For some reason, few people know about Fort Stanwix. I live within a few hours, yet I’d never heard of it until one day when I was looking for national public lands areas near my home. Then it went on the “someday soon” list.
“Someday” became “Today” last weekend when we visited the fort. It wasn’t exactly crowded, but Fort Stanwix is a fascinating reproduction of history, and it’s not too difficult to feel that this was really what the fort was like back in the 1700s…minus the traffic noises and church steeples peeking over the tops of the for walls. Still, it’s worth visiting, and I highly recommend a couple hours at the fort if you’re in the Rome, NY area (or just traveling down I-90 through New York).
We started at the visitor center (Willett Center). There are a number of exhibits and a sort of gift shop, as well as a couple motion-activated videos that should be rated PG or PG-13 (anyone with PTSD might want to walk around via the outside path – or maybe I’m just sensitive???). Granted, it’s a part of history, but after hearing them again and again some of us were about to go crazy!
The park staff was wonderful; one realized we’d just missed a tour and so gave us a mini tour inside the Willett Center. He was fascinating, with lots of information and little facts you might never have thought about before. I think his hero is General Herkimer.
After the tour, we walked outside and down the paved pathway to the fort (the path, Willett Center, and fort are wheelchair accessible). Crossing the moat into the fort, we were caught up into another time and culture.
The best thing about the entire fort is that it, and everything in it, are reproductions. Because of this, as long as you ask permission first, you can literally touch, pick up, and handle anything you want. I’m so used to the places that are paranoid; “Don’t touch the exhibits!”, “Unreplaceable artifacts; don’t touch”, and gates to keep you well out of arm’s reach of everything very interesting. Not so at Fort Stanwix. Go ahead, pick up, hold, use the objects in front of you. Just kindly remember to ask first.
We wandered around the fort for a bit – there are interpretive signs, which are quite interesting – as well as a number of buildings and stairs to enter / climb. Fun!
We finally ended in the Gregg Center. For children, this will be the best part. There are period costumes to try on, books to read, and games to take out on the green within the fort walls and play. My favorite was the game of graces; hoops with ribbons attached to them that are tossed back and forth between two people using dowel-like sticks. In fact, we enjoyed it so much that when we got home I made our own set out of an old embroidery hoop wound in ribbons and tossed back and forth with drumsticks!
On our way out to eat lunch under the spreading trees along the free parking / sidewalk, we walked all the way around the fort on a paved path. It was interesting to see the fort from the outside, as well as read the informational signs along the way.
In the afternoon, we first finished up our Junior Ranger booklets (downloadable from the website ahead of time – fun, even for those of us far too old to qualify for many of the Junior Ranger programs – and yes, they never bat an eyelash, even though most of us don’t look younger than 12), then went into the fort again. Kelly, a ranger in period costume who seems to know just about everything there is to know about the fort, was about to give a demonstration on shooting off a cannon. So she employed us all to shoot it off for her…really! No gun powder, but going through the motions is great!
Next, Kelly gave a demonstration in how to card and spin wool. Very interesting! Really, though, she was fascinating in general; if you can catch up with her and chat, you’re sure to learn a lot!
Then it was game of graces for a few more minutes before the fort closed. It’s a fort worth visiting, and I’m sure someday I’ll go back again, myself!
Fact for the Day: Fort Stanwix was the nation’s very first National Monument.
Trail Length: Varies; you could probably get away with about 0.5 miles walking from the Willett Center to the fort. If you want to walk around the fort (which I recommend), it’s probably about 0.25 miles.
Elevation Change: Negligible
Facilities: Restrooms and visitor information in both the Willett Center and in the fort
Fees: None – amazingly enough!
Would I go 100 miles out of my way for this?
Key GPS Coordinates for Fort Stanwix
Willett Center: 43.21033N / -075.45721W (43° 12′ 37.1874″ / -75° 27′ 25.956″) (421 ft.)
Enter Fort Stanwix Gateway: 43.20997N / -075.45541W (43° 12′ 35.8914″ / -75° 27′ 19.476″) (467 ft.)
The gpx file for Fort Stanwix can be downloaded – please note that this and the GPS Coordinates are for reference only and should not be used as a sole resource when hiking this trail.
Fort Stanwix GPX File size: 33.0 KB Downloaded 32 times
(Note: I do my best to ensure that all downloads, the webpage, etc. are virus-free and accurate; however, I cannot be held responsible for any damage that might result, including but not limited to loss of data, damages to hardware, harm to users, from use of files, information, etc. from this website. Thanks!)
Getting to Fort Stanwix
I-90 from the east: Take Exit 31 toward I-790 W / NY-8 / NY-12. Turn right onto N Genesee Street; take a quick right onto Auert Avenue and another very quick slight right onto the ramp for NY-49. After 0.2 miles, merge onto I-790; 0.8 miles later, keep left to continue on NY-49 W. Drive another 13.7 miles, and take NY-26 / NY-49 / NY-69 W exit toward Downtown Rome. After 0.3 miles, continue onto Erie Blvd for a mile. Keep left to continue on Erie Blvd E for 0.1 miles, then turn right onto N James Street. Free parking is located along this street, and there is also a parking garage across the street (closed weekends).
I-90 from the west: Take Exit 33 toward NY-365 and Verona / Rome. After 0.5 miles, keep right at the fork and merge onto NY-365 E for 7.6 miles. Use the left lane to take the S James Street Exit for 0.1 miles; then continue 2 miles on S James Street to Fort Stanwix. Free parking is located along this street, and there is also a parking garage across the street (closed weekends).
This Week’s Featured Product!
Interested in even more about Fort Stanwix? This book was written by one of the Tory / British generals besieging Fort Stanwix (or Fort Schuyler as it was called at the time) and is now available for sale on Amazon.
Wed Nov 22
Chance of Snow
Chance of snow showers early. Lows overnight in the mid 20s.
Thu Nov 23
Intervals of clouds and sunshine. High 36F. Winds W at 5 to 10 mph.
Fri Nov 24
Mostly sunny. High 46F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph.
Sat Nov 25
Chance of Rain
Considerable cloudiness with occasional rain showers. High 44F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 60%.
Sun Nov 26
Mainly cloudy with snow showers around in the morning. Temps nearly steady in the low to mid 30s. Winds NW at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of snow 40%.