Saturday, 14 August 2010

Old Fort Erie

This year we had to miss our normal holiday at Pennsic War. We were both pretty sad about that as we camp with a great group of people who are lots of fun and the camp is full of pretty awesome music. While stuck here at home, we managed to sneak off to visit Old Fort Erie. This is the 4th incarnation of the fort. The first was built in 1764, of wood, on the Niagara River. The ice breaking up in the winter was hard on the fort and sometime later a second was built in the same place. In 1803, work started on the third fort built a bit up from the river and this time of stone. It lasted only a few years as during the war of 1812, it came under siege and in 1814, the flintstone fort was destroyed by the American army. It was occupied by the British army until 1823. In the 1930's, it was rebuilt as a make work project and is now an interesting attraction. The interpreters are knowledgeable and available for tours and questions.

One of the cannons looking out on to the Niagara River. This one had a range of 1-2 miles!
Looking down the stone building which housed the officers barracks, the officers mess and the regular barracks. They sure weren't very big considering the number of soldiers which were housed here.This is the officers barracks. The interpreter said there would have been 4 or 5 beds in total as there was one commanding officer for every 100 soldiers. This bed is an original travelling bed which belonged to Captain Kingsley, supposedly from the 1700's. It is said his ghost haunts the room who likes to ruffle ladies hair and sometimes shows up in photos. We didn't see him nor did he grace our photos!

I did like the kitchen! It has a wonderful stone floor and a great fireplace. It is a good thing there were decent sized windows or this would have been a very gloomy room. While it isn't in the photo, just to the left of the fireplace is a second brick installation with a large iron bowl mounted over a firebox, which was used to heat water. Interestingly, there isn't a bread oven here. The kitchen was solely for the officers food. The 400-500 soldiers had to make do with cooking their meals over a firepit. This was for safety reasons, to keep them from burning down the barracks. I'd love a kitchen that was like this, if of course it had a more modern bit of design hidden away, including a dishwasher. Lemonade and shortbread cookies made in the fireplace that morning were served here.

Of course there were arms displays. We saw them shoot off their muskets after a lovely explanation of how inaccurate they were and how the amount of smoke meant that the red coats didn't really cause a problem since nobody could see anything anyway. Later in the day, they shot a small, portable mortar. It is small enough to be moved by 2 people and fits in a canoe.


Leigh said...

Wow, flashback! I remember visiting this fort when I was a kid on family vacation. I had forgotten all about it until I saw your pix.

'Kolai said...

Do you do the Pennsic down north of Pittsburgh at Cooper's Lake? We used to camp there when I was young, I remember helping out in the store during one of the SCA events. Very cool!