Press-Republican

Local News

September 15, 2009

Huge turnout for Fort Montgomery Days

Visitors swarmed Fort Montgomery for open house

ROUSES POINT — Organizers were overwhelmed but excited by attendance at Fort Montgomery Days this past weekend.

Ann Thurber, one of the event's organizers, said that about 2,000 people visited the fort over the course of the weekend. She and the other organizers expected maybe a few hundred each day, a thousand total at most.

"We're really reeling from this," she said Monday. "We never expected it to be so large."

Fort Montgomery historian Jim Millard originally was to lead all the tours. The crowds resulted in additional guides volunteering to help meet the demand.

"I have to say we were just flabbergasted," Millard said. "It was just an overwhelming turnout. It was so gratifying to see that."

About 200 to 300 people were still waiting for a tour as the event wound down Sunday afternoon, Thurber said. Those people were allowed to take an unguided tour at their own pace, with volunteers stationed to keep them safe.

'GREAT IDEA'

Millard has spent 10 years researching and detailing the fort's history, including two books on the subject. It was built during the pre-Civil War era to protect the waterway.

He said visitors were very focused as he described the Officers' Quarters, moat and drawbridge, armory, powder room, bakery, kitchen and more.

Mooers residents Brian and Maggie Garrand were among those who went on a tour.

Maggie said she had never been at the fort.

"This was a great idea. Without a day like this, I probably wouldn't have had a chance to see it."

Brian was surprised by the crowds, given the Battle of Plattsburgh celebration was also held that weekend. He was glad the community had been given the chance to tour the historic site.

"This is a real chance to see our past."

PREP WORK

Scott Rheaume of Swanton, Vt., was there with his family. He has been to the site in the past but had found it very overgrown at that time.

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