Fort Stanwix: The Hands-on Fort

Inside Fort Stanwix, Fort Stanwix National Monument, New York

Inside Fort Stanwix

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.

 


 

First view of Fort Stanwix from James Street, Fort Stanwix National Monument, New York

First view of Fort Stanwix from James Street

“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).

 

About to cross the drawbridge into the fort, Fort Stanwix National Monument, New York

About to cross the drawbridge into the fort

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!

 

Kelly, one of the interpreters at Fort Stanwix National Monument, New York

Kelly, one of the interpreters at the fort

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.

 

There wasn't room for all the soldiers in the fort, let alone all the families who came with the officers, so some of them lived in tents in the ditch around the fort. Fort Stanwix National Monument, New York.

There wasn’t room for all the soldiers in the fort, let alone all the families who came with the officers, so some of them lived in tents in the ditch around the fort.

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.

 

A room that was used for junior officers, Fort Stanwix National Monument, New York

A room that was used for junior officers

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.

 

Looking down on Fort Stanwix from one of the walls (steps lead up to viewpoints on all four corners), Rome, New York

Looking down on Fort Stanwix from one of the walls (steps lead up to viewpoints on all four corners)

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!

 

An officer's room at Fort Stanwix National Monument, New York

An officer’s room

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!

 

Playing Game of Graces on the green within Fort Stanwix. That's the Gregg building to the right. Fort Stanwix National Monument, New York

Playing Game of Graces on the green within Fort Stanwix. That’s the Gregg building to the right.

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.

 

The path around the outside of the Fort Stanwix National Monument, New York

The path around the outside of the fort

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!

 

Getting ready to fire the canon. Kelly checks to make sure it's aimed correctly. Fort Stanwix National Monument, New York

Getting ready to fire the canon. Kelly checks to make sure it’s aimed correctly.

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!

 

Kelly, an awesome interpreter at Fort Stanwix National Monument, New York

Kelly, an awesome interpreter at the fort

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.

 

An American flag flies over Fort Stanwix National Monument, New York

An American flag flies over Fort Stanwix

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!

 

An officer's family's quarters at Fort Stanwix National Monument, New York

An officer’s family’s quarters

Trail ★★★★★

Road ★★★★★

Signs ★★★★★

Scenery ★★☆☆☆

Would I go 100 miles out of my way for this? ★★★☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

 

A storeroom in the fort - one woman had a baby here during the 1777 siege. Fort Stanwix National Monument, New York

A storeroom in the fort – one woman had a baby here during the 1777 siege

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 30 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!)

 

A canon on the walls at Fort Stanwix National Monument, New York

A canon on the walls at Fort Stanwix

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).

 

Visual map of my time inside Fort Stanwix - the big blue blotch is the Gregg Building, Rome, New York

Visual map of my time inside Fort Stanwix – the big blue blotch is the Gregg Building 🙂

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.

 

Orderly book during his campaign against Fort Stanwix : from Nov. 4th, 1776, to July 30th, 1777 (Paperback)


List Price: $20.99 USD
New From: $20.99 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

 

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