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Explore Upstate Battlegrounds and Military History Sites

posted by Teresa Farrell at 2020-11-22 11:35:00

November can be a tricky time to navigate when you’re looking for recreational activities, trips or other fun things to do, especially this year. The days are shorter, the weather isn’t quite right for fall or winter activities, and the hustle and bustle of the holiday season hasn’t begun yet. Looking for something to do, either virtually or in person this month? With Veterans Day just around the cover on November 11, this is a perfect time to learn about our region’s history by exploring one of the many battlefields and military history sites scattered across Upstate New York.

Oriskany Battlefield Monument 

New York State played a prominent role in several wars; the French and Indian War, the War of 1812, and the Revolutionary War were all fought on our state’s soil, and the land still tells those stories to this day. Several of them have been made into state, or nationally-maintained historic sites, where you can find everything from open fields to walk, to monuments, to the forts themselves that were build back during the wars, which often offer guided tours, reenactments and special programming on military history and what life was like at the fort, including kids’ programs.

Old Fort Niagara

Old Fort Niagara is a standout amongst the many historic sites in Upstate New York. Located just a few miles away from Niagara Falls in Western New York, the fort is oldest continually occupied military site in North America and home to the oldest buildings on the Great Lakes. Despite the restrictions of 2020 and the upcoming winter months, Old Fort Niagara continues to host in-person tours and programs at reduced capacity, and remains open to visitors year-round except for on holidays. 

Fort Ticonderoga cannon

Though many places are still open for in-person visits and small group tours, some have also introduced online programming that’s accessible from wherever you may be.

That’s the case at the Adirondack region’s well-known Fort Ticonderoga, which has established a rich series of virtual programs and workshops on a variety of topics that are accessible online and will keep going strong throughout the winter months. However, the fort is also open at limited hours for visits and is hosting a special in-person living history event in honor of Veterans Day event this year, on Saturday Nov. 14, called “Continue in the Service…and Save their Country.” Featuring historic tales of trials and tribulations of American soldiers fighting in the Revolutionary War, including reenactments and demonstrations, this event is free to active duty military members and veterans.

Newtown Battlefield view Wikimedia Commons

There are some places where the grounds stay open throughout the season, even if amenities and facilities aren’t. For example, the grounds at Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site, in Sackets Harbor, are open year-round from dawn to dusk, where you can follow the History Trail, read the interpretive panels, and take in views from the shores of Lake Ontario.

In the Finger Lakes town of Elmira, the Newtown Battlefield Reservation State Park offers access by foot throughout the winter months for those who want to explore the park and grounds and view the battle monument, and don’t mind the lack of amenities in the winter. And in Central New York, the grounds of the Oriskany Battlefield, known by some as the bloodiest battleground of the American Revolution, are open to visitors from dawn to dusk year-round.

This is far from a full list, but check around for more ideas in your neck of the woods—whether you’re looking for a brisk walk on the battlefield, a cozy afternoon participating in a virtual program from home, or an old-fashioned in-person reenactment or tour at a fort, there are surely enough historic sites to explore in Upstate New York to keep you occupied till the snow start to fly!

Oriskany Battlefield Monument photo Wikimedia Commons
Old Fort Niagara photo credit pixabay
Fort Ticonderoga cannon photo credit Wikimedia Commons
Newtown Battlefield view Wikimedia Commons

posted at: 2020-11-22 11:35:00, last updated: 2021-04-06 13:45:34

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