By LOHR McKINSTRY
---- — TICONDEROGA — The project to build a replica 18th-century sawmill as a tourist attraction has been re-energized with some state funding for its design.
The sawmill would resemble those that stood on the banks of the LaChute River in the 1700s.
The $45,000 State Department of State grant will be used for research and design of the replica structure.
“We have to get this going, get the design done,” PRIDE of Ticonderoga Executive Director Sharon Reynolds said. “The project can really take off. I want to get started on finding grants to build it.”
She said they’re waiting for release of the money by the state so Rondout Woodworking of Saugerties can begin the research and design. The firm has worked on several mill projects, including a water-powered sawmill at the Daniel Boone Homestead in Birdsboro, Pa.
“The research is pretty important,” Reynolds said. “We’re trying to construct a 1756 sawmill near the site of the original.”
The project was proposed in 2009 by then-Supervisor Robert C. Dedrick and resident Robert Pell-deChame as an educational attraction that would also produce specialty wood products for sale.
BURNED BY FRENCH
A French sawmill was built along the north bank of the LaChute River in 1756 to cut timbers used in the construction of what was then Fort Carillon.
The structure was partially destroyed in July 1758 then burned by the French before the British took the fort in July 1759, renaming it Fort Ticonderoga.
The replica was included in the master plan for Ticonderoga tourism created by the Ticonderoga Quality Destination group formed by the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism of Lake Placid.
“Visitors will be drawn to it as a downtown destination, and it will generate more demand for lodging, dining and retail,” Reynolds said. “That will result in increased revenues for existing businesses.”
The sawmill would also create nine new full- and part-time jobs, she said.
The archaeological review for the project, which be built on town-owned land near the Lower LaChute Falls, was completed earlier by Landmark Archaeology of Altamont.
“The planning-grant award means the project has been recognized as having regional importance,” Ticonderoga Town Supervisor Debra Malaney said. “We’ve been working on this for a few years, and it’s finally coming to life.”
Reynolds said she met with Adirondack Park Agency representatives last month to discuss the project requirements and is getting together with the State Department of Environmental Conservation next.
The application process to the environmental agencies will follow, she said.
“Then we’ll get more dollars for actual construction. We have a good base to move forward.”
There are also ancillary businesses that the feasibility study identified for the sawmill, Reynolds said.
“It’s bringing jobs. From the sawmill, other businesses could start up, woodworking and so on. Folks going to Fort Ticonderoga could make a stop to go to the sawmill. It will be visitor-friendly. We’ll share the history of mills in the area.”
She said the nearby Heritage Museum, with its waterpower exhibit, and the adjoining LaChute River Trail, will all be part of the experience planned for downtown Ticonderoga.
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