America's Best History Spotlight

On this page we're going to Spotlight the lesser known historic sites and attractions that dot the history landscape across the USA and are worth a visit if you're in their area. And while they may be lesser known, some are very unique, and will be that rare find. You'll be, at times, on the ground floor, or maybe even know something others don't. It'll be fun. Visit them.

Fort Ontario 1900

Oswego Forts, New York

There were three forts in Oswego, New York built to defend the area by the British. The original Fort Oswego on the western side of the Oswego River, Fort George, an outer work of Fort Oswego also on the western side, and Fort Ontario, on the east. Only one is still there as a magnificent New York State Historic Site, and that is Fort Ontario. Fort Oswego has a couple plaques on a downtown street, a bit meager considering its importance, but alas, at least they've got some. Fort George has two interpretive signs in Montcalm City Park. In 1756, the French attacked all three forts in a land attack and bombardment. Fort Ontario was the only one rebuilt by the British in 1759, although the site of Fort Oswego was used for shore batteries thereafter. Thus, you'll get a great chance to see just what all three of these forts were about at Fort Ontario, even if you'll have to use more imagination with the others. Image above: Fort Ontario and lighthouse, 1900, Detroit Publishing Co. Courtesy Library of Congress.

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Info, What's There Now, History Nearby

Fort Oswego 1756

Oswego Forts, New York

The three forts were built to protect British interests along the contested area of Lake Ontario and western New York. Fort George was still being constructed in 1756, Fort Oswego had been constructed in 1729, and Fort Ontario in 1755. During the French and Indian War Battle of Oswego, the French and their allies, attacking from Lake Ontario and overland, captured all three forts, one thousand seven hundred soldiers and civilians, one hundred artillery pieces, and seven ships. It would give the French control of Lake Ontario for nearly three years. In 1759, the British returned and rebuilt Fort Ontario, then abandoned it during the American Revolution. The United States destroyed it then. The British returned and rebuilt again, occupying it until 1796. It would later be expanded and used by the U.S. Army in a variety of capacities until transferred to New York State to eventually become a historic site in 1949. The other two forts were never rebuilt.

Today, Fort Ontario State Historic Site is open to visitors. It is a star-shaped fort, about the fourth incarnation on site, that dates back to the 1840's. There are guardhouses, barracks, exhibits and so much to tour, expect to spend most of the day there. And you'll get all that French and Indian, American Revolution, War of 1812, Civil War, and more history along the way as well.

Image above: Battle of Fort Oswego in 1756, 1877, John Henry Walker, Tuttle's Illustrated History of the Dominion. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons via the Journal of Montreal. Below: Winter at Fort Ontario, 2018, Danno74. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons C.C. 4.0.

Winter at Fort Ontario

Where Is It

Fort Ontario, which is your main stopping off place is located at 1 East Fourth Street, Oswego, NY 13126. If you wish to see the other signs and Montcalm City Park that are associated with Fort Oswego and Fort George, best to ask at the Visitor's Center at Fort Ontario. Oswego, New York is in northeast New York, eastern side of Lake Ontario. It is forty miles north of Syracuse.

What is There Now

Forts of Oswego

Fort Ontario State Historic Site is a wonderful place to visit which takes you back in time to the defense of the British colonies, the United States, and for a bit, the French. A walk around the star-fort will take you through tunnels of powder magazines, cannon bastions, barracks, and a whole lot more. There a picnic tables, guided tours, and on certain days of the year, re-enactments.

As for Fort Oswego, as stated below, there are only two historical markers on the western side of Oswego. For Fort George, there is not much more, however, they are located in Montcalm City Park. It'll be like going on a scavenger hunt.

When Open and How Much

The historic site is open from early May through Columbus Day from Wednesday to Sunday. It is open on Monday holidays. Cost is $4 adults, $3 seniors/children, children 12 and under free.

Fees subject to change.

Fort Ontario State Historic Site

History Nearby

It's eastern upstate New York and there's a plethora of forts to visit, as well as Niagara Falls, a bit far away, and if you're coming up from the south, a Baseball Hall of Fame.

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