as you show it, in the grips of winter when it is more hauntingly beautiful.

  13. Pat says:

    You’ve done a wonderful job here capturing the atmosphere of this historic site.

  14. mariekeates says:

    Interesting post and great photos. I’m lucky enough to live in a country with lots of old castles and, like you, I can’t help but think of all the people walking those halls.

  15. Phil Lanoue says:

    That’s quite an amazing place! Excellent photos too.

  16. Incredible photos! A fascinating read, as well. Thank you, Donna!

  17. supernova1c says:

    I agree with you that all the nasty traits of humans are still with us and breeding quite well.

  18. Great post Donna…lots of fab pics and info. As I have said before I love history shows, novels, mysteries forts, movies etc, etc…I need to get to this fort one day…

  19. These are lovely. I’m new to WordPress and put your blog in my reader because of your beautiful bird photos, but I was REALLY excited when I saw these because I’m from out near Albany, New York.

    Though it’s been a number of years, I’ve been to Fort Niagara at least three to five times. I used to be a member of a fife and drum corps that would visit for musters and one special event every year, plus I think I may have gone reenacting once as well. This was in the late 1990s.

    The corps used to share a bus rental with the young lads from Fort Ticonderoga up on Lake Chaplain and go out to stay the whole weekend. The guys from across the river at Fort George would visit, and we all performed for tourists during the day. My group stayed overnight *in the French Castle* all weekend. I’m pretty sure the bed over the subtitle “Other Worldly” was where our drum major slept (he earned his nickname, Buz, for his snoring, and couldn’t possibly sleep with the rest of us or he’d keep us ALL up), and we all crashed in the top floor, the space you described as “lonely.” (It is when it’s empty, but get 20+ fife and drum nerds up there and it’s anything but.)

    Then on Saturday evening, after dinner, we’d stage what they called a “water battle.” All the Americans of Forts Ti and Niagara, joined by my small-town corps, broke out water balloons, super soakers, and balloon launchers while the Canucks from over at Fort George tried to storm the fort. I remember that one year someone – I think Fort George – had an inflatable Gumby as a mascot which the other side captured and punctured. That Sunday morning, when we marched out to raise the flag, they came out playing a funeral dirge with their deflated Gumby on an improvised stretcher.

    What I’m saying is, we had a good bit of extremely silly, quite nerdy fun in that space you’ve photographed up there. I have vivid memories still of many spots you’ve captured on “film,” even though I haven’t physically been there in over 15 years.

    Thanks for reviving the memories!

    • Thank you for all your memories. It gave life to what I was imagining went on inside these walls. It sounds like you had loads of fun and at the same time, relived a bit of history. This is my third post on this fort and I do visit it often. I enjoy the wildlife along the river and the grand architecture of the buildings. I would love someday to be on a boat and photograph it from the water. The heavy forest is no longer around the fort, but I can just imagine when it was. I loved the story of poor punctured and deceased Gumby. And the water balloon fight. I did not know they used these rooms. That bed was really short, I hope Buz fit. Thanks again, and I hope you get here again.

      • He seemed to have fit; he slept there every year and was the drum major for just about FOREVER.

        It was fun reliving – I miss having such entertaining and dorkly times. I’ve been trying to go with my kids to some reenactments, but interest in that sort of thing has been declining and many of my favorite events don’t happen anymore.

        Perhaps in a few years they’ll introduce me to some fascinating new dork hobby, like I did when I introduced my mom to fife & drum. I started the hobby at age 12 or 13 and she had joined in herself by my Fort Niagara days, in my late teens/early 20’s years.

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