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New York Forts
Fort Niagara
AKA As Fort LaSalle, Fort Conti, Fort DeNonville, and Fort at Niagara


Fort LaSalle, a temporary French fort built in 1669, was attacked and destroyed by the Senecas in 1675. Fort Conti was built on the site in 1679 but burned before 1682. Fort Conti was two forty-foot long square blockhouses connected by a palisade. Fort DeNonville was built in 1687 by the governor of New France, Marquis de DeNonville. It was a four bastioned palisade. One hundred men were stationed here, but the harsh winter and disease reduced the garrison to twelve by the time relief arrived from Montreal. In Sep 1688, it was decided to abandon the post and the stockade was pulled down. Fort DeNonville was also referred to as Fort at Niagara.


Photo courtesy of Ad Meskens


Fort Niagara was established in 1726. Because it was built as a baronial mansion to hide the military aspects, some considered it a "French Castle" or "House of Peace". Its granite walls were four feet thick, and massive arches were incorporated inside to support the rows of cannon secretly emplaced on the second floor attic. Extensive fortifications and moats were constructed in 1756. The fort was taken by the British in 1759, and was a major base of operations during the American Revolution. Five additional redoubts and stockades were constructed along the Niagara portage road in 1760. In Sep 1763, one of the bloodiest battles for the British took place along the Niagara Falls portage area. Forces from Fort Niagara reinforced those in the battle. This battle was referred to as the Devil's Hole Massacre of Pontiac's Rebellion. The North and South Redoubts were built in 1766. Fort Niagara served as a Loyalist base in New York during the American Revolution. Colonel John Butler and his Butler's Rangers served here then. Although the end of the American Revolution officially gave the territory back to the United States, it wasn't until the Jay Treaty that Americans took control and occupied the fort in 1796.


During the War of 1812, a battle fought between Fort Niagara and Fort George, Ontario resulted in the British retaking Fort Niagara in Dec 1813. The fort was ceded back to the US in 1815. The American garrison flag that was taken in 1813 was returned from Scotland in 1994.


In 1839 modifications were made to the old fort, including a new stone wall and postern gate, and new masonry casemates in the north and south walls. In 1841 new construction was started outside the old fort, consisting of barracks, Officers' quarters, and later a Life Saving Station. Fort Niagara was used as a training base during the Spanish-American War. More buildings were added in the area after 1903, when the fort became an infantry training post. During World War I, Fort Niagara was a training center. In World War II, Fort Niagara became a draftee reception center, and a German POW camp. After World War II, Fort Niagara was used for temporary housing for returning veterans. The old fort was turned over as a state historic site in 1946. An AAA gun battery was located here between 1951 - 1953. The remainder of the post became a NIKE missile defense headquarters 1954 - 1962. The remainder of the military reservation became a state park after the Army left in 1963. However, the Coast Guard still uses the area known as "The Bottoms" making it the longest continuous run military bases, 1726-present.




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