City bridge commemorates Battle of Plattsburgh

KAYLA BREEN/STAFF PHOTOGary VanCour (left) and Kit Booth, both former members of the Battle of Plattsburgh Commemoration Committee, stand in period costume near the newly renamed Commemoration Bridge. The Saranac River crossing will honor the Sept. 11, 1814, battle that marked a major turning point in the War of 1812. 

PLATTSBURGH — A city bridge is now a salute to the 1814 Battle of Plattsburgh. 

Connecting Cumberland Avenue to Green Street, the lower Saranac River footbridge was recently named "Commemoration Bridge" out of respect for that War of 1812 battle. 

Former Battle of Plattsburgh Commemoration Committee co-chair Gary VanCour said the word "commemoration" was key. 

"It honors both sides," VanCour said. "People were dedicated and they fought and some died for what they believed was to be correct.

"We looked upon it as both sides had losses."

THE BATTLE

The Battle of Plattsburgh was fought on Sept. 11, 1814.

Former committee co-chair Christopher "Kit" Booth described it as the victory battle of the War of 1812. 

"This is where it was won — right here in Plattsburgh on Lake Champlain," he said. 

And, Booth said, the Commemoration Bridge is in a fitting spot. 

"It's located pretty close to where the naval battle took place," he said. "The British were on one end of where that bridge is now — on the Cumberland Avenue side. 

"They were right there, occupying the (Kent-Delord House Museum) at that time."

RECOGNIZE CO-CHAIRS

The newly named Commemoration Bridge doesn't just honor those who fought in the Battle of Plattsburgh, but those who have helped to honor it since. 

According to the City of Plattsburgh resolution, past and present Battle of Plattsburgh Commemoration Committee volunteers are recognized by the title, as well. 

Those volunteers include the longtime co-chairs VanCour and Booth. 

Fellow committee member Linda Ward was behind the footbridge dedication, wanting to recognize that pair's work with the annual commemoration since the late 1990's. 

It was VanCour and Booth who helped give the event momentum, building it up to the battle's 200th anniversary in 2014.

"We ended up with a 17-day extravaganza," Booth said. 

'TOP OF THE LIST'

While honored, VanCour and Booth were modest about their involvement. 

"I did insist that it was not for me and not for Gary, but for the entire committee," Booth said. "It really is all about them.

"We were just the people who were at the top of the list, but we never could have done it without them."

VanCour had the same sentiment.

"It wasn't two people who did this," he said. 

TOO OVERWHELMING

Last month, Booth said the 2019 Commemoration Committee was in need of volunteers. 

At the time, he had said, there were only five regulars.

City Recreation Leader Scott "Skippy" DuBrey has been an asset, Booth said, but the event needs more. 

"This whole thing can't be done without volunteers," he said. "It's just too overwhelming a job for just two or three people on the city payroll to handle.

"They're doing a great job, but it involves more work than that — it always has."

HELP WANTED

City Community Engagement Coordinator Scott Matthews said the 2019 committee has about 30 volunteers, thus far. 

"More volunteers are needed for kids game volunteers, button sellers, information booth volunteers and helpers at each of the activities," Matthews said. 

Booth is happy these helpers have materialized, but said the annual Battle of Plattsburgh Commemoration needs closer to 100 volunteers. 

Interested parties should contact Dubrey at 518-324-7245 or at dubrey@cityofplattsburgh-ny.gov

 

Email McKenzie Delisle: 

mdelisle@pressrepublican.com

Twitter: @McKenzieDelisle